You have your whole life ahead of you. This is your chance to score a great job, start a career you love, and earn plenty of money. Or so it goes.
In practice, life is never quite so easy. You may have left school with very little idea of where your true aspirations lay. Perhaps you took a short business or hospitality course to give you a bit of breathing space, but now the course is over, you’re stuck.
Try not to panic. It’s not unusual for young people to feel bewildered and lost. There are literally thousands of jobs out there, many of which you won’t ever have heard of or even considered. The important thing at this stage is to find a job that suits your skills and personality. Even if it feels as if you don’t have a lot to offer a potential employer, you shouldn’t sell yourself short. You may not have decades of experience, but you do have bags of enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.
Let’s look at what you need to do to give yourself the best possible chance of finding the right job. The good news is that you have already taken the first step – if you don’t ask for help, nobody will help you!
Where do Your Interests Lie?
Think carefully about what you like to do in your spare time. The working life of an average adult is 40-50 years, so it’s sensible not to go into a career you hate. Fifty years is a long time to be miserable!
Begin with the subjects you enjoyed at school. Perhaps you were good at science or you enjoyed studying business and economics. Whatever you enjoyed, use this as a starting point for the next step in your life. Plenty of kids go to university because they don’t have a clue what to do next, but there is no reason why you can’t skip university and walk straight into a job.
Fifty years ago, only the rich could afford a university education. Today, the job market is flooded with graduates and good jobs are harder to find. Unless you are particularly academic or you are determined to be a lawyer or doctor (or similar), taking a vocational course or an apprenticeship is perhaps a smarter move.
Where do Your Interests Lie?
Decide where your interests lie and explore your options. For example, if you enjoy baking in your spare time, check out catering courses, or if you like the idea of working in a hotel or restaurant, with a view to running your own establishment one day, look at hospitality courses.
The important thing is to gain some valuable experience. The more experience you have in a sector that appeals to your interests, the easier it will be to secure a job with long-term growth potential.
If you have no experience whatsoever, look for a part-time job or consider taking on an internship role. You might not earn much – indeed anything – but this will give you a valuable insight into whether the job is what you really want to do. If you decide you hate working in retail or dealing with truculent customers is not for you, then go back to the drawing board and have another think about where your talents lie.
Ask Family and Friends
It’s not always easy to find a part-time job, so don’t be afraid of asking family and friends for some help. See if anyone you know will take you on and give you a chance to earn some ‘on the job’ experience. Even if the role is not something you want to pursue in the long-term, it will still look good on your resume. Employers value work experience of any kind. It indicates a candidate has a work ethic and is not afraid of giving it a go. Unfortunately, you have to score that first job to earn some experience, so if you are struggling to find an employer willing to give you a shot, there is no shame in asking for help in securing a position.
Once you know exactly what you want to do, start looking for suitable jobs. Spend some time online researching potential employers. There are bound to be a few in your area, so see who’s hiring or find out if any of them offer apprenticeships or schemes for young people.
This is one time when you are going to have to bite the bullet and be proactive. The right job will not fall into your lap. Or at least it’s unlikely to happen that way. Instead, it’s up to you to make the opportunities happen.
If you can’t spot any suitable positions, ring up suitable employers and ask if they have any vacancies that might be right for you. Be enthusiastic and friendly. Offer to send them your resume, just in case anything comes up. If you make the right impression, they might just give you a chance.
Acing the Application Process
Have you found the perfect job? If so, now is not the time to start celebrating. Instead, polish up your resume and spend time filling out the application form very carefully.
Your resume is extremely important. Since you won’t have the benefit of many years’ worth of previous experience, emphasise relevant training courses and any job experience you do have. Keep your resume relatively brief and include a short personal statement at the top, which outlines your skills, aspirations, and what you can offer the employer. This is your chance to stand out and sell yourself.
The next stage is the interview. An interview can take many forms, ranging from a casual chat to a competency skills panel interview. The important thing is to be prepared. Research online and find out as much as you can about the employer and what the interview process is likely to be. If in doubt, call up the HR department and ask some questions. They will be happy to assist.
Since you won’t have had too much in the way of interview experience, run through a few likely questions and rehearse some model answers. The more you prepare, the more confident you will feel on the day.
Most interviewers make up their mind within a minute of meeting a candidate, so present the very best version of you. Be confident but not arrogant, calm and respectful. Interviews are a two-way process. It’s not just about gauging your suitability for the role – this is also a chance for you to decide whether this is a place you want to work!
Do your best and try to learn from the experience. You are not guaranteed to receive a job offer, but even if you are not successful, there are plenty of things you can take away from the experience and use them to your advantage when you have your next interview. Don’t forget to follow up with a short note thanking the interviewer for their time and consideration. Even if you don’t get this job, they might have another position that is suitable for you.
With a bit of hard work (and luck), you should have no problem finding the right job. It might not happen today, tomorrow, or even this month, but stay positive and keep looking – your perfect job is out there.