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How University Students can best jump to the IT Professional ranks.

Last week, I was asked for my opinion on what agency recruiters look for in IT University graduates.  To be honest, until recently clients did not ask us to recruit University students because these graduates had no professional experience.  However, things have changed as new technologies emerge more quickly than ever and clients struggle to find skilled candidates. This is where new University graduates have leverage, if they are well prepared.

Here are the top 7 things a good recruiter is looking for in a IT University  graduate:

 New Technology skills:  Students who have focused on emerging technologies : mobile application development is a good example, are in high demand. This is a newer market and the competition between Apple, Google, and Microsoft is fierce. Professional developers are busy on many projects and may have less time to work on emerging technology projects, giving University students an edge.

Ambition:  Ambitious students assume that their University education is the status quo at best, not enough to make them stand out from every other IT University graduate. In addition to their school work, they define and create their own teams, groups (hives), markets, and technology projects, outside of school. They identify other students who they work well with and who have complementary skills. These students understand that the key traits for the future are creativity and leadership. They usually learn and grow more from these team projects in comparison to their school’s curriculum.

Passion: The best graduates are passionate about their chosen technology and its uses. This passion spills over into their spare time.  Employers are looking at what candidates do in their spare time as an indication of how much they enjoy their work and how likely they are to show that same enthusiasm and effort  on important company projects.

Team player: These students understand the importance of working well in teams. They understand the importance of establishing or joining creative hives. They adopt a cooperative approach when implementing their ideas and listening to others. North America’s business culture is changing – cooperation wins over competition, especially within organizations. These students want to show potential employers that they can work effectively in teams and recognize others’ strengths, not just their own.

Mindset:  The best IT University candidates display a growth mindset. Well-known Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, Carol S. Dweck, has written a great book on the two different mindsets: fixed and growth.  A fixed mindset focuses on talent and doesn’t look to improve – this is not a good mindset for today’s ever changing technological environment. The second type is a growth mindset and focuses on hard work, sees mistakes as feedback in the learning process and not as failure, and is ideally suited for today’s world where IT professionals must constantly adapt to new technologies and ways of working. Growth mindsets consistently outperform fixed mindsets!

Strong Values:  Students who have a strong sense of their values, have an advantage. This helps them align their focus on the right technology, markets, and potential employers. They focus on the companies that are in line with their interests – ideally companies that provide real value to their end clients or to society as a whole. During their University career, these students look for opportunities to interact with these companies, at IT industry events or by organizing their own University events and inviting these companies and their leaders.

Selling Themselves:  Finally, the best students showcase all of the above points on their resume, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, and other Social Media platforms, highlighting real examples and accomplishments. They use these vehicles as a selling tool to differentiate themselves and to address their audience’s needs. They also spend time fine-tuning their verbal presentation skills regarding their University and extra-curricular projects and accomplishments.


About the Author:

Myles Walsh is the Director of Recruiting for, an innovative IT Recruiting and Solutions firm in Montreal. Myles has worked within the Montreal IT recruiting industry since 1998, first as a Recruiter and Account Manager, and later as a Director of Recruiting and Branch Manager. He has worked closely with large corporate clients, small technology start-ups, and everything in between.

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