I feel that this question gets raised quite occasionally over the course of my university life and rightfully so, students are generally concerned about how to land their dream job.
I have been through at least 20 interviews and landed offers for almost 75% of them over my entire life, from banking, consulting, financial services, government and energy sectors. Some are a little more difficult with case studies while others are pretty standard.
Now that I’ve been in the industry for almost two years and the chance to be on both sides of the interviewing table, I wanted to share some insights on landing your first few jobs straight out of university.
Hiring is all about people
You’ve probably heard this a million times. Your grades can only get you to the interview, but landing it depends on hundreds of other factors – your likeability, your charisma, your skill sets, your experience etc.
I think the biggest factor is likeability – whether the hiring manager likes you or not. Culture fit plays a huge part in this, and many startups take huge pride in hiring not only the best but also people who blend and fit into the culture. Can you work with your colleagues well? Can you solve problems and bring creative solutions? Can your colleagues spend the whole day with you? Those are factors that will decide if you get hired or not.
Demonstrate your prowess and experience
Another important factor is getting the right person for the right job – that means having the right skill sets and experience for the job you’re applying for.
The goal is to demonstrate why the firm should hire you by proving your value and worth. Why are you worth what you’re asking for? Why should the firm hire you over another candidate? Why is this the best job and firm for you?
Having a history of proven experience makes the decision to hire easy – the firm is looking for someone who is able to execute in the role. If you’re can demonstrate prior experience, then the conversation will be easy.
Usually, fresh graduates don’t have a myriad of experience, but compensate by being relatively cheaper to hire and being fresh in their perspectives – use that to your advantage and show how you can bring a tremendous amount of value to the firm
Does my GPA matter?
The short answer, no. GPAs matter even less as you progress in your career. The long answer is that GPAs are used as a filter at the HR stage to sieve out better candidates during the application process. It not only reduces the number of CVs to plough through, but is used as a preliminary gauge of a person’s capability.
If you can skip the HR stage, then your GPA don’t matter anymore! That’s why it is very important to network and get referred into a job.
Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes to understand the rationale for an open position – the firm is either looking to replace an existing person who is leaving, or expanding its capabilities with new hires.
Show value by demonstrating your work experience, projects, learning outcomes, skill sets and show interest in the role you’re applying for.
Use information asymmetry to your advantage – the interview is your only chance to perform and prove your worth. By choosing your words and stories carefully, you can control the way your interviewer perceives you!