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What do IT Recruiters & IT Hiring managers ACTUALLY look for when they're hiring?

My aim of this talk is to give you some simple insights into how to find a job when you are an IT graduate.

The first thing to decide is what area you’re going into: development or infrastructure? And I assume most will be looking for a code orientated role…

But if you do go down the infrastructure route please make sure you get a role that is technical enough & allows you to code / script otherwise you might find your job being replaced by a Chat Bot or Digital Human sooner rather than later.


So How do you actually get an IT job?


Once you've decided the area you want to go into, then you can decide on the type of role you want! So within development do you enjoy mobile apps, web or full stack development, back-end or want to go deep into Big Data? Within Infrastructure / Networks do you want to be involved in Comms like Juniper or Cisco, or a SysAdmin/DevOps role within Windows or Linux?

Then you can shape your CV around that type of role including those relevant technologies & personal projects….You can also tailor your CV to different roles if you quite like web & full stack dev for example…so it’s more about having a general idea i.e. web and then going for a few different types of web roles…

We also want to see either an internship or a personal project within the technology we’re recruiting for i.e. if you’re going for mobile apps we’d like you to be able to have some basic coding in Java on android or swift on iOS, or be able to talk about your projects at Uni from a technical standpoint….this will really make you stand out from the other candidates...

Write a Cover letter - either as an attachment or in an email paragraph actually telling the recruiter, HR manager or line manager your current situation and why you’re interested in the specific role. Keep it short & punchy.

Let your friends know you’re looking for a job, let your parents know, then let your friends of your parents know that you’re looking for a job - you’d be surprised how many people get jobs this way or at least an interview or foot-in-the-door.

Go to Job fairs / company presentations / start networking / have you created a LinkedIn profile?

Get out there & network you can attend your local Meetups (free) and your local tech conferences (at reduced student rates) & hackathons. We have some excellent resources in Christchurch that you can check out like Ministry of Awesome, Canterbury Tech, Meetups, and the Christchurch Hacker Conference.

The classic saying ‘It’s not what you know it’s who you know’ but I like to take this to the next level ’It’s what you know & who you know’!!!!

Apply for graduate jobs online on the various Job boards - TradeMe / Seek / SJS / LinkedIn

CV, cover letter then apply, if there’s a direct email send it direct to them. Then follow up with a phone call (this is the crucial most valuable point I will make in this talk tonight…it seems simple….this will instantly show you’re keen, interested & confident….I have a policy that if anyone rings me about a tech job and wants to see me I pretty much say yes….


Honoured to be back at my old university again talking to CompSoc students in the new Ernest Rutherford building, University of Canterbury

The Interview:

(Mock interview with Louis from CompSoc)

Here are some interview questions you’re likely to get at your first interview....

1) How did your course go at Uni? What did you most enjoy?

2) What do you like to do out of study?

3) What do you enjoy about coding?

4) Tell me about your most successful technical project?

5) What's the hardest problem you've ever solved?

6) What new technologies have you been excited about recently?



The Mock interview to give students a feel for real world interview questions

Hot technologies in demand in the Christchurch IT market:


Web UI Applications Development - JavaScript (Angular6 or React or Vue.js)

Software Development - C#.Net or Java, often now Full Stack Development with HTML/CSS/JavaScript (Angular or React or Vue.js etc)

Full stack Web Development (PHP/JavaScript) i.e. Laravel, Silverstripe, Symfony2

Big Data - Hadoop / Spark / Google Cloud / AWS - Data Scientist or Data Engineer

Mobile Apps Development (iOS or Android)

SysAdmin (Linux scripting in BASH or Windows scripting in Powershell)

Networking with Cisco, Juniper, Huawei, Fortinet

DevOps - release cycle / automation - Docker, Kubernetes & Rancher


Sometimes the graduate role will be learning the ropes - the coding language, tooling & domain but just make sure the role has progression and you like the company culture & the team is friendly & fun with some good senior people to learn from.

One of the questions was about soft skills and I mentioned a very good book on Human Relations....

‘How to win friends & influence people’ by Dale Carnegie.  It's a terribly cheesy title but being written in 1936 it’s stood the test of time and has been modernised to give contemporary examples.  This is a MUST read for any person in business and will help improve your people skills.

If you haven’t started out on LinkedIn yet feel free to create a profile & connect with me. You can also check out our current graduate roles here:

Graduate Mobile Apps Developer

Graduate Applications Support

I'm Paul, Founder & Principal Consultant of Sunstone, an IT Recruitment & HR company specialising in recruiting IT roles within software, web, mobile, blockchain, big data, infrastructure, security & networks in Christchurch & South Island of New Zealand.