Today’s post takes another step in the direction I’m hoping to take my blog in; a miniature Doctor Phil if you will. I’d like to use my small platform to utilise what I’ve experienced/learnt so far as a near 20 year old that didn’t go to university. I’ve always loved helping my friends out and giving advice, so to start this journey off – let’s start with the wonderful world of employment!
This post is focused around career beginners and those that didn’t attend university, but hopefully my tips are applicable to most!
There’s so much ground to cover surrounding employment, so the focus of this post is the jobs I’ve had since legally being able to work (16 in the UK) till now and how I got there. I’ve also thrown in my 10 job tips that I’ve found have helped me on many occasions. Let’s get cracking.
AGE 16 – 19: (employers won’t be included, I want to try and keep this relatable to different locations etc)
1st job: Clothes store christmas temp (about 1 month)
2nd job: Garden centre cashier (9 months)
3rd job: Food store sales assistant (14 months)
4th job: Call centre customer manager (1.5 months)
5th job: Administration assistant at solicitor’s (6 months)
6th job: Candidate relationship specialist for verification company (Current)
I feel like a universal piece of advice is to get your foot in the job door as soon as you can. When I was in school, the majority of people 16 + had a job to fill the evenings and weekends. It’s the perfect opportunity whilst living at home to widen your skill set, gain experience and make money all whilst fitting it in around education. Of course working during your downtime can be tiring and feels like a nuisance sometimes, but make the most of the short yet useful hours whilst you can. It will never hinder your growth!
To this day I still don’t know what I want my career to be, which is why I haven’t been afraid to adventure down different avenues. However, I have come to learn that I’m good at office work as it matches my skill set well. The stability, salary and benefits are a no brainer. So that’s my current position. It’s your choice what job you want and your choice on how you get there. It is so incredibly difficult to enter the world of work at a young age and be expected by many to know what path going to end up down and when by. I’m quite pleased with the route I took in order to transition from part time work to full time after leaving education.
The first few tips I have are more student based, but graduate into tips that can be taken along throughout all different life stages.
- START SMALL: A job aged 16 does show good work ethic and is relatively easy to pick up. It’s the prime time not to worry too heavily about wages and it fills some time outside of studying hours. Retail is often the most popular route; especially with an influx of summer and festive positions that are often temporary, but can be permanent. Mainstream jobs i.e. cashier, waitress, sales assistant etc are a great option, but you may prefer a more niche market that perhaps is voluntary rather than paid. If you have room to experiment and have some fun – why not!
- DECIDE ABOUT UNI: Whilst in education, weigh up the pros and cons of going to university and if it’s a route you wish to take. Could you relocate your part time job? What career path interests you? What progression routes can you take? These are some things to consider regardless of the outcome. There will always be options if university isn’t for you and there are often different pathways into a particular career. Open universities are available and returning to education later in life is always an option.
- IT’S NOT WHAT YOU KNOW BUT WHO YOU KNOW: It can be surprising who your mum knows, or who your friend knows, or who your uncle’s boss knows. There are lots of people with lots of connections that could help create an opportunity for you. I worked at 2 different jobs with the same friend (firstly she put my name forward for an interview) and my mum knew someone who worked at the solicitor’s that were hiring. In turn, I’ve let my friends know about internal vacancies that they’ve gone on to fill. Building a bank of contacts is a great help, especially when it comes to needing references.
- BUILD UP EXPERIENCE: When you can, with whoever you can, for however long you can. Personally, I think it’s perfectly normal to have 1/2/3 jobs whilst still in education. You can tailor your choices to test certain waters or learn to know what your strengths are. Like previously mentioned, there is both the paid and voluntary routes. Experience can be built during holidays or even gaps whilst transitioning from one job to the next. Your CV will be glowing!
- APPLY APPLY APPLY: Even if you don’t think you’re capable, there is absolutely no harm in trying. What do you have to lose? Hone in on what you want e.g. hours, wage, benefits, progression opportunities etc and cater your searches accordingly. It’s understandable that often we can’t be “too picky”, but I would always urge anyone to just go for what they want. If not successful, dust yourself off and move onto the next one. Rejection and being ignored is a sour patch when desperately applying to jobs. However, everything happens for a reason – an employer will see your application and snap you up before the next one can. The waiting game is the worst, but not when you win.
- BE CONFIDENT IN YOUR ABILITIES: This is one I’ve learnt to achieve overtime. Now, I’m more than happy to list all of my key skills and strengths because I’m proud of them – but there was definitely a time when I’d sit and say I was shit at everything. Thrive in what you’re good at and own it. “Fake it till you make it” is probably shoddy advice, but it’s been the phrase to ring in my ears the past few interviews I’ve had. Faking confidence can often allow genuine confidence to shine through. Showcase your skills, but don’t forget to prepare. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.
- DON’T SETTLE: This is a pointer at various things: poor employers, colleagues, working conditions, wage and so on. Aim higher! It’s so important in many aspects to know your worth and not settle for any less. If you have more to offer, fly the nest and invest in a career that will provide you with everything you could possibly need. I completed my first week’s induction at my new job last week and have an endless list of positives – which is worlds apart from what I’ve dealt with before.
- PROGRESS UP THE LADDER: Grown in your job/chosen field. Assessing your progression route is vital, no matter what your route is. I knew I needed a decent office job after being made redundant from the solicitor’s, so allowed myself to progress my blog whilst looking. Work isn’t everything – it’s valuable to invest elsewhere too. Cross-train to either stay with your current employer or take your skills elsewhere.
- SET GOALS: Interviewers ask for your “5 year plan” for a reason. I used to hate this question, but have come to understand the semi-importance of it. It allows me to think “hang on, where do I actually want to be?”. Who are you doing this all for? Whether that be yourself, your partner or because you want to give your dog the best life, let that be your drive. Having an aim will make the days easier to deal with and acts as great motivation. You want a salary 2k higher? Go for it. You want more sociable hours? Go get it.
- Last, but not least – ENJOY! There’s a lot of negativity surrounding employment and the difficulty of finding substantial and enjoyable work, but enjoy what you can! Retirement isn’t around the corner for most, so it’s vital to be in a position where you don’t mind getting up in the morning. Try and alleviate the pressure that things have to go to plan. Know what you want, but let nature take its course – you’ll get to where you need to be one day. And don’t forget – look after yourself!
I really hope you’ve enjoyed this post and found it somewhat useful. This rambly and more personal style really gets me gripped with writing, so if you have any topics you’d like to see discussed – I’m all ears! Thanks so much for reading.
Until next time,