TRANSITIONING FROM COLLEGE TO CAREER

ITSMF READY-ness

The resources, tools, and techniques that we’ve curated will help you on your journey to become an outstanding candidate. You’ll be able to stand out from the crowd in an ever changing job market. We’re here to help you Get Ready and Stay Ready!

Get Ready

Getting ready is where you will put in the work, to understand not only yourself, but how to research companies and prepare to maximize conferences and networking opportunities.

I'm Ready

Being ready is learning how to apply all the tools you learned from Get Ready. Leveraging these tools can lead you to your best opportunities.

Stay Ready

Staying ready will carry you throughout your entire career. These are the things that you can repeat and repurpose as you advance the corporate ladder, change careers entirely, or challenge your entrepreneurial spirit.

Your Resume

Ensure your resume has key words for applicant tracking system (ATS)
An applicant tracking system (ATS) helps companies organize candidates for hiring and recruitment purposes. The ATS parses a resume’s content into categories and then scans it for specific keywords to determine if the job application should be passed along to the recruiter. You want to make sure your resume includes those key words.

Research the role and find similar job descriptions
Ensure you are clear on what the company is looking for and how other companies have described the role you are interested in. This information can help you determine if you’re interested in the role and if you are qualified.

Resume Formats & Templates
If you need assistance with writing your resume, you can also hire someone to write or even review your resume on Fiverr.

Select the appropriate format for your needs. Modern examples are available for free at Canva.

Summary Section

The summary or highlight section of your resume is essential to explain who you are especially when your work experience may be limited. It’s an opportunity for you to highlight attributes about yourself that are not included in the other sections.

Be creative, but don’t embellish.

Writing Career Experience

  • Include relevant experience only
  • No one expects you to have 10 years of experience; instead think of what you have accomplished in the role.
  • Note any areas of leadership or responsibility
  • Include only 2-5 bullets per job
  • Compose one-liner bullet points to communicate your work experience
  • Quantify with numbers and/or percentages in your descriptions, where possible

Skills Section

  • Highlight key skills based on the roles you are applying
  • It’s ok to leave out some skills if it’s not relevant.
  • Certifications & Awards

Hobbies and Interests Section

  • Use your research of the company to help shape what you include in your hobbies and interests’ section when possible.

Add LinkedIn QR Code

  • Elevate your profile by adding the LinkedIn QR code. This is an easy way to find and connect with other LinkedIn members.
  • Follow the steps listed here.

Be Consistent

  • Decide how you want to format the following areas by answering the questions below.
  • Use the same formatting in ALL sections.

Spelling & Grammar

  • Don’t rely on your spell check for everything. Read through every word of your resume.
  • Ask at least 2 professionals to review your resume as well

REVIEW REVIEW REVIEW

Ensure Consistency
Decide how you want to format the following areas by answering the questions below. Then use the same formatting in ALL sections.

  • Do you want to use full sentences or not?
  • Which date format will you use?
  • Which verb tense you are using: past, present or future ?
  • Which chronological order will you use (i.e., most recent to oldest)?

Review for spelling and grammar

  • Don’t rely on your spell check; read through every word of your resume
  • Ask at least 2 professionals to review your resume as well

Preparing for the Interview

Prepare your tech and your mind

Be familiar with the position and the organization so that you can demonstrate your interest in and fit for the job. Utilize open-source materials, reach out to current employees of the organization. Print your resume and cover letter to have with you during the interview.

Organizational Research

  • Year established
  • Current CEO
  • Products and Services
  • Recruiter and Interviewer
  • First and Last Name
  • Email address

Practice the Interview

  • Be detailed in your answers to show the depth of your knowledge.
  • Give examples of how you have used the technical tools to show your skill set.

Your Personal Brand

Crafting a personal brand statement is beneficial to state your unique value and experiences to others in a concise manner.

The Basics
To promote the best possible image of yourself, you need to showcase your strengths and be aware of your weaknesses. To start, jot down the answers to the following questions:

  • What skills or expertise will you bring?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What drives you?
  • Where do you excel?

By answering the above questions, you should have a better idea of your strengths and weaknesses, but it is also important to remember that there are a lot of other talented people out there. So, the real differentiation happens through what makes you — well, you. In the next step, you will define your values and motivations.

Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is a brief introduction and overview of who you are professionally. It’s called an elevator pitch since it is meant to last as long as a standard elevator ride. The target length of an elevator pitch is 30-60 seconds. Think of it as a professional first impression “tweet”. It is important to make a good first impression and having a clearly defined elevator pitch means that you are prepared for every interaction.

Dressing for Success

  • Bad Image can hold us Back
    Example: Although an NAACP image award winner, Jussie Smollett’s Hate Crime case will jeopardize his career as an actor.
  • Mixed Image doesn’t get us what we want
    Example: Spotify’s handling of Joe Rogan caused Black artists to remove catalogs.
  • Good Image is Gold
    Example: President Obama – “squeaky clean Image”, held true to Authenticity, Leadership, Honesty

Applying to Conferences

Black Data Processing Associates Technology Conference
Anita B. Org Grace Hopper Celebration (Women in Tech)
National Society of Black Engineers Conference
CMD-IT/ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference

Conduct research on conferences that you should attend

  • Determine your goals for the conference. This includes mapping out the sessions that you will attending, attendance at the career fair, and networking opportunities.
  • Review the conference agenda and identify the events that would be most beneficial to your goals.
  • Take the opportunities to meet fellow colleagues, speakers, or presenters you follow, engage with and that influence you.
  • Pre-register for the career fair event at the conference. This includes submitting your resume prior to the conference in case attending companies can review your resume before the fair. In some cases, companies may reach out to you for interviews PRIOR to the career fair.

The Interview

It is important to remember that the purpose of the interview is two-fold:
The employer needs to find out if you are the best candidate for the job, and
you need to find out if this is a good opportunity for you.

Your primary objectives are to:

  • Go beyond what’s written on the resume to allow the interviewer to determine if you are a good fit for the job
  • Demonstrate that you have a growth mindset and a sense of direction.
  • Show your personality and attitudes in terms of the demands of the organization and the position
  • Gain information about the organization and the job that is not available through other sources

Leveraging the Conference

Sell your strengths

  • Give your elevator pitch
  • Be honest/authentic
  • Communicate – LISTEN, use action words that are impactful
  • Quickly highlight:
    • Experiences – Give examples of collaboration, teamwork, leadership, overcoming challenges/obstacles
    • Coursework, internships, volunteerism, awards and certificates – Show how they contribute to your value proposition
    • Technical skills, soft skills, languages if multilingual – Showcase skills that set you apart
  • Ensure you describe your highlights in terms of the broader impact to the organization

Express Gratitude

  • Thank them for the interview
  • Make it clear that you are interested in the position
  • Ask about next steps
  • Send a Thank you email or handwritten note within 24 hours of interview
  • Make connection on LinkedIn (if applicable) after the interview

Networking

  • What is networking and why is it important
  • Meriam Webster Networking definition is the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business
  • In person or online networking allows you to engage and develop business and professional partnerships, it is an opportunity to align current employment and business interests. (Source: Why Networking is Important in Business – Tribemine Blog)
  • … networking remains the No. 1 cause of job attainment …— Hal Lancaster
  • The importance of networking is leveraging and aligning trusted business relationships for guidance with professional growth, opportunities and career development. (Source: The Importance of Networking in Business (Tips Included) | Indeed.com)

Interview Follow-up

What do you do after your interview? Here are some quick tips to help you land the job

  • Personalize the thank you note
    • Send a thank you note within 24-48 hours after your interview – sites like Upwork.com provides good resources.
    • Be sure to reference some key points from the interview in your note
  • Recap the skills related to the position / interviewer like:
    “As we discussed, my experience includes a substantial background in IT, knowledge of the people, process, & technologies that across the company, and a strong desire to achieve. The culmination of these skills has resulted in my ability to deliver. I have a track recorded of quickly assessing issues (people, process, or technology) and getting things back on track.”
  • Include any additional information that will help you stand out in a positive way:
    • Mentions of things that were discussed in the interview like articles, news, blog posts, etc.
    • Samples of work you’ve completed in the past such as PowerPoint presentations you created. Note: Be sure you are not sharing confidential information
    • References, if you were asked to provide them
  • Connect with the interviewer on LinkedIn
    • Take notes after your last interview to help you prepare for the next one
    • Update your resume based on any feedback you received
    • Connect with your coach, mentor, advisor, etc. to debrief and practice selling your brand (mock interviews)

Negotiating Your Compensation Package

You’ve aced the interview and landed your dream job, there’s one more consideration – negotiating the compensation package.

Compensation is more than just salary; you need to understand what the total benefit package includes.

Consider and negotiate for bonuses (signing/starting and annual incentive bonuses), paid time off (PTO), 401k contributions & stock options, etc.

Companies can be more flexible on items like paid training, student loan repayment, tuition reimbursement, transportation costs, work from home/anywhere benefits, and more.

Before Negotiations Begin

Make sure you understand your core value system and know what you want. Does the company align to your values and where you want to be (location)? You must also understand your worth and know the competitive market rate salary for your role

  • University – ABCs of Schools
  • Utilize Career Centers – Establish good relationships w/ Deans who have strategic alliances with companies
  • Understand the type of work & conditions at the company

Job Offer Received – Now Negotiate

Maximize your outcomes by telling your story that differentiates you from other candidates

  • What unique qualifications do you have to address the employer’s specific needs and overcome challenges?
  • Communicate a clear message about what you are confident you can achieve
  • Identify measurable metrics or outcomes that are achievable

Devise a strategy for answering salary requirement questions

  • Prepare several offers, ideally 3 optional packages to make you look flexible and cooperative
  • Create ambitious offers that leave room for concessions
  • Avoid ‘Final Offer’/’Take It Or Leave It’ scenarios and language; maintain flexibility

Job Posting Sites

Interview & Follow-ups

Ready-ness Playbook

This handbook serves as a guide for college students and entry-level professionals. Its purpose is to enable
interview preparedness, facilitate readiness when attending/navigating conferences, and to build
confidence in establishing /growing /maintaining professional networks.

Download PDF: READY-NESS PLAYBOOK

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