For our Alumni: How to get your foot in the door

Sam Maughan, Senior Manager at Harnham, the world’s biggest data and analytics recruitment company, shares his expertise in getting hired as a recent graduate.

It’s daunting leaving the world of education and entering the world of employment. Not only are you taking on a new challenge, but you’re entering a new arena where your reputation is as yet unknown.  

So what can you do to help yourself stand out and secure an interview in such a highly competitive environment? 

Your CV 

Your CV should be no longer than two pages (and even less than that if possible!). It’s important to remember that not everything you may have had on your CV at a younger age will still be relevant today.  

At a professional level, your CV should detail your work experience and education. But, most importantly, you should show any impact you made. For example, did something you did in a previous job (or even at school or university) make a tangible, measurable impact? Did you streamline processes, improve sales, initiate new ideas? If so, include these on your CV. Highlighting these will help you stand out and show any potential employer the value you can bring to their business.  

Your Cover Letter 

In addition to your CV, cover letters are a great way of standing out. If you’re working with a recruiter, they’ll help sort the cover letter for you. However, if not, you’ll need to make sure your cover letter is tailored to each specific job you apply for and not just a generic introduction.  

Your cover letter shouldn’t just repeat what’s on your CV. It’s an opportunity for you to sell yourself with a specific role in mind. Use it to explain why you would be a good fit for not only the job but for the company too. It’s the first thing many hiring managers will see, so make sure it sells you the best it possibly can!  

Your LinkedIn  

You should think of your LinkedIn as a way of putting yourself into a virtual public arena. Social media is named “social” for a reason – it provides an opportunity to engage in conversation and, on LinkedIn, the conversation is professional.  

This means you are more than entitled to use the messaging function in LinkedIn to reach out to a manager at a company you want to work at, even if they don’t have vacancies. Hiring Managers respect proactivity, and by demonstrating it, you are more likely to put yourself on their radar.  

It’s also a great tool to use once you’ve secured an interview. You can introduce yourself prior to a meeting and also thank the interviewer for their time after meeting them.  

The above are just a few ways to get your foot in the door, regardless of your career path. If you’d like to learn more, you can check out my recent workshop here.