As a recent technology graduate, you’re eager to send out resumes and land that first full-time tech job. But who to send them to? The "monster" job sites? Newspaper ads? You really need a more targeted approach. One that dovetails with your career goals and working environment. The first step is to prioritize with some basic “must haves,” which include:
- Location. With gas hovering around $4/gallon, you need to avoid long commutes. The flip side of this is that you could relocate. Something to consider, since like most college grads, you're not tied down to a mortgage or spouse who would also have to relocate.
- Company size. Smaller firms have faster career trajectories. Big companies have lots of on-the-job training.
- Financial stability. Is the company a recent angel-financed startup? Or do they have deep financial roots? Startups have cache but little cash; on the upside, they offer some exciting posts for recent grads with talent.
- Hiring history: Has the company been on a hiring freeze or laying people off? If so, how are these activities impacting the group or division you’re targeting?
- Corporate Culture. Some are heavy on teambuilding (walking on hot coals, etc.) or social awareness (planting trees, feeding the homeless, etc.); others are strictly 9 to 5.
- Benefits package. Medical/dental/vision coverage, performance bonuses, matching 401 contributions, help with school loans, personal time off, help with relocation expenses. It adds up.
The Target List
Once you set up these filters, you need to develop a target list of companies. Here, you’ll have to mine all your contacts. These would include people you met at trade shows, conferences and tech seminars. You should also go through your list of friends who are already working in your field. Look at business, industry, and other workplace-related Web sites. And don’t forget regional business association directories. You should start with at least two-dozen companies.
Don’t Blindly Contact HR
The next step can pose a challenge, depending on the type and size of companies on your target list. You’ll need to do some research to make sure your cover letter and resume ends up in the right hands—and that’s not the HR person, but the person actually doing the hiring. Online or printed directories may have the name and title. But you should call the company to confirm both.
Target Your Resume
Do some research and target your resume to the specific needs of the company. "For a typical job you may come up with 12 bullet points -- but on the resume you send you should only select 6 or 7 that are most important," says Brad Karsh, president of JB Training Solutions, a Chicago-based leadership consulting firm. Use the job description as a guide. If you’ve talked to someone in the company at a job fair, tech conference or seminar, use that information as well. "If the job calls for someone who can do sales, move any of your sales-related bullet points to the top of the list," says Karsh.
Targeting the companies you hope to work for then targeting your resume to meet the specific needs of those companies can help you land the job that’s just right for you.
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