Getting your first job.

IMG_1980photo © 2010 bpsusf | more info (via: Wylio)

Recently, an acquaintance of mine asked me for some advice on job hunting. She completed her Bachelors in Computer Engineering earlier this year but hasn’t found a job yet. She is running a little low on morale. This reminded me of the time I was looking for a job in the IT industry, some 6 years ago. In the beginning I faced some of the same problems that she faces now. Every time I failed a test/interview, I had a bout of worthlessness and then I poured myself back into my books. Over a period, by observing others and through experience, I made some changes in the way I was preparing. Then I got one job offer, and then another and then some more. I have switched 3 jobs since then and have received offers from around 10 companies in this while. When I had passed out of college, I had a score of around 65%. This was considered a very low score. I was in a sea of candidates with scores of more than 75% and had big doubts about my chances on more occasions than one. But I have realized that you don’t need to be the sharpest to get a job.

Here are a few things I learned during my struggle to find a job and then later to find better and better jobs.

  1. Failure is your friend. If I have to suggest just one thing, it would probably be this. DON’T FEAR FAILURE, GO FOR INTERVIEWS. To begin with, you can go for the firms where you won’t mind rejection, these interviews help you practice and root out the fear of interviews. Most people have a tendency to keep on preparing. They want to be perfect when they appear for their test. This, a lot of times, is caused by a fear of failure. The mere thought of failing an interview gives a lot of people a cold sweat. This is not good. The more interviews you appear for, the more knowledge you gain of the common questions asked. A point is reached when you have faced almost all the questions before hand and have all the answers.So don’t expect your self to pass in your first few interviews and take them just as a learning experience. But be aware that this should not turn into an attitude of carelessness. Make every failure count. LEARN from each experience and once you know you have digested the lessons and made necessary changes in your preparation, jump onto the next interview.
  2. Be where the jobs are. A lot of recruiters prefer local candidates. Whenever an interviewer has a choice between a local candidate and a remote one, local candidate will almost always win. Local candidates are always easier to call for multiple interviews and are convenient for recruiters. Besides, your presence in a city where your target jobs are, demonstrate the seriousness of your job search, something the recruiter will appreciate.
  3. Find someone to recommend you. I must have applied to at least 500 companies online in my career, and yet, all my 3 jobs have come through employee referrals. Some offers did come through online applications, but these were later in my career and most were not very satisfying. A lot of people find it convenient to apply for jobs online. They can apply to multiple companies from the comfort of their computer within a few minutes. Unfortunately, I found internet job applications to have a very low success ratio. For one, most good companies prefer referrals from their employees and recruiting firms over online application because they trust these sources over internet applications. Also, jobs posted on the internet have a very wide visibility. They are bound to attract loads and loads of applications and you will be set up against a very stiff competition. So go ahead and contact your seniors, and friends, and friends of friends. Most people will be happy to help you. It takes only a little effort to forward a resume.
  4. Balance between studies and Mock tests. In between tests/interviews, don’t just study, spread your time between studies and taking mock tests/interviews. Mock test are often undervalued but are essential in providing the ‘real feel’. Remember, passing interviews and tests is also an art, and art has to be practiced, it cannot be learned just by reading about it. You have to practice too. Imagine learning a guitar with no practice, by just reading a book!
  5. All work and no play makes you dull. If you are working hard, you need to play hard too. There has to be a balance between work and entertainment. If one goes down, the other will go down with it. People have a tendency to develop guilt for anytime spent on entertainment. This is wrong! Entertainment is necessary to keep your mind fresh and sharp. You have to relax regularly to maintain your optimal performance levels. Its just like you have to let go of one breath to be able to take another, its like yin and yang in Chinese philosophy.
  6. Look for what you enjoy. When you pass out of college and don’t have a job, you might suddenly feel panicky, without a support. Its easy to decide you will try for anything and everything that comes your way and take the first offer you get.Yet its advisable to try look for something you will really enjoy doing. That goes a long way in ensuring long term happiness. I enjoyed coding and knew this before I even got my first job. I joined a well known firm and expressed my desire to do code development. I was not allowed a choice in the beginning and was asked to do testing. It took me one year and a whole lot of effort to move into coding after that. I met with a lot of resistance in my office but this may not be the case where you join. Looking back, it has been well worth the effort, in fact much more. Take some time to talk to seniors and see what sort of jobs they are doing and what other options there are. Then think about what you might like doing. When you are in an interview, ask them whether they have that sort of work. If you can get that to start with, your time in your new workplace will be much more enjoyable.
  7. Keep good company. This is very important to keep your spirits high. Stay in the company of people with a positive, ‘we-can-do-it’ attitude. This also means you will have to leave the company of some friends/family who have a negative attitude, who feel its difficult for them(or you) to get anything. I am not asking you to leave them for ever or hate them. You are at a crucial junction in life and need to move to the next stage. You are responsible to create the right environment for that around you. Once your goal is achieved, you can come back to these people. When you do come back, you will be plesantly surprised to find a positive change in the realtionship. You, my friend, will now act as motivation for them to reach out for higher goals.
  8. Don’t quit. Finally, don’t quit! Remember, there are no failures, there is either success or there is a learning experience. Success is assured if you keep trying. Don’t loose heart when you fail one test, there will be many more. Don’t be disheartened when your friends get through, not every life is same and you will have your own unique moment of success. Keep believing in yourself. You will keep improving with every experience and one day, before you realize, you will have an offer letter in your hand!

Best of luck!

One comment

  • Jyoti
    September 10, 2010 - 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Nice Job!!

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