Added: 9th July 2020 by mthree
Kat Snodgrass is mthree’s Head of Alumni Talent for the UK and Europe. She’s helped hundreds of graduates secure roles in Software Engineering and Production Support at global investment banks through our Alumni Programme. In this article, Kat shares what she looks for when reviewing applications and tells you how you can stand out from the crowd.
Finally - exams are finishing, final hand-ins are approaching and graduation is upon us!
It’s an amazing achievement to finish university. You’ve learnt more than your degree, you’ve developed skills from the life experiences you’ve gained along the way. You’ve met people from all walks of life and experienced a different way of learning compared to school. Maybe it was your first time living away from home and now you know not to put red socks in a white wash and can whip up several meals that cost less than £1!
You’ve learnt self-motivation and drive; now is the time to harness these and start building a successful career. Here are some practical pointers that will help you land that dream job:
Align your CV to the roles you’re going for. This sounds basic, but if you’re applying for a Software Development role, make sure the corresponding skills are highlighted in your CV and any supplementary dev projects are in your profile. I’ve received many CVs for our development programme where the opening sentence is “Looking for a role within Data Science”. This shows a lack of attention to detail.
For the Extra-Curricular Activities section it’s great to show you’re a well-rounded individual but keep it brief. Make sure you’ve actually done the activity you’ve listed and try to add in relevant achievements for the industry you’re going into – ie hackathons/personal projects/work experience/internships. Think about what you’re doing in your spare time to develop your technical knowledge (some tips further down) as this is super useful to include in your CV.
Grammar, font size, paragraph spacing, bullet point spacing – keep it all consistent. If you are unsure what font to use, we use Calibri size 11. I constantly come across spelling mistakes and poor grammar so take extra care to make sure you don’t do the same.
You’ll usually get called by a recruiter handling the graduate position you applied for. This will just be an initial discussion, not an interview as such, but you should be prepared for someone saying ‘tell me a bit about yourself’. This is what’s called your “elevator pitch”; a 30-40 second overview which should be concise, eloquent and informative. However, when people are put on the spot they can often freeze, so jot down a quick overview and practise saying it out loud again and again until you’ve got it down to a fine art. Then when asked, you can comfortably explain your background, focus on technology and a couple of points outside of education.
Get ahead of your competition! These days hiring managers are looking for technologists that show passion outside of education. It may not feel like you’ve had any spare time during university but now is a good time to pick up on your personal projects. Even if it’s a coding project from last Summer, re-engage with it; you may be able to look at it from a different perspective now or your Dev skills would have also improved over the last year!
Constant, self-taught knowledge improvement is so important and demonstrates pro-activity and a passion for your discipline. There are a range of online platforms that you can practise your coding on and you should become a regular user. I can recommend Codeacademy, LeetCode, and HackerRank.
Keep informed and read the news. Check out City A.M, the Financial Times or other sources which give you great insight into the economy and what’s going on across all sectors. Set up Google Alerts which automatically send you articles linked to the key words you have actioned.
Keep an eye on Eventbrite for online seminars and events, a lot of them are free! This is where businesses host events on topics from women in tech to blockchain.
LinkedIn is widely used these days to headhunt talent. Make sure you’ve uploaded a photo you wouldn’t mind future employers seeing. Cross reference your dates, making sure your education and work experience are aligned to your CV.
Put in your key skills as you’ll come up higher in recruiters' searches if there are more word matches, but make sure to only put in skills you’re confident in using!
There are some great graduate networks out there that will not only notify you about new roles available but also share tips and insight into the marketplace and what businesses are up to.
Bright Network is a great place to start and it’s worth uploading your CV to sites like Gradcracker and Milkround so employers can find your CV easily.
Make sure we can get in touch with you! Check your emails daily, listen to your voicemail and pick up calls you quickly respond to employers.
Be yourself and be confident in your skill set. Finding a job can feel daunting and overwhelming but a large part of my job is providing an interview framework that allows candidates to feel comfortable enough to demonstrate their potential. Talent and authenticity always shine through!