Somewhere along the way, we been lead to believe that Secondary School will prepare you for employment. We have expected, and rightly so, that when you leave school not only will you have a solid and relevant education, but you will also have the ability to transition into the workforce and become a valued member of the industry and/or company you choose to work for.
Nothing could be further from the truth! Schools have a strong focus on providing a solid education and of that, I have absolutely no doubt about. However, they are often not equipping you with the skills you need to secure employment. Having recently spent a year working with Work and Income clients in an effort to support them to find employment, I was astounded at the number of young adults who are reliant on financial assistance from the government because they have been unable to find a job following their education.
And it doesn’t stop here – there is an equally high number of young adults who continue to be supported by parents and other caregivers as they fail to secure employment. I have screened hundreds of applications submitted by school leavers and to be honest, it’s no wonder many are struggling to get hired.
Here’s what I have found
- School leavers often believe the only way to ‘find’ a job is to surf the online job sites. This is detrimental to their job search when you consider that the vast majority of jobs are actually not advertised.
- A large majority of school leavers simply appear to not have an understanding of the purpose and importance of a cover letter, nor the skills to compose and write a convincing, and specific document with correct spelling, punctuation and grammar.
- CV’s are often poorly put together, with ‘inappropriate’ photos and with very little relevant content.
- School leavers have very little knowledge of the interview process and they often present under-prepared, under-dressed, and overly nervous or overly casual (this can vary!)
I created my business, My Coach, to address this issue, believing that schools would welcome a career expert into their midst to provide assistance to their senior students and yet I often find a high level of resistance. I am so passionate about this that I have even offered to conduct FREE workshops at many Secondary Schools whereby I can discuss innovative techniques that will help them to find employment, how to put together a CV and Cover letter that will significantly increase the chances of an interview, and tips and advice on how to prepare for an interview. Yet most schools “have it covered” with their own careers teams. As one school so eloquently put it – “we do not need your assistance. Why would our students pay someone for services that we offer at school?” Interestingly enough – I have worked with a student from that school who left school with no job, no CV and no real understanding of job search or interview techniques, as did many of her peers.
If you are looking at leaving school in the near future and feel you haven’t had access to the support and knowledge that will allow you to secure a job of choice, then it’s imperative that you address the points I have raised above.
Here’s what you need to do!
- Expand your job search and don’t solely rely upon online job sites. The most effective job search technique is networking. Start with your family and friends and expand into industries that appeal to you.
- When sending applications it is absolutely critical that you send an accompanying cover letter that highlights your motivation and suitability for the role. Your cover letter needs to be written specifically for each and every job you are applying for, and needs to cover off how you met the requirements of that role.
- Photo or no Photo? From experience, unless you are 100% sure that the photo you attach to your CV will add strength to your application, then DO NOT attach one! The reader does not know you, and yet they will instantly form an opinion based on your photo. Seductive photos, funny photos, family photos, poor quality photos, overly posed photos will not help at all.
- If you are invited to an interview it is essential that you spend time preparing for it. Don’t waste what could be an amazing opportunity because you ‘didn’t have time to prepare’ or ‘didn’t really know what to expect’. There are countless resources available to help you and provide valuable tips and advice when it comes to interviewing.
There’s always an exception to every rule, and without a doubt, there are a number schools doing a great job where students have access to a number of career support options during their final years. I work closely with several Christchurch Schools who recognise that they don’t have the time, resources or expertise in today’s employment market and so are prepared to bring in experts to work with their students. However, the vast majority appear to be so focussed on the achievement of high academic results that they are unwittingly producing a generation of academically qualified school leavers’ who have little idea of how to enter the workforce or the confidence to effectively promote themselves to prospective employers.
If you would like to start your job search on the front foot with a professional and individually tailored CV, would like help with job search techniques and job application process, or would like to perfect your interviews skills then contact email@example.com to discuss a range of options available. Online sessions are available nationally.
Author: Lyndal Clark
Lyndal Clark is a highly knowledgeable and approachable Career Coach at My Coach, and is well known for her ability to relate to and interact effectively with young adults. With significant experience in HR, Recruiting, Training and Employment Coaching, Lyndal is extremely successful in helping young adults transition into employment.
My Coach provides expert coaching in all areas of employment including creating compelling cover letters and stand-out CV’s and provides tailored 1:1 interview training and support. For further information: www.mycoach.net.nz, www.facebook.com/CoachLyndal or email firstname.lastname@example.org.