Supporting young people to find fulfilling employment after they leave education has to start early, says Angela Middleton
1. Life vision
From the offset, it is important that each pupil considers their life vision, or ‘road map’, and the career they would like to have when they leave school and beyond. Students should be encouraged to consider how they would like their future to be, and explore the options within this. By introducing this concept at year 7, it can be developed throughout secondary education, so by the time they leave, young people will have identified, and be equipped with, the skills needed for their industry. Encouraging students to really consider role played by education in this process will increase both their commitment and motivation at school.
2. Identify the audience
Once students have selected their target careers, it is crucial they know the employers they need to approach and what they will be looking for. For example, if a young person wanted to be an accountant, they would need guidance relevant to the geographical area they are open to working in. Moreover, accountancy employers are not confined to specific firms – so for example, if they are interested in cars, the idea of working for the finance department for an automotive company is a further option which should be explored. Employers are an audience of buyers; students need to be aware of what it is exactly they are seeking and whom they should approach.
3. The best version of themselves
Once a student knows their market, schools can guide them through presenting their persona, including how to communicate, as well as presenting and writing a CV and LinkedIn page that lets them shine. They can also encourage them to undertake charity work or work experience to show they have an interest in extra-curricular activity. Employers should always see the best version of a young person.
4. Job applications
The job application process, which could involve written questions and tasks as well as face to face or small group interviews, can be initially daunting, so preparing students for what might come up, and guiding them through the process is crucial. This should take them through looking for opportunities and contacting potential employers, then on to how to tailor their cover letter and CV to a specific role, and even how to conduct a phone call or handshake - small things make a big difference.
5. Interview training
It is vital students know how to close the deal in an interview by selling themselves in the best way possible. This is where strong communication skills are so important, and the strategies and techniques that schools can teach to pupils are likely to prove invaluable in such situations. 30-second elevator pitching and mock interviews can be practised within the classroom, for example, so young people know how to really put their skills across; and regular participation in such activities will lead to the fear of this environment, which holds so many candidates back from success, being removed.
6. Workplace excellence
Getting the job is one thing – but of course, schools also need to make sure young people are equipped to excel once they are actually in the workplace. Many skills that are desired by employers are transferable, so can be taught in the classroom and will benefit all students, such as how to communicate with both customers and colleagues; the benefits of ongoing learning; how to manage people; and learning to take responsibility for your own performance. Embedding these qualities will ensure your students make a lasting impression as they join the working community!
About the Author
Angela Middleton MBE is a recruitment and careers strategy expert, and founder of MiddletonMurray, which to date has placed over 2,500 young people in their first jobs. She is the author of the 1st Job Series including How to Get Your First Job and Bridge That Gap! (£12.99, Panoma Press).
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