How to find your first tech job
HubSpot’s director of engineering, Barbara McCarthy, with students at ConnectED. Image: Marco Bevacqua

How to find your first tech job

29 Nov 2016208 Shares

HubSpot’s ConnectED event helped university students get on the right road to finding their first tech job after they graduate. So, where do you start?

For those pursuing an education in tech, they might know what they need to learn and what skills they need to have for a fruitful tech career, but how do they take that first step on the ladder?

HubSpot aimed to answer that very question with its ConnectED event, held on 25 November. ConnectED was a half-day event to help university students land their first jobs in tech, with CV workshops, panel discussions and insider knowledge about those initial stages of a tech career.

Students from across the country attended the event at HubSpot’s offices, most of whom were studying computer science.

One of the key factors to searching for that first job in tech is a lot of research. HubSpot provided students with a guide to make the process of job searching more manageable.

Sift through the noise

Most job boards like Indeed allow you to set up instant alerts that will immediately email you when a position is posted, with specific keywords in your chosen area. Twitter is another option for monitoring job listings in real time.

Get yourself into the habit of searching for specific keywords like ‘product manager’ or ‘software engineer’.

As you find specific companies or job sites tweeting about positions regularly, you can add them to a public or private Twitter list to make monitoring easier.

Tap into your network

If job boards are not returning the results you’d like, opt instead for targeted, personalised emails to members of your address book, second or third connections on LinkedIn, or companies of interest who may not have current open job listings.

70pc of jobs are found through personal relationships, according to John Bennett, director of the master of science programme at the McColl School of Business. When you’re trying to develop your career, making personal connections, both online and offline, is critical.

Additionally, modern networking takes place largely online. If you are trying to break into the tech industry in particular, it’s crucial that you push everything you write and create, no matter how big or small, to the public. If you want to be a designer, start sharing your work to Behance or Dribbble; if you want to be a developer, push everything to GitHub or CodePen; and if you want to do content creation, publish a LinkedIn Pulse post or create your own Medium account.

Don’t be afraid to send direct messages to developers or managers, admiring a specific aspect of their work and asking for their creative expertise over a cup of coffee. Best practices are to attach your CV, shorten your recent experiences to a few quick bullet points in the body of the email, include your ideal job titles and companies, and of course, thank them graciously for their support.

Stay organised

Once you’ve done some initial digging and perhaps a few informal chats, your goal should be to narrow down and strategically focus on a dream list of 10-12 companies. Glassdoor can be an amazing resource to get an insider’s view on what it’s like to be an employee at certain companies and read up on missions, policies, and perks.

Following companies’ blogs and social media accounts can also help you research the most up-to-date news on the company, its performance, and its people. After compiling your list, staying organised is crucial. HubSpot recommends keeping a job application tracking template, with key information such as the title of the position you’re applying for, the location, the type of company, the date you applied, who you included as your references, and the name and email of the hiring manager, for starters.

Researching tech companies: What you need to know

It’s all well and good to be told to research the companies you might want to work for, but how do you go about doing that? There are a few things you should be looking out for when you’re thinking about applying for a particular company. HubSpot suggest asking a few questions to start off.

  • What is the company’s tech stack? 

The first question you should ask is what tech stack the company’s development team uses. Are they using the latest and greatest technologies and coding languages? Or are they stuck on an old stack? Tech moves extremely fast, so you don’t want to get stuck in the past. If the company hasn’t upgraded recently, you should enquire whether they have plans to do so in the near future, or if they are open to stack suggestions. The best development teams will be open to your input.

  • How much of an impact can I have? 

For your first job out of university, you want to be learning, but you want to make sure you are also at a company where you can have impact. If you have the talent, there is no way you should be spending the formative year(s) of your career in testing or just fixing bugs. You will want to work on real problems and make sure you are quickly given the chance to develop code and deliver features that will give you the foundational experience, which you need to grow your career in the coming years.

  • Will I enjoy the development culture?

There is nothing more frustrating than spending loads of time writing software that takes months to see the light of day. At most corporations, sometimes it can take over a year to release your code, depending on the time between test cycles.

That’s why it’s critical to ask potential employers how often their development team pushes code live, what is the average time it takes for a product to go from conception to launch, and how long is the deployment process (ideally, it should be short – five minutes or less).

  • Who will I be working with?

Lastly, make sure to enquire about the calibre of the engineers you will be working with. Are they influencing the software industry as a whole as well as building a great product? A great indication of this is their contributions to open source projects.

Looking for jobs in tech or science? Check out our Employer Profiles for information on companies hiring right now and sign up for our Career Republic e-zine for a weekly digest of sci-tech careers news and advice.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny joined Silicon Republic in 2016 as part of the Careers team. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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