After finishing postsecondary school, you may be eager to find a job. That eagerness may be coupled with nerves, as you don’t know what to expect during the interview process. To top it off, you likely lack the experience required to make your resumé stand out from other candidates. If you leverage the experience you have obtained to date, there’s actually a good chance you can stand out from other candidates even as a new graduate. In this article, I aim to bridge the gap between your post-secondary Computer Science degree and getting your first job. Here I provide tips for new graduates and insight on how to give yourself the best opportunities for future success!
Develop a standout resumé
My first recommendation is to carefully curate your resumé. By standout résumé, I don’t mean one that is beautifully designed. Before working as an HR Generalist, I thought colourful resumés and those with unique layouts were really cool. However, after screening hundreds of resumés while working in HR, I came to notice that the creative ones often lacked practicality and functionality; they were missing the information and details needed to evaluate whether someone would be a good fit for a position. Additionally, they often tended to be confusing and vague. For example, Computer Science graduates would list Java on their resumé as a programming language they knew. Beside “Java” would be three dots. I would ask myself, “What does that mean? Are they good at Java? Are they a beginner? What point scale are the dots on?
If you are trying to land a job as a new graduate, remember that a simple, well-structured resumé often works best. This tip applies even to people with ample experience in the industry and for people outside of Computer Science. Go back to the basics to make sure your resumé is easily interpretable. Recruiters tend to spend minimal amount of time scanning resumés. You don’t want to end up in the “no” pile just because your resumé was confusing or vague. The template below is a tried and true format that is likely to help you land an interview. Don’t let your resumé be the reason you don’t stand out from other candidates!
Take relevant courses in your degree and be ready to demonstrate your skills
As a new Computer Science graduate going through the hiring process, you are likely going to be asked about data structures and algorithms. Being familiar with Hash Tables, Trees, Graphs, and others can help you solve technical problems efficiently. They are also fundamental to implementing the software you learned in school. Thus, these are skills you should be versed in and comfortable demonstrating as a new graduate applying for jobs.
Importantly, interviewers are often more interested in your process to solve technical problems rather than you landing on the correct answer. At Jarvis, we are looking to see how candidates approach a problem during the technical assessment. Thus, if they don’t solve it correctly, there is still a good chance they will be considered for the position.
During your degree, it is beneficial to take as many skill-focused courses as possible, as you will likely need to apply them in your career. If you did not take the courses during your Computer Science degree, that’s okay! There are plenty of courses available that you can complete after you graduate. Be sure to freshen up your skills before the interview to ensure that you are ready to apply your knowledge in real-time.
Prepare yourself for coding challenges and technical assessments
Companies often use coding challenges and technical assessments as part of their hiring process. They are used to test potential candidates’ technical and problem-solving skills, as well as coding proficiency. During these challenges, you will be evaluated on your data structure and algorithm knowledge, coding approach (including methods used), and how well you handle the task overall.
Although this might sound intimidating, you can actually prepare well ahead of time! You can run through various challenges on the same software used in the actual interview. LeetCode and HackerRank are common platforms used by companies to assess candidates’ technical knowledge.
As a new graduate who hasn’t necessarily been through the process before, I’d highly recommend that you familiarize yourself with the platforms ahead of time. Not only will this give you experience, but you can also use your completed projects on your GitHub profile. This helps you stand out from other candidates that may not have years of experience. You can start with the easy-level questions and build up from there!
Build your portfolio with mock projects
As a new graduate, mock projects are a fantastic way to build your portfolio and gain credibility. It is no secret that tech companies place a high value on non-classroom projects when making a hiring decision. Many of the big companies place a high value on this and may not even consider candidates who don’t have side projects to show. They also open up opportunities for unique and engaging conversations with the interviewer. This can help you stand out from other candidates who have the same Computer Science background as you! Side projects allow you to prove your abilities. They are a great way for you to demonstrate that you can apply what you’ve learned during your education in the “real world”. Additionally, you can demonstrate that you can learn and solve problems independently. The best part is that these side projects can be displayed online for recruiters to find you!
The platform I recommend to showcase your side projects as a new graduate is GitHub!
Use GitHub to showcase your side projects
GitHub is an amazing platform to display your coding skills. Additionally, you can also use this platform to interact with other programmers and engage with public repositories. Programmers can reach out through GitHub and find creative solutions to coding problems for their projects. You can offer or seek advice from other software developers. Make sure to build your GitHub profile according to industry standards and to contribute to it often! You may also use LinkedIn or other similar platforms to increase your chances of being noticed by recruiters.
As a new graduate, it may be difficult to know what to expect during the interview process. Additionally, it’s easy to wonder how you can stand out from other candidates who have the same Computer Degree as you. By implementing some of the recommendations above, you will be better prepared for interviews and technical assessments, so you can land your dream job! If you’ve already been offered an interview, be sure to check these interview tips to help you prepare! You can still land, ace, and stand out from other candidates even as a new graduate without experience.
Talent Incubation Specialist
Amila Duranović is an HR generalist at Jarvis - she hires Candidates for Jarvis's Technical Consulting Program.
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Jarvis is a leading IT consulting firm headquartered in Canada that provides total talent solutions with ongoing partnerships across North America’s top financial institutions, cutting-edge startups, and major technology companies.
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