So, school is finally over and it’s time to take the next step. Some individuals opt for university, others choose apprenticeships but for many, delving into the world of work feels like the natural progression.

Starting the search for your first ‘proper’ job can be daunting. Most school leavers haven’t had the time to build up a wealth of experience, so trying to get noticed by employers can feel like mission impossible. I’m here to offer my top tips for turning application process stress into career success.

1) Become social-media savvy

Make sure your social media platforms are squeaky clean. In an age where everyone has Facebook and Twitter, your employers will waste no time in investigating your online presence. You want to be taken seriously, so make sure you are projecting your best self on all platforms. Don’t give your employer an excuse to toss out your application over something as trivial as a poorly-judged status or photograph. Change your privacy settings to ensure that only appropriate content is public. Create a LinkedIn profile if you haven’t already done so. This is essentially Facebook for professionals. Employers will run a search for you and having an up-to-date profile will display your understanding of the working world as well as conveying your serious intentions to progress your career.

2) Perfect your CV and LinkedIn

Initially, an employer will be judging you entirely on your CV and LinkedIn so don’t embellish the truth but don’t sell yourself short either. As a school leaver, you aren’t expected to have a plethora of experience but you’ve got to have some kind of display of your skillset. Write about the transferable skills you have gained through extra-curricular activities, part-time jobs or sports accomplishments such as reliability, commitment and being a team player.

3) Chase experience not money!

Receiving your first pay check is a monumental moment in any persons working life. As tempting as it may be to choose roles based on the number of 0’s in the salary, I advise you to apply for jobs which are rich in experience. Even if it means working in an unpaid role like an internship, take opportunities which will increase your employability before your bank balance

4) Interview practice makes perfect

Although it can seem daunting, an interview is your chance to shine and secure a job. A good technique to practice for interviews is to conduct a mock interview with a parent, sibling or even by yourself in the mirror. Practice your handshake and be aware of your body language. Show you are interested by making eye contact with your interviewer and have a confident, proactive approach whilst talking about your experiences. Research the company before you go along to the interview; read their website and get to grips with their culture and objectives. One of the biggest pet peeves for an interviewer a lack of enthusiasm from the candidate. Always go in with a notepad, pen and a list of at least three appropriate questions you’d like answered.

5) I get knocked down, but I get up again!

Be prepared for setbacks and rejections, attaining the first role you apply for is extremely unlikely. It can be sorely disappointing to receive a job rejection but try to learn from each application you complete. Seek feedback from your interviewer/recruiter and use this to improve your approach in the future.

6) Aim high, but be realistic

It’s unlikely that your first job will be your dream job, but it’s still good to set your sights high. A common mistake made by school leavers looking for their first job is applying to anything and everything. Don’t be afraid to be selective. Try to pinpoint your passions and find roles which will help you develop relevant skills whilst meeting people in that industry.

Your first job is often seen as a stepping stone towards your ideal job. It is like the first brick in a long career path. We no longer live in an age where a University degree is the only way to obtain your perfect job. There is a whole land of opportunity for school leavers – so don’t be afraid to dream big!



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