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Guest blog – How to get hired at a startup by Sarah Bourke

Sarah Bourke is Customer Operations Manager at Thriva, the world’s first preventative healthcare service.

Startups are a great option for new grads. Large corporations can’t offer what startups can: the opportunity to make an impact on the whole business with relatively little experience. Plus, you get to wear jeans and play table tennis, so what’s not to love?

I’ve worked in startups for six years across three different industries, and I’ve got some insider tips on how to get hired at one.

Be specific

Generic CVs and cover letters just don’t cut it. While startups are often happy to hire new grads, they also want to make sure you’re really passionate about the company’s mission. Your CV and cover letter should reflect this. Ideally you’ll have some relevant background relating to the company, whether it’s a university society, volunteer experience, or even your own blog. Hiring managers at startups really want to see your passion, so don’t be afraid to sound excited in your cover letter – it’s exactly what we’re looking for. At Thriva, for example, we want to know that you’re passionate about preventative healthcare. And if your cover letter doesn’t even mention the role or company, it’ll probably go straight in the (digital) bin.

Be proactive

Even if you don’t have relevant experience or background in a company’s industry, just showing that you’ve done some research can be enough. If you’re interested in a role, invest time into learning more. Research the company’s background, competitors and recent developments in the industry. Incorporate some of these things into your cover letter, as well as why you’re interested in this company in particular, and you’ll already be halfway to an interview.

Consider another avenue

It’s hard to get your foot in the door for competitive positions at startups like Product Manager or Digital Marketing. Consider applying for positions that may require less direct experience, like an Account Manager or Customer Service Associate, to build up your experience. After proving yourself for six months or a year, you can ask to shadow someone in the position you’re really after, or just do a bit of work for the department. They’ll be more willing to look past your lack of experience if they know you’re a fast learner and willing to put in the effort.

Don’t get discouraged

It’s cliched, but true. The startup job market is competitive, and we get tons of applicants for every job. I recommend having a template of your CV and cover letter so that you can quickly tailor it to each job you’re applying for. If you’ve applied for lots of jobs and aren’t getting anywhere, try switching things up – try a different approach with your cover letter, or find a new CV template to work from. You never know what’s going to make a difference.

If you think you’d like to work in a startup, I’d recommend looking at some job ads to see what roles and companies interest you. WorkInStartups and AngelList are great places to start. There are hundreds of startups in London across tons of industries, so there’s something out there for everyone.

About Thriva
Thriva is the world’s first preventative healthcare service. We’ve taken the cornerstone of any health check – the blood test – and made it incredibly easy and convenient. From two week wait times to results in two days, and from no access to your results to owning your own health data. We work with NHS trained GPs and labs so you know you can trust the results and know what to do about them.

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Developing your Commercial Awareness – Cass Students

Recently the Cass Placement Team and CityCareers have had feedback from several employers that students need to develop their commercial awareness. This blog aims to set out some key ways you can improve your commercial awareness to help you stand out at application and interview.

What is commercial awareness?

Commercial awareness refers to your knowledge of the industry you are hoping to join and it is a key skill employers look for in students and graduates. According to the recent Institute of Student Employers Annual Survey 79% of graduate employers look for commercial awareness but only 15% of new graduates have it!

How is it measured?

You may see interview or application questions such as:

  • What are the recent developments in our industry?
  • Who are our competitors and how do we differ?
  • Tell us a recent news story and how it might affect our business
  • What services do we provide to our clients?

How can I develop it?

What frameworks can help?

When analysing a company or industry you can use these frameworks to help structure your analysis or think of issues from different perspectives.

  • SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) – some of the library databases such as Marketline Advantage publish SWOT analyses of big companies as well as giving their key competitors, employee information, history and major products and services
  • PESTEL (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environment, Legal)
  • 4 C’s (Customers, Costs, Competitors, Capabilities)
  • Porter’s 5 forces (Competitive Rivalry, Supplier Power, Buyer Power, Threat of Substitution, Threat of New Entry)

What resources can help me?

Library workshops e.g. Introduction to Bloomberg
Library Company Reports
Cass Library Guides

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Using recruitment agents

Recruitment agencies are an important tool for job seekers and most people will use an agency at some point in their lives. This blog will address how to find an agency and what to expect.

How do recruitment agencies work?

Agencies work on behalf of organisations to find the most suitable person for a job vacancy. Many employers choose to recruit through agencies to save time as they can outsource the initial sifting of CVs and associated administration.

Usually employers will send a job description to their chosen agency and the agency will send them a shortlist of candidates sourced from their pool of candidates. The employer will choose its preferred candidates to interview and ask the agency to arrange this. The employer pays the agency a fee for this service. This is usually a percentage fee based on the starting salary of the candidate or an upfront fee.  There is no fee for the job seeker.

Some agencies will specialise in a particular sector or geographical region while others such as Reed and Hays will cover lots of different sectors and regions.

Why use a recruitment agency?

Using an agency can give you access to roles that are not advertised elsewhere. A good agency should have inside information on an employer and the market that they can pass to you before an interview to help you prepare.

How to find a recruitment agency

  • Use the Recruitment & Employment Confederation’s (the professional body for recruitment) members list
  • Through agency central’s directory
  • Look at a jobs board (e.g. Totaljobs) specialising in your sector and the names of agencies advertising jobs there
  • Word of mouth

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