I just sent a second congratulations to Srigar who was a fresher not too long ago. When I contacted Srigar, he was a fresher and looking for a job in the US. I started corresponding with him and helped him with his cover letter and resume. In his cover letter, he stated he was a 'fresher' and had graduated recently from Anna University with a Bachelors in Electronics and Communications Engineering. My first advice to him was to lose the word 'fresher'. He did not have to state that to his future employer and in my opinion, I thought it was more of a detriment than an advantage.
When you are applying for a job, you have to put your best foot forward and use every advantage you have at your disposal. I don't have to tell you that it is a competitive job market out there and that if you want a job in the IT industry, you have to find a ingenious way to stand out from the crowd.
Srigar had the skills for an entry level programmer position but he needed a company to give him a chance to prove that. I got Srigar to explain his senior project to me. He told me he worked in a team and together, they collaborated on the idea. Each member was assigned a module. He programmed his part in Java and added his classes to the build that he worked on. It was a fully functional service-oriented application with a UI that he helped designed and programmed. I asked if he acted as the team lead and assigned the tasks. He said no. I asked if he was the technical lead and provided the technical support. He said no. He was the programmer and he worked in a team with his fellow classmates.
Freshers have to realize that without any experience, employers and IT recruiters will have to look at relevant experience from your interests, hobbies and school projects. To stand out from the crowd, employers like candidates that are star programmers or natural born leaders. Freshers have a better chance in being selected for interviews if they can show that they acted as a lead of some kind, whether technically or on a personnel basis. Try to think back when you solved a difficult problem, dealt with a difficult person or had risen to a challenge. The more realistic the problem, the better it will be perceived as a work experience.
Srigar realized that his technical skills were better than most of his team mates. He said he was the only one who understood the problem when certain classes were missing. While his team mates were scrambling, he was looking for the implementation manual of the Web Server. He had a good grasp of the technical environment and knew how things worked technically. He knew that class files had to be in a certain directory when compiling, otherwise it would be missed and not installed.
Freshers should understand how things work technically. Instead of mastering the Java language, try to understand how Java works with the application server or the web server. The more you understand on how things work, the better equipped you are in figuring things out. Employers like candidates that can work on their own and can figure things out.
I provided Srigar a chance to be hired in Bangalore when a good friend of mine who worked for an offshore company was looking to double his staff. Srigar revised his cover letter and resume and presented it in person to the hiring manager. He was told to sit tight as he was reviewing thousands of applicants. In a month and a little bit, Srigar was hired and he went ballistic. Today, Srigar celebrated his second year anniversary as a Junior Programmer for a software company in India.
Gord was envious to hear that I wore a golf shirt and a pair of slacks to work while he wore an Armani suit and a $300 pair of shoes. Depending on your employer's dress code, wearing a suit to work may be instant death but at other workplaces, you are expected to wear to a suit and tie.
Some consultants feel like they have to dress up to command the high rates they are charging. Gord is like that. He shops at the finest stores and buys only the finest in men's clothing. Sure, he looks good in an Armani suit but so would my dog. I don't think his employer cares if he wears a $40 pair of shoes from Marshall's or a $300 pair from Gucci. Gord should look at the work he is doing for his client and worry about the quality of the work he delivers rather than worry about scuffing up his expensive shoes.
Workplaces all over have dressed down rather than dressed up. Employers want their workers to be comfortable and when they are comfortable, they produce their best work. Tech companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook prefer their workers to wear a t-shirt and jeans unless you're in senior management where the business attire consists of a nice golf shirt or dress shirt and a pair of slacks.
When I go shopping for golf shirts and pants, I look for performance shirts and pants that are sold at sporting goods outlets. They are lightweight, comfortable and keeps you cool all day. When picking colours, just pick conservatively and try to stay away from big logos, emblems and fluorescent colours.
When choosing a job interview outfit, query online sources such as Quora to find out the dress code policy. From there, always dress one step up to impress, especially if the position you are interviewing for is in senior management. A suit may not be necessary but a dress shirt and slack would be a good start. Throw a tie in the car just in case you run into other candidates that are more dressed up than you.
Take it from Gayle Laakman McDowell, ex-Google hiring committee, 'don't show up naked' .
Smart casual is the way for most tech companies but don't abuse the rule by wearing shorts and flip-flops to work. A t-shirt and jeans are fine for everyday work but wear a nice dress shirt or for ladies, a nice blouse for an interview.
Employers are more interested in how you think than what you wear.
I felt like an informant when I found out my ex-DBA had forgotten to turn in his laptop when his contract expired. As the team lead, I was told to gather up his ID and access card before he left the building. Ted did not have a problem with ending his contract with us. The commute was killing him and he was spending too many evenings connecting remotely to several databases that he was responsible for.
After three months, desktop security informed me that Ted did not return his laptop and that a warrant was issued by the Los Angeles Police. Ted was going to be visited by two police officers who was going to take him in for stealing a company laptop.
I called Ted at once to inform him of his wrongdoing. I remembered telling Ted not to go home and to return the laptop immediately. The police was going to arrest Ted for stealing and they did not care about the laptop. It was going to be on the local news and it wasn't going to go down easy. Poor Ted would have a mark on his record for stealing corporate data on a laptop.
Before the end of day, I called the Head of Security and negotiated with him to call off the arrest if Ted would agreed to return the laptop to a specified location by a certain date. At first, his decision was not going to budge. The laptop had over $100,00.00 worth of software licences on it and with a replicated database of company data on it, the laptop was worth more than the hardware cost.
After talking it through, the Head of Security thought it was a reasonable mistake that anyone could have overlooked and so he agreed upon a lesser sentence. He made the phone call to the Los Angeles Police to call off the arrest and told them they would recover the unit themselves.
On the date set, Ted showed up in the parking lot in Simi Valley and gladly returned the laptop to the Head of Security. No charges were laid.
Companies provide laptops to consultants/ contractors and expect them to take care of their property while employed. For safekeeping, companies would often provide padded cases for the laptops. Before leaving the country, check with your supervisor or manager whether the laptop can leave the country. Some companies expect you to remote access into their corporate servers from the same country. It is best to check with your employer before taking the laptop abroad. And when your employment terminates, be sure to return the laptop and case to them before leaving their premises.
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