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14 tips to help new college grads land a (good) IT job

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | June 27, 2012
According to a recent Dice hiring survey of nearly 1,200 IT-focused hiring managers and recruiters, demand for technology professionals should continue to be strong through 2012, with "24 percent of corporate hiring managers saying they were hiring at the entry level," according to Tom Silver, senior vice president, Dice. "It's not the levels that we saw pre-recession, but similar to last year."

As for maximizing your social media presence, "when building your professional profile on LinkedIn, solicit recommendations from current and former colleagues, join professional user groups and let your connections know that you're actively seeking employment," says Amy Reid, director of Recruiting at Impact Advisors, a healthcare information technology consulting company.

Don't show up for your interview un- or under-prepared. Per Eichelberger, you can improve your chances of landing the job if you follow these four interview tips:

• Wear appropriate interview attire. Don't know what this is? Ask human resources or the person who arranged the interview.

• Bring copies of your resume (making sure there are no typos).

• Bring a list of open-ended questions (written on a small notepad). Ask about company culture, what is expected in the first 30 to 90 work days, the track record of other hired college grads.

• Show up 15 to 20 minutes early. It is normal to be nervous for an interview but no need to add to it by being late or rushed. (Need to kill some time when you get there? Read up on the latest company news on your smartphone.)

Brush up your conversation skills. "If you get to the interview stage, you better be able to have a conversation," warns Swann. "That's the biggest skill missing in IT. If you can't tell a story or at least communicate clearly and succinctly, you're not getting my vote," or the gig.

Show off your problem-solving skills. "I do all of the hiring for our IT/Engineering divisions for the company, and the best way for an applicant to get a job with me is by showing me how good of a problem solver they are," says Jordan Hudgens, senior software engineer, MCW Services, a software design firm. A good way to do that? Learn what the company does, what issues they may be having (or had or could have) and give practical advice on how you would mitigate or solve the problem if you were given the job.

Play up your experience, even if unpaid. "It's important to complete internships, volunteer or demonstrate [you have worked on IT] projects," even if unpaid, says Silver.

"Being able to discuss real-life experiences in your field is an indication that you have taken the classroom theories and implemented them in a business environment," adds Brian Dean, manager of Audit & Compliance at SecureState. "If this is your first job out of college, it may be challenging. Internships, related summer jobs and even volunteer work in related fields will help you bridge the gap between theory and practical application." His suggestion: volunteer to manage your church's network or help your college upgrade its LAN.


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