Give your career a head start

Whether you’re a student or school leaver, here’s how you can improve your chances in the job market.

  • Create a CV and keep it up to date

    Putting together a CV that opens with a strong personal statement and that's well formatted (neat and tidy!) can only be a good thing.

    Try to complete your CV in a manner that tells any prospective employer all about you, but try to do it in a way that's concise, factual and grammatically correct. There's no room for error when it comes to job hunting.

    It's also a good idea to revise your CV, depending on the job vacancy you're going for. So try to personalise it with every fresh application and make sure it has as close a match to their 'essential' and 'desirable' criteria as possible. If you don't meet these (typically minimum) requirements, then you're probably reducing your chances of securing an interview - which is the goal for any job application.

    Be neat, factual, try to match your skills with the job description, and be sure to get your application in on time.

  • Volunteer

    If you're struggling to get a job, regardless of what types of position you're applying for, do something that's preferably related to your chosen career, or something different that gives you something to talk about during an interview.

    There are plenty of volunteer bureaus who are looking for voluntary help, whether it's a community project, or free hours every week to help with marketing projects, for example. Volunteering is a win-win: you contribute something for the good and give back to the local community, while employers get to see how passionate you are about giving back. And in the middle of all of this, you get some invaluable work experience too.

    If you're on benefits like Job Seekers or something similar, check the rules are over how many hours you can volunteer before you commit to anything. There may be restrictions on working for free, so seek the correct advice in all instances.

  • Apply for an internship

    There’s no substitute for experience and applying for an internship could be your first real foray into the world of work. It allows you to understand the pace of working environment and the variety of people involved (all of whom have entirely different personalities and preferred methods of working), so it's a real eye-opener into the cut'n'thrust of day to day working life.

    In terms of income, you probably won’t get paid much money (if at all), but what you will get is experience that could secure you a new job based on the invaluable you've gained. It could also be that you're so good that you are offered a permanent position once your internship has finished.

    Be positive, hardworking and punctual, as well as inquisitive and dedicated to every task you've been given. You never know, it could just be the start of something good.

  • Get a placement through university or college

    If you’re studying for a degree, your course might include a built-in placement year. For some courses this is optional, with others it’s compulsory.
    Generally you’ll be a paid employee and be expected to get to grips with things quickly. It’s excellent experience and allows you to build up a relationship with your temporary employer, which could lead to an offer of permanent employment when you’ve graduated. You might even get to travel abroad.

  • Go to careers fairs

    People buy people, and making a face-to-face connection at these events could be a real help to you. Go to everything you can, whether it’s an event hosted by your university or college with lots of employers in attendance, or a recruitment day run by one company in particular. 

  • Do an apprenticeship

    Higher education isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t cheap.

    Apprenticeships give you the chance to learn while you earn. You’ll receive on-the-job and off-the-job training, and have the option to work towards formal qualifications as part of your career path, all the way up to PhD level if you want.

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