It was not long ago that graduates were spoiled for choice due to the Great Resignation. Near-zero migration exposed weaknesses in the Australian labour force as many industries suffered chronic skill shortages, with research finding digital skills among the most lacking.
But now the borders have opened and with it comes increased competition for recent grads with little experience.
“If this is you, do not fear. There’s plenty of things you can do as a tech grad to stand out from the crowd,” says Justin Goldberg, Head of Engineering -Technology at Australian Insurtech BizCover.
Recruitment is a common part of the role for Justin, who has hired hundreds of engineers over his career. He was heavily involved in the graduate program in his previous role at CBA and has been a central figure in hiring engineers in tech teams since making his way to BizCover.
Combined with the fact that he has roughly 20 years of technical experience under his belt, and it’s easy to see that Justin knows a thing or two about what it takes to make it in a tech role.
So, after sifting through 82 applicants for a recent junior engineering role, Justin wanted to share his experience in recruiting and what set certain applicants apart from the rest.
List groups that you have joined
One of the first things you can do as an inexperienced person looking to start a career in technology, says Justin, is to immerse yourself with like-minded peers.
“Regularly attending a meetup or group about the tech space shows a passion for what you do,” he says. “Not only does it build your skills in a more informal environment, but it helps you network and establish connections with fellow graduates.”
Justin says Meetup.com is a great place to start finding interest groups, as you can learn about real-world examples from others in the community.
“If someone can see your passion in your field and see how you interact with others at the very least it will give you an opportunity to interview for a role they might have or someone they know might be recruiting for.”
“If you stand out, then that person might reach out when a role comes up too.”
Be sure to list these groups in your CV and be ready to talk about what you learned from recent meetups as it shows your enthusiasm to a recruiter.
Explain your accomplishments
Another insight Justin gathered from his recent foray into recruitment was the difference between explaining your accomplishments compared to just listing them.
“Anyone can be given a task to do, but people that do well show what they did to add value,” he says.
“Please don’t write things like wrote code, added unit tests, implemented requirements from BA’s – that doesn’t mean much. Show examples of things you achieved such as spikes you took on, improvements you made, collaboration examples or pushing back when something wasn’t right.”
Justin says that by explaining how you achieved something also displays the skills you learned along the way.
“Show what skills you learned in a short timeframe and how you went about doing this.
Show the potential you have,” he says.
“If you work in a particular technology, try learning it in as much depth as you can. If you can prove you can pick up these skills in such a short time you have proven that you can pick up other skills quickly too.”
Do a side project or bootcamp
For many, the previous point will evoke the following response: “what if I don’t have experience?”
Well, the answer is to get some.
“Everybody must start somewhere. Start building your skills through side projects that you can demonstrate through GitHub or similar,” says Justin.
“If I see one or two commits in a few months this doesn’t mean much either. Probably out of 82 of the applicants 60 will have a GitHub profile. A sustained profile of side projects shows your commitment and will set you apart from other applicants.”
Another option, says Justin, is to join an industry bootcamp.
“If you don’t have experience, give a bootcamp a go, especially if you come from a different industry. It gives you some practical knowledge and gives you the opportunity to work under industry experts,” he says.
“Some offer opportunities for internships at companies or at least put your profile in front of recruiters. Speak to friends or go online and search for ones with good feedback.”
Create an interesting CV
Like it or not, your CV is usually an important component to landing a job. You could be a technical wizard with code but if your CV is sloppy, your job prospects might take a hit.
Business connections aside, the company you are applying for probably doesn’t know you, and your introduction to that business is literally stacked against many other eager applicants.
“Maybe it’s just me but creating an interesting-looking CV shows that a person cares about standing out,” says Justin. “It can also show that they’re capable of presenting their work well.”
“If this is not your strong suit, reach out to a professional CV writing service that specialises in tech grads – there are plenty around and it will help you make the strongest first impression to your potential employer.”
“Everyone is different and has something to offer. You may not be the most technical person to begin with but there might be other valuable things you have to bring to the table,” says Justin.
“For instance, you might be more outgoing and have a knack for helping people collaborate well together – that is not common and a great skill to sell yourself on.”
Justin says to try and find what you’re good at and accentuate this in your profile but don’t oversell yourself either as no one is perfect.
“And don’t just rely on your qualifications to get you over the line. I met a candidate recently who didn’t have a degree who I thought was fantastic and offered them the role.”
To kickstart your career with a position at BizCover, visit https://www.bizcover.com.au/careers/