It’s been a big year. It’s your last in education – and, to be honest, you’re really ready to get out into the big wide world. The question is: what will you do next?
If you don’t want to go to university (don’t worry, it’s not for everyone!) and you haven’t yet lined up an apprenticeship, you might feel a bit lost… But here at Visionpath, we’ve been helping school-leavers take their first steps on the career ladder for over a decade. (Plus, we were you, once!)
So, read on for our advice for setting yourself up for the future in the best way possible…
1. Create or update your professional profile
First off: is your CV up-to-date? Add your recent grades and make sure all your previous grades and work experience are on there – including, crucially, the key skills you’ve gained from both. If you know the sort of jobs or apprenticeships you want to apply for, tailor your CV – including that all-important opening statement – to the industry or even role you’re pursuing.
Next: do you have a LinkedIn profile? You might think it’s a pretty dry platform as far as social media goes (fair)... But trust us, recruiters and hiring managers love LinkedIn. To start with, add the content from your CV and make sure you’ve got a professional-looking profile picture and background photo (it doesn’t need to be a work headshot, but it does need to be work-appropriate!). Then engage, engage, engage!
Remember: your CV and LinkedIn are your chance to sell yourself. Don’t resort to the same old boring lines everyone else uses – instead, be yourself. Show people the value you have to offer. Give them a taste of your personality and ambitions. Express your enthusiasm for a particular industry or role. It’ll make you stand out from the crowd, believe us.
2. Be open-minded about opportunities
By the time you’ve got your results, most larger businesses will have closed their apprenticeship programmes. But that doesn’t mean your chance is gone. Did you know: in 2020/21 small employers accounted for 30% of all apprenticeship starts?
There are loads of good reasons to work in a SME (Small or Medium Enterprise). For one thing, many are growing fast – which means plenty of opportunity for progression after your apprenticeship. Also, working in a SME tends to be more hands-on: with fewer people in the team, you’ll be expected to get stuck in – which means getting plenty of experience, not only in your immediate area, but also in adjacent roles and skills. If you’re not totally sure what you want to do, or even what roles exist yet, this can be a great way to find out what you’re interested in.
Another thing: don’t be put off level 3 apprenticeships because you think they’re a backward step. Although technically on a par with A levels, working in a real business is a million miles away in terms of the experience you’ll gain, the transferable skills you’ll learn, and the attitude you’ll foster. Make no mistake: level 3 apprenticeships are a great springboard to higher levels of learning.
3. Keep checking your emails
If you’re not in the habit of checking your inbox regularly, it’s time to start. Don’t miss out on that amazing role you applied for because you went on holiday, forgot to look at your emails, and missed the interview deadline… (Yep, it happens.)
Remember: the application process is your potential employer’s first impression of you. If you can’t stay on top of your emails now, why would you be any different when you’re in a role? Recruiters and hiring managers are looking for employees who are responsive, professional, and enthusiastic – this is your chance to prove you’re the right fit for their business.
It doesn’t end when you land a role. Then you’ll probably be sent documents to sign; you may be invited to meetings with your future manager and teammates; you could be looped in on projects you’ll be working on – there are a whole host of important emails coming your way, so make sure you’re ready to receive, loud and clear.
Here at Visionpath, we believe your background shouldn’t limit your potential. Wherever you want to be, we’ll help you get there. Find out how we work with school-leavers.