How do I stand out?

Many years ago, starting my career in my early 20s, I struggled to find a way to stand out against other job-seekers. I knew it was important to define my value to prospective employers, but I did not know how.

Defining your value as a young person

Dasham Bedi is project lead at the Ministry of Social Development in Canterbury, and oversees an exciting new initiative to assist young people into long-term and meaningful careers. The Youth Engagement Plan (YEP!) is an initiative aimed to upskill, engage and prepare unemployed youth aged 18-24 for employment or study.

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Dash says: "The initiative is designed to help young adults be more competitive in the workforce by providing them with essential skills, qualifications and resources, including First Aid Level 1, SiteSafe certification, relevant vehicle licences, driving licence lessons and a professional CV."

However, there are a number of challenges new job-seekers face in hitting the job market. Dash points out that "transport issues, family issues and selling themselves to an employer are the three main barriers that restrict young people from becoming employed".

Thankfully this innovative pilot project provides a number of ways young people can define their value clearly to employers.

Quantifying your achievements

When a young person highlights specific achievements they have had at school, in part-time work or on a voluntary basis, it gives an employer practical examples of their values, skills and expertise. For example, being the captain of a school's 1st XV rugby team highlights key competencies such as leadership, goal focus and resilience. Being the lead in a school production highlights skills such as communication, public speaking and commitment.

Other examples

Some great questions to ask a young person to help determine some of their achievements (and value to an employer) include:

*What work experience (paid or unpaid) do you have (e.g. babysitting, casual labouring, helping in a family business, etc)?

*Have you completed any voluntary or unpaid work for any organisation (church, school, community)?

*What clubs and organisations have you been involved in (e.g. Scouts, sports clubs)?

*Were you a leader of any sports teams?

*Were you involved in any general leadership roles at school? (E.g. SADD, peer mentor)

*Do you have any special skills? (e.g. play a musical instrument/sing/speak a foreign language)? Did you gain any awards?

*Have you ever presented anything in front of other people (school assembly, club, family event), or had something you wrote or created published anywhere (school newsletter/local newspaper)?

*What software and social media platforms can you use?

Let the employer know

It's vital to ensure that young people communicate their value clearly when entering the workforce. As Dash says, "The more you highlight your achievements and value, the closer you are to the job offer."

Contact Tom for a free Linkedin or CV review, or to be your personal career coach. Visit careercoach.nz or cv.co.nz to find out more.