The importance of mentoring and networking, especially for students

Mentoring, mentor groupSince the world went into lockdown, young adults have been finding it increasingly hard to find the first rung of the career ladder.

This is because firms are finding it very difficult to remotely recruit, onboard and train unskilled hires. A vicious circle is developing here; young adults are finding it difficult to get entry-level jobs, meaning they lack key employability skills one would expect from a young hire, making it even more difficult for them to get a job the longer this problem continues.

So, what can you do to reverse this trend and get ahead of the competition? Richard Evans, founder of The Profs reveals all.

1) Invest in a professional headshot

Like it or not, first impressions are very important in business. I always recommend that you invest in a professional headshot; put on your most impressive business attire, get a haircut and pay for a professional headshot (prices range from £20-£50 at the lower end). You need to come across as professional, serious and yet approachable. You might be surprised at how many websites are dedicated to the optimal pose for a headshot.

2) Your New LinkedIn Profile

Snap, Insta, TikTok may be fun to browse, but LinkedIn gets you paid. If you want to be a professional, you need an online CV that stands out from the crowd and LinkedIn is the way to go. Put that professional headshot onto your profile to make it stand out. Next, think hard about how to sell yourself in your short- written bio. Typically, it is best to be humble and hungry’ meaning that you show ambition to achieve great things but accept that you have things to learn. Most importantly, you show a willingness to learn, and employers can use that growth mindset to develop your skills. Lastly, add any experiences and grades that you can to your early profile. As your career blossoms, it is common to remove these smaller experiences, but for now you need everything you can to help you to get noticed.

3) Reach out to potential mentors

LinkedIn is the easiest way to find a careers mentor. Search online to find people who have your ideal career and connect with them. Always choose the option to ‘Add a Message’ to the request and write a couple of lines to explain that you are looking for a mentor to help you to get a job in X, and that you think a quick call or coffee could really help you out.

This tip applies to everyone. Just last week, I finally plucked up the courage to reach out to a potential mentor that I’ve been telling myself I would contact for nearly 5 years! And when I did? They said they’d been following my profile for years and had been thinking of doing the same! I find that people generally want to help others in life so be brave, reach out to people, don’t be afraid of a few rejections, and you’ll be amazed at how many people will try and help you.

4) Family, friends and businesses you know

Many people underestimate just how many useful contacts they already have. Ask you family, or the family of your closest friends if they can help you to find a mentor or recommend a work experience. You can even ask people that you interact with – your hairdresser, an old teacher you got on well with, a friend’s sibling who has a successful career. If you don’t ask, you will never know, and fortune favours the bold. Be clear to ask for one thing. For example, I’m looking for a mentor who can help me to get an office job. Or else, I’m looking for someone who has worked in finance who can help me to understand if it is the right career for me.

5) Use a careers service

Lastly, there are many free careers services. If you attend(ed) university, book a free consultation with their career service online and talk openly about where you are with your search. Many people do not know this, but if you call a university careers service and ask for a quick CV health check, many can be convinced to give you a meeting, even if you do not attend that university.

Richard EvansAbout the author

Richard Evans is Forbes 30U30 Social Entrepreneur, NatWest’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year and Founder of The Profs.

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