Standing out in the job hunt to secure your first tech job

Knowing where to start in your search for your first tech job can be confusing and nerve-wracking. If you are looking for your first grad role it can also feel hard to differentiate yourself from your fellow graduates, but we have some tips that can help!

So you find a role that looks ideal, you see yourself as a great candidate for that role – but you’re not the only one.

What can you do to stand out from the crowd? How can you show that you are prepared to go the extra mile? Here are some ideas from us at Klickstarters about how to do just that…

Give your LinkedIn a refresh

Trying to figure out how to set up your LinkedIn profile to get your first job in tech? It can feel like a huge task if you have never used it, or if you use it so infrequently that every time you log in you have a mountain of connection requests and inmails.

So once you are set up, you need to understand what is going to make your profile stand out to those who are hiring. First of all it’s important to make sure you have all the correct and up to date information on there, including previous experience, any degrees/certifications and a summary which explains what stage you are at and what you are looking for in your first tech role. Recruiters and hiring managers use keywords to find the relevant candidates on LinkedIn which means that the more relevant keywords you include in your profile to describe your skills and your experience, the better chance you have to be found by companies that are hiring.

LinkedIn is a very helpful tool for getting you visibility, which is key in 2020, when more and more of the hiring process happens remotely. It might seem redundant to have to maintain a portfolio/GitHub, an updated CV, and a LinkedIn profile…but they are all critical components of your professional identity.

The power of networking

With a number of people applying for the same roles, your personal network should be your first port of call, LinkedIn as mentioned above, is a great place to start and allows you to connect with potential employers and recruiters to give you the best possible chance of landing your first tech job.

During this time, with everyone at home, it’s a perfect chance to make new connections and reach out to hiring managers to introduce yourself. They may not have any open roles at the moment but when they do, they already know who you are, which will put you in a more favorable position to find out about new roles quicker.   

first tech job search

Be clear about your USP

What actually makes you different?

A good way to demonstrate this is to write yourself a number of questions for each role you are applying for.

Here are some examples:

  1. “Why should the employer hire you over any other candidate? “
  2. “What is it that you can bring to the table that other candidates can’t?”
  3. “What unique skills or experiences do you have that could add real value to the role? 
  4. “How does your past experience fit with the company's culture?”
  5. “Do you have any previous experience/examples you can cite to prove your USP’s?”

Make sure you are honest when talking about your USP’s to potential employers and keep it RELEVANT -  it is pointless to talk about a course that you did, which has no relevance whatsoever to the vacancy you are applying for.

Make a portfolio of a few standout projects - Side projects / Certifications

A portfolio is a great way of showing your skills without having commercial experience and can go a long way at impressing your potential employer. It does by no means need to be “Perfect” but it’s a great way of proving the skills you say you have in your CV. For example, if you are ideally looking for your first role as a React Developer - make sure you have a project or webpage you can show off that has been built using React, it does not have to be complete but shows your enthusiasm for that particular technology. 

Github is a great place to show off your skills, if you don’t have an account already we would 100% recommend building one. It can be easily accessed by a future employer and you can include a link on your CV to make it stand out. Include projects that you’re particularly proud of, had a lot of fun building or are super passionate about — this will make it a lot easier to talk about them in an interview setting. 

Tailor your application to each role

So, you have found a few jobs you are interested in applying for. The next step is the application process, the first stage will usually be when you send across your CV. Remember that this is your first tech job and you NEED to stand out! So, the first step is to make sure you tailor your CV and cover letter for each application, which is time-consuming but more likely to result in a job.

A cover letter is not always necessary when applying for jobs but we would definitely advise this to make your application more meaningful and specific. In your cover letter you could include; why you want to work for that particular company, what you like about the technology they are using, how you can add value to the team and how the company culture aligns with your own beliefs. 

first tech job laptop

Do your research

So you have landed yourself an interview, great work! But what now?

Again you need to stand out at every stage! Think about what the other candidates have done, most would have read the “About Us” page already so what can you do differently to show your enthusiasm?

Here are a few places you can look for company info that would be great to talk about in an interview:

  • Google News - Search the companies name in the Google News tab - this is a great way of finding out if they have been in the news recently or if they have made any big announcements.
  • Glassdoor - You can find out what it is like to work there and see what previous and current employees have enjoyed. This is a great place to find information that the company themselves would not publish.
  • LinkedIn - Not only can you use Linkedin to get more of an idea about what the company does, you can see what important things they have shared lately which could be great talking points. Another thing is to look at the people who already work there and look through their profiles to see the skills and interests.
  • Companies House - You can search the company in this database to find out information on important things like finances, annual reports, shareholders and lots more. If the company made a great profit last year it would be a great talking point.

Confidence is key! Demonstrate your passion for tech -

It’s interview day!! Congrats on getting this far. This brings us to our last point - CONFIDENCE.

Go into the interview with confidence. Yes, you do know JavaScript well for somebody just getting started; yes, you do know about cloud technology. No, you’re not an expert with 10 years of experience; but you do know what needs to be done, and you know that you’ll have lots of opportunity to learn even more.

Best of luck!

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