Advice for young people embarking on their first job

You may have spent hours perfecting your CV, sweated your way through the job interview and had a nervous wait to find out if you were successful or not, but finally, the day dawns where you are due to start your first ever job since leaving school.

It goes without saying that you need to be punctual, not just for the first day, but every day. It doesn’t mean arriving at 8.58am for a 9am start! Make sure you arrive at least 10 minutes before you are officially due to start work, giving you a chance to freshen up, maybe make a cup of tea and, at least say a friendly hello to new work colleagues. If you rely on public transport to get yourself to work, it is not good enough to say that your bus or train arrives late most days. If this is the case, catch an earlier service.

Make sure you dress appropriately for whatever job you take on. Asking about appropriate dress is a good question for candidates to ask at interview. If you didn’t think to ask this question, then err on the side of caution. If you have a job which is likely to insist on smart dress, then make sure you dress conservatively. The trick is to see what other people are wearing and follow suit. Certain companies may request that visible tattoos are covered for work so you may need to wear long sleeves and a shirt or blouse with a collar.

There will be a lot to learn when you first start a new job and you won’t be expected to know it all by the end of your first day. Pay attention to what you are told and,if you need to, check to assure yourself that you understand the task in hand and then do it properly. Be respectful to work colleagues and customers and you are well advised to avoid getting caught up in office gossip or talking about your boss behind his or her back.

Make sure you are punctual when you return after tea breaks or lunch and, although you may only be paid until 5pm, it won’t look good if you are seen with your coat on ready to leave on the dot. Spend a few minutes tidying your desk, or organising your task in hand so you know where to start the next day and saying goodbye to the people you have been working with.

Finally, unless you really are genuinely so ill that you cannot go to work, it does not look good if you take days off for a sniffle or a mild headache. It may sound harsh but you have joined the world of work now and you will need to “man up” for minor ailments, especially during your first 3 to 6 months of working, when your employers are still finding out about you.

What is an Internship?

“Internship” may be a relatively new word for middle aged parents but for their student children it has been part of their vocabulary for a while now.

An internship is work experience for a student at either under-graduate or post-graduate level.  The idea is that it allows students the opportunity to gain experience in a working environment, sometimes whilst studying alonside of their degree or sometimes after they have graduated.  Employers may offer internships which last just for a week or two, or for one day a week over a short period of time or they could last as long as six months or a year.  Sometimes a student may be paid while working on an internship, though quite often internships are unpaid, though some employers may give reasonable travel and other work related expenses.

Internships are often available in advertising, sales, marketing, human resources, creative design, management and engineering. Working on an internship should enable a student to develop a number of soft skills which will be applicable to any job, including good communication and presentaion skills and effective problem solving.  An internship gives students a taster of the world of work and gives insight into what a particular job may involve.

Before starting an internship, it is important that a student establishes terms and conditions, especially whether the post is paid or unpaid.

Why should I use a recruitment agency?

If you are in your forties or fifties and suddenly find yourself looking for employment after working for the same employer for 20 or 30 years, then signing up with a recruitment agency may seem a little alien to you. However, whatever your age, there are many advantages to finding work through a reputable agency.

  • Many jobs, which are found advertised in recruitment agencies, are not available elsewhere.
  • Recruitment agencies will offer help and advice on job vacancies and will have established valuable contacts with employers.
  • Most agencies will offer training to brush up on dormant skills or to help you develop new skills.
  • They will offer advice on interview techniques and help you construct a noticeable CV and will actively search for a vacancy that will suit your own specifications.
  • You may find that it is beneficial to take up temporary work whilst looking for something more permanent and a recruitment agency will help with this.

For those searching for work, it is free to use the services of an agency.  When you turn up for the first time, do dress smartly and make sure you are prepared for questions.  If you expect an agency to help you find employment, then you must give a good impression to show that you are eager and willing to work. It is also important to be honest and realistic with agency staff so that they can find the best job which matches your skills, ability and needs.

Certain questions that always crop up at interview

For teenagers looking for employment – whether it is a full-time school leaver’s post or a temporary Summer or weekend job – having to undergo an interview may seem very daunting. However, it is worth remembering that the same questions will be asked at almost any interview and it is worth practising and preparing for these beforehand – sitting in front of a mirror, if you think that will help.

Tell me about yourself. On paper, this appears relatively simple as only you will know the answer but it can be difficult knowing where to start and what to say. Try not to waffle and do not go into reams of detail. Do talk about your interests and what you liked studying at school.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? For young people, employers will be looking for attributes such as: reliability, punctuality, good social skills, enthusiasm and a genuine interest in the job. Do not tell a prospective employer that you hate getting up early or that you like to mess around and have a laugh. Try to pick a weakness that can be turned into something positive. For instance, you may say that you can be quite chatty but that you enjoy meeting new people and that you are keen to help customers or that you wish you had better computing skills but that you are hoping to go on some training courses to improve these.

Why do you want to work here? Do some research about the company where you may be working. Talk about having an interest in retail and customer service or wanting to work with animals or having an interest in taking cars and motorbikes apart and repairing them. You can also talk about a convenient location or that a friend or family member likes working here (providing you think this friend would be considered a good worker!)

Have you any questions? This usually comes right at the end. You could say, “No. I think you have answered all the questions I had, thank you.” However, it does look impressive if you do have a question or two. You may want to ask about dress code, specific hours of work or the prospects of moving around the company and/or promotion.

So, to sum it up, be prepared, practise answers before your interview and make sure you turn up at least 5 to 10 minutes before your interview time.

Considering a career in retail

If you have teenage children who are desperate to leave school and academic life behind but are undecided about what they want to do in life, then a career in retail might suit them. There is much more to retail than just selling items off the shop floor and placing money in a till and many youngsters just don’t realise this.

Many retailers offer apprenticeships to young people leaving school. If a youngster is keen to work hard and eager to learn, takes pride in their work, has good communication skills, is happy to be part of a team, can show initiative and has a generally positive attitude, then these are the sort of qualities which employers are looking for.

It is more than possible to work one’s way up in retail, from starting on the shop floor with a handful of basic school leavers’ GCSE grades. Employers look out for employees with a good aptitude to the job and it is possible to move onto other kinds of jobs within retail which may be office based or accounts related, or which may involve working in HR, managing people or tackling logistics. Some jobs may require further qualifications or experience – for instance, fashion buying or brand marketing – but, by then, a young person may feel ready to tackle a university or professional style course in order to obtain the post that they really want.