With hundreds of graduates and IT professionals applying for the same job, it’s important to carefully plan what to do to stand out during the application process. Let’s assume that you have exhausted your network to refer you to the hiring manager, and you are left by yourself to show your worth, IT skills, and talent to land that job. It’s not the easiest way forward, but it is undoubtedly a valuable exercise to review your overall package and put your very best forward. Before the actual first interview, you have at your disposal an opportunity to prepare a cover letter, resume, and a less known and less utilized strategy by IT professionals, but more prevalent among artists and designers, a digital portfolio. Let’s explore each one and see how to integrate them to showcase your best.
Your resume, to be comprehensive, must summarize your education, work experience, and skills. Of the three, skills are the most important, though missing education is a barrier to entry to most jobs. Your resume must strongly match the job requirements. If you have varied work experience, ensure that you have different versions of your resume to match each job type. Think of your resume as an advertisement that will inform an employer about you and how you are a suitable candidate for the job. Your resume can follow many formats, so choose the one you are most comfortable with and that can best represent you. Remember, a resume is just an ad and only the beginning of the “getting to know you” process.
One would think that a digital portfolio – with an emphasis on digital, would be the primary vehicle and an open canvas on which IT professionals can masterfully show their accomplishments. Unfortunately, many graduates and IT professionals do not archive their best work, such as key school assignments, capstone projects, innovative code, technical hobbies, and professional projects. A compelling reel that tells a story from humble programming beginnings to potentially a hidden genius can go a long way. You may create a website to showcase your portfolio or rely on commercially available self-branding platforms.
Your digital portfolio can be the “YOU trailer” to further promote you beyond your resume to a prospective employer. Furthermore, your digital portfolio can serve as a much-needed conversation piece once the interviewer asks you, “Tell me about your accomplishments and the practical skills that you have developed.” Show and tell is a way more powerful persuasive strategy than just telling!
If you are serious about a particular job and need to land it, a cover letter is a must. It can serve as a storyline to connect the dots between your resume, work experience, skills, digital portfolio, and the job you are applying for. Be proud of your accomplishments and use persuasive writing to convince the employer that you are the best candidate for the job. Such an integrative approach will help you to stand out from other applicants.
The job market is competitive and fraught with insiders, nepotism, and recruiters overwhelmed with applicants. Often it is not a fair playing field to an outsider, new graduate, and even an IT professional. However, it cannot be an excuse not to assume personal responsibility to prepare and present your very best with a powerful combination of a resume, cover letter, and an original digital portfolio. You are in the driver’s seat to create your compelling marketing piece (resume), engaging reel (digital portfolio), and a real story (cover letter) that captures the imagination of an employer, setting you apart from the competition. Regardless of the outcome, your newly developed content is digital, reusable, tweakable, and quickly deployable to where ever your career takes you.
About the Author
Dr. Predrag Pešikan an electrical engineer and business professional with management and leadership experience in both public and private higher education sector. He has served in executive roles as CIO, VP-IT, and Dean, and recently led the development of industry relevant programs including AI, Cybersecurity, and IoT. His research interest is in IT, leadership, and profitability of tech startups.
Follow Predrag on LinkedIn