If you’re starting your professional life or migrating to computer science from a different field, you may have wondered what to do to get your first job. The transition into the corporate world is no trivial task. Many aspects around this question are somewhat subjective, often requiring individual analysis that can even extrapolate the technical domain in which our professional self is defined.
Hopefully, this article will give you a few tips in outlining a good job-hunting strategy and help you identify some of the critical milestones in this journey.
Figure out who you are
Computer science is a vast area. From front-end web development to machine learning and IoT, the spectrum of possibilities are almost endless. Our first step in this deep technological forest is to narrow down the options that make sense for you, considering your career aspirations. Identifying talents, aptitudes, likes, and dislikes are critical.
As you go through college or university, consider your courses as opportunities to get exposure to the different fields and disciplines. As you learn complicated SQL queries and techniques, or create your first Java classes, ask yourself this question: Is this something I could do for the rest of my life and be happy? In the end, most jobs are doable, but doable is not enough when looking for a sustainable, long-lasting career.
Do your homework
Now that you know what drives you, you’re all set to take the next step: investing your time and effort in learning the right things. But, of course, you can’t just try to learn every little thing out there in an attempt to increase your possibilities. This strategy can harm you in many different ways. First, nothing will be learned well enough. Second, you may come off as an indecisive person. Instead, select a lean, strategic toolbox, and make sure you are proficient enough to be called a professional.
If you need help identifying which tools are good, a reasonable strategy is looking at job postings of companies you would like to work at to see what they’re doing. You can also use social media to connect with more seasoned professionals and ask their opinions. Alternatively, if you go to college or university, your professors can provide valuable insights into some of your many available options.
Create a great first impression
You only have one chance to cause a great first impression, and you want to nail it. So your first line of action here is to ensure you have a great resume and LinkedIn profile. They both say a lot about you beyond the written words in them.
For example, if your resume is not logically organized, you may come off as someone who does not hold organization as a top priority. Likewise, typos indicate a lack of attention to detail. In addition, improper language or tone exposes insufficient experience with working environments. Needless to say, a good, professional LinkedIn picture goes a long way. The list of items is extensive, and these are just a few points of attention. Ultimately, you want to ensure you carry the image of a professional, competitive candidate.
Impress the HR
Things start to get serious when you schedule a call with a potential employer. Typically, the first filter is HR. At this point, you are usually submitted to personality and behavioral tests, as well as a preliminary skill assessment. The goal is to understand your qualities and evaluate if your features align with the team you would be working with.
It is good to have the job posting in front of you and prepare for the call by pondering how your strengths and past experiences converge with the job requirements. Being concise and able to communicate clearly in that dialogue is vital. HR people, however, aren’t typically tech-savvy. Therefore, technical questions are explored in the next stage.
Impress hiring managers
Once past the HR, you are ready to meet the final boss. This beast, however, comes in a variety of shapes, as companies will have different approaches to how candidates are selected. Larger companies tend to have more selective filters at this stage, which may involve additional technical tests or more triage calls. Smaller teams may have leaner processes. However, nothing is set in stone, and you can find pretty much anything, anywhere.
Regardless of company size, you must expect a technical interview to happen if you’re in IT. You will be required to answer technical questions on the spot, sometimes even writing code on a whiteboard – obviously, without the help of an IntelliSense tool. That is why honesty is key when it comes to your professional life. Lying on your resume, or cheating to pass a course, are things that can lead to very embarrassing experiences in face-to-face evaluations.
The game is not beat when you get a job offer – in fact, it only gets trickier from here. In your probation period with the company, which can be anything between three to six months depending on the company and local regulations, you are expected to prove the skills you claim to have.
Unfortunately, that’s also when other complications are introduced, such as networking and corporate politics, which are a whole different ball game. In the end, it’s all part of the process, and you are not expected to be great at those things the first time. Most people spend their whole lives without mastering all aspects of workplace dynamics! It’s a constant learning and self-improvement process that needs to be welcomed with an open mind focused on the greater goal.
About the Author
Luiz Parente is a senior software engineer who is passionate about systems design and technology. Having started his journey in computer programming at the age of 14, his core expertise is centered in solutions architecture with .NET technologies.
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