Class of 2021: How I got my graduate role in recruitment


Our latest blog is a Q&A with 2021 Psychology graduate Hodon Sheikh. Hodon was in touch with us during her time as a student, and when we checked in with her after she’d graduated we were delighted to found that she’d found a graduate role in recruitment and that it was going really well!

Hodon kindly took the time to answer some questions about how she got there, and this Q&A piece features some great advice on adapting your plans when your first choice doesn’t look like it will work out for you, how you can use LinkedIn to research and find work, and how to research the company you’re interviewing with to make sure you stand out!

Hi Hodon! Where are you working at the moment and what do you do there?
At the moment, I am a Trainee Recruiter at AMS, my training period will end in September which will mean that I am a Recruiter.

What degree did you study? Is there much cross over between your current position and your degree and how do you feel your degree helped you get where you are now?
I studied BSc in Psychology. I don’t think there’s a direct link between Psychology and recruitment, although I am aware a lot of Psychology students go into recruitment after their studies.

How did you get into your current role?
I got this role through LinkedIn; I was headhunted by a recruiter at AMS to apply for this role as I met the requirements. After a getting talk from the Careers Service in second year, they advised everyone to get a LinkedIn account and so I did. To be honest until end of 3rd year I didn’t even focus on LinkedIn, and when I finally did updated my profile it was for a voluntary project for AIESEC Leeds that I was part of.

As I was contacting companies, I learnt a few LinkedIn features such as searching for a role, setting filters such as location, job types, key skills etc. Initially, I was interested in becoming an accredited CBT therapist; however after realising how difficult it is to even receive an interview, I was discouraged so I started contactin people who have the role was I interested in and/or worked for desired companies, to a) get their advice on how they secured their place, b) what they did different that made them stand out, and, c) if they have any recommendations for me.  I’ll be honest in that I had messaged over 20 people before I got any responses!

But the ones I received were extremely helpful and gave useful advice. I realised that going down the therapy route wasn’t feasible for me as I am an estranged student with no one to financially support me, so I had to think of a different and safer route in terms of finance. I also spoke with someone who was also an estranged student and working as a CBT therapist, and their advice aligned with my thought process. So with this in mind, I updated my LinkedIn and started looking for any opportunities that made me standout such as the WACE Global Challenge Internship (which was honestly amazing and I couldn’t recommend enough – I worked with a team as team leader to support a start up company in meeting UN’s STDG goals)

I also worked as a Support Officer for Priory Group which assists individuals who need assistance and support with their diagnosis of Mental Health and/or other disabilities, and I also worked in a warehouse to gain any other skills I may need in the future.

And importantly, everything I did, I added onto my education/work experience tab on LinkedIn! I also I added a frame which said, ‘open to work’ onto my profile, and made sure I signed up to receive emails from LinkedIn and the Careers Service about any jobs within the sectors I was interested in working in.

What skills do you think you’ve bought as a graduate to your role? What has given you the greatest sense of achievement / made you feel most valued at work?
I think because I gained lot of different skills in all the roles I’ve done, whether it was voluntary or otherwise, I was able to show my capabilities whilst referencing my experiences rather than just stating what I assumed as facts. Also, before my interview I searched everything I could about the company, followed their social media pages, looked at their morals and values and those of the companies they associated with

This meant that when I was asked “Why AMS?” I was able to give coherent reasons other than ‘paychecks’, ‘looks like a good company’ and all the other basic answers hiring managers are used to. I also understand most candidates, especially graduates, are mainly attracted to the salary. But when asked that question I would advise anyone I know to say something else that actually matters to them – because every candidate is interested in the salary! You need something unique which can display your differences from everyone else.

When I was meeting my team, I met the managing director for my account; he mentioned that I was interviewed by a higher up manager within my department, and she was so impressed with my interview that she messaged him and the other manager within this department to ensure I am placed with their department! To say that I felt valued, and proud of my efforts is an understatement. I couldn’t believe this so I checked it with a few people who would know, and they all said the same thing.

Did you take many steps towards your post-graduation plans while you were at University?
Yes, I volunteered, worked, and did anything that I could that I could add to my CV to help me stand out.

Did you use the Careers Service as a student or a graduate?
Yes, I had a mock interview with the Careers Centre and I also received support with my CV. I can’t thank them enough for this.

What skills have you enjoyed developing in your current position and what skills will you be looking to develop in the future?
Stakeholder management, adhering to policies and procedures whilst actively understanding their importance, effectively working in a team, and communication skills.

What advice would you give to students and graduates?
Firstly, do not stress, you’ll be fine!

Secondly, utilise the resources you already have when in comes to searching to what field you want to work in, and once you know that, how can you get there. Is there someone within your school who you can contact to get careers advice? For example in Psychology it is Gina Koutsopoulou, but if there isn’t someone at your school, do not worry and contact the Careers Service directly, they will definitely help.

I cannot urge this enough, update your CV and make it look presentable. Even if you think it is perfect, upload your CV through VMOCK on the careers site. It’s a free advice site which will give you recommendations on what to improve. Once you’ve done that and once you think it is as perfect as you’ll ever get it to be, set up a meeting for CV support with the Careers team and get some friends/family to look at it.

Thirdly, always update your LinkedIn! Your CV and LinkedIn go hand in hand, especially in the current climate.

And final piece of advice from me as a recruiter – in the market for almost all jobs, the candidates have power as there are more jobs being advertised everyday than candidates who actually are in need of a job.

Good luck and remember you will be fine!

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