Next move: LA tech insiders share job search advice for recent grads

by Joyce Famakinwa
September 4, 2018

You’ve survived those grueling final exams, aced your classes, earned a diploma and even managed to have a little fun along the way. You did it! So what comes next? This is the universal question for all recent college graduates.

For most, the answer is to begin the job hunt, but at a time in which candidates are becoming increasingly more accomplished, standing out can be difficult. That's why we talked to a few local tech companies to find out how new graduates can set themselves apart and get their foot in the door.

 

Gem team
photo via gem

Gem’s all-in-one cryptocurrency platform acts as a digital wallet, allowing users to track investments and net worth while managing their virtual currency and staying connected to the crypto community. Katherine Pisano, the executive assistant to both the founder and CEO, as well as the chief strategy officer, explained the importance of a well-structured resume.

 

How can recent grads stand out to potential employers? What is someone in your position looking for in a candidate?

Landing a coveted job straight out of college is like playing in the major leagues. It takes a mix of guts, perseverance and luck but there's a lot you can do to knock that job interview right out of the ballpark.

First, build a targeted resume. This takes time and extra effort but it will prevent you from being added to the pile of rejected resumes. The best thing you can do is get your resume in front of as many trusted friends as you can for critiques and edits so that when you start to apply for jobs, it’s a highly effective strike that lands you that in-person interview and hopefully, that dream job. A poorly written resume will influence the first salary offer that you have to negotiate up from, so it has a very real world bottom line impact.

Secondly, exude confidence. How do you build this confidence? Call up those trusted friends and do some mock interviewing to get comfortable. During interviews we look for someone who comes prepared, has done their research, is organized, inquisitive and asks great questions. A good culture fit is extremely important to us because it’s what makes working at Gem so amazing. 

Lastly, always follow up post interview. A good hand-written thank you note goes a long way. An email is cool too. It shows you have manners and were grateful for their time.

 

What advice do you wish someone had told you when you were a new graduate?

This is just the beginning — your first job isn’t always your dream job or a lifelong career. My entire life, I was raised to believe that when I graduated from college I would land my dream job. Nowadays, everyone has a degree, so it is more important than ever to bring your A-game.

You might have to do an unreal and exhausting amount of interviews until you even get one offer. Don’t get discouraged, don’t get down on yourself and never give up on the job hunt. Your first job might not be what you had hoped for or the offer you wanted most but it might also be the perfect place to start.

 

AppOnboard team
photo via apponboard

AppOnboard helps developers test their apps before major launches. The company’s full-fidelity demos give techies an accurate representation of their product and allows users to engage with the apps prior to its release. The team at AppOnboard gave us insight into what qualities would make a candidate the perfect fit for their company.

 

How can recent grads stand out to potential employers? What is someone in your position looking for in a candidate? 

Candidates stand out when they show a genuine passion for the company. That energy and enthusiasm is so essential and I notice when candidates have taken the time to research what we do at AppOnBoard. Do a Google search for any recent news stories about the company, review LinkedIn profiles for current employees and read relevant articles on the specific industry/space. During the interview, ask thoughtful questions and show that you're curious and passionate about learning more.

In recent grads, I look for candidates who have an entrepreneurial spirit, love solving interesting problems and are excited to be part of a collaborative team — and can speak to those qualities by sharing recent anecdotes or examples. — Maya Omar, VP, people
 

What advice do you wish someone had told you when you were a new graduate?

Utilize your school's alumni network. Most schools allow you to browse alumni by industry or location. Look for someone in the industry you're trying to break into and ask them for advice. It's a stronger approach than cold outreach, and depending on their level of seniority, they may even be in a position to hire you as an intern or entry-level employee. Never underestimate the power of a polite request for guidance. — Sam Slesinger, head of product

 

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