Are you fresh out of education and looking to build your career, or a parent or carer looking to guide your child? Even with bags of enthusiasm it can be hard to get a break, or know which path to pursue next. The issue appears to stem from the fact there are no agreed standards or regulations when it comes to careers advice meaning expectations are often unrealistic and pupils often leave education with no clear direction.
So why is there a gap in careers support?
The best way to give young people a step on the jobs ladder is to provide them with work experience but not all schools provide this. This being reintroduced to the curriculum as standard would be beneficial and open up opportunities for the next generation. Ideally we would recommend two or three companies to give pupils a true understanding of business culture – this would also involve local businesses being receptive to taking on work experience and giving them a chance to prove themselves.
At Benchmark we work with colleges and employment providers in the city of Sheffield providing recruitment, and the region, who have many young people coming to them willing to work but can not get a break to prove themselves. More and more we are seeing a lot of disillusioned people with inadequate guidance that leaves them unsure where to go for employment advice.
What proactive steps can be taken to employment?
Here we offer proactive top tips for young people seeking work designed to boost confidence and employability.
1. Be realistic
When you’re fresh out of education be realistic that you are looking for an entry level role. Many people are dazzled by big salaries from the outset rather than going into a company at a junior level, starting on living wage and building your salary in time. Even people like Kim Kardashian took years to carve out a career path – overnight success rarely just happens to anyone – even celebrities!
2. Be proactive
Show willing and go in person to local shops and companies offering yourself for junior positions. If you can get on the career ladder prove yourself in the workplace and this could be a real stepping stone to a bright future. It’s better to be in a job to look for a job.
3. Demonstrate a good work ethic
If you can’t get a paid job look to offer yourself out for work – volunteering for charities, local libraries or Saturday job. This is a great way to apply yourself in the work place and get noticed. It also provides references for future jobs you may want to apply for – plus it helps to understand the world of word. Or consider showing your entrepreneurial skills through baby sitting or car washing and get testimonials for people you work for. What ever you do mixing with peers and employees will give you confidence and motivation – plus something to talk about when you go for interviews!
4. Showcase your success
For paid jobs or volunteer work you do, and you have done a great job for, ask for a quote from the business or charity owner to show the quality of your work and commitment. If you don’t ask there and then it may be too late in the future – collect a bank of testimonials and they will prove useful in applying for other positions.
5. Gain an understanding
Gain an understanding of different industries out there to see where you could be best suited. Show an interest and ask questions so you can see if roles could be good for you. Whether it’s parents or friends parents ask away. You can also jump online and use tools like ‘u-explore’ and the ‘national careers service’ website which provide career suitability for students and parents. Both these websites are connected to market information and will help you make decisions on where you should take your career.
As well as volunteering or work experience there is the option to shadow people. With any contacts that you admire and would like to see what their job entails, ask if you can accompany them for a day to see if this could be for you in the future. This will not only give you an insight but also demonstrate your willingness to work – you never know what doors it could open.
7. Role Models
If you feel you do not have family members or friends to ask for support look at mentoring and development programmes available. Get involved in an initiatives like the Big Enterprise Challenge (http://www.bigchallenge.biz/) which is part of the BiG Enterprise Programme and is funded through Sheffield City Council and the European Regional Development Fund. There is also the Gold Digger Trust (http://www.golddiggertrust.co.uk/) that allows people without support at home to take advantage of the befriending service, and have a confident and mentor to gain guidance when it comes to gaining confidence and improving life skills as well as how to seek employment.