Thousands of parents throughout the nation this summer will have been suffering from the same nerves and sense of anticipation as their kids, with the latter opening that all-important envelope containing their GCSE results. Whatever their results are, it is a critical juncture in the lives of many teenagers, as one thing is for certain – it’s time for them to move on to the next stage of their lives.
Now the initial excitement of seeing the results has died down, one of the most important roles a mum can now undertake is to try and prepare them for the future as they look to progress into their first career role. It can be hard to know how to do this; how can you tell them what they should be doing and how they should be preparing for a career that may not start for at least a couple of years? One thing that can help is knowing exactly what employers want from them. AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) spoke to employers this summer, and we believe you can’t go wrong by sharing wisdom in four particular areas:
- Get experience
Having qualifications is important but so is having some form of practical work experience, especially if it relates to the job being applied for. Experience was one of the things employers told us was of vital importance to them, with 64 per cent of them saying that young people who have undertaken work experience elsewhere show more promise than young people who haven’t. Obtaining such experience can sometimes seem like a Catch 22 situation but planning ahead will help.
Many employers also told us that they would prefer to see experience from an apprenticeship on a person’s CV rather than a relevant university degree qualification, because having apprenticeship experience proves that you have demonstrated your skills in a practical setting, and have a better understanding of the world of work.
- Develop those critical ‘soft’ skills
Something else which employers told us mattered is that the people they hire have taken time to develop their soft skills. The ones that were most valued include the ability to self-manage, take the initiative, being able to work well as part of a team and having good communication skills.
Soft skills are not necessarily easy to acquire just from studying a qualification. They often develop from having experience of being in a workplace and observing how others behave. This is another reason why getting experience is so important, especially for those just starting out in a career.
- Behave on social media
In moderation, social media is a useful tool to communicate with friends and family. However, you should make young people aware that they need to behave properly on it at all times – or face the consequences.
Almost half of the employers we talked to said that they look at prospective employees’ social media profile when deciding when to hire them. 69 per cent of those who check social media said they have decided not to hire someone because they didn’t like the look of their social media presence. Losing a job because of something that was posted on Instagram or Twitter in the past would not be an enjoyable experience for anyone – and could really knock their confidence for the future. Time to clean things up perhaps?
- Sort out a CV
Having a good CV is important; even if your child is going on to university they may want to get a part- time job to earn pocket money, or to help them build their experience up.
The things employers told us are most important for a good CV are that it has a clear layout, is no more than two pages long, uses an appropriate font and font size (no Comic Sans or similar), uses clear language, and has correct spelling. You could also offer to proof-read theirs for them, and I’d recommend get at least one more pair of eyes on it before it goes off to recruiters or others.
These four points should help get you and your child thinking about the future and how they can ensure they are ready to meet it, whatever they decide to do. They now face an exciting time with lots of opportunities ahead of them, but they’ll need help with understanding their options and working out what is most appropriate for their circumstances.