Photo by Dan KitwoodGetty Images

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Listen Up Grads: 3 Tips To Becoming The Ideal IT Candidate

New graduates trying to get a foot in the door need to sell potential employers on both their technical and non-technical qualifications, and tailor their capabilities to hiring managers' specific needs. Here's what they should know.

Graduation season is upon us, and many students have begun sending out resumes in hopes of finding an internship, a job, and possibly a career in the IT sector. Even with relevant coursework and experience, today's job market benefits those candidates who differentiate themselves from their peers. New graduates trying to get a foot in the door need to sell potential employers on both their technical and non-technical qualifications, and tailor their capabilities to hiring managers' specific needs.

Here are three tips for the latest crop of IT job seekers:

Understand who you’re interviewing with. It's always important to research potential employers and their industries before writing your cover letter or going into an interview. This step is even more necessary in the evolving IT sector. A company's services or products, and the opportunities and threats around them, play into its business and hiring decisions. Recent graduates should familiarize themselves with their prospective employers' specialties accordingly. Informational interviews, internships and career fairs are excellent ways to gain insight into a firm’s culture, values and needs.

Even if your initial research doesn’t result in a job offer on the first try, immersing yourself in the sector is still a valuable investment of your time. Following relevant trade publications and tracking industry events shows that you have a vested interest in the field, and will help you better understand hiring managers' priorities.

Flaunt your certifications. Earning an IT certification not only imparts practical workplace knowledge, but validates your skills to future employers. CompTIA's recent study, HR Perceptions of IT Training and Certification, found that two-thirds of HR executives feel that certifications are valuable, compared to less than one-third three years ago. On top of that, CompTIA's study also found 72 percent of employers report frequently using IT certifications as a requirement for certain positions.

Many employers use certifications as a way to filter candidates, so applicants who list their certifications prominently are in a better position to demonstrate their talents and capacity to contribute to the organization. In addition to a resume, online networks such as LinkedIn allow candidates to highlight credentials in their profiles. Graduates who can bring proven, workplace-relevant credentials to the table can distinguish themselves to employers— while also gaining valuable expertise during the certification process.

Shore up those soft skills. Your previous education has certainly prepared you for the tasks required for an IT career, but employers are equally interested in non-technical qualifications. An employee's ability to work on a team or lead a project and keep it organized are vital to your continued success, especially as organizations work to integrate IT with the front office. Even technical workers may be called on to assist with marketing and sales initiatives, driving the demand for candidates with well-rounded skill sets. Other skills, like being able to communicate effectively within an organization and the resilience to adapt to a changing environment are also critical in today’s corporate world.

The graduates of 2015 are entering a more optimistic economy than many of their predecessors, but they still have a tough road ahead during their job hunt. Continuing to bolster your knowledge, promote your diverse skills and sharpen your industry expertise is the surest route to landing your dream IT job.

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