Whether you are a student looking for an internship, a recent grad looking for an entry job, or a seasoned professional changing careers, exploring the job market can be terrifying. With so many things to consider, preparing for an interview is a burden everyone needs to carry from time to time. To make it worse, we all have our ups and downs, sometimes even questioning our ability to get things done. Fortunately, there are things we can do to overcome self-consciousness and be successful.
The very first thing is to be honest with yourself, about yourself. Do a self-assessment, and evaluate your level of expertise in your various skills. Writing down a list of your professional talents and organizing them by proficiency level can help you better visualize the big picture. Not only can this process help you identify your strengths, but also weaknesses that you can work on and become more competitive.
Moreover, you want to be honest in your resume. Overselling your skills brings nothing but embarrassment, and more so in IT, where you are expected to prove your experience on the spot in technical interviews. Everything you say will be fact-checked, and if you are lucky to be called in for a chat, you don’t want to waste that opportunity.
One of the big secrets in succeeding in your job-hunting is to apply for the right jobs. You must be laser-focused and go for jobs that align with your skillset and experience level. For example, if you only have one or two internship terms in your resume, it does not make sense to apply for a senior position – even if you graduated with the highest GPA. If there is a misalignment between the job requirements and what you bring to the table, you are unlikely to be the most competitive candidate.
In addition, it is part of your homework to communicate why you are a good match for the job. For instance, suppose your resume is heavy on web development. In that case, it might not make sense to apply for a mobile developer position – unless, of course, you also have significant experience in that area. If that is the case, you need to create a second version of your resume: one that highlights your mobile development skills. It is common for multi-talented professionals to have different resumes that focus on specific areas. When applying for a job, submit the one that aligns the most with the job requirements.
It is also essential to consider personality traits. Some jobs expect certain personality types, and you are more likely to be successful if there is convergence in that aspect, too. Favor jobs that align with your individual nature, and you will make a lot more sense as a candidate. You are halfway there if HR can easily picture you at the job.
For example, there are many people-oriented positions in areas such as business analysis, project management, or sales in IT. If you are an introspective person who prefers to deal with computers, this kind of job may not suit you. In contrast, jobs that require you to stare at code the whole day for the rest of your life may make you miserable if you crave social interaction.
If you are a student or a recent grad, this section is for you. Yes, your GPA sends a powerful message to potential employers, and anybody who says otherwise is lying. As someone with little experience in real-life projects, hiring managers don’t have much to look at when evaluating your competence. A high GPA is eye-catching and conveys discipline, focus, talent, and hard work. There is a particular character type associated with higher GPAs, and it’s one that employers love in the field of IT.
However, if your GPA is not your strong suit, you might still have time to catch up. There are other ways to convey aptitude. You can complete a few online courses, work on extracurricular projects and initiatives, get involved in academic research, or even do voluntary work. Maybe you have a great portfolio to show, or fantastic communication skills, making your GPA a minor, dismissable detail. In my opinion, however, if you still have time, do invest in your grades – it pays high dividends over time and will undoubtedly give you a head start.
The truth is: regardless of experience level, most people don’t feel entirely prepared for a job interview. Feeling a little self-conscious is normal, and I could argue, even healthy – means you still care. You are not expected to get a job offer after the first interview of your life. As with everything in life, learning the little quirks and understanding the game takes time and experience. While this is not something that can be developed overnight, taking into account the items highlighted in this article might just accelerate the process for you. How do I know? It did for me.
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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