Alongside my day job as UK HR director at Atkins, I’m a volunteer mentor for those aged 18-24 on the Steps Ahead programme. The programme is run by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in which jobseekers are referred to the programme by Jobcentre Plus. The programme involves mentoring on things such as tailoring CVs and preparing for interviews.
With hundreds, if not thousands, of people applying for the same job vacancy nowadays, it can be hard to make a job application stand out. However I believe there are three simple things that young people can do to improve their chances of gaining employment and enjoying successful long-term careers.
Something I think always looks good on a CV and makes for a great interview topic is volunteering, as demonstrated in an article on Skills Development Scotland where employers described voluntary work as displaying “commitment and time-management skills” and showing “dedication, passion and a willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty”.
Networking has a number of benefits, from strengthening relationships and finding out about job opportunities, to enabling collaboration on projects and raising your profile. Schools, universities, academic and industry associations and businesses often hold networking events so it’s worthwhile looking into what opportunities are available.
With the ever-rising popularity of social media, there is also the option to network online. Some Twitter accounts for example hold weekly chats, whereby people participate by using a particular hashtag. Every Wednesday between 11am-12pm (GMT) people working in, or looking to work in, the HR industry can connect and chat with like-minded people using the hashtag #HRHour.
I believe one of the biggest struggles for young people entering the world of employment is that having studied several subjects at school, it can be hard to know what to focus on and get experience in. Something I think that can help this is gamification – where people can play online games and ‘try out’ roles or ‘be matched’ to roles before applying for jobs.
Atkins has recently begun supporting Plotr, a revolutionary careers website driven by a psychometric game. It helps young people aged 11-24 to discover and explore careers, connecting them with employers and roles that fit their interests, skills and personality.
Once you’re in employment, I would suggest always taking advantage of any opportunities open to you to help advance your career. For example at Atkins, we encourage volunteering by having a policy in place which allows employees to take two paid days leave per year to volunteer for a charity or organisation of their choice. We also hold numerous networking events throughout the year for technical networks across the world, to allow best practice knowledge sharing and enable them to progress further within the company.
Sharron recently shared her thoughts on what young people can do to improve their future career prospects in a Daily Telegraph article.