Applying for and starting a new job can be both a daunting and an exciting process. However, the more prepared you feel the less daunting it will become and far more exciting. It is also easy to feel discouraged if you don’t get a job you applied for, but these tips will help reduce your stress and hopefully get you that job!
The first thing to do is to create a CV to use when applying for jobs. Firstly, ensure you use a professional layout that doesn’t have any quirky designs or images as these might not be picked up by an applicant tracking system (ATS) and so won’t be reviewed. The average CV length is two pages but one page can be long enough if you are just starting out in the workplace and three pages might be acceptable if you are in a senior role or a contractor, otherwise, this will be a bit too lengthy and any more than this is likely to be overlooked. Research has shown the average recruiter will spend just 7.4 seconds looking at your CV, so it is crucial to make it memorable early on and not too lengthy.
Start off by creating a short but engaging, paragraph about yourself, so the recruiter wants to carry on reading. Also, try to avoid just listing generic terms for yourself such as ‘reliable’ ‘responsible’ and ‘hard-working’. Whilst these might all be good ways to describe you, most people will use them, so it is unlikely to differentiate you from other potential candidates. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t use these words at all, but it is best to describe why they apply to you.
Here are some examples, starting with just listing generic terms:
“I am a hard-working individual who is reliable and can take responsibility at work.”
Next is a more effective and descriptive version:
“My ambition has enabled me to obtain strong technical knowledge in engineering and ultimately leading to my current job as a Software Engineer. I have helped save our company time and money by optimising software for speed and scalability and my interpersonal skills have helped me in presenting new features to stakeholders and internal customers. However, I am still eager to learn as much as I can, pushing my skills even further and taking on more responsibility.”
Whilst it is important to explain a bit about your background and skills, rather than just state information, it is also key to keep it succinct. Aim for your opening paragraph to be no more than 150 words (if you have more you want to write, this can go in the cover letter which we will go into more detail about later).
If you have recently graduated, it is unlikely you will have much work experience. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to write about. Soft skills can be just as important as hard skills in tech. Some of these include independent thinking, teamwork, problem-solving, communication skills, and adapting to change. Another factor to include is any relevant projects you worked on during your time at university/college, whether this was during an internship year at a company or as a module on your course, or any that you’ve done in your own time.
For a free CV review from our partner TopCV, click here.
Having a LinkedIn page can be a highly useful tool when job seeking, so it is important to keep on top of it, making sure it has details of your current role and company. This will help employers that are considering your application to get a better idea of your skills and experience, so make sure you sell yourself! They also have a robust job board and allow you to set up job alerts based on your career interests and connect with people in the same job or industry as you so can help you find your next job.
Whilst it is beneficial to have LinkedIn, other forms of social media might not be so helpful. So, make sure you clean up your other accounts such as Facebook or Instagram. This doesn’t mean you have to delete your accounts, just make sure they’re on private and your profile picture or cover photo isn’t inappropriate. A good idea might be to ask someone to unfollow you and search for your name to make sure they can’t see anything you wouldn’t want them to.
There may be some occasions when you’re submitting an application online where you won’t be able to include a cover letter, however, always aim to include one where you can. Unlike the opening paragraph of your CV which is likely to be able to stay the same whatever role you’re applying for; your cover letter should be more specific to each job or company you send an application to. This includes mentioning how you fulfil every skill in the job description, giving examples of when you have demonstrated each. It would also be worthwhile to research the company and how you could help the company grow.
Below are some do’s and don’ts suggested by Harvard Business Review:
When you are applying for jobs, there are some things to consider before making the decision that the company and role is the right fit for you. Benefits is one of these factors. For example, one of these might be working from home. This not only saves you time and money you would normally spend on commuting, but can also be particularly beneficial to mums for many reasons. It will allow you to spend more time with your child or be at home if they need picking up from nursey or school. Flexible working hours and days can also allow mothers to fit work in around childcare and other responsibilities without it detrimentally impacting their career. You can read more about the top incentives for women here.
Another factor you might want to investigate is the employer’s health insurance policies they offer as incentives. For women, things like fertility/miscarriage support, menstrual health and mental health support are hugely important.
Other factors to consider:
A study has shown 93% of people say they feel nervous about going on interviews, making it the second thing that makes us most nervous, just after public speaking. So, it is not surprise if you feel a bit anxious about the unknown of an interview, however preparation will massively help ease these feelings and increase your chances of a successful interview. Firstly, make sure you do your research on the company, below are some things to look up about them:
Looking at the company’s social media (e.g. LinkedIn) might also give you some insight into the company, for example, show you any events they’ve attended, or hosted which you might be able to mention in the interview. In addition, it might give you an indication of the culture at the company. For example, if it seems like they’re doing team building activities or if the team seems diverse. Gaining this knowledge about the company is much more useful than just googling the company to see what they do as it will not only give you a well-rounded idea of the company so you can answer questions like this in an interview, but it will also help you realise if this is a company you’d like to be part of. Remember, it needs to be a good fit for you as much as the organisation.
Researching about the role will also help give you a better understanding of whether it is a job you’d like to take on if it’s not the same as your current title. This includes both making sure you are familiar with the job description the company has posted but also have done more extensive research about the responsibilities you are likely to be given and skills you’ll need in case the job description is vague. Then have a think about times you’ve demonstrated these skills, whether they’re soft skills or technical, and when you’ve been given similar responsibilities. This will help give you an idea of questions they might ask in the interview and how to answer them effectively.
Spend time practicing some interview questions and answers, which you can find good examples of here. One of the most common is asking you what your strengths and weaknesses are, so make sure you’re prepared for either of these. However, be careful of your answer for your weaknesses. Whilst we all know no one is perfect and doesn’t have weaknesses, it’s best to not focus on them too much and, instead, turn the weaknesses into strengths. For example, if you know if you are bad at time management, you can turn this into a positive whilst showing self-reflection through saying something like “I have previously struggled with time management. However, now that I know this is an area I struggle with, I know I need to make lists with the high priority tasks at the top. Then I can highlight them when they are completed. I also set myself a realistic deadline of when each will be done, so I can get work done in a timely manner, without getting overwhelmed.” Also, make sure you don’t say too many strengths and you might sound like you’re trying to show off. Aim to stick to a maximum of 3, unless they ask you for more.
By following these 5 steps, hopefully you’ll be feeling more prepared to start applying for and finding your dream job in tech.