The Complete Guide to Getting a Job in Tech After Graduation

how_to_get_a_job_after_college_hubspot.png

Hello, Real World...

Remember when you were younger and your teachers, parents, and friends would ask: What do you want to be when you grow up? At the time, you might have said an astronaut or a movie star. But now that you're about to join the "real world", picking a dream job isn't so simple. The tech world has endless opportunity for marketers, writers, developers, designers, and everyone in-between. So where do you begin to find jobs after college? At the end of the day, the best jobs for recent college grads are the ones that make you excited to come into work every day. Jobs that challenge you and help you grow. That’s what a dream job looks like.

If you're ready to find, apply, and land that dream job, then this guide is for you. Let's get started!

How to Use This Guide

We've put together the resources you need to master every stage of the application process: Researching, Applying, Interviewing, and Evaluating Offers. Each section shares tips and tricks from tech professionals from to help you get hired.

how_to_get_a_job_after_college_research
Research

Find the right company and position for you.

how_to_get_a_job_after_college_apply
Application

Get your resume, CV, and profiles recruiter-ready.

how_to_get_a_job_after_college_interview
Interview

Prep for phone, video, and in-person interviews.

how_to_get_a_job_after_college_offer
Offer

Follow-up after your interview and evaluate next steps.

Research Stage

Research is one of the easiest parts of the job search to underestimate. But it's also one of the most important. That's why before you start applying for jobs, take time to reflect on your values and goals. Once you know what you're looking for you can do some detective work to find the best companies for your first job out of college.

how_to_get_a_job_after_college_research.png

 

Step One: Identify Your Professional and Personal Goals

Here's the thing about working in the tech world: There's opportunity everywhere. While that is what makes tech an amazing place to be for recent grads, it also makes it hard to narrow down your search. That's why when you're first thinking about how to get a job after college, forget about job titles for a moment and evaluate what's most important to you. For example, a ‘Social Media Associate’ position might sound like the perfect fit for what you want to do. But depending on a company’s culture, mission, and team, it might actually not match your goals and values once you’re on the job. On the other hand, you may have never thought twice about applying for a Customer Support position. But what if you had a great connection with the company’s people, values, and mission? Then Customer Support might be the best career move you could make.

Bottom line: Use your values, passions, and skills as a compass in your search - not job titles. Start by taking a few minutes to reflect and write down your own personal career objectives. Ask yourself: What factors and situations motivate me? What skills do I want to use in my next role? What did I enjoy most about my past internships? Having your values top of mind when you start your research will make it easier to narrow down companies, roles, and jobs after college.

Looking for Inspiration?

Check out the blog posts below to learn about unexpected career opportunities and paths your degree could take you down in the real world.

liberal_arts_jobs
Why Tech Needs More Liberal Arts Graduates

Think tech and liberal arts are at odds? Meet liberal arts graduates who are shaking up software.

Read
career_in_sales
Why a Career in Sales Might Be the Right Road for Recent Grads

Most grads don't initially consider sales jobs after college. But are you missing out?

Read
career_in_engineering
4 Questions to Ask Before Starting Your Career in Engineering

Not all engineering teams are alike. Here's how to find the right tech stack, product, and culture for you.

Read

Step Two: Create a List of Companies to Target

Once you’ve reflected on the kind of work, challenges, and environments that excite you, it’s time to start your detective work. I recommend doing your homework to find 10-12 companies you’ll pursue. Narrowing your search to a handful of companies will help you spend your time and energy on the best fit opportunities for you. So how do you find those companies? Maybe you’ve always been drawn to big, household name companies like Google or Nike. Or maybe you’ve always pictured yourself at a small startup. Great companies come in all shapes and sizes; that’s why, instead of looking for a company based on size, we recommend looking for the ones with the biggest opportunity for growth. Here are two ways to start.

Visit Employee Review Sites

Employee review sites are like Yelp for careers - employees give anonymous ratings and reviews about their workplace and job. As a result, you can get an authentic glimpse into the company. You can also filter reviews by keywords like ‘marketing’ or ‘engineer’ to get reviews that reflect the role you’d be applying for. Here are some sites to get started with: Glassdoor, InHerSight, Comparably, and Kununu. Some questions to consider when you’re reading through reviews might be:

  • Does it sound like you’d have the right balance of autonomy and support to thrive in this environment?
  • Can you picture yourself collaborating with the people there?
  • Does it sound like the level of flexibility aligns with your work style and personal life?
  • Are the average salaries on par with what you had in mind? 

Network Online and Offline

Like employee review sites, networking is a great way to talk to employees and get the inside scoop. Stay updated on events happening in your area through Meetup.com - if one of the employers on your radar is sponsoring or speaking, there’s a good chance you’ll meet a few employees there, too. Check Twitter, jobs websites, and local tech newsletters for upcoming events that might be hosted by the company you’re interested in. Having the opportunity to visit a company’s office through an event is a valuable way to get a feel for what it’s like to work there.

Let’s not forget about digital networking, either. Identify individuals on LinkedIn, Twitter, or through blogs with job titles that interest you and ask if they would be open to a quick conversation. More often than not, if you reach out to someone and ask for 20 minutes of their time, they will be happy to help.

Once you have a few phone calls or coffee conversations lined up, do some homework to make the most of their time and yours by asking good questions. Questions like “When did you start working at X company?” or “Where were you working beforehand?” make you look unprepared and, worse, uninvested in the conversation. Instead, focus on asking informed questions about what their average day looks like:

  • What do they work on?
  • Are they mostly working alone at a computer or in meetings with other people?
  • How (if at all) do they interact with their boss?
  • What’s the culture at their organization like?
  • What do they like about it and what do they wish they could change?
  • What’s the most important skill to succeed in the job they have, and why? 
katie_burke_hubspot
When you start networking online, resist the urge to pick senior people you can find at a company. Selecting people at or close to entry-level jobs gives you a much more realistic sense of what your day would be like and what skills you would need to succeed.

Step Three: Find the Best-Fit Job Openings 

By now you have a short list of companies on your radar. But what are you going to at those companies? Your first job out of college should be exciting, but also aligned with your strengths and experience. Start by visiting those companies’ jobs pages, browse their openings, and bookmark the ones you want to apply for. If nothing catches your eye on their websites, check out job boards: Sales Gravy is great for aspiring salespeople, while JournalismJobs.com and Mediabistro are perfect for writers. Be sure to check out Inbound.org for marketing positions, and StackOverflow for engineering jobs.

To stay on top of new listings, most job boards allow you to set up instant alerts that'll immediately email you when a position is posted with specific keywords in your chosen area. Twitter is another option for monitoring job listings in real time. Get yourself in the habit of searching for specific keywords like "marketing jobs Dublin" or "graphic designer Chicago. " As you find specific companies or job sites tweeting about positions regularly, you can add them to a public or private Twitter List to make monitoring easier.

At HubSpot, we have requirements for certain roles (like foreign language skills or familiarly with specific technologies), but we care more about a candidate’s future potential and passion to make an impact. Bottom line: You can still land a job even if you don’t have one of the “nice-to-have” skills listed in the description or any experience in that specific industry. Read the requirements closely and make sure you’re qualified to do the day-to-day work. Chances are, you’ll quickly learn the rest on the job.

  1. grow_your_career

    How to Find a Company Where You Can Grow

    HubSpot co-founder and CTO, Dharmesh Shah, is passionate about helping employees grow their careers. In fact, he thinks growth is one of the most important factors in anyone's job search. Read his blog post to learn the three key questions recent grads should be asking to find growth-driven companies.

    Read Now
  2. job_out_of_college

    Why Your College Search Will Help Your Job Search

    Finding your first job is a lot like choosing where to go to college or university. That means you might know more than you think. Check out this post from a recent grad about how she used college hunting to start her career.

    Read Now

Ready to master your job application?

Fill out this quick form to get instant access to the full guide.

Application Stage

Now that you have a short list of target companies and some job descriptions that look like a great fit, it's time to apply. Follow the steps below to create and polish a resume, CV, cover letter, and online presence that stands out. 

how_to_get_a_job_after_college_apply.png

 

Step One: Customize Your Resume or CV

You likely already have a few versions of your resume or CV saved on your computer. Maybe an older version you had used to apply for internships, or one that was tailored for a specific job you applied for not too long ago. Now's the time to grab a snack, get comfortable, and focus on updating and customizing your resume to the jobs you're planning to apply for. Why? You've probably heard that recruiters only spend about 6 seconds reviewing a resume. That means you need to leave an impression, fast.

A lot of the time, there will be ways to position your experience that appeal to one company more than another. Lean on the company research you did earlier and read the job description closely to get an understanding of what skills and characteristics you want to emphasize per application. Sometimes it will be as easy as re-ordering bullet points about your past responsibilities, other times you'll need to think about how you tell a story about your strengths. 

For example, what if you don’t have internship or professional experience that is directly related to the role at hand? (This is your first job out of college, after all.) The key is to think about how you can highlight the skills they are looking for in the experience you do have, whether it’s volunteering, on-campus work-study positions, or food service. The most important thing is to make your resume or CV tell your unique story and spin your experience into a competitive advantage.

Drafting your resume or CV is one part of the job search where you shouldn't be afraid to ask for feedback. Having at least two or three extra pairs of eyes can make a world of difference. Ask a friend, a sibling, a career advisor at your university, or a professor you trust. They can be a big help in making sure you tell the right story. 

Resume Resources

Ready to work on your resume or CV? Use the blog posts below to guide you. You'll find feedback from recruiters, design help, and tips from hiring managers.

how_recruiters_read_resumes
What Do Recruiters Look for in a Resume?

Recruiters receive an average of 118 resumes for every job listing they post. Here's what they're looking for when they scan each one.

Read
format_your_resume
15 Eye-Catching Resume Templates That Will Get You Noticed

While an eye-catching resume alone probably won't land you your dream gig, it doesn't hurt to stand out.

Read
resume_tips
How to Write a Resume: The Ultimate Checklist of Resume Tips

Grab this giant list of things to check (and double-check) when writing and submitting your resume.

Read

Step Two: Craft Your (Alternative) Cover Letter 

Cover letters are tricky. Many companies require a cover letter in their job application forms. Others (like HubSpot) don't read cover letters. Why? Because typically, they tend to be overly formal and can make it difficult to get a true sense of who's behind the letter. Cover letters can be a double-edged sword: Sticking to the traditional format and tone ("To whom it may concern...") won't help you stand out, but getting creative is always a risk.

So, what's a job seeker to do?

For applications that require a cover letter, we recommend being yourself...and putting your research to the test. If you did your due diligence on a company's culture, you likely have a good sense of how creative you should get in your cover letter. Is their employer brand quirky? Does the manager of the team you're applying for seem more formal or laid-back (you'd be surprised how much you can find out on Twitter)? Do a little digging so you aren't going into writing your cover letter blind.

For applications that don't require a cover letter, you have a few options. If you're applying for a role that requires strong writing skills, it can be a good idea to submit a cover letter anyway as a writing sample. But also consider what the goal of a cover letter is: To show employees why you're the best candidate for the job. The keyword here is "show". Some of the best applications we've received at HubSpot included "alternative cover letters" in the form of videos, websites, or songs. 

Tips for Standing Out

Check out the blog posts below for tactical tips on writing a cover letter, or taking an alternative approach to telling your story.

write_cover_letter
How to Write a Cover Letter That Gets You the Job

No one seems to agree on cover letters. How much time do you need to spend perfecting them? Do hiring managers even read them?

Read
alternative_cover_letter
The Secret to the Perfect Cover Letter? Don't Write One

There are lots of ways to stand out in the hiring process. Here are alternatives to written cover letters to inspire your next application.

Read
cover_letter_examples
6 Cover Letter Examples That Got Something Right

Discover the cover letter examples that really made an impression on recruiters and hiring managers.

Read

Step Three: Update Your Online Presence

Most hiring managers will run a quick Google search before reaching out to you for a phone screen. That means you probably should, too. Evaluate your online presence before you start applying for jobs and ask yourself if it tells the right story. Typically, when we think about our online presence during the job hunt, we worry about typos in our profiles or unflattering Facebook photos. But we should spend more time on what we can proactively do to ensure a quick Google search and your official application tell the same story about your talents and goals. 

For example, let’s say you are interested in applying to Wistia, an online video hosting company. How could you convey a passion for video if you’re not an editor, producer, or director? You could share remarkable videos you see online as a consumer, blog about how video marketing can influence the sales process, incorporate your previous experience with video on your LinkedIn profile, or tweet articles covering recent brand video launches, among other things.

denis_hakes_hubspot
Recruiters can learn a lot about your from your social media footprint. That’s why I tell candidates to consider online profiles their "first impression” during the job hunt. You want your footprint to be up-to-date and to tell the right story.

Beyond updating and polishing your social media profiles, are there examples of your work that you can share online? Today’s tech industry places a lot of weight on real skills, and luckily, the internet makes it pretty easy to showcase yours. If you are trying to break into the tech industry, it’s crucial that you push everything you ever write/create, no matter how small, to the public.

  • If you want to be a designer, share your work on Behance or Dribbble
  • If you want to be a developer, push your code to either GitHub or CodePen
  • If you want to do content creation, write a LinkedIn Pulse post or create your own Medium account

Publishing your work will give you something to talk about in interviews, even if you don’t have formal education, internship experience, or professional experience in the field. For example, if a potential employer asks “What’s the toughest coding problem you’ve worked on?” or “What’s the top performing piece of content you’ve ever written?” you’ll have real examples you can point to. Additionally, it’s almost more impressive if you, as a candidate, can talk about something you did just because you were passionate about it, not because it was required for a course or because it was an assigned project.

  1. application_tracker

    Ready to Submit Applications?

    Not so fast; let's get organized first. Preparing your application materials is only half the battle. If you're applying to multiple jobs (which you should be from your target company list), then it's important to stay organized. Download our Application Tracker for a ready-to-use template

    Get the Tracker

Interview Stage

If your job applications were successful, then you probably have a preliminary interview with a recruiter coming up soon. And if that goes well, you'll be moving on to face-to-face interviews. Ease your nerves by being prepared to make an impact in phone, video, and in-person interviews with the resources below.

how_to_get_a_job_after_college_interview.png

 

Step One: Make an Impression on Phone and Video Interviews

Before you go into a company's office for in-person interviews, you'll probably do a phone screen with a recruiter or hiring manager. Phone interviews are typically no longer than 30 minutes and are less about testing your skills and knowledge in a particular area, and more about assessing how comfortable you are talking about your experience. It's the recruiter's job to bring the best and brightest candidates to the hiring managers and team you're interviewing for. Phone interviews are tools for confirming that you're just as impressive off of your resume, as you are on it.

The difference between phone interviews and video interviews (besides the obvious) is that video interviews will usually be pre-recorded. You still need to think on your feet and be thoughtful about your responses to questions on the spot, but you likely won't be talking to a recruiting live in the moment. That's comforting for some candidates, but video interviews come with their own set of nuances to prep for, too. (Should I wear formal attire for the camera?)

Wondering how you can make an impact on the phone or over video? We've got you covered. Check out the blog posts below for tips from recruiters to help you prepare for both, including real examples of interviews that stole the show.

Advice from Recruiters

What do the best candidates say during a phone screen? Where do candidates get stuck in video interviews? HubSpot recruiters share best practices for your first round of interviews.

phone_interview_tips
Call Me, Maybe? Nailing the Recruiter Phone Interview

Water? Check. Notes? Check. Charged phone? Check. Prepare for your phone interview with this blog post about what recruiters really want to hear.

Read
video_interview_tips
Video Interviews Are Here to Stay: How to Prepare for Your Debut

How do I record a video interview? Where should I film it? Check out these tips and real recordings of video interviews that left a strong impression on HubSpot recruiters.

Read

Step Two: Prepare for Face-to-Face Interviews

First thing's first, congratulations! Passing a phone or video interview isn't an easy task; you were likely up against a lot of qualified applicants. Now it's time to take that confidence into the next phase of your interview process: in-person interviews. For recent grads, face-to-face interviews will still feel a little foreign. You might be wondering: How many people will I interview with? What should I wear? What should I bring with me? Every company is different, so no face-to-face interviews will be the same. But luckily, the recruiter you're working with will likely prep you and act as an advisor throughout the process to make sure you know what to expect on the day of your interviews.

While no two interviews are created equal, there are universal ways to set yourself up for success. For example, interviewers can tell pretty quickly which candidates took the time to understand a company's culture, mission, and milestones. Do your due dilligence to research and come up with thoughtful questions. Read through the blog posts below to dig into more face-to-face interview prep before the big day. 

Interviewing for a software engineering position? This post from HubSpot's Director of Engineering shares advice for getting ready for technical interviews: 4 Ways to Ace Your Technical Interview as a Developer

Interview Tips and Tricks

Which questions should you be prepared to answer in an interview? How can you ease your nerves and stand out? These blog posts are here to help.

common_interview_questions
The 10 Most Common Interview Questions (and How to Answer Them Perfectly)

Read through the most popular interview questions hiring managers ask, and how you might go about totally nailing the answers next time you're in the hot seat.

Read
job_interview_tips
How to Play to Your Strengths in a Job Interview

Do you consider yourself an introvert? Or are you known for being outgoing? Here's how to adapt your interview style to accentuate your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.

Read
questions_to_ask_interview
14 Questions Job Candidates Should Ask to Impress Interviewers in 2017

Ever wonder what kinds of questions you should ask hiring managers in interviews? Here are some that'll make their ears perk up and listen.

Read

Offer Stage

All of the hard work you put into researching and preparing comes down to the final stage of your job hunt: the offer stage. After your interviews, follow up with the employees you worked with throughout the interview process and get ready to evaluate your first job offer. 

how_to_get_a_job_after_college_offer.png

 

Step One: Send a Thoughtful Follow-Up  

It sounds simple, but you'd be surprised how many candidates forget to send "thank you" notes to interviewees and recruiters after their interviews. You also might be surprised by how much that can influence the impression they leave on a company. You've put in the hard work to apply and interview, so forgetting or overlooking the follow-up piece would be a shame. Do you need to write a novel to every person you interviewed with? Should you mention all of the things you forgot to mention in your interview? Do you need to send flowers? No, but you should be genuine, thoughtful, and creative. Your interviewees are busy people, so think about how you can leave things on a positive note by being concise. Read these tips and examples of emails to inspire your next follow-up. 

follow_up_interview
The Follow-Up Email That Got Me Hired in One Week

Interview - check. It's time for the follow-up thank you email. Here's how one candidate used this to secure the job.

Read
job_application_follow_up
How to Follow Up on a Job Application

Go beyond the traditional job application follow up with an email template that actually works.

Read

Step Two: Evaluate Your Offer

If you're lucky enough to be offered a job, start by saying thank you (you can celebrate soon, don't worry). Then, you should be asking clarifying questions to better understand the role you’re being offered, the team you’ll be joining, and the salary and benefits associated with the job. You'll probably receive a call from a hiring manager or recruiter with this information, and then ask for the offer to be sent in writing. HubSpot hiring managers recommend thanking your interviewer, and then asking for a day to review the offer in detail and return with any questions you may have. Doing so ensures you know you are interested and gives you time to pour over the materials in depth to formulate good questions to ask of your potential employer.

With your first job out of college, you want to strike a balance between negotiating a fair deal and being a high-maintenance candidate. Come up with a list of your questions then review the materials a second time to confirm that the answers aren’t contained in the information they sent. You want to ask questions that are thoughtful, insightful, and reflect what matters most to you. In other words, if your base salary is the most important factor in your job decision, spend most of your time on the phone asking clarifying questions -- not on how much vacation time you will have. The goal is to work with your recruiter or the hiring manager to come to a final offer that you are excited to accept and that they are happy to make happen for you. 

noelle_san_jose_hubspot
When thinking about accepting an offer, be clear about what you need to be successful in the role and be transparent with your recruiter. I am my candidates’ advocate so knowing what’s important to them is key to finding a mutual fit! While recruiters may not be able to get you everything you want, we can make sure there’s alignment between the your needs and goals, as well as the hiring manager’s.

Watch Out, Real World

Hopefully, these resources will help you land not only your first job after graduation, but a job that you love. If you know a friend, classmate, or group who could use this guide to do the same - please share it with them! Good luck and we can't wait for you to grow your career in tech.

first_job_out_of_college

Ready to Kickstart Your Career?

HubSpot's been voted a top place to work for recent grads. Visit our Students website to explore career opportunities and meet recent grads who are growing their careers in marketing, sales, engineering, and more at HubSpot.