Whether you are planning on going to university, taking an apprenticeship, or simply don’t yet know what route you want to take into work, you can still improve your career prospects right now. If you are studying for your GCSEs or A-levels you will be focused on making sure you get the grades you deserve, which means putting in the right amount of effort both in class and at home. Better grades will definitely make you more employable, whether they lead you to university of not, so working hard to achieve them is key. However, there will be thousands of other students who will have the same grades as you, so how do you get ahead of the competition and give yourself the best chance of getting your dream career? It may seem a long way off, but you really can start improving your career prospects right now, and it needn’t take up too much time distracting you from your studies (or social life!).
- Interests & Hobbies
Even if you don’t know what you want to do as a career, your interests and hobbies can help. You see, ideally your career will be something that you are good at doing (therefore happy to put in the effort to improve), and is something that you enjoy. Could one of your interests or hobbies be the secret to your career? Of course the more specific you can be about this, the better. Going to the cinema once or twice a month may show a love of films, but if you wanted to work in the industry perhaps you could take this further in your hobbies? Being able to show dedication and a real love for a particular industry is always a great boost to your career prospects, while also ensuring that you are moving towards a role (or at least an employer) that you may genuinely enjoy working in. Plus, when it comes time to put your C.V. or application letter together, you will be able to show your passion for the particular career you have chosen. Oh, and finally, coupling an interest with your career goals can also a good way to keep your social life on track while you study!
- Work Experience?
A slightly more direct way of getting ahead with your career goals is to do some work experience in your chosen career. Many schools and colleges offer work experience to their pupils, so if you get the chance it is worth trying to find a role in a career you may actually like to do later (at least you can see if it all you thought it was). Of course, you don’t just have to rely on your school or college to get some work experience – even a Saturday job can help. Alternatively, you may be able to spare some time to volunteer somewhere – gaining some valuable work experience and also showing your work ethic to any future employer.
As the saying goes, ‘it’s not what you know but who you know,’ and it is true that having contacts in your chosen profession is really useful. So, while you are doing your volunteering or work experience, and even when you are mixing with like-minded people with your hobbies it is worth making some solid friends or contacts. Make a good impression with your networking and they may remember you in the future and offer you a job. Even if you don’t manage to get direct experience in your chosen profession you can still start working on your contacts using social media. Business-minded places such as LinkedIn are good places to start, but as with any social networking be careful what image of yourself you are putting out there – make sure there is nothing that you wouldn’t want your parents, teachers or a potential employer to see or read!
Getting some experience, showing your work ethic, gaining a few skills and maybe even making some contacts will all help you stand out from the crowd, and are things that you can start working on right now. You don’t need to do much, as any extra effort will take you up a notch.