What it takes to avoid a crappy first job in a competitive job market.
The class of 2017 is joining the workforce with some tough challenges but, according to researchers, with plenty of optimism. But no matter how lofty the speeches on this year’s commencement circuit may be, the reality is that lots of new grads will land in crappy entry-level jobs–if they’re lucky to find jobs at all.
That means competition for the good ones is going to be steep. So to find out what it takes to get a leg up, Fast Company asked a few recent grads at YouTube, Giphy, and SoundCloud for their advice.
MAKE SOMETHING YOU CAN SHOW OFF
Probably the most common resume-writing advice is to avoid describing your job duties and focus instead on something you actually accomplished. Not only is that wise counsel, it goes for your LinkedIn profile, too, and Niger Little-Poole and Mike Nolan are living proof that it works.
Both joined the GIF-sharing app Giphy less than a year ago, after recruiter Eric Goldfarb noticed on LinkedIn that both had done some interesting work. While interning at Mozilla, Nolan had built an in-browser video-editing tool that caught Goldfarb’s eye. Nolan, now a web engineer at Giphy, was proud of the project, and since it was open-source, he was able to share it on GitHub, then post the link on LinkedIn. “I really liked the project so I really wanted to tell people about it,” he says.
Little-Poole’s role as a data scientist at Giphy is his second job out of college, but he’s had even more success than Nolan using this approach. Little-Poole cites mutually up-to-date GitHub and LinkedIn accounts as a major reason he’s landed internships as well the data engineering job he held prior to joining Giphy. On LinkedIn, he lists the “tools I know how to use, programming languages, and I keep a lot of links to things I’ve worked on in the past.”
It’s a simple matter of giving employers something concrete to get interested about. Little-Poole says he’s already “seen that come up a lot of times on interviews. People ask very specifically because they can see it,” adding, “I really think it’s about having done something.”
He’s right. Writing for Fast Company earlier this month, Facebook’s head of people Lori Goler confirmed how important this is. “If you can show a hiring manager at Facebook something you yourself thought of, put together on your own, and then convinced other people to start using, you’ll stand a better chance of sticking out.”
FORGET YOUR CREDENTIALS–JUST KEEP LEARNING
“I wasn’t a strong engineer when I started interning at Google. I had barely started coding the year that I applied,” says Angelica Inguanzo, now a user experience (UX) engineer at YouTube. But she was undaunted. “I just kept learning and developing my coding skills, and that’s what led me from a nontechnical internship to more technical projects and my current engineering position.”
Inguanzo says earning a spot in Google’s BOLD internship program was a crucial factor in eventually landing a full-time role, and she chalks that win up to a few things. First, she says, “I could talk for days about my passions,” which include the “intersection of art and technology,” and second, “I had experience in a range of areas because I was constantly challenging myself.”
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