10 Steps to Success: How to Get Your First Job in IT?

The changes around us happen every day. Employment trends, for example, are one of the most interesting. Millennials, the most talked-about generation, have heard that it is most profitable to go to law school or medicine. Why? Many reasons. But mainly because later there will be a well-paid job. As it often happens, reality has shown us that nothing could be further from the truth. Many Millenials had a completely different idea. And it turned out to be a great move.

Representatives of Generation Z grew up in a slightly different reality. Graduation from university wasn’t so often perceived as the natural course of events and a ticket to a bright future. In the meantime, while the parents of Gen-Z were entering the job market, niche professions developed.

These new professions are closely connected to new media and technology. Which, after all, is the natural environment for people born after 1995 and beyond. The word “nerd” is now a relic from history. No one has to make excuses for spending (a lot of) time in front of a screen. Technology companies shape the modern world, and, at the same time, they create trends in the job market. 

In the IT industry, there is a whole bunch of entities offering real development, and not just the mythical one from job offers reaching meme status. Also, remote work has become a standard. All of these values are the same criteria that are valued by people taking their first steps in the job market. 

So what to keep in mind when aiming to become an employee in the tech sector?

1. Prepare your CV

A professional CV is of course an absolute must-have when looking for a job. Do not worry about your lack of work experience. You are still able to present yourself positively.

The most important information is the knowledge of programming languages and familiarity with the software used for the position. The best way is to present these skills graphically.

Acquiring hard skills is just a matter of time and motivation to learn. Sometimes it is more challenging to develop soft skills that may be related to your personality or habits. Therefore, it is worth boasting about your strengths in this area. You can include, for example, the ability to work in a team, punctuality, or analytical sense.

The graphic form of the CV also plays an important role. Choose a minimalistic and clear template that is easy to read. Place the key information and your strongest points at the top and left edges. This is where the recipient’s eyes will go first. Try to have a professional photo, but don’t overdo the level of formality. All information should fit on one A4 page. It is worth modifying your CV depending on the expectations set out in the ad to which you are responding. It’s time-consuming, but sometimes it tips the scales in your favor.

2. Create a profile on LinkedIn

A profile on LinkedIn can be useful for several reasons. First, the portal has a jobs section, which is an alternative to job boards. Secondly, in addition to posting applications, you can also search for jobs in a passive mode. If you are lucky, a company will contact you with a job offer. For this, however, you need a completed profile. Enter all the key information and make sure it is in an aesthetically pleasing form.

You can confidently invite people you don’t know to your network. This is not Facebook. In a business environment, such behavior is not seen as a sign of tactlessness. Besides, it doesn’t hurt to comment on industry publications from time to time to increase your visibility. Also, be sure to set an overlay on your profile picture to let other users know that you are looking for work.

3. Build a portfolio

Achievements that highlight an interest in the sector, or the skills learned at schools or training, will make it easier to find the first job.

“This means that IT students and self-learners should approach the problem at hand like art students,” said Raimo Seero, Chief Technology Officer of Uptime. “Art students start building their portfolio from day one – no matter how small the project, it will be added to their portfolio, as such helping any potential employer see what can the person actually bring to the table”  continues Seero.

A great place to build a portfolio is GitHub. It provides a space to present completed projects. Create a profile there and share all the effects of your work. These can even be tasks done during courses, classes, or independent projects. Group projects can also be displayed. Just mention in the description which part you are personally responsible for.

4. Opt for courses and training

There are a lot of people working in the IT industry who did not complete a degree in a field of study. Their path proves that you can become a specialist differently. You can find many resources on the Internet to help you improve your skills. Some of the sources are available free of charge.

If you can financially afford to attend a comprehensive training course, it is worth going for. This way, you can show off specific skills. Besides, you will be able to adapt to professional challenges more efficiently. The investment will quickly pay off when you get your first job. However, remember to verify the competence of the teachers you are going to trust.

5. Be part of the community

A programmer is not just a representative of a certain profession. The basis of his professional position should be passion. Many initiatives of various scales have sprung up around the IT industry. These may be impressive fairs and hackathons, but also intimate discussion groups for exchanging experiences. Find a place for yourself in these areas.

“Considering that developers often need to learn independently and get to grips with something new on their own, then in the absence of previous professional work experience, we need to see proof of this skill in some other way. When it comes to finding a job, it helps if the person interested in having a career as a developer has already learned the most important things on their own, tried their hand, and actually attempted to program something,” – advises Natalia Kozaczka, HR Business Partner at Uptime Development. “This could be, for example, trying to build an application on their own, participating in a hobby group, or at a hackathon related to the field, and continuously developing their creations whilst honing their skills,” she said.

6. Polish your English

The IT industry is an extremely international environment. Even if you join a Polish company, you will probably provide services to clients from other countries. Besides, English-language sources and materials are the exponents of knowledge in this profession. Therefore, what is impossible to do without are English language skills. For the beginning, at least a B2 level would be useful. This level can be found on the Polish high school diploma exam. Of course, you can’t stop there and you should strive to achieve full fluency in the language. While learning, you should also pay special attention to acquiring professional vocabulary, which differs significantly from the default linguistic standards.

7. Take the initiative

It takes time before you are seen as a potential core member of the team. If you don’t have any experience yet, your most valuable assets are your motivation and enthusiasm. Try to convince recruiters that investing in your development goes hand in hand with the progress of the entire company.

“One of the good ways to populate your portfolio is all kinds of school and student projects,” said Seero. “For example, if a group of students created a new Moodle module as part of their course work, it is something that could be added to the portfolio. Just explain which part you built, what approach you took for it, and what was the result.”

8. Be honest

Every profession requires a few particularly important qualities. This does not mean, however, that you can point to the only right profile of a candidate for a given role. In some areas, you can afford to remain quite flexible. Modern companies often ask candidates to solve personality tests. Thanks to this, project teams are also built based on character traits, not just competencies. This allows you to create a close-knit collective that complements each other in every dimension.

When taking a personality test, don’t try to find the answer key based on your assumptions about the job. You can completely miss the mark when trying to over-fit yourself. Maybe the employer is looking for someone like you, not the stereotypical programmer from your perceptions. Besides, questions are also there to match the nature of the job with the candidate’s predispositions. By answering untruthfully you can get a job that doesn’t suit you at all.  

9. Start with a large company

A wide staff entails an advantage that can sometimes be invaluable for newbies. When you encounter obstacles, there will be people around eager to help you. In such a structure, you’re also able to draw valuable information from many different sources. The above factors can accelerate your development in the early stages.

10. Apply with your head

Imagine the following situation. After searching companys’ websites you have managed to select 10 companies to which you want to apply. You send your CV and wait for a response. After a few days, the phone rings, you pick it up, hear the name of the company and completely forget what these people do and what position you are applying for. The first step to a failure.

Of course, when sending out a lot of applications it can be difficult to remember all the details. Therefore, it is a good idea to organize your information. Prepare a spreadsheet for yourself. Make sure you have the file ready on your computer or smartphone when the phone rings. In the document, write down key information about the recruitment you are applying to. You can include:

  • the name of the company,
  • the name of the position you are applying for,
  • a link to the website,
  • terms of reference,
  • scope of responsibilities,
  • a brief description of the company in the “About Us” section,
  • an outline of the company’s offer,
  • your questions.

Statistics are on your side

One of the main problems of the IT industry is staff shortage. Every year reports appear, according to there is a shortage of at least tens of thousands of programmers in Poland. There is certainly no shortage of work. Consider it as your chance and prove that you are ready to take on new challenges. The first steps may be the most difficult. Once you find a starting point, your career will gain momentum and you certainly won’t complain about a lack of work.  

Would you like to work with us?

Does Uptime sound like your kind of company? Glad to hear! Take a look at the open positions and we look forward to hearing from you.

Join Our Newsletter