Landing the job
Most graduates start their IT-related career search using the resources of their
college or university, often getting their start at job fairs or through on-campus
recruiting programs. This is where competition to attract the best and brightest can be
fiercest for companies. At Stanford University last year, 870 companies were recruiting
its business school's 720 MBA candidates. This year, Stanford's Taguchi expects more
than 1,000 companies to come to campus in search of new hires.
For students, it's a great way to examine their options.
"It's a little bit like having a home-court advantage," says a senior computer
science major UC Berkeley, graduating this June. "If the companies come to your school,
you feel more relaxed [because] they had to come to you rather than the other way
And top talent may never look farther than his or her own backyard for a career
start. For Jason Hahn, a UC Davis graduate now working as a software engineer for
database management software company Embarcadero Technologies, handing out a dozen
résumés at an on-campus engineering career fair and having a few on-campus
interviews resulted in follow-up calls from eight or nine companies. Of those, five
companies pursued him with requests for on-site interviews.
"This was all I really needed in order to get the options I wanted for my job
search," Hahn says. "The career fair and the on-campus interviews made it much easier
to find the kinds of jobs I was looking for. I could get specific about what I wanted
and see the specifics of what the companies wanted at the same time."
Companies too picky?
Although graduates enjoy the relative ease with which they can find good jobs, the
atmosphere can be intimidating. Evenn entry-level IT positions require particular
skills, such as Java, C++, or Oracle knowledge, and companies are always hoping for
candidates with a few years' experience in a work environment. At least one observer
thinks the companies may be focusing too much on what IT help they need, and not enough
on what's available in a tight labor market.
"One of the biggest problems out there now is that companies, especially in IT,
have started developing overly narrow job descriptions," says Nick Corcodilos, host of
online forum Ask the Headhunter and author of Ask the Headhunter. "Jobs will stay open
a long time because a company will argue, 'We haven't been able to find anybody who can
do A, B, and C.' Any talented software developer or programmer can really pick up and
learn just about anything, and yet these companies are turning good candidates down,"