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We’ve arrived at that time of year again - the time when thousands of computer science students across the country are graduating and trying to decide where to take their first steps as a professional software developer. For employers, the race to snag recent graduates is only just beginning. With nearly five open jobs for every developer, just as much competition exists for employers as it does for candidates. Computer science graduates have a greater choice of positions than ever before so just like applicants, you need to make sure you are also doing your best to stand out.

If you’re a candidate...

Given the recent surge of professional networks and communities online, more employers than ever are skipping the formal application process and jumping right into outbound sourcing. If your online profiles aren’t up to date, you may miss out on valuable career opportunities. There’s no doubt that a professional online presence is very important for candidates wanting to secure the perfect job. So, as an aspiring developer, how do you stay ahead of the game to position yourself in a way that’s going to attract the right employers for you?

The answer lies in the 5 P’s – Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

Employers want to know that you can code, so show them in your resume. There are around 13,000 students who use their Stack Overflow profile to showcase their skills to the world. Our profiles go above and beyond the traditional resume: you can share your work from GitHub, post your questions and answers from Stack Overflow, showcase projects and apps you’ve worked on, and more. When using these platforms to show off your open source projects and knowledge, you’ll earn points and badges, which are then displayed on your professional profiles. But you won’t become a top scorer overnight. It takes time to earn the respect of the developer community, so the earlier you start the better. Getting yourself GitHub and StackOverflow profiles when you begin university will let you build up your reputation. That way, when you graduate, your score will be alongside those of the top developers in the world.

Your reputation on GitHub and your Stack Overflow score are no longer just something to brag about. In fact, they are starting to matter when it comes to getting a job. Having credence in the developer world is important, so the earlier you start, the higher your score. Being a developer is more than a job; it’s about being part of a community and the earlier you get yourself immersed in the community, the better. The best way to perfect code is to apply your coding skills to real scenarios, and what better way to do that than participating on Stack Overflow? You can then use these questions as examples of code in your profile .

For the employers...

All this being said, it’s not just up to students. As employers, you have to be willing to give these budding young developers an opportunity to shine. It can be tempting to only hire experienced developers who’ve been coding for years, but there’s a lot to be gained from taking on recent graduates. Not only will the new programmers be extra eager to learn, but they also give you the opportunity to shape and mold talent through your customized onboarding process.

Whether you’re going to college job fairs to recruit developers or using our Candidate Search to find students and recent graduates, this is a great time of year for you to target this group of candidates. Keep in mind that programmers of every skill level have some sort of online footprint. The best students have proactively used sites like Stack Overflow, Github, and others while studying, so they are already an active part of these talent communities. By checking out their online portfolios, you can get a sense for which languages they are most competent in, whether they contribute to open source projects, if they build apps in their free time, and more.

As recruitment begins with gusto in fall, these fresh-faced graduates are eager to work. Avoid leaving students as untapped potential: with fresh ideas and a new perspective on software development, investing in a graduate could be the best hire you make all year.

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