As a new generation picks up places in colleges, one thing that the Leaving Cert fails to do is prepare young people for the jobs market

‘The Herald’

Monday August 22 2011

SO the CAO offers are in. Tens of thousands of young people are heading to college and many others are preparing for the world of work.

Once again we have the pleas from teachers, parents, students and politicians for a major over haul of the Leaving Cert system, and for the introduction of a fairer one which puts less pressure on students.

As someone who screens candidates for jobs on a daily basis I have my own plea to make today — please can the system be structured to do more to prepare our young people for getting a job?



Time and time again I am amazed at how job candidates — some with top class qualifications — fall down because of a badly put-together CV, poor time-keeping, inappropriate dress and negative attitude.

Below is a Top 10 list of key things which students need to keep in mind to ensure they are giving themselves the best possible chance when they are out there in the competitive jobs environment.

These rules apply to all young people — whether they are high point achievers, or those who are not as academic.

1. CLARITY — I know it can be hard but try to be clear about what you want. If you are not sure, seek advice. There is lots of it available from college careers office, recruitment agencies and your peers.

2. CV — Make sure your CV is up-to-date, well laid out on two or three pages with no spelling or grammatical errors. Tailor the CV for the specific role. If you don’t have the money to get a CV done professionally, go to the college careers office, or to your library or the internet where an abundance of free advice is available.

3. DRESS — For God’s sake don’t turn up for an interview in jeans and a T shirt! Put the effort into being neat. Proper grooming is important.

4. BODY LANGUAGE — Look the interview panel in the eye. Keep your head up and be positive and confident. A good attitude, and showing aptitude, can often compensate for lack of experience.

5. TIMEKEEPING — Whatever you do, don’t turn up late. The interview panel does not want to hear about your car puncture or that the bus was late. Make it your business to be there with time to spare.

6. NETWORKING — Use the contacts you already have (ie, college lecturers, peers, friends and family) to find out what is out there.

7. EXPAND YOUR EXPERIENCE — If you lack experience, consider volunteer work. Or offer to work for nothing in a field you are interested in, even a few hours a week, in order to build up experience.

8. BE PROACTIVE — When job hunting allocate a reasonable amount of time per day to look for a job, learn which contacts are the most fruitful.

9. BE PREPARED — Make sure you have researched the company and understand the role. Consider questions you may be asked, practice being interviewed, think about questions you can ask.

10. STAY POSITIVE — This is important. Keep heart always. Look after your physical/mental health so you’re in good shape when you get that interview. And good luck!

Colm Buckley is MD of The People Group, one of Ireland’s leading sales and marketing recruitment specialists.www.peoplegroup.ie

Taken from an article in ‘The Herald’ on Tuesday 23rd August 2011