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Dear Grads: Here’s How to Land Your Dream Tech Job

Published on Jun 4, 2015 at 6:22 pm in Tennessean Articles, Tips & Tricks.

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Dear recent graduate, welcome to the real world. We’re so happy to have you — you and your wide-eyed confidence, inherent tech savvy and key demographic insight.

Now that you’ve graduated, your inbox is likely full of lists touting the highest paying, top hiring, most rewarding careers. (Thanks, Aunt Alice.) And jobs in technology probably topped them all. Truly, it’s a tremendous field to get into right now. The current median wage is a cool $101,410, according to the Labor Department. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 23 percent increase for software developers by 2022, more than double the 11 percent overall employment increase.

These stats ring true in Nashville. In fact, Nashville is one of Forbes’ top 10 cities for creating IT jobs. With the city projected to grow 4.4 percent per year, there will be 7,100 new jobs by 2019. Before you click submit on that job application, however, here are three ways to land the (tech) job of your dreams.

1. Know how to network. Networking can feel uncomfortable, awkward, disingenuous. And to that I say: Get over it. Networking is the single best way to get a job, especially if you want a great one. Talk to anyone and everyone. Reach out to your teachers, school alumni groups and your parents’ friends. There’s a good chance they got their first job by doing the same and will want to help. But, if you help, you have to ask for it.

You can — and should — network online, as well. Social media has become much more than just a space to post pictures of your dog or breakfast burrito. These platforms are an extension of your job application. Make sure all your posts are ones worth reading and point to your passions, skills and unique ways you perceive the world. And, a note on LinkedIn: Take the time to fill it out. Employers will almost assuredly visit your page if they’re interested, so make sure all your information is thoughtfully written and regularly updated.

Before you start going to informational meetings or job interviews, nail down your “elevator pitch.” You should be able to clearly articulate whom you are and what you want to do with just a handful of sentences. Make no mistake, this takes practice. Write it down and rehearse it so that when you are asked to say something about yourself you’ll blow them away with your thoughtful and succinct response.

2. Show us what you can do. More than what school you went to, what you majored in or what your grades were, we, the employers, want to see what you’ve done. From there, we can get an infinitely better sense of what you can do. So, this means show us what you can do. If you don’t have an online portfolio, make one right now. Sharing a website link is much easier than trying to email 10 plus attachments.

If you need to amp up your portfolio, try volunteering your skills to a local company or organization. It’s a true win-win. They get your much-needed help, and you get to hone your work while expanding your network.

3. Diversify your skills. The one constant in the tech industry is change. Which means tech industries hire folks that can quickly and readily adapt to it. You can’t just focus on mastering one type of program or software, because then you will be ill prepared for a disruption in the market.

Increasingly, as technology seeps into every industry and sector, those that work in tech have to be equally dynamic. In addition to traditional tech skills, employers look for soft skills like creative problem solving, working with others and interdisciplinary thinking.

This post also appeared in The Tennessean, where Concept Technology has a bi-weekly feature in the Business section.