Graduate, graduate, what have you seen? Here’s how it could help you clinch the deal!

Jan 6, 2017

Have you witnessed a flop or success that could be useful to a future employer? Telling him/her what you saw could help you clinch the job.

Recently, I met up with a mate of mine who landed a top level executive position because of the things she had seen.

Her new employer was more interested in what she had seen than where she had worked.

The company was growing and looking for someone to set up a new human resources project. Employing someone and training them up would take too long. Employing someone with the right skills would be better but they decided to go one better.

They chose someone who not only had the right skills but who had also been through the experience of working at a growing company that had something similar to what they wanted to do. A person like this would know the challenges, changes and risks that lay ahead as the new project got underway.

Sell your skills in context

My mate had worked at a company that had grown from four employees to over a hundred, because of what she had seen.

This got me thinking: what have you seen that could be of use to a future employer?

Could that strengthen your pitch in an interview? We often speak of our skills but bringing those skills into the context in which you acquired them, especially if the context is similar to the new employer’s, could make your pitch stronger.

If that employer is looking to go where you’ve already been, what insights could you offer?

Perhaps you are only a few years into your career or still at university. That doesn’t matter. Even with the little experience you have, it is still possible to find examples of situations that your future boss has never experienced either personally or in his/her company.

Work at a small company

One area where this is most likely to be the case is if you are going for a job with a start-up or SME, the latter of which tends to employ the majority (58%) of the UK’s private workforce. Small businesses accounted for 99.3% of all private sector businesses at the start of 2016. This means you are more likely to find a job with an SME than a large multi-national. I believe (and always tell those I coach that) it is wise to consider a smaller company as an option when looking for a job. Most graduates go straight for a larger company and end up taking longer, if ever at all, to land a graduate level position.

The reasons for considering SMEs are obvious and include:

  • Recruitment procedures tend to be less formal and to have fewer stages
  • Opportunity to develop vital employability skills are higher
  • They are usually more willing to employ those with less experience
  • They can offer more flexible working hours or arrangements
  • They tend to offer on the job training so you learn as you work
  • They generally have less politics going on, and a friendlier working environment
  • You will have more opportunity to do the sort of tasks you wouldn’t in a larger corporation so you’ll learn and advance faster
  • New decisions and innovation happen quicker

Flop or success, it’s all valuable

Now, back to my point. What have you seen that could be useful to the overall aims of a division, department or company?

This can be deemed positive, such as rapid growth following the launch of a new product or service; or negative, such as a project flop or major breakdown in customer relations. It doesn’t matter if it had nothing to do with you directly. If it affected the whole company, you’re good to go with it.

Sit down with a pen and pad and do some thinking. Scour your last few volunteer jobs, internships, employments (even if in a non-related field), sporting tournaments, amateur band tours, and the like.

As a primer to aid your thinking, during a recent coaching session I asked my client about his interest in rowing. From this young man who thought he had nothing much to offer a future employer, I discovered how he beat all odds to achieve his rowing blue in his first year. He rowed so hard it made him sick but he completed it. He demonstrated perseverance, determination, resilience, team-working and more, each of which could be easily transferred to any position where the company requires toughness.

So, once again, what have you seen?

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