6

So I'm about to graduate with a degree in IT. I've sent out about 70 applications to various software engineering and full-stack development positions. I'm located in New York so there's no shortage of jobs here. Despite the fact that I'm a student, I technically have about four years of development experience already. I've spent the last three years trying to help save my family's previous company which inadvertently forced me into web development, providing me with several major skills. I'm legitimately the Cofounder and Director of IT at my family's latest business venture after we left our previous partnership.

My question is, with all of this experience, which I've noticed has put me miles ahead of my classmates, why is it that I can't seem to get an interview?

I would've thought working 20+ hours a week as a full-stack developer while still a student might be pretty attractive to these companies. I've already revised my resume about three times. I'm wondering if there's something else I'm doing wrong or if they're just seeing my graduation being so recent and assuming I know very little.

Update addressing some of the answers so far:

I've had my resume reviewed by my school's career services, Indeed Prime, and Hired.com. I've adjusted it according to their advice. I've applied to all types of companies in every industry from startups to major players like Google. I have been applying exclusively online as I currently don't have the time for networking. I try to apply to companies which ask for my specific skillset. The reason I describe myself that way is that I frequently find myself teaching my classmates new things like programming languages and industry technologies like Docker.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Dukeling, gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings, Jim G., Michael Grubey May 2 at 23:53

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    Have you been working with a careers office or career counselor from your alma matter? Most schools are highly motivated to help recent graduates find jobs, and they may be able to help in ways we can't. It's hard to say "100 applications without a response is a lot" because none of us know why those 100 people rejected you, or what your resume looks like, or if you're applying to jobs that match your skills and experience or not. A counselor can look at your resume, the jobs you're applying to, and give you specific advice. – dwizum May 1 at 16:58
  • 4
    I can't tell you whether or not you should worry, but just to say one thing out loud, the fact that you are co founder and director of IT of your family business isn't going to get you far. Title's don't often mean much, or may even cause you trouble - people in upper management aren't necessarily good developers. I once had an applicant who claimed to be CTO of 3 different companies at once. I did not take his resume seriously. Focus on accomplishments and skills, not titles (which you may be doing, I just wanted to say it out loud). – Conor Mancone May 1 at 17:16
  • 8
    @smallpants having been a founder/lead/whatever at small companies, I have deflated my title from CTO to Full stack Developer, Lead Engineer, whatever, as appropriate for the job I'm applying for. When I'm hiring for an engineering position and get applicants with CTO/etc in their resume, my first thought isn't "This guy must be awesome" but rather "why is this guy applying for my developer position, and is that what he wants to do?" – Conor Mancone May 1 at 17:40
  • 1
    The obvious concern here might be that you've been a cofounder and director (quite senior roles) while not having enough years of experience to justify getting hired at that level of seniority. So a good question might be whether employers might indeed see this as a problem and how to address it (and I'd suggest editing your question to focus on that part instead). – Dukeling May 1 at 17:41
  • 1
    @smallpants if you are seeking a job as a Developer, write Developer, if you a seeking a job as a Manager, write Co-Founder/CTO/Whatever :) – Sebastien DErrico May 1 at 20:27
15

Have you ever considered the impact of reading "recent graduate" and "Cofounder and Director of IT" in the same resume?

Yes, there are rare individuals where such a thing fits, and then there are many more "slightly delusional" people who think trash collection is "sanitation engineer / health care professional". While I personally think you're the real deal, as advertised; I doubt you can put that in your resume the same way you just wrote your post here.

I would recommend re-naming yourself in your family based company, to something like

System Administrator

or

Webmaster

where the responsibilities are projected to be "much less" than "Director".

Neither of these are lies, but they do imply that you are at the beginning of your career, and just out of College. While the latter implies you are at the peak of your career, running a department with multiple managers (and their teams) reporting up to you.

Now in the description, I'd put down a lot of the most important tasks, and they'll quickly see "oh, he's in a shop where all the decisions fall on the same role". Then it can be played up to your advantage.

Right now, odds are "playing the title down" is to your disadvantage.

5

I recall when I was graduating college and pursuing my first degree in IT 20 years ago, I sent out easily double that. The job I ended up getting was because a friend's brother's friend worked there and helped me get my foot in the door. From there I got promoted twice before my position got eliminated a couple years later. But having the title "Software Developer" helped me get my next job.

Having said that, if you're putting "Director of IT" on your resume, then state you're JUST now finishing your degree may suggest to some that you only got it by nepotism (regardless of the truth). Once you're working full-time (and 20 hours a week while in school just isn't AS impressive), and you get a year or two under your belt, you will have less issues. When I had 10+ years experience in IT, I had recruiters contacting me quite a bit.

The point? Keep trying. Be willing to take a position to "get your foot in the door" at a bigger company, even if it's not exactly what you want to do. From there, prove yourself, and get promoted to your ideal job.

The way I looked at it was that for every job you don't get, another job seeker does get it, and the pool of job seekers is not endless. Eventually your turn WILL come up and you'll get one.

2

My question is, with all of this experience, which I've noticed has put me miles ahead of my classmates, why is it that I can't seem to get an interview?

When someone sends out large amounts of applications (I wouldn't consider 70 necessarily a lot but its getting there) without response there can usually be a few issues at play

  • Your resume isn't as good as you think it is. You say you've gotten it revised 3 times but have you had a professional review it or have you made changes yourself? Peer review can be great for resumes if you can't afford/don't have access to a professional career counselor, people can point out things wrong with your resume that you would never consider.
  • You're applying to the wrong companies. If you limit the companies you apply to as being only the most elite top-of-the-line competitive companies then it would make sense that you wouldn't get an interview even if you apply to a lot of them. I recommend applying to a mix of different type of companies- big, small, well-known, local and unheard of, startups, corporations, etc. Obviously don't apply somewhere you wouldn't see yourself working at, but don't be picky with the companies you apply to if you are desperately seeking a job. I would also recommend broadening the geographic area of places you're applying to, if you are willing to either commute farther or move.
  • You're applying on the wrong places. Networking at career fairs or connecting on LinkedIn can merit better results than just cold-applying on company websites or mass-applying on Indeed. Try to form relationships with the companies before you apply to them
  • You're not being personal with your applications. Make sure your resume matches the specific keywords and skills applications are looking for. While I'm not a fan of cover letters- if you're not getting any responses it might be worth creating some to companies you believe you have a good shot at.
  • You're not as good of an applicant as you think you are. You describe yourself as miles ahead of your classmates but there's no way for us to know if that's really the case. Hackerrank and other sites allow you to take programming tests prior to interviewing. If you think you have the skills- this might be a good road to take

I will also mention that as a Software Engineer interested in Web Dev- New York had the lowest response rate of any state I submitted applications to (especially NYC area). While the above bullet points cover general areas that applicants can be weak in and might describe why they aren't seeing any interview responses- its also possible you're doing everything right and just live in a very competitive area for tech.

Good luck with your job hunt. You never know when you might get a call for an interview randomly.

  • So to address each of your points, I've had my resume reviewed by my school's career services, Indeed Prime, and Hired.com. I've adjusted it according to their advice. I've applied to all types of companies in every industry from startups to major players like Google. I have been applying exclusively online as I currently don't have the time for networking. I try to apply to companies which ask for my specific skillset. The reason I describe myself that way is that I frequently find myself teaching my classmates new things like programming languages. – smallpants May 1 at 18:20
  • I don't mean to seem defensive, but I just want to make sure I don't look totally complacent while complaining. – smallpants May 1 at 18:21
  • Writing a good application is a slow and horrible learning curve. Keep doing what you are doing - ask for advice, iterate improvements, and keep putting yourself out there. Do you have any friends who have made a successful application? Take a look at their applications and see if you can draw some insights. – P. Hopkinson May 1 at 19:49
  • 2
    The good news is that when you get it right you will get a cluster of interviews all at once. This will take you by surprise when it happens :) – P. Hopkinson May 1 at 19:51
2

A few things I would advise:

First, consider exactly how you're applying to the jobs in the first place. If you're just applying through job boards, your chances are not very good. At my company, we typically hire less than 1% - sometimes much less than 1% - of candidates who apply through job boards (and that's only considering the ones that made it all the way through the process). On the other hand, the hire rate for candidates that come to us through staffing agencies is much higher, and the hire rate for candidates that come to us through referrals is even higher.

Secondly, consider your resume and cover letter. Are you customizing them for each job that you apply to? Does your resume contain similar keywords to the job description? Are you focusing on your accomplishments and skills learned in your role, or just what your job responsibilities were?

Third, a recent study found that, in spite of the fact that recruiters claim to spend 4 - 5 minutes reviewing each resume, during an initial resume viewing they actually spend an average of 6 seconds skimming it. They spend the most time looking at the contact information, your degrees, and your previous job titles, and they spend most of the rest of the time skimming your resume for keywords. Implication? Make the information you really want them to read easy to locate. Include a summary section (the "objective section" that many candidates include is essentially useless), and make sure that the basic details (job title, degree, etc.) are easy to locate. Also, make sure that your resume prominently features keywords related to the job you're applying for; if recruiters don't see them right away, they probably won't spend a long time digging through your resume to find them - they'll just move on to the next resume. This is especially true if they use some kind of automated recruiting assistant, which may rank you as a poor candidate if it can't find enough similarities between your resume and the job description. (Please be sure to read the linked article for more details - it's actually extremely useful information).

1

I can't directly address your question, but as a side note, you might find it worthwhile to look into a recruiting agency at some point. They often are well equipped to help place a fresh graduate into a position where you're struggling to do it on a your own. It's definitely a Plan B, since once they place you you'll likely be on a fixed-length contract, and they're going to take a sizable percentage of your paycheck as payment. But for getting that first job and getting connections, I don't think it's an unfair ask. And you won't have to do it again for your next job. I did that to get my first job, I'm near the end of my contract and my boss loves me and is working to take me on as direct-hire to not lose me.

1

Have you considered talking to a recruiter?

Recruiters can be a double-edged sword, but in your case, I think it's almost all benefits with no downsides. The recruiter has a vested interest in getting you slotted into a position, generally has lots of leads for specific openings, and can easily tell you what's good/bad about what you're doing in terms of applications/CVs/CoverLetters/whatever. Also, unlikely college departments, they're solidly grounded in the real world (college personnel have a tendency to get more into an Academia mindset than a Corporate one.)

You might consider giving a recruiter a call, and ask to have a meeting with them to talk about your situation.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.