Starting a first job is a turning point in anyone's life. Whether you're applying for your first job or helping someone else to do so here are some tips that could help you land a position.
Drawing up a curriculum vitae (CV) can seem quite a challenge when you're starting your working life. What experience do you bring other than your formal qualifications? Try to think widely about all the things you have done in your family, community and at school, polytechnic or university. How can you use these to show employers the qualities, skills, energy and excitement you could bring to their organisation?
For instance, you might have helped a family friend or relative to clean out their back shed or renovate their house. What does this say about you -- that you're motivated, reliable, co-operative?
If you haven't done anything like this, think about getting some voluntary experience maybe through your family networks or doing something in your local community. There are plenty of groups that would be pleased to have you help out. Start by asking your local Citizens' Advice Bureau about the service groups in your area.
If you have just finished some training you can talk to employers about the new ideas and knowledge you can contribute. If you have been at polytechnic or university you may have some networks and contacts that would be really useful for their organisation.
It's also likely that you're used to working in groups and teams. For instance, you've probably produced pieces of work with other people at school or as part of a leisure activity or interest group. And if you've played sport you will know about collaboration and working to achieve team goals. Make sure you spell this out in your CV and at job interviews.
There are also a whole lot of things you're likely to bring to an organisation just because you're young. You're probably energetic, fit, strong and keen to learn and try out new things. So remember to mention these as well.
It's also important to think about the challenges you're likely to meet once you start work, so you can sort out how you will deal with them. If you've been studying you'll be used to turning up somewhere every day at a set time. But if you haven't it's worth thinking whether getting to work on time will be a challenge for you and how you might tackle it.
You might also find that some things will be boring for you when you start out. You need to get these things done well but make sure your boss knows which parts of your job you're really interested in developing.
Like anyone in the workplace, you'll need to develop appropriate communication and negotiation skills. For instance, you might need to practise with your friends or family how to be clear about the things you want without being hostile. You could also look for someone in the organisation who could act as your mentor or guide -- someone to help you gain access to things like training and development.
In some organisations you might find yourself working alongside someone who expects you to create trouble just because of the way you look or choose to dress. It's important you feel able to express who you are at work. But if this seems to be causing problems, try talking to someone you trust about how you could meet the requirements of your workplace without compromising who you are.