It’s tough out there right now. Especially if you’re trying to get your first job. Keeping spirits up while being locked down is difficult for everyone; even more so if you’re job hunting for the first time. At UpRising we run intensive support programmes to help at times just like now and have over a decade of experience supporting young people into good jobs. Our community is supportive and inclusive, and over half of our participants are the first in their family to get into further or higher education. 3/5 come from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds.
In that spirit of support, here are our top tips and recommendations:
Find a community to support you during your job search
UpRisers say repeatedly that the job hunt can feel really lonely. Friends and family mean well, but their own experiences are often very different to what you need now. As one participant said before Christmas, “I probably wouldn’t go to any of my friends or family, just because I feel like they wouldn’t really have the same insight, especially my family.” Finding a community of like-minded young people going through the same challenges as you can make all the difference. Our month-long Fastlaners programme provides just that. Participants work in small “home groups” with a personal tutor and we give everyone expert mental health support to help them maintain resilience during their search.
Get real-world guidance from those in the know
There are lots of brilliant resources available online about how to write a good CV or cover letter and our friends at Youth Employment UK are a great starting point. It can be overwhelming working out where to start though and it’s therefore important to find experienced individuals who can provide you with specific feedback that’s just for you and your needs. “You have to make sure every single word on your CV counts,” said a recent participant on our Fastlaners employability programme, “and my CV wasn’t doing that before [UpRising] so that was a skill I learnt. My family they were here as refugees and I’m a first generation university student, so I never had that help from my own family. So, it was really like life changing for me to even know that kind of information.” Local and national employers volunteer on Fastlaners, bringing online advice to life, sharing insights from their industries and helping everyone understand exactly what it is that employers are looking for.
Treat your job-hunt like a job
Who doesn’t love a lie-in? But without a bit of structure and momentum to the day, dark thoughts can sometimes overwhelm. Each Fastlaners session begins with a check-in and social activity in home groups. There’s time for independent job hunting during the day and then a group activity all together in the afternoon. This is typically an interactive session on topics ranging from practical digital skills to building your personal brand online, to creative problem solving, industry insights and speed networking. Creating your own personal routine is a key component of success. As a Fastlaners graduate said, “it got me in the role of working, if that makes any sense, getting up early, doing something productive. Just that was motivation enough to keep going and get me on the right path.”
Do your research
The job market is constantly shifting and differs from region to region. It’s often small and medium-sized businesses who are creating new jobs. Understanding which companies/sectors are growing and which are shrinking can make all the difference to a successful job search. Your local Chamber of Commerce is often a good source of insight, as are the small and medium-sized businesses in your local area. How can you connect to business people in your local community? Can you do so through your local community, cultural or sport groups? Finding out which business areas are growing, what’s shifting and where new jobs are being created can make all the difference. We do that all the time on Fastlaners and participants repeatedly tell us it’s one of the most useful parts of the programme. As one participant said, “before starting Fastlaners I thought the job market was very static, but throughout the programme I realised there are opportunities out there but you’ve got to know where to look for them.”
Build your personal network
You’ve probably heard the saying “your network is your net worth,” and time and again we’ve found this to be true for UpRisers. But how do you build your network? What does networking even mean? We build practical sessions on networking itself into the Fastlaners programme: how to do it, how not to do it. We also create plenty of opportunities for participants to practise networking and meet businesspeople from a wide range of sectors. “A lot of my friends have found jobs [during lockdown] through networking, which is now, I think, probably even more important than ever, because if there are so few jobs available people are going to go with who they know or who’s recommended,” said a Fastlaners graduate from our Summer 2020 programme.
Get a mentor
Fastlaners get tailored content, build personal connections and become part of a month-long pop-up community – all supporting their job hunt. But what then? After the intense programme ends, we provide a trained mentor through our 1 Million Mentors (1MM) mentoring programme. And as one recent UpRiser said “honestly, it’s been one of the best things that’s happened this year. My mentor has been so amazing, and I have learnt so much, and even in like the four months, five months it’s been we’ve had five meetings, and they’ve honestly been transformational.”