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From school to success: how to plan your career after sixth form

15 Mar

CVs. Personal statements. Taxes. Loans. Welcome to the world of adulthood. You’ve completed your secondary school or sixth form/college education and are now ready to tackle the world of working life or go into further education. So, where do you start? First, congratulations! The skills and knowledge you’ve gained from your hard work will be useful when starting your dream career. Second, the job market can seem frighteningly intimidating, but try not to worry. There are many approaches to furthering your career prospects after secondary school, and all are accessible.

Employment is at an all-time high in the UK, just as apprenticeship and further education opportunities are aplenty. Follow this succinct step-by-step guide through this somewhat daunting time to get you on the next step toward your chosen career.

Consider your options

If you don’t know what you want to do yet, don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone as many people feel this way at this stage. Take this time to really consider where your interests and skills lie and make a note of these. You can then begin to research careers which spike your interest based on your self-reflection.

Depending on whether you prefer classroom-based learning with exams (further education would be ideal) or practical projects (vocational courses), you can tailor your further learning to suit your needs. If you find the idea of earning a salary while becoming qualified for a job in your chosen profession attractive, then you might want to consider an apprenticeship. There are flexible study (and earning) opportunities for everyone depending on their taste from taking a gap year to doing a foundation course or jumping straight into employment.

Utilise your college career service

It’s there for a reason. There are a group of people ready to help you plan and reach your career goals at the drop of a hat. While it can be intimidating to approach them, the decision to do so will pay off as these professionals can prepare and guide you through this confusing time with much-needed insight into how to best accomplish your career goals.

In addition to providing expert advice throughout the CV writing and interview preparation processes, they can offer self-assessment tools to examine your values and skills to suggest career options for you. Since it’s their job to be in the know, they can also refer you to any exciting internship opportunities or career fairs that arise. Think of them like your career fairy godparents who are looking out for your best interests.

Write your CV

Now is the time to start writing your CV, or if you already have one, it’s time to update it with the most relevant and specific work experience regarding the opportunity you are applying for. Part-time jobs, work experience and volunteering are great practical examples of your competencies that contribute to creating a great CV.

If you are fresh out of education and feel you lack experience, don’t worry. Begin by taking note of all the transferrable skills you’ve gained from school such as time management, literacy and numerical skills, teamwork etc and tailor these to suit the needs of the job role — but remember it’s more impressive to be specific and succinct than general. These skills are valuable to employers when selling yourself in an interview.

Market yourself

On top of your grades and related experience or skills, employers will expect you to have the right attitude towards working and their company. You can take steps to market yourself as more employable by creating a professional online presence, building your network, mentoring other students or taking on roles of responsibility within organisations you are a part of. Express your curiosity and interest in companies at career fairs or simply enquire for more details about the opportunities on their website. Marketing yourself in this way will set you apart from other candidates who apply to the same apprenticeship or job.

You might be interested to know that 76% of hiring managers believe that being interesting is an extremely important trait to consider when deciding which candidate to hire. Employers love it when you have researched around the market you are applying for, so show your interest by coming prepared with some recent and through-provoking insights to spruce up your interview.

Apply for an apprenticeship with Travis Perkins

We offer a variety of apprenticeships at different levels: our “Learn and Earn” apprenticeship programme (LEAP) offers you an exciting opportunity to begin a rewarding career at Travis Perkins. We’re passionate about training our new talent as they develop their skills to an expert standard and take pleasure in providing support and guidance all throughout their career. Take a LEAP with us today – find out more about what we can offer you on our careers site.

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