Across the UK, thousands of young people are reaching the end of their time at school or college and are ready to take the first step in their career. Usually this would involve seeking out apprenticeship or work-based events, perhaps attending a company’s impressive offices for the first time, or just getting stuck into the grind of applications and interviews.
But with Covid-19, things have panned out rather differently. The global pandemic has, at least temporarily, swept away many of the opportunities that are usually available for young people. And we’re not just talking about recruitment freezes, it’s the tiny, yet incredibly valuable, face-to-face interactions with careers teams that help to both inspire and motivate.
Here at Uptree, we want to help, so we reached out to our student network and asked them:
What would you like to hear from employers during lockdown?
We gathered some of the responses we received and have combined these with our own tips on how you should approach Covid-19 as an early careers or junior talent professional.
Provide Hopeful and Reassuring Content
I’d like to know more about the successful things people have done in their career path
If I could ask one thing to an employer I would say, what was your biggest struggle trying to land your job or, can you see yourself working in this company until retirement?
Young people will be looking for hopeful and reassuring content to give them the confidence and motivation they might usually gain from end of term celebrations, leavers assemblies, and even (yes really!) their structured examinations.
Think about it, even in pre-Covid-19 times, the summer term marks a point in a students life where their usual environment changes, and more uncertainty develops. ‘Will I get a job? Will that job be secure? Or will I be on a freelance or short-term contract? Will I be able to get into University, will I be able to find somewhere to live?’ These are all incredibly valid questions that can be startling for your average teenager. Throw Covid-19 into the mix, and this will undoubtedly undermine their natural resilience further.
Creating positive and interesting content doesn’t necessarily mean a huge effort. A company response could be around making sure your online environment and current recruitment processes are as fun and authentic as possible.
For instance, something we’ve introduced at Uptree is ‘Uptree Live’, a short assembly style Instagram live session where our CEO Tamsin Dewhurst interviews inspirational people from different industries about their career journey. By sharing advice and first-hand accounts, we hope to address feedback from our network by creating an up-beat and reassuring start to the day.
How do I stay motivated during lockdown?
How can we do things to stand out whilst being at home?
When doing work experience at home, if possible, does it still stand out when applying to university and jobs even though it’s virtual?
Dreams, hopes and ambitions are essential to our existence and health. For school leavers, a huge part of this is tied up with completing exams, coursework, applying for jobs or even looking forward to a summer holiday before University. With lockdown in full swing, the removal of a physical environment for these activities can be really de-motivating.
Junior talent teams need to provide encouragement to students to ‘keep calm and carry on’ and advise them to use their time wisely. Legal Cheek provides six ideas for law students, from CV enhancing focus, learning a language and registering with your local community to volunteer.
We love these ideas as they are transferable to any student group and it’s really important to break down the myth that being at home equals being unproductive. Letting your network know that you’ll want to find out what they did during Covid-19 could be the motivation boost they need.
It would be great to know if companies offer any virtual work experience days
Is there any way of getting work experience from home?
How will Covid-19 affect the recruitment of students that have predicted grades?
Be transparent about your business strategy. If you’re interviewing, addressing the limitations of technology and questions like the above will be really important. This will put students at ease, and they’ll be less worried about making a bad impression if their connection cuts out. And if you’re not interviewing right now, that’s useful information too. Contacting talent pools and letting them know that your still working things out builds trust and keeps your communication lines open.
Hiding your situation or leaving young people in the dark about their chances of securing a work experience placement or job opportunity can be more damaging than letting them know that things are going to be different or delayed.
What your students need most during lockdown
You don’t need us to tell you that things are a little strange right now. We’re all going through unchartered territory where everything might feel out of control, so it’s vital that we look to provide young people with peace of mind when it comes to their careers.
Whether this takes the form of helpful content, or a boost of encouragement when it comes to their motivation - it’s up to you to decide on your approach. You might not have all of the answers yet, we certainly don’t! But we think now is a great time to show that you care.
If you or your company would like to learn more about what we do, Uptree live or how we can help you engage more with your target audience, please do get in contact with us via email@example.com