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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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Why should women’s employment matter this International Women’s Day?

Not to blow my own trumpet, but I’ve posed a good question here. Why should we be talking about women’s employment? More specifically, why should we be concentrating on women’s employment within the UK? There are arguably many other important causes and challenges that women face across the globe. We still live in an age where many women live in poverty, where the sex trafficking of women continues and where domestic violence against women does not appear to be ceasing any time soon. In and amongst all of these breaches of basic human rights, it can seem that women’s employment within a western country should take a back seat.

Contrary to the intuition that our focus should only lie with these more pressing issues, I would argue we should concern ourselves with women’s employment on the 8th March. Firstly, let’s make one thing clear: this does not to take away from the seriousness of the travesties highlighted above that regularly take place across the world, nor is it in an attempt to hold back or slow down the efforts being made against these problems. International Women’s Day (IWD) is an event that aims to bring together women who are supporting a range of causes. So, we can and should support multiple campaigns that aim to help women across the globe. We should be campaigning to better the serious issues I’ve mentioned and we should also be striving to continually improve upon the positive changes already made.

Aside from realising that IWD is a day to celebrate a variety of causes, we must also realise the important role that a job and career takes in a person’s life. In a full-time role, we are usually contracted to work a minimum of 35 hours a week. If we are asleep for 8 hours a night, then we spend 31% of our waking hours at work. If we include the time people spend commuting and the extra hours people often spend at work, the average person’s job takes up well over a third of their life. This is a huge portion of our time! With this statistic in mind, to spend time actively talking about and improving women’s life in the workplace seems to be of tantamount importance.

I can imagine a response to this thought might be something a little like this:

“So we spend a huge portion of our life working, but equality in the workplace has arrived in most countries now. Shouldn’t we be talking about women and men’s role in the office?”

Unfortunately, this is a misinformed answer. We should indeed be talking about both men and women in the workplace with the aim of improving it for all people. However, the workplace and the opportunities available are certainly not yet equal. According to The Economist, the work place is by no means equal and the glass ceiling is yet to be broken. Business in the Community have collated a fact sheet with a variety of facts about women in the workplace; some of the more shocking statistics from this article include facts such as:

  • Male graduates can expect to earn 20% more than female graduates
  • In the financial sector, women working full-time earn 55% less annual average gross salary than their male colleagues
  • Sexual discrimination continued to be the most frequent type of discrimination claim received by tribunals during 2011/2012.

In fact, if you search “women in the workplace” on any search engine you’ll be greeted by a barrage of studies that suggest we are yet to find equality in the workplace. The more you research, the more you realise that inequality in the workplace still exists. Fortunately, there are ways to counter and improve this situation, we’ve witnessed throughout the years how effective petitions, peaceful protests and social media has proved to be for good causes. Ultimately, two of the most fundamental tools one can employ when trying to change something is communication and knowledge. The more we know and the better we communicate, the easier it becomes to get things done.

Off the basis that IWD aims to celebrate a variety of causes that improve women’s lives, then we should feel free to use this day to engage in debate around women’s employment. It continues to be shown that there is still inequality in the workplace, leaving countless women disadvantaged. By continuing to engage, promote and talk about women’s role in the workplace we stand a far better chance of attaining equality.

At City University we have various different events going on for both IWD and women’s employability in general. Students and alumni can join us for our panel “Successful women in the workplace: What does success look like?” on 8th March. This event will help participants learn more and communicate with women striving in the workplace. We hope to see you there!

#BeBoldForChange

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The ‘poshness’ test

Earlier in the summer new research from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty commission caused controversy with its ruminations on the proportion of private school educated students finding their way into the “top of the society”. Chiefly by looking at the percentage who find their way into the top echelons of their career sector. That includes looking at job roles like court judges. Whilst there’s nothing the UK likes better than reflecting on class divide in its society, how diverse really is the legal profession in the UK?

What might surprise you is that on both the solicitor and barrister side both the The Bar Standards Board and Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have been actively tracking and reporting this information. The Bar Standards Board does so in its yearly “Bar Barometer” report. The SRA goes a step further and in 2011 announced that all firms regulated by the SRA would be required yearly to collect, report and publish workforce diversity data about the diversity make-up of their workforce. When it comes to publishing the data they can choose when during that 12 months and they aren’t required to report sexual orientation, and religion or belief. But all else is there to see.

Would this information influence your shortlist of Firms/Chambers?

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The tricky “Why do you want to work for us?” application question

Chances are that as a student applying for work experience or graduate jobs you’ll encounter the question “Why do you want to work for us?”. Very likely at interview but also at the earlier application stage. It’ll either be a question asked directly on an online application form or it’s certainly one of three areas you should cover in a cover letter**. Yes, even at this stage they want some reassurance you have thought this through and have something unique and personal to say about this. Not always easy when on the face of it a lot of organisations in similar sectors can appear to look very much the same. We’ve put this video together to help you figure what things you could talk about in answering this question. We’re sure you’ll find it useful. Enjoy.

**p.s. the two other areas? 1. Why you (relevant skills and experience)? and 2. Why this career choice/sector?

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Get the commercial awareness that you need!

In a survey called “Skills for graduates in the 21st Century” by AGR (The Association of Graduate Recruiters) commercial awareness came out top as the skill most lacking in graduates.  Their survey focused on leading graduate firms and 67% of the recruiters responded that this skill was lacking  in a worrying 67% of UK  graduates.

What is it exactly?

One way commercial awareness could be defined is having an interest in business, together with an understanding of the environment in which it operates. This includes its customers, suppliers and competitors. It also includes an understanding of commercial realities, such as efficiency, cost-effectiveness and customer care. Cass students are well-placed to understand this, but students in other schools also need to understand commercial awareness in relation to careers in health, teaching, the public sector, journalism,  the charity sector, etc.

What questions do  employers ask to test your commercial awareness?

  • What particularly interests you about our organization? or What do you know about our organization?
  • What do you regard as our unique selling point or What makes us stand out, in your view?
  • Name some of our clients
  • Name some of our competitors (and possibly some of the differences between us?)
  • What tasks do you think you will be doing on a daily basis in this role?
  • Tell me about a business news article that interested you recently. Say why, what your learned and its implications for the organization if appropriate
  • What are some of the issues impacting on our sector at the moment?
  • Where do you see yourself in 2 and 5 years time?
  • What was our share price this morning? What market share do we have?

How can I improve my commercial awareness? Continue Reading

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City’s Law Fair … Not just for Law students!

Two down, one to go!

The City’s Law Careers Fair on Wednesday 21st October will mark the end of a very successful Careers Fair Season. After the Law Fair, around 100 organisations will have attended the Fairs at City, and some 1,800 students will have benefited from this networking opportunity with their potential future employers.20141015_150153

If you are a Law student, chances are you know about City’s Law Fair, and the reasons why you should consider attending are fairly obvious. But what is in it for you if you are studying for example Economics, Sociology, Politics, Journalism or Psychology? Continue Reading

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A legal hidden job market right on your doorstep

If I told you that there was a hidden source of legal jobs that has provided the following numbers of vacancies in the last 12 months I’m sure you’d want to know about it:

  • 38 paralegal vacancies
  • 2 legal assistants vacancies
  • 2 pupillages
  • 3 training contracts
  • 5 vacation schemes
  • 16 other legal related vacancies

Where are they hidden? Our very own online vacancy board that you can find here. And why are they hidden? Well, one thing we do know is that a lot of companies that advertise their vacancies with us get frustrated at the lack of applications they then receive. Which is most probably because very few students look at this job board. Which is why you might just want to. If you are one of the few students looking out for these vacancies there is a high chance there will be a very short queue of applicants if you do choose to apply.