Final exams are almost over, graduation day is fast approaching and that schoolies getaway you’ve been day dreaming about is just around the corner.
We get it. You might feel like you’ve had your fill of advice from interfering caring adults, but there are a few things you can do before the final school bell rings to put you best foot forward to potential employers.
So, before the challenges of school life melt away into a carefree break, here’s five simple, golden tips from our expert team to set you up for employment after school.
1. Update Your Email Accounts & Create a Professional Email Address
You’ve already got a personal email account, but take a closer look…
While “firstname.lastname@example.org” might be a hilarious in-joke between you and your friends, it’s probably not sending the right message to future employers. What kind of impression do you want to give when you resume lands in an employer’s inbox?
Think about creating a new email account using just your name or your initials. We recommend Gmail as it gives you access to a host of other important tools for managing job hunting, like Google Docs.
Check when your school email account is due to expire and take a look at what records you have been sent that need to forwarded to your new professional address. This could be things like report cards, a portfolio, and positive feedback from teachers and/or pictures of any achievements you might have (such as completed Metal Work assignments).
2. Update or Create Your Resume
Your resume or CV will be one of the most important documents that you carry through your professional life. It should be a “living” document that’s lovingly and frequently updated to showcase what you bring to the table – a new skill, qualification or experience.
As a school leaver with some workforce experience, or maybe none at all, it can be hard to tell what should and shouldn’t be included on your CV. Here are the basics to get you started on the right track…
- Your full name and contact details including (at least one) contact number, email address, and the suburb/ town where you live.
- A heading for Qualifications where you will include the School you are graduating from, the month and year of graduation and the list of subjects you’ve completed.
- You should also list any pre-vocational or school based traineeships you’ve completed prior to graduation under your qualifications.
- A heading for Accomplishments where you should list any awards or notable achievements you received while at school such as being elected House Captain, being a member of any student committees, receiving any music or sporting awards, extracurricular achievements and/or subject achievements…and don’t forget any school based volunteering.
- Ask someone to proof it – in an employer’s eyes there is no excuse for spelling or grammar errors in your resume. If you can, ask a teacher or trusted friend to read over your finished resume before you begin sending it out.
- For more tips about resume writing read ‘How to write a resume that stands out.’
3. Ask a Teacher or School Leader for a Letter of Recommendation
While on the hunt for jobs you will often be asked for references. This is an employer’s way of fact checking your resume and getting a better sense for the kind of person you are. If you’ve got no previous paid work experience most employers will be more than happy to accept a letter of recommendation from a teacher or principal as an alternative.
In the final weeks of school take the opportunity to approach some of your favourite teachers to discuss a letter of recommendation. Don’t be afraid to ask if they are willing to provide contact details and give permission for you to use them as a reference. If you are struggling to find someone, talk to your school Career Advisor, Guidance Counsellor or head of school for some advice.
4. Apply for a Tax File Number (TFN) and a Bank Account
To be employed in Australia you are required to have a TFN. This number exists so that your employer can lodge your income tax with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). At the end of financial year (30 June annually) you can then lodge an income tax return with the ATO for your eligible tax refund.
Applying for a TFN is easy and free but it does require you to either fill out a form and post it to the ATO (yes via snail mail) or fill out a form online and go to your local post office for a quick interview. You can find out more about applying for a TFN at ato.gov.au/Individuals/Tax-file-number/Apply-for-a-TFN.
Once you have your TFN you might also need to consider opening your first bank account. Most of the major banks offer discounts to school leavers and anyone under 18 years. You will need your TFN and certain points of identification to do this. If you already have an account, now will be the time to update the bank with your TFN.
5. Write a Plan
Before you leave the safety of your school years behind, take a moment to think about what you would like to achieve in your first 12months after school. It might be as simple as moving out of home or as vague as discovering what you are passionate about.
Take the time to talk to your teachers and peers who you have spent the last five or more years with you for their advice on how you can formulate a plan to achieving this goal. It might not feel urgent right now…but trust us…it’s worth it.
6. What goes online, stays online
If you applied for a job based only on what you share online and through social media – what would the employer think??
More and more future employers are researching job candidates by checking their social media accounts. So, what are they looking for? Well, in a competitive job market they want to make sure they’re making the best recruitment decision.
Like it or not, photos, comments and opinions shared in the personal world of social media can sometimes influence an employer’s decision to hire you.
Our advice? Before you snap and post about that one unforgettable night at schoolies, check your privacy settings and limit how it can be shared more widely. And remember, it’s almost impossible to remove imagery or information about yourself once it’s shared online.