It’s May, which means students everywhere have been scouring websites, meeting with company recruiters on campus, attending hackathons, and generally doing everything in their collective power to land that first post-graduation job. But if the viable job leads have been few and far between, never fear: You have time to regroup and try a new strategy. Here’s some specific advice for new grads from some of the top recruiting talent at IBM, EMC, and Yahoo:
Don’t Sell Yourself Short
According to Brigid MacMahon, talent leader at IBM Watson, the key to snagging the first job is spinning the resume in the right way. “Most undergrads underrepresent their experience,” she said. An undergrad might have six months of Java programming under his or her belt, and yet prove reluctant to mention it on a resume because it wasn’t experience gained “on the job.” Most employers, however, are more interested in your actual skills than where you learned them.
And don’t forget relevant class time and outside events. “Your coursework and even your hackathon time counts,” MacMahon added. “It’s all about having a proficiency in it to work in it.”
What do employers want right now? According to MacMahon, healthcare is big—and any experience with healthcare technology can help you stand out from the competition. Knowledge of the cloud and machine learning are No. 2 and 3 on her list. In other words, figure out what’s really moving tech.
Cindy Gallerani, senior director for university relations at EMC, suggested that new grads can benefit from showing off their short skills. “Companies don’t just look for solid technical skills anymore,” she said. “New grads need to have great communication skills (verbal and written), the ability to influence for results, presentation skills, and the ability to work and thrive in a team environment.” While EMC is on the lookout for computer science graduates with skills in data analytics, problem solving, and multiple programming languages, the ability to effectively communicate your great ideas also has to show through on the resume (and in the interview).
Know Who Would Hire You
Flooding the market with resumes isn’t a good use of your time, said Tracie Waecker, senior manager for Yahoo’s University Recruitment and APM program lead. New grads will often send out a flurry of resumes, even when they don’t meet the job requirements. “Devote your time and resources to a potential job that’s a better fit for you,” she said. “Beyond the basic qualifying attributes like course of study, GPA, and academic accomplishments, we also look for leadership qualities, contributions to open source projects, and other transformative skills.”
Match up your skills and your intended career trajectory to the company, and don’t simply target the largest and most well-known firms. Small and midsized firms can also offer interesting job opportunities.