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Careers, Enterprise & Work Skills
Researching a particular career that you are interested in can be a long process. Start as early as you can so you have enough time to gather the information that you need to make an informed choice about your next step.
To effectively research a career you need to:
1. Have an idea of the type of career you are interested in.
This does not need to be extremely specific if you haven’t decided yet! A good place to start is Fast Tomato, a web based careers information and guidance system.
- Click the New User button
- Enter your name and type this fast track code WAIR
- Click the Get Login button to receive your personal Username and Password. (Make a note of these so you can use them each time you visit Fast Tomato).
- Type your Username and Password into the Login box
- Click the Enter button
- Once you have logged in, you need to complete the About Me and My Interests Questionnaire. Then you can investigate the careers suggestions etc.
This might give you some ideas and then you can research into the different options from there!
Alternatively, use Careers Planner, your personal careers guidance resource. Careers Planner brings together all of the online careers resources you will need, carefully selected to ensure you can access the information you need to start making decisions about your future.
Please enter your information into the boxes to register. If you do not know your centre's examination number, ask your tutor. Once you have registered, you simply login using your centre’s examination number, username and password.
You can now access more than one thousand three hundred exciting on-line tools and applications. Everything has been prepared with you in mind - we hope you enjoy using Careers Planner.
2. Be proactive
Take control of your own research. Do not wait for information to just come to you. Think of what you need to know, ask questions, approach people/make contacts, read relevant trade magazines/journals or Websites.
3. Look out for opportunities and network
Make contacts within the field of your chosen career. Seek out opportunities to gain experience, undertake placements, and get more involved.
4. Examine lots of different routes into a career
Education/qualifications, apprenticeships, transferable skills etc.
5. Know your goals and requirements
- Would you prefer to work for a large or small company?
- Would you like to stay local, or would you consider moving?
- Do you want a 9am to 5pm job or variable hours?
- What pay are you realistically aiming for?
- What other benefits are important to you (insurance, pensions etc.)
What are the prospects for career progression?
Sources of Information:
- Teachers and Support Staff
- Your Tutor
- Careers Library: The careers library has lots of information about different aspects of careers. There are resource boxes for some of the most popular careers and information sheets about others. There is also an extensive book collection advising on everything from CVs to gap years to university choices. There are copies of university prospectuses in the library.
- The Internet: A whole host of careers information is available through the Internet. You can use the Internet to consult specific careers sites, research companies via their own websites, or even research the job market and opportunities available in your chosen field.
- People doing the job you want! Make contact with people who are working in the field you are interested in. Ask them how they got the job and what would they advise someone like you to do in order to get into that career. People actually working in the job you want are the best source of information around. They will be able to tell you what it is really like and they will be up to date about developments and news in their field.
- Your own experience: Seriously consider getting some relevant work experience. You will meet people on your placement and find out more about the job you want to do.
Useful websites to search for Apprenticeships
Advice on Apprenticeships
http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/ - A great site about apprenticeships: what they are, who offers them, and why they can be so good.
https://apprenticeshipvacancymatchingservice.lsc.gov.uk/navms/Forms/Candidate/Apprenticeships.aspx allows you to search for current apprenticeship vacancies in a different geographical area, with different employers, in particular occupations etc. There is lots of information to help you if you are undecided about your career paths. You can look up your favourite subjects and see what careers they may lead to and what the possible lifetime salaries are, or you can start with a job and work backwards to see which A-levels would be most appropriate. There are lots of options out there!
Lots of companies only allow applications on their own application forms. These are usually posted out to you on request, however more and more companies are putting their application forms online for you to either download, print and complete by hand, or for you to actually complete and submit online.
However you intend to fill in an application form, you need to ensure that you leave enough time to really think about your answers and ensure you have completed the form to the best of your ability.
Application forms take a long time to complete...bear this in mind along with the deadline date!
Before you even begin to fill in the application form you should do some research.
- You need to know about the company you are applying to.
- You need to know about the market/field/sector the company operates in.
- You need to know fully about the position you are applying to do
Use the information available in the library and on the Internet to do your research. Perhaps also speak to people who are already working in the field/position you are applying for.
- Read through the entire form so you know what is expected of you and what evidence you will need to provide.
- Photocopy the form so you can do a ‘rough draft’ before filling in the real thing.
- Write clearly in black ink.
- Follow all instructions e.g.
E.g. tick/cross boxes
Delete as appropriate
- Be honest! Sell yourself but do not be tempted to tell lies!
- If you have to list items it is usual to start with the most recent and work backwards from there (unless otherwise stated)
- Be clear, concise and specific
- Use positive language and words – achieved, developed, demonstrated, led, supervised, improved, planned
- If the form has a long answer section, Use examples to illustrate your points (examples from work, hobbies, study, home). Match your experiences and skills to what the employer is looking for (use the person specification and job description)
- Do not leave any questions blank...if it does not apply then state ‘not applicable’
- Photocopy your completed form so you can have a copy for your records - If you get an interview you will be able to remind yourself of what you put on your application form. If you do not get an interview a copy of your application form may help you to fill in future applications.
- Send off your form in plenty of time before the closing date
These may all seem obvious points, but you would be amazed at how many people get it wrong!
Writing a CV
A CV (Curriculum Vitae) is an advert for you. It is your introduction to prospective employers and an opportunity to ‘sell yourself’. It summarises your key skills, qualifications and attributes and gives a taster of your interests and future plans. A CV never stands alone; it always goes with a covering letter.
You do not necessarily need a CV for every job. In fact, some jobs specifically state do not send a CV. For other jobs this is the sole means of application. It is worth having a decent CV even for those jobs where you are not allowed to submit it, as the information contained on a CV is often asked for in application forms.
Top tips for applying with a CV (Curriculum Vitae)
- Get the basics right: There is no right or wrong way to write a CV but there are some common sections you should cover. These include: personal and contact information; education and qualifications; work history and/or experience; relevant skills to the job in question; own interests, achievements or hobbies; and some references.
- Presentation is key: A successful CV is always carefully and clearly presented, and printed on clean, crisp white paper. The layout should always be clear and well-structured and CVs should never be crumpled. Use a spell checker and proof read!
- Stick to no more than two pages of A4: A good CV is clear, concise and makes every point necessary without waffling. You don't need pages and pages of paper – just keep things short and sweet. Most employers will make a judgment about a CV within seconds.
- Understand the job description: The clues are in the job description, so read the details from start to finish, highlight everything you can satisfy and all the bits you can't. With the areas where you're lacking, fill in the blanks by adapting the skills you do have. For example, if the job in question requires someone with sales experience, there's nothing stopping you from using any work experience you've undertaken. It will demonstrate the skills you do have and show how they're transferable.
- Tailor the CV to the role: When you've established what the job entails and how you can match each requirement, create a CV specifically for that role. You don't have to re-write the whole thing, just adapt the details so they're relevant.
- Making the most of skills: Under the skills section of your CV don't forget to mention key skills that can help you to stand out from the crowd. These could include: communication skills; computer skills; team working; problem solving or even speaking a foreign language. Skills can come out of the most unlikely places, so really think about what you've done to develop your own skills: taking examples from being in a local sports team or joining a voluntary group is all relevant.
- Making the most of interests: Under interests, highlight the things that show off skills you've gained and that employers will be looking for. Describe any examples of positions of responsibility, working in a team or anything that shows you can use your own initiative. E.g coaching a sports team, organising a fund raising event etc. Include anything that shows how diverse, interested and skilled you are. Don't include passive interests like watching TV – these are solitary hobbies that can be perceived as you lacking in people skills. Make yourself sound really interesting.
- Making the most of experience: Use positive language under the work history and experience sections, such as "developed", "organised" or "achieved". Try to relate the skills you have learned to the job role you're applying for. For example: "The work experience involved working in a team," or "This position involved planning, organisation and leadership as I was responsible for a team of people".
- Including references: References should be from someone who has employed you in the past and can vouch for your skills and experience. If you've never worked before you're OK to use a teacher or tutor as a referee. Try to include two if you can.
- Keep your CV updated: It's crucial to review your CV on a regular basis and add any new skills or experience. For example, if you've just done some volunteering or worked on a new project, make sure they're on there – potential employers are always impressed with candidates who go the extra mile to boost their own skills and experience.
There is a lot of information on CV writing, both on the school website and on the internet generally. Try:
Writing a Covering Letter
The covering letter is vital to your application. This is why it is the first page and not an addition. It demonstrates your writing style better than your application form (which is usually more brief and factual). A letter that simply consists of "Please find enclosed my application form" won't get you very far!
The covering letter puts flesh on the bare bones of the application. It emphasises to the employer the information that shows that you have the qualities the job calls for and makes a statement about you and your suitability for the job. It should give the personal touch that your application form will lack. Effectively, it answers the question "Why should the interviewer see you?"
1. Plain white paper is fine: content and layout are far more important than posh paper. Don't use paper with punched holes!
2. Don't make the employer work to read your letter! Keep it clear, concise and to the point.
3. Try not to go over one side of A4: if it does, you are writing an essay instead!
4. Use your own words not formal long-winded clichés.
5. Action verbs can help to make it sound better. For example, rather than writing:
a. "For my coursework project, I had to carry out a survey of boys’ attitudes towards use of language in novels. This involved interviewing students. A database was used to keep track of data collected. This project was finished on time and was awarded an A grade."
You should instead write:
b. "I devised and prepared a survey of boys’ attitudes towards the use of language as my coursework project. I interviewed 50 students and obtained a substantial amount of data. I created a database to analyse and interpret this material. I completed this project three weeks ahead of schedule and achieved an A grade."
The action words help to give an impression of a positive, motivated person who knows how to present themselves in a businesslike way and will be likely to succeed in a variety of work areas.
6. Spell-check and then double-check your spelling and grammar. Spell checkers won't pick up form instead of from or sex instead of six!
7. Relate your skills to the job. Show the employer that you have obtained the communicating, teamworking, problem solving and leadership or other skills that are appropriate for the job – give examples
8. Make the person who reads it feel special: that it is addressed to them personally about the job that they are offering and not one of fifty identical letters you are sending out without thought or care.
9. You might include your understanding of the work/knowledge of the company i.e. show an interest in the business and an understanding of the wider environment in which it operates: its customers, competitors and suppliers and how you fit the criteria required. "I have a real interest in working as a ...." will not do: you must say why you decided to apply for this job/pursue this career, what first brought it to your attention etc
10. Print your name clearly under your signature
As with your CV, keep a copy to refer to later.
Structure for a covering letter of application:
It is a formal letter. Make sure that you lay it out neatly and use appropriate salutations and sign off. e.g. “Dear Sir… Yours faithfully” or, if you know their name, “Dear Mr X… Yours sincerely”.
- State the job you’re applying for.
- State where you found out about it (advert in The Guardian newspaper etc. - organisations like to know which of their advertising sources are being successful).
- Explain why you're interested in that type of work.
- Explain why the company attracts you (if it's a small company say you prefer to work for a small friendly organisation! If you are applying to a large organisation you could say that you like the idea of having promotion prospects, the fact that such a large company gives you a lot of opportunity to get real business experience etc).
- Summarise your strengths and how they might be an advantage to the organisation in this particular job.
- Relate your skills to the competencies required in the job for which you are applying. Eg. “I believe that I would be particularly good as a Marketing Assisitant because I have excellent communciation skills. I currently use these in my Saturday job at…” or “I would suit a role on the technical support desk as I have a lot of experience in this area from my ICT GCSE”.
- Thank the employer for their time and say that you look forward to hearing from them soon.
Many people dread the thought of attending job interviews. Feeling the pressure is understandable, after all this is your big chance to really sell yourself to a prospective employer and get that job. However, following some simple tips before, during and after the interview can make the whole process a lot less stressful. There are lots of useful tips on the internet (try:
- You have been invited to the interview because they are interested in you and what you can offer
- An interview is just a conversation...you talk to people every day of your life...it’s not that bad!
Work Experience & Open Days
Year 12 Work Experience Programme
Waingels Career & Enterprise Days
Year 8 Enterprise days; Wednesday 13th and Thursday 14th December
As part of our Careers and Enterprise curriculum we are running enterprise days for Year 8 on 13th and 14th December. The purpose of this event is to assist students in understanding some of the skills, behaviours and attitudes that will be required of them in the workplace. It will develop their abilities to:
• Analyse information
• Make decisions
• Work in a team and develop interpersonal and leadership skills.
• Developing confidence in risk and change management whilst building self-reliance
During this activity students will work in teams to design, build and market a business within a set time constraint, budget and to certain specifications. They will have to decide on a new business venture and build the premises for the business on an empty plot of land in Reading.