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Brits believe who you know, not what you know helps to get foot on the career ladder

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Four in five adults believe it really IS who you know, not what you know in life (#NAW2022).

A study of 2,000 Brits, commissioned by Virgin Media O2 to mark National Apprenticeship Week, discovered 80 per cent of people believe no matter how hard they work those with better business contacts will always get ahead.

As well as getting a job (68 per cent), people think others typically use those they know to help get a promotion (58 per cent), a space on a guestlist (54 per cent) and work experience (50 per cent).

Despite this, 84 per cent prefer to know they’ve earnt something for who they are rather than who they know.

Ditch CVs and focus on potential

The research from Virgin Media O2 comes as the company announces it is creating more than 200 apprenticeship roles this year, which are focused on people’s potential, skills and strengths, rather than who they know or if they have experience. These roles range from engineering to digital marketing, project management and more, and offer a minimum starting salary of £19,000.

The study found fears of not being good enough, a lack of interview experience and not having high grades are among the things putting people off applying for a job, apprenticeship, or work experience, while a fifth think interviewers focus too much on their grades or experiences rather than their strengths.

More than a quarter wish employers didn’t judge them by their CV while 28 per cent believe it’s tricky to express their potential via a CV. And a sixth admitted to having lied on their CV as they thought it would help them get the job they applied for or to make themselves sound more interesting.

As part of its award-winning early careers programme, Virgin Media O2 does not require CVs for early careers’ roles, offers many apprenticeships which require no prior qualifications or a maximum of 5 GCSE grades 4-9 (or equivalent Level 2 qualification), and carries out ‘blind recruitment’ to remove any potential bias from the shortlisting process to level the playing field for all applicants.

Karen Handley, Head of Future Careers at Virgin Media O2, said:

“We know how difficult it can be for people – especially youngsters starting out – to get a foot on the career ladder.

“That’s why it’s a real shame the research shows that many people believe “it’s who you know” that counts when applying for a job. And it’s disappointing that people are missing out on applying for an apprenticeship because they’re worried they’re not good enough or don’t have the right experience.

“That’s why for Virgin Media O2’s apprenticeships, we don’t care ‘who you know’, or ask for CVs or prior experience. Instead, we care about who you are and your potential.”

To support those applying for their first ever job, Brits think potential employers can explain each stage of the application process (45 per cent), avoid asking for prior knowledge or experience (30 per cent) and not ask for CVs at all (17 per cent).

Karen added: “We’re creating apprenticeship roles this year that will support us in our aim of upgrading the UK with the first-class connectivity and the skills the country and our customers will need now and in the future.

“Virgin Media O2 is a great place to work and we’re creating a culture where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.”

To find out more about Virgin Media O2’s apprenticeship scheme and to apply, visit here.

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