Congratulations on making it to the final sprint of your academic career. You have no doubt acquired valuable skills through a series of projects, coursework, and internships to prepare you for the next big step – landing your first job!
The idea of interviewing for what can potentially set the trajectory of your career after college may be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are four ways that you can market yourself to potential employers to stand out amongst the competition to land your first job after college.
First things first, lets talk about your resume.
Often times, your resume is the first impression an employer will get of you. The most common mistake made is to provide a company with a resume that is hard to follow in the first 10-20 seconds of reviewing it. Leverage resources such as your Career Services department to go over your resume, and make sure the format is one that is clear, concise, and free of grammatical errors. Keep in mind that employers may receive hundreds of resumes (sometimes daily), so it’s key to keep it to no more than one page. You may also ask after submitting your resume if the employer (or recruiter) would like to see sample portfolios, academic papers, and/or projects you’ve completed in school to provide a closer look at your project experience.
A common workflow on a resume includes:
- Basic contact information
- Educational information (school, degree, graduation date)
- A list of coursework recently taken
- Work experience
- Technical skills (if applicable)
- Extracurricular activities
You’ll want to be able to speak to the information on your resume during an interview, so leave off any information that you’re not confident about discussing.
Second, develop your elevator pitch.
We’re firm believers that practice makes perfect.. You should be able to give a high level overview of yourself, areas of expertise, and what you are looking for in a potential job opportunity. Friends, mentors, career services advisors, and even your parents are good avenues to practice your pitch and how to tackle potential interview questions that may come your way. Resources such as Glassdoor.com, peers, and even current employees of the company you’re interested in working for can give you an insight into the type of questions that may be asked.
For Technical opportunities, make sure to brush up on your technical skills. Review basic concepts and algorithms. If you are asked to code, be prepared to answer questions on the spot and explain how you worked through the problem to show your logic and critical thinking skills.
Practicing your pitch will allow you to work on your natural and unique pacing for answering questions during an interview. Make sure to jot down a few questions for the interviewers too, as it shows that you’re truly interested in learning more about what’s next for the company, the role, and how you could help achieve the company’s business goals. You will learn that asking questions during an interview can be very empowering when executed at the right time.
Third, take time before your interview to do research.
Figure out where the company you’re interviewing with is headed, become familiar with their products and/or services, and what sets them apart from their competitors. Pick an existing product that the company sells or is developing that interests you and be prepared to talk about it with the interview team.
Fourth, make sure to show up early to your interview and dress appropriately.
When in doubt, ask the recruiter that you’ve been speaking with what the appropriate dress code is, or air on the side of dressing business formal for an interview.
Remember, each persons’ journey in landing their first job is unique and all their own. No matter how many (or few) interviews you find yourself in, make sure to always prepare for the opportunity ahead. Keep practicing, honing in on your skills, taking advice and tips from trusted sources, and maintain a positive attitude along the way.
All the best to you, and happy job hunting!
Jen Lestin and Chris Peterson
P.S. If you’re a current student looking for tips & tricks to nail an interview and land an internship, be on the lookout for our next post on this topic.
About the authors:
Jen is a University Relationship Manager at VMware, and has been with the company for two years. She is responsible for the execution of many of VMware’s university campus related events and managing the relationships between the colleges and universities and VMware. When not at VMware, you’ll find Jen volunteering, spending time with family and friends, and enjoying the many trails that Austin, Texas has to offer.
Chris is a University Recruiting Manager at VMware. Chris is passionate about helping VMware connect with top talent while empowering job seekers to successfully navigate their career move to drive their career goals forward. For Chris it’s a unique role that allows him to win tangibly and intangibly, internally and externally. When not at work, you’ll find Chris connecting with others and enjoying a game of soccer.
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