This article is aimed at graduate software developers but will be of interest to any graduate seeking an IT role.
The Jobs Market
About 70% of the IT jobs in Ireland are software development roles. Software testing roles make up about 10% of the market. The remaining 20% of jobs are in roles such as Business Analyst, Project Manager, Database Administration, IT Support and Sales and Account Managers.
Salaries in IT roles vary according to candidate experience, location, and supply and demand. Salaries in Dublin are higher than other locations in Ireland as the cost of living is higher there.
There are a number of different career paths available to an IT graduate. Some typical career paths are:
Junior Developer --> Senior Developer --> Team Lead --> Technical Lead/Software Architect/IT Manager
Junior QA/Software Tester --> Senior QA/Software Tester --> Test Team Lead --> Test Manager
IT Support/System Admin --> Senior Support/Team Lead --> IT Manager
In practice, there is little overlap between these career paths and it can be difficult to switch from one to another so it's important to think about and research the direction you want to go in. It may be possible in small companies to move between different kinds of roles but is unlikely in large multi-national where roles are very fixed.
Once you get a job in software development, you shouldn’t consider it a job for life. IT professionals move from one role to another in their career to build up new skills, gain exposure to new technologies, to move to more senior positions and to get an increase in salary. The choices you make regarding the roles you take, the technology/skillset involved, and the types of company are all important decisions. You need to find the balance between switching jobs too often and staying with one company for too long.
The Graduate Jobseeker
At the moment, most IT employers are looking for IT professionals with a computing degree, 1-4 years of commercia and enterprise-scale IT experience. IT companies tend not to use recruitment companies for graduate-level jobs as there is a steady supply of graduates throughout the country that they can easily recruit graduates themselves, without having to pay a recruitment company fees.
Recruitment agencies usually carry roles that require candidates to have at least 1-2 years’ commercial programming experience after their degree.
So, how do I get my first job?
You need to strategically research and target the companies you want to work for using internet searches, LinkedIn, your college careers office etc.
You should find out which companies have graduate training programs (see our article on those here for more details) and apply for some of them.
If you enjoyed your college internship/co-op, then contact that company and see if they would take you on in a graduate role. You should check out the careers section of the relevant company websites for junior level roles. If they don’t advertise junior roles, enquire about graduate positions anyway. You should tailor your application for each company.
You should put your CV on LinkedIn and expand your network of IT professionals and companies. Connect with HR people in the companies relevant to you - it is better if you have a specific person to contact in HR regarding graduate roles than a generic company email.
Don’t be afraid to sell yourself (be confident but not arrogant), to send follow-up emails or make follow-up calls. Don’t take it personally if people do not reply to you or reject your application. They are usually dealing with very large numbers of applications and can't always reply to everyone. Always be polite when dealing with people – you may want to apply to that company again when you have more experience, so don’t burn your bridges.
Dublin has a higher concentration of large multi-national and successful Irish IT companies than elsewhere in the country so you may need to consider relocating to get a graduate-level job and then plan to return to where you really want to work and live in a year or two.
General CV advice
Make sure you check your CV for grammar and spelling mistakes. Don’t just rely on an automated spell-checker, proof read it carefully yourself also. Make sure the dates are correct and that there are no gaps in your CV. Include the month and the year when stating dates for education and employment.
While almost all employers require IT candidates to have a computing degree, they are more interested in work experience than academic achievement. However, if you got A1s in all your programming subjects, are doing a Final Year Project in software development, or got a 1st class honours degree, then it is a good idea to draw attention to these facts.
Your college internship is important work experience, so make sure to list it, including information on the role, and the skills and software tools used.
When listing work experience on a CV you should include the title, dates, skills, environment and tools, and you should list your roles in chronological order. If you have lots of work experience, that should come first on your CV as it’s what employers are most interested in. Otherwise, you can list your degree and college internship first.
After you get some experience
When you have gained 1-2 years of commercial IT experience, that’s the time to talk to recruitment companies. Find a good, reputable company that specialises in IT in a location you want to work in.
We would be more than happy to talk to you at that stage and to register your CV with us. We work with a range of IT companies, from start-ups to large multinationals. We will never send your CV out to a company without your approval, we will never contact you about jobs that are not a good match for you, and we listen to our candidate's career needs and give honest feedback. All information given to us is strictly confidential.
Good luck in your jobseeking and future career!