14 Tips to Help New College Grads Land a (Good) IT Job

IT recruiters and hiring managers share their advice on how recent college graduates can improve their chances of landing a job in IT.

By Jennifer Lonoff Schiff
Tue, June 26, 2012


IT job search and interview tips for graduates
According to a recent Dice hiring survey of nearly 1,200 IT-focused hiring managers and recruiters, demand for technology professionals should continue to be strong through 2012, with "24 percent of corporate hiring managers saying they were hiring at the entry level," according to Tom Silver, senior vice president, Dice. "It's not the levels that we saw pre-recession, but similar to last year."

As for where those jobs are, "It's a diverse set of industries looking for entry-level talent," he notes. Among the hot IT fields: healthcare, financial services, energy, government and mobile technology.

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As for what IT-related skills employers are looking for, according to a recent study by CareerBuilder and CareerRookie assessing the job prospects for the class of 2012, "companies are focusing on finding workers who have current technical skills and business acumen that can increase revenue." The most sought after students: business majors -- followed closely by computer and information science majors and engineers. Also at the head of the class: math and statistics majors and those majoring in communication technologies.

In particular, employers are looking for hires who know understand software development.

One Word: Programming

"MIS students are realizing employers are hiring as many developers and software engineers as they can find and are very open to hiring entry-level talent," explains Fritz Eichelberger, CEO, HotSpaces.net, an IT recruiting and consulting firm based in Tampa, Florida. "MIS students who avoided any development courses, however, are finding a harder time securing an IT job compared to the CS or engineering students" who have taken courses in software development. And even though it's possible to find work if you don't have a development background, "it takes longer and the salaries are not as favorable as the development-focused students," he says.

"Across the board, we're looking for HTML knowledge," says Alana Peden, a marketing assistant at SpareFoot, an Austin-based tech startup that is an online marketplace for consumers to find and reserve self-storage units. "Our developers write code using PHP, JavaScript, MySQL, HTML and CSS." But that doesn't mean you have to have majored in computer science. "One of our developers was a recent grad with a biomedical engineering degree, but he could program."

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Another piece of advice, albeit more for current students than grads: Do an internship in the field or area you are interested in pursuing. "Before a student enters into the workforce he or she should really have some 'real world' experience through a job or internship while still in school," explains David Muir, Jr., founder, The GigSpire Program, which teaches job search skills. Work experience, even if unpaid, he says, can make a big difference.

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