Monday, 25 November 2013

Finding your First IT Position after University

This week on #PlacementChat we have a specific focus on the IT sector. To complement this, here is a guest article with some very helpful advice to help you secure your first IT position after graduation

Finding your First IT Position after University

You’ve completed your degree, had you’re picture taken with your cap and gown and now heading out to work full time. But how do you get your first position when you lack experience and competing in a highly competitive area?


Whilst I’m not saying go back to your student days, it may help to relax and know that it may be a little struggle at first while you adjust to full time job searching. You’re not alone and with the latest figures showing nearly 1 in 10 graduates not finding work within 6 months and 12.9% of computer science graduates (data source) specifically, getting overly stressed and feeling down may impact on your daily life and job search. Try to relax and make sure that you set time away from your job search to make sure that your health doesn’t suffer.

Careers Services

Whilst you may no longer be at Uni, career services can help you with your job hunt, with some offering to help you up to two years after you Graduate. With the career services, or if your Uni had a liaison officer or specific departmental career advisor,  try and contact them to see if they can help you, after all if companies are getting great candidates from the services it’ll look great for them!

Careers services will work with companies looking for Graduates, or internships, which may not be advertised yet elsewhere and help give you a head start on building the perfect CV or application form for them. And you can extend your tuition fee’s worth out of the place!

Internships and Volunteering

If you were unable to get a placement while at Uni, or didn’t lead to a job then you may try an Internship or work experience placement. While unpaid internships have rightly got a bad rap, an internship or work experience with a small amount of income may work in your advantage as it can lead to a full time job in the long run and show your willingness to work and put in some hard graft.

Or try volunteering at a local library (if there’s any left nearby!) to help people with their IT Skills. It’ll look good on your CV if you can say you can communicate effectively and potentially have client facing skills if you are teaching users who aren’t technical.

CV’s and Cover Letters

Whilst there’s a whole host of CV help and advice available, it’s still important to make sure that you take care with adapting your CV to each specific position. Companies are looking at what you can bring to them so make sure you do so.

If you developed a project in Java (other languages are available) don’t say in your Cover Letter: I’m proficient in Java, or words to that effect. Change it to say that you’ve undertaken tasks to develop software programs from inception to completion in a number of Languages including Java and C++. 

Also make sure that your CV contain a number of  ‘keywords’ that match the job advert to take advantage of companies that use automated CV services. If a job advert wants someone who’s proficient in SQL then make sure your CV contains that you’re experienced in it, rather than saying you have experience with Databases, so your CV doesn’t get thrown in the ‘bin’.

Brush up on your Skills

If you have an interview coming up, alongside researching the company, make sure that you brush up on your skills. Basic skills in coding for IT positions will be asked, so make sure that you don’t forget them and can answer them fairly quickly. Whilst more advanced questions should be asked they’ll likely be more theoretical and should be OK for pseudo-code to work with. They’ll be looking at how you figure things out as well as your coding skills.


Most of all – network! Anyone you meet, or anyone you know, is someone who potentially knows someone else who is looking to fill a job, especially in small businesses. So let everyone you know on Facebook and everywhere else that you’re looking for a job, update or create a LinkedIn profile and start searching Social Media networks for jobs. It may not only just pay off in the short term, but long term connections and contacts can improve your prospects throughout your career!

For help and advice on gaining a graduate position in IT go to a specialist IT RecruitmentCompany such as

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Monday, 4 November 2013

Back in the saddle

I returned today to The Placement Office after a two month break. I have to say not a lot changes. Mostly the same companies advertising at the same time of year. Lots of competition for students just to get an appointment to see their placement team, as the start of term rush maintains a pace that tests time and resources. First draft CVs arriving with frankly ridiculous personal email addresses (seriously, CynicalPinkie?) Not to mention all of the politics that goes on in the background. The latter I've been very pleased to do without during my time off, but the rest I've rather missed.

I've resumed my duties with a increased level of respect for placement students. While I often hear good things about what they do during their internships, it is rare that I get a glimpse for myself. Beyond my interactions with the marketing team at RateMyPlacement and a small handful of students who secure placements on campus, placement years take place outside my HE bubble. Having stepped outside that zone for a couple of months, I was surprised to find placement students from my own university making contributions that I could witness with my own eyes.

In the course of ferrying Jr around to his many medical appointments, I've met a great number of healthcare professionals. During a session with a paediatric physiotherapist, I was asked if it was okay for a student to sit in. Naturally I agreed and soon discovered that the person in question was a physio student from my HEI. A few weeks later, a meeting with an Occupational Therapist occurred and again there was a student on hand, learning from their mentor through observation and enhancing their understanding of what the profession involves. I didn't know either student personally, given I'm not involved with healthcare placements, but it filled me with a sense of pride to see them taking the early steps of what will hopefully be long and successful careers.

During the months to come, I won't just be viewing my cohort as students who need placements. The Cynical Pinkies of the world all have the potential to be difference makers and not just during their internships. Whether it be in the health industry, designing a useful bit of code, marketing a company through social media or running lab tests, placement students will be contributing to their employers, clients and wider community. Working in placements provides me with a privileged position to play a small part in making that happen. It is great to be back in the saddle and I'm looking forward to going for the ride with the class of 2013/14.
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