Are you a recent or upcoming college graduate looking to start a career in technology? Are you an experienced technologist looking for a change?

Well, there’s good news! Careers in technology are booming – salaries are high, unemployment is low, and the Software Developer profession has been ranked #1 on U.S. News and World Report’s 100 Best Jobs. To attract and retain top talent, companies are competing to offer the best benefits, work environment, and culture.

With this, you may think landing that perfect tech job would be a synch. Think again. For employers, the cost and risk of sourcing, hiring, and training the right candidates is high – a lot higher than you may expect. Employers want to be absolutely sure they are making the right decision when hiring someone.

The following are some tips on making the right first impression and landing that dream job:

Branding Yourself

A successful job search requires you to act as your own Marketing agent. You will want to build awareness about who you are and what you can bring to the table before any formal hiring interactions. Employers interact with a lot of candidates, so if you can build and reinforce the “brand” you’ve already established for yourself in the hiring process rather than creating it anew, you’ll have a better chance at standing out from the crowd.

Successfully doing this is more of an art than a science, and there is more than one correct way. One way is through networking. Networking offers a chance to interact with other professionals in a more casual environment, establishing who you are and what you’re looking for. Luckily, Boulder has an abundance of technology networking events in its backyard:

Networking can be done online as well. LinkedIn can be utilized to showcase your talents and achievements, connect with alumni of your university, and introduce yourself to potential employers.

Another critical element of branding yourself is proactive communication. Want to stand out from the other 159 applicants that are competing for that dream job? Ask for an informational interview regarding the position. This shows that you are a serious candidate that is truly interested.

In addition, simply picking up the phone is a way to stand out from the crowd. Email communication can be impersonal, easy to misinterpret, and ignorable – if you call an employer to introduce yourself and express interest in their company, you will look more engaged and proactive. Just make sure to be respectful of the employer and their time.

Perfecting your Resume

Now that you have built your own professional brand, it is time to make the sale during the formal hiring process. Check out these Killer Ways to Boost your Resume and stand out from the crowd.

Nailing the Interview Process

  • Research the company: This may sound basic, but if you don’t show that you know about the company and what you’re getting into, you won’t be viewed as a serious candidate
  • Tailor your answers to the job and company: Now that you better understand the job, you will want to think about how your experiences would be benefit the company where you’re applying. You can take multiple different perspectives on how any given job experience has helped you develop professionally – make sure to communicate perspectives based on what the company is interested in. Even if you don’t have any direct experience in the field you’re applying for, you likely have work experience with skills that would be transferrable to the position. Let’s say you’re a recent Computer Science graduate with experience in customer service. Talk about how dealing with customers has helped you manage priorities in a demanding environment. Talk about how you heightened your attention to detail. If you’re applying for a position in software consulting, talk about a time you went above and beyond for your customers.
  • Ask the right questions: The questions candidates ask reveal a lot about their engagement and priorities for a position. So, prepare questions in advance. Memorize them. Ask follow up questions. Show that you can think ahead and anticipate issues you may have in the position.
  • Maintain professionalism: Even if a company seems like they have an informal dress code, they almost always expect candidates to dress formally
  • Take notes:  If it is an in-person interview, show your engagement by asking if you can take notes during the interview
  • Take your time: You don’t need to answer every question right away. Pause. Breath. Make sure that your answers are thoughtful, not rushed.
  • Thank the employer: A simple, formal thank-you letter after an interview will go a long way
  • Think about why an interviewer asks the questions they do: An interview is a two way street, and is a chance for you to determine whether an employer is a good fit. Thinking about why employers ask the questions they do will give you a better understanding of what the position really requires.