How to improve your skills and employability
Tips for boosting your job prospects
Getting a job can be tricky, especially as a young person. However, there are plenty of things you can do to boost your chances of being hired, no matter what your age or experience.
How to improve your chances of employment
Sports teams, clubs and student societies
Any group you’re actively involved with can provide a major boost to your CV. Sports build teamwork, discipline and keep you fit and active - all positive attributes when looking for work. If you’re in college, student societies can be an excellent way to develop skills while meeting people and having a good time. Debating, drama and language clubs for example all help you build strong skills that can be applied to almost any job. Taking on a leadership role in a society by joining the committee or starting your own is a great way to gain valuable experience that employers will really appreciate. No matter what the focus of the society or level of your involvement, taking an active part will help show employers you have enthusiasm and skills you can’t demonstrate with grades alone.
Getting involved with a charity or cause is another way to build up real-world experience and skills. By helping to raise money or awareness, you will not only be helping an issue you care about but you will also be picking up knowledge and experience that will be very useful in many workplaces. It’s always a good sign for employers when a candidate chooses to spend some of their time volunteering. It demonstrates energy, enthusiasm and shows that you’d rather be on your feet doing something than sitting at home. Doing some amount of volunteer work is also a basic requirement if you ever want to work in the charity or not-for-profit sector, so bear that in mind if you think that career path might be of interest to you.
Work experience and part-time work
Lack of experience is one of the most common difficulties young people face when looking for work. Many decent jobs will require candidates to have a minimum level of work experience. This can be very frustrating and leaves many people wondering how they’re meant to gain experience when they can’t get a job in the first place. So if you have the opportunity to gain any work experience at all, you should strongly consider taking it. Working part-time through school or college can be great for your CV and and future prospects, though you’ll have to make sure it doesn’t harm your studies.
If you are in school, college or living at home and part-time work isn’t available or doesn’t suit, getting work experience or an internship during your holidays will be a big help. Working for little or nothing might seem tedious but you should pick up the crucial experience you’ll need when job hunting down the line. Ask around local businesses in your area and see if any are taking on temporary help. Any experience will be better than none.
Upskilling on the dole
If you’re young and out of work, there are certain government support schemes that let you develop new skills while claiming jobseeker’s payments. These generally have a business technology focus and can give your CV a real boost if you’ve been out of work for a while. Check out our articles on eCollege and Fast Track to IT for more information.
Employers don’t just look for work experience and grades; they’re also interested in your life experiences. Taking an opportunity to study abroad at any stage of your education will definitely make for a more rounded, compelling CV. Just spending some time travelling can also boost your chances of employability. This is doubly true if you spent some or all of your time abroad volunteering or working.
Time abroad is especially valuable if you use it to learn or perfect a language. Having a language besides English will always be helpful in looking for work, especially in businesses or services with an international dimension. Even if you haven’t studied a language, most major countries will have an organisation in Ireland that offers you the chance to learn. These courses aren’t free, but don’t underestimate the value of a second (or third) language to your job prospects!
Keep your social media on private or clean
Being employable is about more than having the right skills and a good CV. Employers will often take an interest in your online presence, and that means most of your social media profiles are just a Google search away. If you don’t want potential employers reading every little thing on your timeline, consider changing your profile settings so only your online friends can see what you post. Make sure you’re not putting out inflammatory or offensive material online, especially if it’s not something you’d want to defend in a job interview. Think carefully about which pictures you make public. An employer will read a lot into how you represent yourself on your social media platforms.