This Boy Will Go Far!

How a graduate secured his first job via LinkedIn

Let me take you back to February this year, you may recall that I attended the excellent social recruiting ‘unconference’ event TruLondon.

In between tracks I bumped into my good friend and respected expert in direct staff resourcing Peter Gold. Peter seemed rather excited by something that he wanted to talk to me about.

It turns out that Peter had just been involved in a track where the subject of graduate recruitment had been hotly debated. Wendy Jacob who at that time was working as an employability consultant at Middlesex University had brought along a small group of graduates so that they could share their experiences in this track.

Peter (who is never short of bright ideas!) proposed that the social recruiting experts present should all mentor a graduate each. This being a great way of demonstrating the power of social media to job hunters - even those right at the start of their career.

Peter asked me if I would be interested in helping....and being someone unable to resist a challenge I readily agreed.

Whilst this wasn’t specifically billed as a competition, those mentors involved were soon teasing each other and claiming that their methods would be more effective (or was that just me saying that!!)

This was when I first met Kenny.

Kenny immediately struck me as bright, ambitious and very focussed. He had attended TruLondon because he was interested in social media but primarily because he was very focussed on getting a graduate trainee position.

As soon as I met him.......I knew I had struck gold (excuse the pun Peter!).

That said, despite my outward confidence, I knew that this was not going to be easy. LinkedIn is a great tool for a jobseeker when used in the right way but it is not renown for graduate recruitment. The current market is exceptionally difficult for graduates and the competition for places on graduate schemes has never been tougher.

Kenny was clearly a good candidate but would we be able to pull this off?

I agreed to speak with Kenny the week after so that I could fully assess his credentials, requirements and his chances of him achieving them - it was just like being a Recruitment Consultant again!

Following this we set about improving his LinkedIn profile and once this was done I encouraged Kenny to build a strong network by connecting to more people and by joining plenty of groups.

As I have already mentioned, Kenny is very focussed so it didn't take much pushing from me. He went about his task with real enthusiasm and posted details about himself in relevant groups including the following post;

Now the other side of this story involves Philips and their Graduate Recruiter Jack Boiling. Jack uses LinkedIn to source candidates and understood the benefits of joining relevant groups - this gave him better search results, made it easier to contact candidates and gave him a good insight into their background and attributes.

Jack noticed the above post and sent Kenny this message on the right;

BINGO!

This was obviously just the start of the process but it was certainly very encouraging. Kenny (without any prompting from me) decided to contact Jack directly rather than clicking on the application link because he understood the importance of personal contact.

Following an encouraging conversation with Jack he was selected for aptitude tests and a telephone interview.

We did a ‘dummy run’ of the interview the day before  with me pretending to be the worlds most awkward and difficult interviewer and Kenny skillfully navigating his way around my questions. It seemed clear to me that if Philips had any sense they would snap him up but Kenny didn't see it that way. He was worried about slipping up and made sure he prepared thoroughly.

A few days later I received an excited call from Kenny telling me that he had been selected for an assessment centre.

LinkedIn had largely done its job at this stage although we knew that there was a good chance that the assessors would be checking his excellent LinkedIn profile and it did occur to me that the other candidates may not have produced good profiles (if at all).

Kenny performed admirably on the day and came away with a job offer to start as a Finance Graduate on the excellent Philips graduate training scheme.

I was in Geneva when Kenny texted me to tell me the great news, I won’t repeat what he texted but there were a lot of capital letters and exclamation marks involved!

This was a truly rewarding experience for me and proved just how effective LinkedIn can be.

The reality of course is that LinkedIn, good though it is, can’t make you a better candidate! Kenny got the job because he was good enough and he deserved it.

He made the decision to turn up to TruLondon when many of his fellow students didn't, he made the effort to join the groups and post the information about himself and he prepared exceptionally well for interview.

Philips and Jack Boiling also have to be congratulated for their use of LinkedIn, I suspect many recruiters ignore LinkedIn when recruiting at this level - their loss is Philips gain and I am sure Kenny will make a real name for himself there.

Well done LinkedIn

Well done Philips

but most of all.....

Well done Kenny, you have done yourself proud!

And finally thank you to Peter Gold for coming up with the idea in the first place, I have thoroughly enjoyed mentoring Kenny and would recommend others do the same if the opportunity arises.