How to get your first job and build the career you want
Calling all 16-24 year olds: there IS work there if you are prepared to work hard for it!- Angela Middleton, founder and owner of award winning recruitment agency reveals that there is an abundance of jobs available for young people in the UK. In her new book, How to Get Your First Job and Build the Career You want’ Angela shows the reader the steps they must take if they want to guarantee employment in their dream job.
There are more ‘hidden’ vacancies than there are visible vacancies and recruiters, we see them emerge all day every day from a variety of sources. For example, large companies that run programmes for young people put in place extremely stringent selection criteria and, as a result, they often cannot fill their allocation. What they then do, right at the last minute, is loosen those criteria, and suddenly where there were no vacancies, they reappear!
With smaller companies – companies with fewer than 100 or so staff – they tend to be under great pressure because they are growing and you often find that managers have several sets of responsibilities. In these companies they are often desperate to share the load with new entrants, however they never get round to advertising for these roles because they are too busy. It’s only when someone with drive and enthusiasm presents themselves that the company owner will suddenly decide that yes they would like to take that person on, and suddenly there is a vacancy no one knew about. Sometimes these roles aren’t ‘proper’ roles at first; they are called things like work experience placements, traineeships or internships – but I very rarely, if ever, see a situation where the young person is good and shines and yet doesn’t get taken on permanently.
Another source of hidden vacancies is for graduates. Many grads believe that they have to go in via a grad scheme. So often we see this is not the case. They can enter into an entry level position, even a temp position, and then once in, prove they are good enough and get switched to the grad scheme. Temp positions via agencies are a good source too. Often we see people take a quite mundane temp role just to get some money and experience, and then once in the job they are the first to find out about a potential new vacancy and they get it before it’s advertised. Or they shine in their temp role and it’s made permanent and they start working their way up.
Interviews for one job can turn into interviews for several other different roles. Again we often see this where two people go for a role and the employer decides to take both on. These are just a few examples of hidden jobs. I am sure you will be surprised to know that between 2011 and 2014 we placed over 1,000 16–19-year-olds into companies where before we suggested the idea to the employer, there was no vacancy!
When I speak to year 11s, 12s, 13s or even grads in their first year, I always emphasise a key message; “It’s never too soon to be seeking your first job.” Just because you have another couple of years of A levels or degree study ahead of you does not mean it’s not essential to achieve a great work experience or internship placement over the holidays to set you up for getting a great job when you do actually leave school or college or university. If you are in this situation you do indeed have a bright future but that future is much closer than you think! By getting a relevant placement while on holiday you demonstrate your work ethic and industry interest to an employer very early on, and this can sometimes shortcut the job-seeking process when you leave and save you from having to start from scratch competing with the crowds who are job seeking after the leaving dates and everything becomes a lot harder.
Remember – it’s never too late! It’s amazing how many young people I meet aged 23–24 and even younger who feel they are written off and have missed the boat for all the best jobs. Absolute nonsense! We see people all the time who are disillusioned because they have done a series of dead end jobs and cannot seem to start a career. Well, if we look at it in perspective, even those people have around 50 years of working life left, and once you put it like that it really makes little difference if you are 21 or 24. The important thing is to recognise where you are and what you have to do to get where you want to be. Usually the answer to that is to get more relevant work experience and also to achieve more qualifications. This all takes time but this is crucially important, right? Therefore what could be more important? Education and study should really be a lifetime commitment; I see people who have had several careers during their lives and have trained for them all separately at different stages. So committing to some more qualifications and training at this point is imperative if it’s needed. The same goes for unpaid work experience if that is missing.
Timing is often seen as an issue, but in the UK it’s not, as the Government is very well aware of the importance of developing skills for young people and introducing them to the labour market no matter what the state of the economy. If there is a recession this is even more true and we often see schemes where, for example, they actually pay small companies a grant to create apprenticeship opportunities for young people or to upskill existing staff or to take on unemployed people. They also make it a condition when they award large contracts to large companies in all sectors and industries that a certain number of new apprentices must be taken on. All this information is in the public domain so you can research who’s just won a big contract and then contact them for new opportunities.
Q: Are you holding yourself back from job success?- Angela reveals that one of the main barriers holding young people back from employment is themselves. They are constantly telling themselves that they cannot achieve their goals. In her new book, she shows her readers how to identify and overcome these barriers.
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