From education to employment

Top 5 Tips To Access The Career You Want

Kim Morton

Kim Morton, Learning Experience Manager at The Skills Network, gives her top tips to help people find the job that could help transform their career in FE this National Careers Week.

As we enter National Careers Week, it’s the perfect time to take stock of where you are in your career and where you want your next career step to take you.

As a Learning Experience Manager at The Skills Network, the largest online learning provider in the UK, I have the privilege of leading a team which helps people every day in navigating those exciting choices – hopefully helping them make their dreams a reality.

My true passion is supporting others, and being able to offer free advice to all our learners – whether they are individuals accessing our fully online courses and accredited qualifications, or people coming through our bespoke Skills Bootcamps looking to build their employability skills – is often a small but important link in the process of finding the right job to fit a person and their aspirations.

No two people are the same and my first step is usually to speak to the learners to understand what motivates them and what potential career they are hoping for – that way we can give them bespoke advice which will really work for them.

It’s important to remember that we don’t just work with young people coming out of school and college, but also adult learners who have many years’ experience in the workplace, who decide they want a change of career.

The Covid pandemic saw many changes in the way people work. More than ever people can work more flexibly, often from home, and as a result have more time for other things such as family and hobbies, giving people a better work-life balance.

Also the pandemic helped people re-evaluate what was important to them. Many of the people I work with already have existing careers but want to make the leap to something new – for example, recently I worked with a teacher who decided to do a Skills Bootcamp to obtain greater digital skills and IT infrastructure knowledge so they could branch out into wider e-learner development roles within education.

We cannot have a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to career advice and career advancement, but there are some simple tips I can give you today which might help you in planning your next career move.

My top tips:

1. Make sure your CV reflects your key skills and experience – and quickly sets out who you are and what you offer

A good CV can make the difference between getting an interview and your application ending up in the bin. Remember that if an employer has hundreds of job applications to sift through that you want yours to stand out for all the right reasons. It’s no use having all the skills and experience in the world, if you’ve tucked that information on page 3 of your CV, under your GCSE results from 25 years ago. Be concise and put the most relevant information near the top!

2. Transferable skills are key

Try and make your previous experience support the role you are applying for. You probably have lots of transferable skills that will work in a new working environment, so have a think about how roles you have done in the past (both in the workplace and in your personal life) and see how you can apply those learnings in a new setting. For example, you might be applying for an office job but have 20 years’ experience as a builder – if you used Microsoft Office programmes to do your accounts and send out letters to customers, this might be a really important skill to flag up in your application. Don’t expect employers to assume you have knowledge or expertise, if you don’t mention it!

3. Tailor your cover letter to the job you are applying for – and to the employer who will read it

Alongside having a great CV that stands out, make sure your cover letter talks specifically about the role you are applying for and why you feel you are the perfect candidate for job. Whilst it might feel time consuming to tailor each and every job application you send off, it probably is worth investing a few minutes in tweaking the cover letter – as it’s likely to be the first thing that the recruiting manager will see. If you have a bit of extra time to tick off some of the key essentials from the job description in your letter too, so much the better – but whatever you do, do make sure you take advantage of this extra opportunity to catch the eye!

4. Celebrate your achievements – no-one else will do this, so don’t be afraid to be your own cheerleader!

Being humble is a great personality trait to have in a person, but not when it comes to seeking out your next job! In a crowded field of applicants make sure you take every opportunity to not only highlight your skills and expertise, but also how you have been able to deliver success in the past – and how you can use this track record in the future to assist your new employer. Others will be working hard to show their best versions of themselves, so why not do the same building on your own USPs!

5. Consider additional training/activities that can showcase your skills

If you can see there is a part of your CV where your experience or expertise is lacking compared to other applicants, don’t sit back and mope about it, do something positive to tackle the problem. For example, enrolling on a Skills Bootcamp can be a great way to build your skills in a particular area – and also show that you have the staying power and commitment to complete a practical training course. Also if you are looking at undertaking specific training relevant to the role you are applying for, then do mention this in your personal statement or cover letter. Having a positive mindset and can-do attitude, really can push you forward in your job search!

Working in the FE sector in particular, it’s an exciting time. Where do you see yourself working in 5 years?

Why not step out of your comfort zone and build a plan of smart targets on how you are going to reach your goals in 2024?

At The Skills Network, we always support our learners to pull together a personalised career development plan. Visualise where you want to be and how you are going to achieve it. Levelling up can take time, but it’s more than worth it in the end!

By Kim Morton, Learning Experience Manager at The Skills Network

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