Ireland is currently suffering from a severe dearth of qualified IT personnel. It's a good time to be an IT Graduate!
If you're about to graduate in Computer Science from one of Ireland's universities, it's OK, you can forget about the notion of emigrating. For the first time in many a year, third level institutions are reporting that work placements in Irish technology companies are actually exceeding the volume of undergraduates on their degree courses, and more encouragingly almost 100% of their students have secured their first career opportunity before graduation day.
Despite the wider economic gloom and rising unemployment, technology rolls on. The Irish government is relentlessly pushing the innovation envelope, fuelling the demand for IT staff across the spectrum of IT businesses operating in Ireland. From well known consultancies to smaller indigenous software product companies, most, if not all are experiencing great difficulty filling their vacancies, particularly in software development.
It's a Good Time to be an IT Graduate
So with a stagnant jobs marketplace coupled with tight hiring budgets, software graduates are now finding themselves in the spotlight from a larger pool of businesses. But that's not to say the fight to find the most lucrative match is not fierce for the graduate too. According to Paul Sweetman, Director at the Irish Software Association, 5000 graduates are needed each year to fulfill the Irish demand and adds that there are hundreds of graduates arriving from outside of Ireland to take up their first job roles, especially where language skills are a necessity.
The Graduate's Friend
Typically, multi-nationals in the technology arena, global consulting firms and financial service companies in the Investment Banking and Insurance space bring in Computer Science Graduates annually. Whilst global brands in Ireland like, for example, Deloitte indicate they will employ 20 graduate hires and Merrill Lynch 8 - 10 graduate hires, historically, the number of graduates has tended to be quite low relative to the size of an organisation; it is estimated Microsoft (employing 3000 people in Ireland) normally recruits no more than 10 graduates a year.
Sweetman adds that exports in the indigenous software sector in 2009 / 2010 was 6%, twice the growth experienced in other sectors, and one can confidentally expect the growth to translate into employment in our sector. Evidence is already emerging that the taste for employing graduates is increasing and there are now quite a number of smaller Irish software product companies who, having previously opted for software developers with 2-3 years experience, are now eager to recruit fresh graduates. As one CTO of an Irish startup said, 'Bread Today or Jam Tomorrow'. In this economy it is and continues to be difficult to get experienced people to move, even on the promise of a future IPO.
Mark Deegan, a lecturer at Dublin Institute of Technology, said the entire number of undergraduates on their Computer Science degree courses had their feet on the first rung of the career ladder months ahead of graduation day.
There is a train of thought that whatever the graduate has learned in college, now has to be unlearned. Over-exagerated maybe, but most graduates will have a very different experience in their first work year as they get a accurate view as to how software lifecycles work in a real commercial environment. Most companies have extensive induction and training programs and graduate developers will have the opportunity to write code under supervision, get involved in testing, bug fixing and support.
There is a proliferation of development roles in the Java / J2EE / Microsoft C# / .Net development space. Going out and seeking certifications in these areas would be a distinct advantage for anyone looking to carve out a career in development. It is also useful to make sure you can adequately move around a number of different platforms. Having Linux installed at home and using that as your day to day operating system has proved very beneficial for many developers looking to start out their careers.
Development frameworks and tools are constantly evolving so there are ever shifting movements as they slip in and out of vogue. It is important to be aware of emerging trends and ideally to utilize new tools that are becoming widely used on a commercial basis in your personal projects at home. This shows initiative and a clear interest which can be brought to an interview with you.
Software graduate salaries are typically between €25,000 and €28,000. This has remained static over the last 3-4 years (ISA Salary Survey), although it is highly probable that rises are on the horizon, especially if the recruitment market continues to stagnate and competition for graduates increases. However, at graduate level, your focus should be less on remuneration and more on the career prospects within the company, the training that will be provided and the types of development languages and tools that you will get commercial experience with.
It is a competitive market and the key to success is having a 2.1 degree in a Computer Science or Software Engineering discipline. Coupled with a strong degree, prospective employers will also be looking for a keen desire to learn and to stay abreast of emerging software trends. Many companies will look at your project work, code examples or innovative personal projects to demonstrate passion and enthusiasm for your field.
Other attributes that are focused upon include strong communication skills, the ability to think laterally and work systematically as part of a team.
At the time of writing this article, many companies will look for fresh graduate hires on a direct basis rather than through recruitment companies. It is though worth registering your details with one or two reputed recruitment companies as occasionally graduate level roles will come through to them, and may increase as market stagnation for more experienced developers continues. The website www.gradireland.com is a good place to start. Also check in daily with other job boards such as IrishJobs etc.
Carefully read through the job specification and tailor your CV and cover letter accordingly. Make sure you have put the effort into creating additional material to send through with your application. Always follow up with a phone call to confirm your details have been received and try and get an indication as to when you can expect feedback. If you do get to talk to the specific hiring manager explain why you feel you would be a strong candidate for the position and why you want to work for the company.
Make sure you separate yourself in such a competitive market with solid examples of completed projects, both college based or projects completed at home. Again this could comprise code samples or mini applications etc. Show a passion for what you do above all else.
It is also recommended to attend corporate presentations given by the hiring companies at your campus and to listen carefully for what personal attributes and technical capabilities they are seeking.
There are great opportunities out there for IT graduates, particularly those who have specialized in software development. The most important thing you can do in seeking your first commercial role is to make sure you leave college with a strong primary degree. The market is so competitive that employers will gravitate towards candidates with a 2.1 or above. With the IDA Ireland continuing to bring foreign investment in to the country, particularly North American organisations looking for the short hop in to mainland Europe, evidence points to second languages being enormously beneficial too.
Article written by:
Hugh McCarthy, Manager at Brightwater IT Recruitment.
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Brightwater IT Recruitment are at the forefront of the it jobs market. For up to date information on market trends and salaries available in the software job market in Ireland, contact us now on +353 1 662 1000 or visit http://www.brightwater.ie
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