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Careers Advice - Top tips

Here Mark Yates of Careerfocus Essex poses 7 top tips for young people

Last December I appeared on a podcast with Cian O’Sullivan called Graduate Compass. He’d asked me to go on and discuss my careers advice top tips. As the podcast has been popular, I thought the tips should be turned into a blog! 1) Doing something is better than nothing How many times have you worried about doing ‘the right thing’ or choosing the ‘best’ course of action? We all do this at times. Sometimes though, its better just to do something than nothing. Rather than wait for that ‘lightbulb moment’ to give you insight, taking some action will be more productive. By simply applying for that job, course or volunteering opportunity, you will be able to reflect on what you have learnt from applying. And who knows where things could lead? 2) Your classmates can help you learn more about careers you like and don't like Talking to people you know, who are studying the same or similar qualifications to you could give you great insights into future possibilities. What have your study buddies found out themselves? How did they find any work experience? What companies have they interacted with? You may be surprised at the ‘hidden gems’ of information here. You can return the favour here and share your knowledge. What would interest you may not be what interests others, so sharing information between you all could help everyone to find their niche! Your school or university careers service can tell you information about what students have done from your course too. 3) Your friends and family can help you learn more about careers They know you well and have done so for some time. They will know what your good at, what stresses you out and what you have achieved. Why not ask them what your strengths are? Or if they know anyone doing what you are interested in? Having some contacts like this will be a really good way to help you explore new career opportunities. 4) Think about the life you want - different careers have different lifestyles This may sound like an obvious thing. Factors like when you will work will really impact on issues outside of work. So if you are a police officer or medic, how would doing shifts or working weekends impact on hobbies or friendships? Would you prefer a 9-5 job so that you can carry on with your side hustles or hobbies? For instance you may be a budding musician, who wants to see if making a career out of music is possible. Doing shift work may disrupt attending gigs and therefore impact your performing career opportunities! 5) Be prepared to fail No one likes to fail! It can be disheartening and demotivating. But if you don’t ‘stretch’ yourself, you are risking the possibility that you won’t find career opportunities that challenge you. It’s often said that people learn more by failing than by succeeding. Can you think of a time that you failed at something? What did you learn from it? The important thing here is to take the time to reflect on what went wrong and how you could do better next time. Examples might be how you coped with an assessment centre or interview. Or whether your application was missing experience or qualifications that you would benefit from getting now. What’s the point of failing if you can’t learn from it for next time? 6) Seek advice There are so many things you can actively do to help yourself from a careers point of view. But sometimes it is worth sitting down with a qualified careers adviser too. This will give you a chance to talk through what your plans are and how you can address any barriers. The adviser may well be able to offer further insights or discuss alternatives which you may not have thought about. They will be able to help you do the reflection mentioned in top tip 5. 7) Develop a professional online identity These days most employers will google you at some point before they interview you. So having a professional online presence is essential to encourage potential employers to take you seriously. It also gives you a chance to keep up to date on what is happening in the industry you’re interested in. You can also develop your contacts this way and ask people for advice about how they got into the job they have. The decision that you need to make will be about which platforms to use. Most commonly used for professional reasons will be LinkedIn and Twitter. It is worth looking into which platforms are most commonly used for the industry you want to be in. Dribble and The Dots are both used by creative industries professionals for instance. (This blog is aimed at creative industry professionals and the sites they use.) Spending some time developing your profile/s little and often is the best way forward. And just to state the obvious, it probably better to develop one profile better than spread yourself across too many. I hope these top tips help. And if you’d like to listen to Cian and me discussing them in more detail, do take a listen (4th December 2020). Cian is an excellent host and has a wide range of really interesting podcasts to listen to - with people who have had some really major changes of direction from their degree subjects! And if you would like to discuss your career aspirations, do either contact me or have a look at the CDI register to find a suitably qualified adviser. Mark Yates

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