How can IT graduates get their foot in the door?

If you are a graduate of technology you may have held lofty ambitions of leaving university and walking into a job with Microsoft, Apple, Google or maybe overseeing one of the government’s top-secret plans, but instead found yourself back home trawling through the papers looking through the IT jobs section to get into the industry.

Unfortunately, IT, like every other industry, has felt the effects of the recession, which in turn means new graduates are having a difficult time breaking into it and landing their first job. Software development may be slightly more straightforward to get into, given its specialist requirements, but there’s no guarantee you’ll be snapped up.

If you are one of the many university leavers looking to get a foot in the door, one of the best things you can do is an internship. These are not always paid, so before committing to an unpaid placement you need to make sure you can support yourself in that time, so living at home is a big advantage.

The lack of payment can put many people off, but you need to look at the bigger picture and see that you are being paid in experience. If a potential employer can see on your CV that you have worked in an IT job already, you are seen more favourably than simply having a qualification in the subject.

Better yet, if you mention it was an unpaid internship you show yourself as someone truly dedicated to the work, and not simply motivated by money, and this is always something an employer likes to see. Moreover though, many companies offering internships will often offer a permanent position to some interns once their placement is over, which means that what started as an unpaid work experience scheme turned into an actual job, which could of course mean a great start to a long career.

If an internship is not possible for whatever reason, you could try your luck by phoning some companies you would like to work for and simply explain your position: a recent graduate looking to start at the bottom, and the company you are talking to is one you have a strong desire to work for. Then just ask if there is any possibility of joining on the bottom rung of the ladder, maybe just making tea. It isn’t glamorous, but by showing keenness and being around the office during the day, you can establish yourself as someone who is dedicated to their work. You may also get the opportunity to work on a few things and be promoted up the ranks quicker. Either way, this career move works because the first rung is the hardest; once you’re inside a company, moving forward is relatively easy.

Sometimes, though, it just isn’t possible to get inside a company, even unpaid, and so you need other possibilities. In this situation, the best thing to do aside from scouring newspapers and recruitment websites is to get out and promote yourself. Visit as many job fairs as you can, especially graduate ones, and talk to the different representatives of the companies you’re interested in. You will learn of any upcoming openings or recruitment opportunities, and you also have the chance to network with like-minded people looking for similar jobs, which could lead to employment opportunities in the future.

While it is easy to get discouraged when looking for jobs today, with high unemployment levels, you must also remember that in this day and age there are more ways to look for work, and by being willing to work without pay for a short while or connect with similar individuals, you could get a foot in the door before you know it.