Friday, 13 December 2013

A Time For Giving

Christmas is just a matter of days away and at mid-December I think we can very much say that we are in the season of goodwill. Today apparently is Christmas Jumper Day and judging by my Twitter feed, lots of companies have taken this to heart and been donning their colourful knitwear to raise money for a good cause. Manchester City defender Micah Richards has caused a bit of a stir by pledging to donate £25,000 to charity after receiving messages of support following an injury recurrence suffered midweek playing in Munich. I've directed a few tweets his way encouraging a donation to my chosen charity, but regardless of who receives the cash it is a lovely gesture.

I've recently done something a little outside the box which can probably be classified under the heading of 'Good Samaritan'. I was approached by a student from another university asking if I would mind glancing at their CV and offer feedback. This is something that has happened quite a bit since I started this blog and while my usual response is to point them in the direction of the Placement/Careers team at their own university, on this occasion I agreed. (Note, this was a one off, so please don't bombard my email/LinkedIn with requests for help!)

What I read was very encouraging. There was lots of good material to work with, but as is often the case with the CVs I browse on a daily basis, it required a dash of focus and dabble of finesse to be application ready. A few sprinkles of magic dust and it was returned to the student with kindness. They were happy and the interaction probably should have ground to a halt at that point. Only it didn't.

My instincts wouldn't let me leave things there. When I help my students, I don't just get their CV into shape and pack them off to face the recruitment world all by themselves. If I think they would be well suited to a particular role or company, I make suggestions in a matchmaking fashion. Sometimes it pays off with successful candidates showering me in praise, other times it doesn't but hey, nothing ventured nothing gained.

This person already had a good idea of the industry in which they wished to puruse a career. I put forward a name of a company within that sector. Just like Gin & Tonic, Batman & Robin and Morecambe & Wise, it seemed like a good match. The student showed interest and happily went off to investigate the schemes on offer. And at that point I should have left things be, but like an itch that just won't go away, I took things a stage further.

The company in question are not in my little black book I tap into for sourcing placements. They don't fit into the academic disciplines I work with or offer the type of internships I advertise. However, lodged away in my collection of business cards, I had the contact details of their chief campus recruiter who coincidentally used to be a colleague of mine. It seemed a waste not to put this to good use and at that point I had my own personal Dr Pepper moment; join up the dots and what's the worst that can happen? An introduction turned sour could have lost me some credibility with both the employer and student, but nothing more. So I made it happen.

Is there a happy ending to this tale? I certainly hope so. One informal conversation isn't a gamechanger in itself, but it could be the grease that sets the wheels in motion.

If you have the chance to do so, share a little bit of the Christmas spirit with somebody you don't know. Tis the season to be jolly after all.

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