I am 17 years old and will be graduating from university this academic year with a bachelor's degree in computer science, and I am applying to a variety of software engineering jobs. I am fairly confident in my resume but I am not sure how best to deal with my age during the application process.
Employers see candidates as a risk. All candidates are a risk, and in that sentence you just described yourself as both a benefit and a risk at the sametime.
Now let me break it down, and I'm doing this because I want to share with you the hidden messages you are sending to employers. I'm hoping to help you here. So stay with me and forgive me if it feels like criticism.
I am 17 years old
This comes across negatively.
Employers don't care how old you are. They care how old you behave, but here you are self identifying with a 17 year old, and statistically speaking at least some of your employers are going to have 17 year old children and they aren't happy with them right now.
It's important that when you speak about your age that you are prepared to present yourself as mature beyond your years, and the best way to do that is with evidence.
Do you engage in any hobbies, clubs or associations that older people would be into? Have you done any volunteer work? Are you saving money for your future? Have you paid off your loans? Are you married or do you have children? Do you currently hold a steady job? Did you pay for your education yourself? Do you live on your own? Do you dress like a mature person?
Make your own list and just keep thinking of ways you're more mature than 17. This will be fuel to burn during an interview.
My point here is that you need to tell a compelling story that you're mature for your age. You might be offended by some of the questions, but the point here is that you're trying to sway an employer's bias in your favor.
Otherwise, you're just another 17 year old.
and will be graduating from university this academic year with a bachelor's degree in computer science,
This comes across positively.
This is a great benefit for you, but an employer can find many candidates that have a bachelor's degree, and the person in the interview before you likely had one.
The compelling story here is that you're achieving this at the age of 17.
Can you think of other benefits for the employer because of this?
Did you score above average in grades? Did you complete any compelling theses or projects?
How can you provide evidence that you're an above average learner, as this translates to money saved by the employer. Employers are always seeking candidates who can prove they learn quickly. I think this is your greatest asset.
and I am applying to a variety of software engineering jobs.
Focus your job search on specific companies. Research what they do, what problems they are faced with and ask people questions about those companies.
Talore your cover letter and resume specifically to that company.
I am fairly confident in my resume
This comes across negatively.
Don't show confidence especially if you're young.
When employers read your resume they are looking for hints about your personality. Will he get along with others? Does he have a pleasant temperament? Will people like him?
People whom are technical often fail to express their behavior in their resumes. They describe their skills and abilities, but fail to mention how they help other people.
My best advice for this is to find a human resource manager on LinkedIn for a business in your field of interest, and ask them for a favor. Ask them how your resume makes you come across as a person.
but I am not sure how best to deal with my age during the application process
Like I said above. Employers don't care about your age. They care about the risk of hiring you. Specially, they care about their own fears they aren't telling you.
Have you done anything when you were 16, 15 or 12 that demonstrated you were intelligent and/or mature for your age? You're far more likely to convince them that you'll make a fine employee if you can show a positive history.
Maybe you learned computers at a very young age. I would share that and be specific about what you learn.
It seems as though my age could serve as an advantage (proof of ability to learn quickly, etc.) but could also be a disadvantage (doubts about my long-term commitment to the job, social skills, professionalism, etc.).
You hit the nail on the head right there.
Don't be afraid of your disadvantages, but turn it around and try to look at it from the perspective of the employer. Ask yourself what fears could they have? and how can I provide evidence the fear is unfounded?
- "commitment to the job" you committed to university at a young age. Use that.
- "social skills" don't apply to jobs via advertisements. Network with people. Prove them wrong.
- "professionalism" wear a tie. Get a haircut. Check your spelling. Make eye contact. Firm handshake. They will judge your professionalism within 5 seconds of meeting you. What this really means, is the employer wants to know you can survive in their world.
I will be 18 shortly after graduation so inability to sign NDAs and other documents should not be a major concern.
Those are professionalism issues. I think you have it covered.