Teenagers and the employment world

This is where you can start getting some long term results for yourself. Now it's all about improving your position and getting some mileage out of your training and experience.

This is Career Land. It's the beginning of the heart of the jungle. Around you, you will see the guys who didn't make it. They were trying to get somewhere, and didn't. They're worth listening to, because they can tell you what not to do, as a version of what they did.

Just wait for the expression Should've done this, or Shouldn't have done that.

Don't take their word for it about their own cases, but keep it in mind, because you may have to make some critical decisions yourself.

This is also the point where we can start offering some practical, real-time, assistance, because it's all about actual jobs, as part of your career.

Job Hunting

The great myth about job hunting is that it's some sort of terrible, unjust, ordeal where you just slog your way through it, and the job is like the After Life, some great ideal, fulfilled at last.

Insert brief interlude from string orchestra…

The fact is that job interviews are a part of living, some people are truly lousy interviewers, some employers are jerks, and some so-called careers aren't worth the paper they're written on.

Of course you don't get every job you go for.

Of course some people get their hiring and firing wrong.

This isn't about them, and their problems.

This is about you.

To make a career, you need to get the right jobs, not just hop on a conveyor belt and hope for the best.

The Basics, Explained:

You've been shown how to conduct a reconnaissance.

You need to do that with any and every job.

Some jobs lead nowhere, and they can prove it.

So-

  • Don't just go for just anything available, if you can help it. You're looking for a way forward to your goal. If the job doesn't deliver that, find one that does, because sooner or later you're going to need to do that anyway.
  • If you do have to go for a second-rate job, make sure you have a way of getting back on track, fast.
  • Check out everything about the job, including your living costs after commuting, accommodation, etc. Don't exchange a viable situation for a non-viable one.
  • Be careful how you play your cards with anyone on the job. This is going to be the refrain for dealing with people from now on: STAY COOL.
  • You will get opportunities, you need to be able to recognize the good ones, and prove to yourself they're workable. If you jump onto the first bus that comes along, you will definitely wind up somewhere else, at least short term.

Your CV, and what it can do for you

Believe it or not, you have some real advantages.

At your age, your CV isn't going to be like a library, full of odd entries from years or decades in a patchwork of jobs.

That means you can concentrate on making what you have look as good as you can get it. You're not in Damage Control mode.

Our whole site is about CVs, and it's always going to be a work in progress.

Because of the sheer variety of people, jobs, employment situations, and the kinds of information that wind up on CVs, we have to try to cover all the bases, all the time, in a very rapidly changing market. We have to keep track of this stuff on a daily basis, literally.

So we're not kidding about you having advantages, either.

At your age, you can produce a CV which can create a lot of opportunities for your future, and you can do it pretty easily.

All the things you did earlier translate on your CV into a very good looking skill set, with at least a bit of practical experience. You can show that you can do a job, and you'll also have a few references to back you up.

You also have the advantage of still being able to get entry level positions, including really good things like internships, and career trainee positions, which lead upwards. out of the jungle floor.

MOST IMPORTANT: You're in a position where you can maneuver, and try to get into a career which can really take you somewhere good. You will get a shot at entry level positions, because of your age, and because the skill sets are still at that fundamental level of basic competencies.

So Be Careful.

This phase doesn't last forever, even if it feels like it does.

Look where you're going. You can save yourself a lot of grief.

PLANNING YOUR CAREER MOVES

It's all very nice to come up with a theory of a great career. Sounds great, smells good, and you get to wear a suit, and everything.

Er… yeah… cute… No free set of steak knives?

If you want a postcard about a career, particularly from people with a vested interest in selling the postcard, you can start quite a collection of postcards.

To achieve a great career, however, is much more a practical exercise.

It's more like climbing a tree. The way up is where the handholds and footholds are, not where the postcard is.

Remember also that other people are trying to climb this tree.

Any career is a competitive thing, and you, your CV, and your work, have to be able to do it better than other people.

  • Interviews are competitive.
  • Performance is competitive.
  • Your presentation, your ideas, and your work have to be competitive.
  • Employers want competitive people, because they do more on the job.
  • Industries want competitive people to compete with their rivals in the market.

There just isn't a way around this:

Your CV has to be competitive, too.

We're sticking a whole stack of links and references into this book so you can browse through what we've got, and check out the relevant things. We also have our Forum, where you can get real-world, real-time, advice from our members and experts. We also have tutorials, and it's all free.

At this stage your First CV needs to be drafted. We've included some general pointers on that page.

The most important thing at this point is to get your CV formatted and drawn up, with all your information clearly set out, so whoever's reading it can find the relevant information easily.

Remember- Your CV will evolve, over time. It's not set in stone, and nor are you. It has to be targeted to specific jobs, too.

A CV is by definition not just a generic, all-purpose, thing.

You need to keep it up to date, and allow yourself some time to make it look good, and, above all, relevant to employers.

This is where the lateral thinking applies. These are the steps required to make your first real career move. To get from A to B, you have to see where B is, and trace the steps back to where you are.

These are the fundamental steps in your first successful move:

  1. Find a job which can take you where you're trying to go.
  2. Check out in detail what's required for the job, and learn as much as you can about the employer and the position, so you can do a really good, effective, interview.
  3. Prepare your CV so it targets the job, and shows the employer your intended career track, and where the job fits in. That adds a lot of credibility to your application.
  4. Write a cover letter showing your interest in the position and its relevance to your career. (The cover letter is almost a separate job interview in itself. The more effective, the better.)
  5. Do a very good, competitive, interview, proving yourself competent.

This is obviously an overview, but you can see that every step in the process is pretty much inevitable. These are the things you really do have to do.

Equally necessary to point out, is that the job spells itself out, in terms of what's required from you. That's particularly useful, because you can stick to the relevant elements.

Any job ad is a virtual map. Like any map, it raises a few questions for the explorer, who's learned to be wary of maps, and likes to take a few notes before proceeding.

Ask questions, of yourself, and the employer.

Check out the essentials, make sure you're providing the information required to get you an interview.

If you don't understand anything, Find Out.

Use your skills. If you know the work, know the job, and know the industry, you know what you're looking for, and what you want from the job.

Make sure the job delivers for you. If it doesn't, find one that does.

IMPORTANT: THINGS TO AVOID, AND HOW TO GET OUT OF THEM

You have only one real disadvantage as a teenager, but it's a nasty one.

You have the capacity to walk straight off a cliff, in terms of a career.

First moves can be last moves, if you get them wrong.

Don't go nuts and chase anything and everything that comes along.

Because some of the things you'll find are very counterproductive.

The only myth about the job market which has any real truth to it is the Dead End Job.

They're aptly named.

The definition of a Dead End Job is that it has no future, leads nowhere. They also look exactly like what they are, on a CV. They add nothing, fill up space, and their main asset is filling in gaps on the CV.

It's a bit like having a car covered in band-aids. Not too impressive.

DO NOT GO FOR THESE THINGS, unless you have absolutely no choice.

That includes sales positions with no salary, just commissions. If you see OTE, meaning On Target Earnings, try and break a few speed records heading away from them. A very few people are so good at sales they can make a living out of them. But 99% of people aren't, and waste ages on a shaky income in a job that doesn't really go anywhere for anyone, except for whoever's running the slave labor camp.

If you can't avoid them:

Get some money together, when you can, and get a job with a future.

Doesn't matter how, don't get stuck in one of these things for any longer than you actually have to be there.

They're also debilitating, in terms of your skills. Getting stuck in a Dead End Job means you don't get to develop your skills, and you get behind others, and uncompetitive, when you try to get out of the rut.

Nobody gets into these situations voluntarily, but you do have to dig your way out, preferably quickly.

Some people will understand what a job like that involves, and what it's doing on your CV.

But remember this is a competitive environment.

You can devalue yourself if you have nothing else in your poker hand. You need some high cards, and if you're in a Dead End Job, you're strongly advised to stay current and have some value in your skills which you can put on your CV.

There are a few things you can add to your CV from this position which will improve your chances.

  • Voluntary work,
  • Professional associations,
  • Trade qualifications,
  • Extra studies,

Whatever you do, just don't go into the competition unarmed.

We also have a thread called General Career Advice, and it's worth a look, to see real situations in progress.

The first thing you'll notice is that careers can get pretty tangled. Make your first move a good one.