Getting Ready for the Workplace? Some Tips for Graduates

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My Facebook news feed is overflowing with graduation pictures 🙂 From all of us here at Creating Info, our sincere Congratulations to you all! 🙂

For me graduation had always been a bitter sweet experience. It’s happy because its a major milestone achieved in your life, but its sad because of an uncertain future and the fact that you’re somewhat parting with friends and routines you are used to. But all of us has to go outside of our comfort zones in order to grow. And let me just tell you – it’s going to be ok. Life goes on, usually for the better.

College graduation was a while back for me already. Now, I am on the other end, the one recruiting and hiring new graduates into the industry. So I just hope to provide you guys with some simple advice for those of you who are planning to apply for a job soon. 🙂

Make Your Resume Relevant

Depending on the type of organization you apply to, many applicants gets weed out beginning from their resume. And I often find it disheartening how little time and effort applicants seem to spend on it. It gives the organization a feel that you are halfhearted about your application or that you are just plain sloppy. Both of which are not traits an organization wants from their future employees. It doesn’t take a lot of time to make this right, so take the initiative to do so. Here’s some simple guide:

What to do:

  • Provide contact information – full name, address, phone numbers.
  • Provide details about your schools – high school, college.
  • Provide relevant achievements, it’s ok to brag a bit as long as its truthful – honors, awards, other recognitions.
  • Provide details about your thesis and other major projects – Short 2-3 sentences description about your thesis and what makes it difficult. Then 1-2 sentences description on what was your role in it.
  • Provide details about other freelance projects – Short 2-3 sentences on projects you’ve done on your own. Nothing says passion in the work more than people who will still do it even in their free time.
  • Provide details about your extra-curricular activities – name or organization, position, projects. People with reasonable extra-curricular activities demonstrate that they are well rounded and sometimes provide insights in their leadership skills. So state what they are and more importantly, what you did in these extra-curricular projects.
  • Provide details on technologies used – Some organizations are looking for specific technologies while others are open-ended. A list of the technologies you’ve used and your self assessed proficiency are sometimes helpful and relevant.
  • Spell check and use a presentable format

What you can live without:

  • Seminars attended – seminars don’t really provide a lot of value to your application and is often a waste of paper space. Unless that seminar or training had an actual test that you did well on, they don’t usually add points to your application.
  • Pictures – unless of course the job you are applying to needs someone who has to look a certain way. But if you are applying for an IT Position this is usually irrelevant.
  • Over-personal information – like your height, weight, religion, father’s name, mother’s name etc. Similar to pictures, unless you are applying for a job where these physical attributes will be of value, you can take it out.

Now the question is, what if you didn’t spend a lot of time in college building up a good resume? The answer is that it’s not yet too late. Writing your resume is supposed to be a journey to self-discovery too. It helps you find out where you are today and compare it to where you want to go. Once you’ve identified that, then start making personal steps to keep filling your resume with new experiences that will lead you to where you want to go. It’s not yet too late, be truthful and sell yourself properly.

Research, Research, Research

Your resume is the first step for a company to express interest in you to join the company. But once we call you, we hope you will take the time to make us know that the feeling is mutual. We love to talk to applicants who took the time to research and understand what we do as a business, and someone who already did some pre-analysis whether they are really interested in the job. I know some companies do hire just to fill-in a headcount. But for most of us, we are looking for applicant who is the right fit for the role and right fit in our organization. We don’t just want anyone, we want someone who has the potential to stay for the long term. So find out more about us, show interest when we talk, ask as many questions as you can to have a better understanding. It’s a 2-way process in hiring.

Do Practice Interviews

If you haven’t done a lot of interviews yet in the past – it’s definitely going to feel like you went to the stage and talked to the crowd. If you have stage fright, then you might lose your chances altogether. If you are a nervous wreck and all over the place during the interview, it will give your interviewer a feeling of uncertainty about taking you in. Interviewers will start to wonder, what if she cracks under pressure? What if he has to talk to a customer? But sometimes, it’s not really who you are. You are good under pressure, you talk well to customers, you are just letting your nerves get the best of you in this interview.

Just like public speaking can be improved through practice, so does handling yourself in interviews. Just take time to practice. Get a sample interview questions in the internet and practice with a friend. The questions will probably not be the same, but at least you’ve tried to place yourself in the situation already and will likely do better.

Be Presentable in Interviews

I, for one, claims to be not a very looks-based person. But, to say that how you look during an interview makes no impact at all is also a lie. For us in the IT industry though – sometimes showing up looking like a geek will work, especially when we are particularly looking for a geek. But, for any other reasons, this is not acceptable and sometimes even a sign of disrespect for the interviewer. If you can research on the usual dress code for the company you are applying to, showing up looking like you will fit like a glove will work. If you have no idea, I strongly recommend being over-dressed rather than under-dressed.

Your Grades do Matter

Ok, to be clear, I am not saying that it’s ALL that matters, but it does matter. When we are students we’d love to think that grades are just random numbers your professors pick and a number you can use to bargain with your parents in getting what you want. However, when you are 1 applicant out of thousands out there that graduate each year – your grades can help you stand out from the pile. It says a lot about how you understand excellence and how you handle responsibilities. If you are already demonstrating this while in college, then there’s a higher chance you’ll demonstrate it at work. But, good grades can only get you in the door of the company you wanted to work for, once you’re in – it’s an even playing field for everyone else again.

Similar to our resume concern – what if your grades are not really all that good? Then I recommend that you take time to reflect on your transcript and recall what brought you to those times when you failed. It’s a helpful exercise to understand where you are likely stronger, to properly target the kind of positions where you might seem to be a better fit. If you just didn’t do well on that area but felt that you really wanted to, then take the time to practice and run some exercises and projects. Lastly, be humble for your shortcomings and give yourself a reasonable self-assessment. If your interviewer sense that you are sincere and you want to learn, we will likely respond more positively to you.

There’s still so much more than can be said about this topic, but I don’t want to overwhelm you with a giant article. Feel free to ask us questions through and more importantly, we hope that you also consider us as a company of choice for your future work.

Happy Job Hunting! And Congratulations Again! 🙂