Australian ICT graduates face big challenges when they start applying for their first job. A lack of opportunities, having to work for free and being labelled too inexperienced are just a few that I’ll mention. So what do you need to do to become more attractive to employers and improve your chances of getting that all important job offer? Below are 3 skills you need that could make all the difference:
With 80% of Gen Y logging on to social media every day, IT graduates who know their way around Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are a hot commodity. Employers look at potential candidates online to see how engaged they are on social media so your Klout score may be more important to them than what school you went to. Many Australian companies are realising the importance of social media so you could play an important role in their own social media strategy.
On average, 56% of Gen Y use social media to communicate, 45% use it to share information, 26% learn about new products and 18% use it to find and maintain business contacts. So next time your parents tell you to stop spending so much time on Facebook, just tell them you’re making yourself more employable!
As businesses become more automated, so does the demand for graduates with programming skills. If you don’t have these skills, there are many free courses available on Coursera and Udacity where you can learn programming from some of the best instructors in the world. HTML will become a must-have skill as it’s the language used to develop web content.
Other tech basics like knowing your way around a command prompt, understanding batch scripting and knowing how to fix a PC when it’s not responding to input from the mouse are core skills you’re expected to have even before you land your first job. It was a different story 20 years ago because you used to learn this on the job.
You may be surprised to hear that your technical skills won’t always be the most sought-after skill set of an IT graduate. It’s actually your ability to think systems through and work within the context of a team. Learning the technology is the easy part. It’s conceptualising that technology, applying it, evaluating the information and reflecting on it. You can then come to reasoned conclusions by following a reasoned process. These are what’s called your critical thinking skills. It’s thinking about ‘thinking’. Ways you can improve or develop your critical thinking skills are to:
- Avoid the ‘quick fix – when problems arise, don’t settle for a ‘quick fix’. Look at the problem from another perspective and analyse other solutions.
- Be flexible – be willing to change direction, pursue new ideas and consider other’s opinions. Be open to changing your mind.
- Get involved – collaborating with others is the best way to achieve results. It will improve your awareness, motivation, engagement and reflection.
- Be open to learning new things – incorporate learning into your everyday activities to open your mind to new possibilities and technologies.
If you’ve got these 3 skills covered then you’ll be that much closer to being a successful job candidate. Remember, looking for a job is a full-time job and it will require patience, perseverance and those all important critical thinking skills.