As a tech recruiter I know one thing: available job openings in international software companies are not hard to come by. Better yet, there is a known high demand for software engineers and others with an IT background and a known shortage of supply. With so many recruiters hot on their heels, it may seem that developers can just sit back and let the companies do their bidding. But throughout the years I’ve learned that this is not always the case. Having gone through countless application processes, I have met talented and inspiring tech professionals who have each individually inspired me with their genuine connection and ambition to landing that software position. Even though there is no shortage of talent, the best developers always make an effort to stand out. They offer great learnings for starters looking for their ideal position. I have bundled a few insights that can help you to kick-start your career in IT.
Make sure you stand out!
Start by going back to the drawing board. To the core; think about your talents, which competencies you’d like to develop more, and how you’d like to create impact while implementing them. Take all this and write down your 60-second story to WHAT are the highlights that describe your unique self and what you bring to the table, WHAT fuels your fire in your career journey, and HOW you make sure to continuously put this into practice in an unusual and BOLD way. Let this be your solid foundation to staying true to your personal goals when looking for new opportunities.
Be proud of your work
Think about your achievements and reflect on them! Sum up a few projects (even if they took place during your study career, because they are just as important) that you’re proud of and elaborate on the WHY. Answering this potential question during an interview will indirectly give a glimpse into your thought patterns and work attitude.
Dare to take a risk during interviews
Think outside the box when answering interview questions. Be prepared for tough questions. Most interviews are designed to dig into behavioral patterns, competencies, and to see how you think or how you tackle challenges. Outplay this game by being prepared for this; explain your thoughts, highlight your assumptions, go beyond the obvious and elaborate your answers, be critical towards usual ways of handling or doing things within the company, and – most of all – think out loud.
Go beyond the IT skills check
Always remember! You’re competing against other professionals who meet every single requirement to fulfill the job. So, if there are different or extracurricular things you’re doing or did, this will make you stand out! Examples are charity groups, developing your own brand and/or website, contribution to trending topics in the field, active participation in industry-relevant panels, and more. Don’t hesitate to be proud and mention your achievements. As long as they are genuine and your truth, there is no need to hide what actually sets you apart!
Never underestimate your ‘soft’ skills…
Working at an international company also requires having certain skills that aren’t typically easy to obtain or train but are crucial to understand and apply complex solutions on-the-job. Creativity is a good example: It gives you the ability to come up with diverse alternatives and solutions, in the event of sudden developments within a project that change the context and expectations. Being creative means you are able to find the balance between innovative and customized ideas and standard solutions. A good dose of communication skills can also be very valuable. The ability to communicate both positive as well as challenging news to different stakeholders from other developers and Management to external clients, really sets you apart.
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Do your competency, skills, and keywords research
Jot down the competencies you’d like to develop and look for the match in the job that resembles most of them. If you fall short on a few requirements, don’t fake it. Honesty is and will always be your biggest chance at this point. Your proactive attitude and vision as to obtaining these skills throughout the job can still be of positive influence in actually obtaining the job. When matching the requirements, make sure to use the same keywords as used by the company to describe these specific requirements; this will automatically increase the visibility of your job application. I can’t stress this enough: always BE HONEST to the company and to yourself!
It’s about you!
And remember, it’s YOU who gets the job, not your resume or your motivation letter. Even though it sets the tone, it’s up to you to sell yourself. So, above all, stay true to yourself and your talents. If you work from this foundation, you will have every ingredient in place to matching the requirements of that dream job you’ve got your eyes set on.
Take your 60-second pitch as your ‘go-to’ guide in creating that resume and motivation letter that will make an unforgettable first impression that will open doors to a new career opportunity! And when you get your intake interview, be prepared but most of all be relaxed. Your enthusiasm and positive energy will set the tone and contribute to your first impression. Also, be kind to yourself in this process. If you don’t get the job, don’t give up. Reflect on what you could work on, push your own limits to get that experience, and be patient in the process as you keep on trying. And, NEVER stop believing in yourself.