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Students' strategies for managing their IT and technology job hunt

Four key strategies for your IT and tech job hunt: results from the Graduate Survey

Want to know what other students interested in IT and technology careers are doing to help their job hunts? Our infographic has the answers you’re looking for. Plus, we’ve picked out four strategies for you to get ahead of the competition.
To help you make the best application possible, take a look at how other students are approaching their IT and technology job hunt.

Each year Trendence UK (a research partner of TARGETjobs’ parent company, Group GTI) carries out its Graduate Survey – the UK’s most comprehensive survey of students' attitudes towards their job hunts. It’s no surprise that IT companies are among some of the most popular employers for the 73,517 students surveyed: Google has topped the rankings for the past three years, with Microsoft, Apple, IBM and Samsung all making the top 50.

However, there’s a downside to this popularity: graduate IT jobs can be very competitive to secure. The most recent Institute of Student Employers (ISE) Annual Recruitment Survey (published in September 2018) revealed that for each graduate vacancy in the IT and telecommunications sector there are, on average, 36 applicants.

So, how can you stand the best chance of getting a technology graduate job? The best applicants will be thinking about what they can do throughout their time at university to boost their applications. Take a look at how other students are approaching their IT and technology job hunt in the infographic below.

What are students interested in IT and technology employers doing to help their job hunt?

Compare yourself with your peers in IT and technology

What you can learn from other students interested in IT and tech careers

We’ve highlighted four key lessons that you should learn from the Graduate Survey.

1. Look for internships and work experience

The majority of students interested in IT and tech employers had some form of work experience: 68% of final-year students had work experience related to their course and 82% had unrelated work experience. Furthermore, of students of computer science or IT-related subjects, 77% had work experience unrelated to their degree course and 59% had course-related work experience. Work experience, even if it's not directly relevant to your course or IT, is crucial for developing and demonstrating the transferable (or ‘soft’) skills that technology employers are looking for. Your degree alone won’t be enough to secure a graduate job and evidence of these transferable skills can make all the difference in applications.

The best graduate applicants won’t just have a couple of weeks of work experience here and there – they’ll have carried out an internship or placement at an IT employer. As well as developing your tech skills, internships can also be a foot-in-the-door at graduate employers. In the latest ISE survey, 65% of participating employers (from all sectors) said that they had hired interns and 53% said that they had hired placement students. Returning to the Graduate Survey, final-year students interested in IT and technology employers were more likely to have carried out an internship of two months of more than the average student: 39% for IT and technology, compared to a 33% average. However, the number of students studying computer science or an IT-related subject who had done an internship was slightly less than average, at 28%. When it comes to applying for graduate jobs make sure you have a valuable internship on your CV for the best chance at being successful.

2. You don’t need a computer science degree

Interestingly, students who expressed an interest in IT and technology employers were more likely to be studying a business/management subject (24%) than they were a computer science or IT-related subject (20%). Other common degree areas studied were engineering (6%), creative arts and design (5%), economics (5%) and mathematical science/statistics (5%).

The 80% of students who aren’t studying an IT-related degree aren’t wasting their time – you can start an IT and technology career from a variety of degrees. Numerate, science and engineering degrees may seem more applicable to coding or software engineering, but graduates of humanities, languages and creative disciplines have valuable perspectives and knowledge that IT employers want to include. Some employers offer training and professional qualifications for graduates without IT qualifications. In order for non-IT students to make an application that competes with other candidates, you need to prove you have a genuine interest in technology. Take a look at these advice articles for information on how you can do that:

3. Don’t just look for jobs with the biggest employers

In the Trendence UK Graduate Survey 2018, the majority of students who indicated a preference as to the type of employer they were looking for jobs with said that they wanted to find their first job in a large international company (29%). Only 14% said that they wanted to work at a large UK-based company and 14% at a small/medium-sized enterprise (SME).

If you’re part of the 29% who are just looking for jobs at the largest companies, you’re missing out on a huge number of opportunities at smaller employers. Starting your career at an SME often means being able to have more responsibility earlier on in your career, as well as being part of a closer-knit working environment. A smaller employer may also specialise in a more specific, or niche, area of technology, which would offer you the chance to gain first-hand experience in a more specialised field.

4. Make the most of social media for job hunting

A staggering 80% of students interested in IT and technology careers already use LinkedIn for careers purposes. LinkedIn is a networking site for professionals and can be a useful tool in your job hunt. By joining relevant LinkedIn groups you can get in contact with IT professionals and learn from them – they may share advice with you or even let you know of upcoming work experience and job opportunities at their employer. Your LinkedIn profile also acts as an online CV and you can include projects and information on your profile that might not fit on your CV (you can link to an up-to-date LinkedIn profile in your applications). You might even be contacted directly by employers looking for candidates to fill vacancies.

LinkedIn might be the most popular social network for careers purposes, but it’s certainly not the only one – Facebook and Twitter can also be valuable job hunting resources. Twitter is an excellent way to stay on top of industry news, build your network of IT professionals and showcase your own work. If you’ve built a website or an app, you can shout about it on Twitter. On Facebook you can join relevant groups of tech professionals or job hunters and share advice and find out about upcoming events (such as careers fairs or networking events). Only 20% of the surveyed students interested in IT and tech careers used Facebook for careers purposes and even fewer (19%) used Twitter. Get ahead of the pack by making the most of these tools for your job hunt, but make sure your profiles and pictures are appropriate.