It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know


Views from a candidate’s perspective

I have written countless cover letters and personal statements and sent out hundreds of applications. But there is one very important thing I learnt about finding a job or an internship. It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.

Let me elaborate. Everyone has experienced the evil circle of needing a job to gain experience, but not getting a job due to lack of experience, a vicious circle. But how do you break this curse? This is where networking comes in, whether it’s through organised events or LinkedIn or through friends and family. Often, finding the right contact is a case of chance and luck. It is important to recognise the opportunity and grab it when it presents itself. For me, this time around, it started with a coincidental meeting, followed by an exchange of business cards and ended with an email. Multiple interviews later, here I am, breaking the cycle.

The key for both job searching and recruitment

Recruiters, as much as job seekers, should be motivated to network as much as possible. As well as getting exposure to a wider range of candidates, they will also come in touch with like minded recruiters, who can share experiences and advice. In the modern age of multiple platform social media, it is imperative for recruiters to think outside the box. They should secure the best possible candidate for a position, rather than simply choose amongst who is currently available. Recruiters also need to have a greater focus on motivating candidates to want to move. And as in the words of Jennie Lloyd, from Lloyd Connect “Candidate management and a great network will be key to the development of solid long term relationships in a sector.”

Networking is seen as a necessary evil by most and it seems only a few of us really enjoy it.

But think of it as a golden ticket or a fast track route into your dream career. Let’s be honest, the first job you land will probably not be your dream job, but it’s your starting point. The people who helped you start off are some of the most important contacts to keep in touch with. In a sense, they helped you when nothing else worked and they want to see you succeed.

Shy vs confident

Being shy can be a blessing and a curse, especially when it comes to interviews. Here’s the kicker—recruiters won’t have a preconception of your personality, only of the skill set and experience you have presented. My one advice to any interview is fake it til you make it. Being shy in your personal life does not have to translate into your professional life. Be confident in what you know and ask questions when you are unsure. Do your research and be prepared. At the end of the day, they want to learn about you as a professional. Once you’re in that’s when you can make it personal.

Preparation is key

Another thing I’ve come to realise is that being able to adapt to any situation is key. The way you behave and the things you say will affect people’s perception of you. As cliché as it sounds, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Therefore, I stand by the saying that you should dress for the job you want not the job you have. You never know when the right person will come along so it’s best to always be prepared. Create your own elevator pitch, what makes you interesting and what qualities can you bring. Practice it, in the mirror, to your friends and eventually, it won’t sound dry and rehearsed but rather confident and professional. Ultimately your future is in your hands. Make the most of it!

The right people and the right tools

Sometimes, recruiters forget how hard it can be for candidates to find a job. Sometimes the motivated, who prepare, don’t go through to the next rounds, just because they aren’t the right fit. Unfortunately, motivation on its own isn’t always enough. It is up to both recruiters and candidates to expand their horizons in order to find the most relevant jobs and opportunities for themselves and for each other. Luckily for recruiters, having a good candidate database and keeping this up to date can help you to offer a great candidate experience. Keep in mind that it’s not always easy to be a candidate, but we all have to start somewhere!

So go out there, don’t be scared to network and get over yourself. If you keep being shy, that won’t get you further in business, especially if you’re a small business owner. Be accountable for your own future. Be proactive and not reactive, because in the long run, the only person in your way is yourself. I know where I stand, do you?

About Helena Gjerstad: Helena is originally from Oslo, Norway, but has lived all around the world. She studies at the UCL to finish her BSc in Management Science in 2018. She focuses on technology and data driven companies and engages in market research and data analysis. After she finishes her degree she will be building her career in global businesses, analysing core data for growth.

Helena interns at Bullhorn, London HQ, from May to August 2017. During the internship in Marketing and Sales, she sourced and analysed data from all around the world. This helped us figure out market size and potential value of new markets all over the world. She also helped as a business development representative.

For more information on the traits of a winning candidate engagement strategy, get the Candidate Engagement ebook.

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