Careers Fairs…the role of Work Savvy

At a typical careers fair, alongside all the represented professions hoping to enlighten students on their possible career paths you will find people helping to spread awareness on apprenticeships, gap-year vocations and other higher educational routes to market.   Work Savvy also has important relevance at these events, and I’ve compiled a list of FAQs to illustrate a typical engagement with a parent/child:   

What’s Work Savvy all about then?  

We equip young people with everything they need to get jobs.  

So you’re a careers coach?  

No, but we can maximise the chance that a student successfully becomes one of these (cue the sweeping hand-gesture around the room).  

How do you mean? 

We don’t have to be experts in any particular field, but if there are 10 people applying for the same job, we can make somebody stand out from the other 9. 

How?

By ensuring they know how to demonstrate the skills that all employers want to see, over and above their academic qualifications.  We highlight the wide gap between what students know and what employers demand that they know.     

What skills? 

They used to be called ‘soft’ skills but nowadays have become known as ‘core competencies’.  To draw from a long list, things such as emotional intelligence, commercial awareness, communication, resilience and integrity.    

Don’t schools address this?

Invariably not, and not in any great depth either.  They are fully aware of what employers want but their main focus is on the academic curriculum, and until exams start to ask the right questions this gap will remain.   

Surely they will learn all this at Uni.  

Most universities have huge resources yes, but they have a problem engaging anyone except those who are already driven, focussed and confident.  They can’t engage with the vast majority who fail to use what’s on offer.  Once they’ve graduated it’s all too late, and if they then tackle the job market they’re going to find they’re unprepared  

So how do you go about doing this?  

In the space of a few hourly sessions face-to-face you can develop these qualities, none of which you are with born with or without, and learn how to demonstrate to potential employers that you have them.  

Who is Work Savvy for? 

Anybody from yr 12 to post-graduate, plus anybody in-between since they’ll be looking to fortify their CVs with meaningful work experience.   They’ll also need to know how to network effectively, write a CV that’s aligned with the right job description, compose an appropriate cover-letter and be on top form in interview.  

How did you get started with all this?

I was approached by a friend whose son had already won a place on a graduate scheme, but needed help understanding his job description, payslip and the art of creating effective emails/voicemails.  In short, a general demystifying of the workplace was a way I could put my own years of work experience to good use.  

So when are you first needed? 

For those early in the 6th form there is much concern as to what sort of work experience they should feature on their CV.  At this stage, employers are actually very open-minded and simply want to discover if somebody has learned anything useful. We teach people to demonstrate some commercial awareness no matter how menial the work experience. 

And how else are you different?

We also teach the practical basics of subjects that might represent gaps, such as Economics, Politics, Accounting, Personal Finance etc, etc.   Young people may decide to explore a career-path that requires knowledge in subjects never studied, and it doesn’t have to be the case that a child doesn’t engage in topical subjects merely because they weren’t studied at school.  This too can be explained in a few short hours. 

So it’s a confidence booster too?

Absolutely.  Fear of interviews and the whole transition process from school to whatever lies beyond the school gates is invariably due to lack of preparation.  They need to be able to give the best of themselves in interview, get that job offer, hit the ground running and get noticed for the right reasons.

How do we find you?

There’s a website that hopefully explains everything in full. For private sessions you should set aside a half-day and all we then require is a date in the diary and somewhere mutually suitable to meet.  We charge by the hour for as long or as little as it takes. 

Can I pay in advance right here and now?

But of course…

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