World Youth Skills Day: 6 ways young people can boost their employability – The Independent

With the International Labour Organization warning it will take years before labour markets recover from the huge blow dealt by the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to optimise your chances if you’re searching for work.

For young people looking to get a foot on the career ladder, education isn’t the only way to impress potential employers. These days firms are looking for more than just qualifications and top exam grades.

To mark World Youth Skills Day (July 15), we asked industry experts for their advice on how young jobseekers can make their CVs stand out.

1. Update your social media profiles

“When employers are looking into a candidate to potentially fill a role, part of their research process will often include checking out the candidate’s social media profiles,” says Sarah-Jane McQueen, general manager of CoursesOnline.

Your first step should be “removing anything from your public pages that might be embarrassing or compromising.” Next, consider creating a  profile on a professional platform such as LinkedIn: “Employers are increasingly using the platform to identify potential recruits and want an easy to access overview of your prior experience and useful skills.”

2. Research the role

Woman in computer room circling items in newspaper

“Preparation and research can be one of the single most important factors to consider,” says Darren Jaffrey, general manager EMEA and APAC at HireVue, which is why you should always tailor your applications instead of firing off the same CV and cover letter for every job ad.

“Take a detailed look at the company website and the job description, and consider how any previous experience that you have, and your education, might have provided you with relevant skills.”

3. Practise interview questions

People Waiting for Job Interview

Interviews can be incredibly nerve-wracking, especially when you haven’t done many before, so ask a friend or family member to help you practise some typical questions.

Jaffrey recommends using the ‘STAR’ approach when answering questions about your aptitude or experience: “Include thoughts about the ‘Situation’ you faced, the ‘Task’ at hand, the ‘Activity’ you undertook, and the ‘Results’ achieved (STAR) of your work. This is a great way to organise your thoughts, and offer a detailed response that truly showcases your skills and experience.”

4. Top up your tech skills

“According to research from LinkedIn 150 million new technology jobs will be created in the next five years; however, a 2020 report by the World Economic Forum found that 39% of the UK didn’t have the digital skills required to match this demand,” says Mike Davies, COO and co-founder of Haystack.

These jobs will require more than just word processing and spreadsheet skills, so you may need some specialist training, he says: “I’d recommend looking into local coding academies and boot camps such as CodeClan in Scotland and Code Nation in Manchester which offer training and teaching, often partnering with organisations to help their graduates move into new roles.

“If you’re looking to upskill or brush up on your tech skills, there’s a whole host of online resources to tap into. A few of my favourites are Udemy, Treehouse, Wes Bos and Codecademy.”

5. Be flexible

“Adaptability is perhaps the most important skill in times of crisis,” Harvey Morton, a 23-year-old entrepreneur and founder of Harvey Morton Digital.

“It’s easier to get a job when you’ve already got a job. It’s also easier to stay resilient and mentally healthy when you know how you’re going to pay the rent this month. So while I don’t advocate applying for absolutely anything, keep an open mind and consider applying for a job that would be ‘fine for now’ rather than limiting yourself only to ‘dream jobs’.”

6. Look into volunteering

“If you’ve been out of work for a while or are a younger applicant who might not have any workplace experience, consider volunteering as a way to fill those gaps on your CV,” says McQueen, and there are lots of charities looking for people to help out with all kinds of projects, both in person and working remotely.

“Not only can you do good deeds and really make a difference to society, but you can also gain plenty of useful skills that can apply to any other work environment. Taking the time to volunteer also highlights to an employer your drive and work ethic, which again is welcome in any team.”

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