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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
I recently gave a talk to a group of 6th Formers about what employers looked for in an employee.
I shook hands with them all individually.
If they had a good firm handshake I directed them "right", if a cold clammy one "left". The girl chewing gum got a "left" as did the boy trying to tie his tie and shake hands at the same time and the young man who forgot what he had to do!
The students were surprised to be told that I had a view on the students on the "left" which was "I wouldn’t want you in my business". If that is how they greeted my customers it would put them off.
I then asked them to exchange the CVs they had been working on. Half of the students had not brought one to the meeting. So those could never have been employed… no CV no application.
I then suggested writing by hand a covering letter to accompany their CV… one or two looks suggesting I was mad. By hand!
I explained if they had brought their CVs and that if I had found one typo in the CV that could be the excuse to reject a candidate - they just wouldn’t get an interview.
I then, to a rather deathly silence, read out some of the posts that appeared on various Facebook pages of some of the 6th Formers... if I could get access to their Facebook pages why couldn’t anybody.
The Careers Teacher looked a little pale as I read out...
“I can’t be arsed to do my assignment”
“Pokémon has many life lessons”
“Ladies you look beautiful …who is up for it tonight?”
I also read out some extremely explicit Facebook statuses which I will spare you from reading here – but it’s fair to say a few ears turned bright pink!
I did not name the individuals.
I then looked at someone’s twitter feed and read out similar excerpts... the silence was deafening.
I explained about social media and how I as an employer look for ambassadors of my brand. The writers of such tosh… were not for me. And this tosh could stay up there forever.
I then explained about LinkedIn; why I love it, why I use it and how they can too. They can build a personal brand as they only ever get one chance to make a good first impression
When I asked for questions there were a few including one from a young lady who asked whether it was fair that employers would make decisions based on applicant’s Facebook posts, when she imagined I had posted similar things on my Facebook when I was her age… I could have hugged her, it was such a sweet thing to say! But it shows that young people just assume social media has always been there.
I explained to the group that, luckily for me, the only remotely embarrassing thing about me on social media was a chocolate bar commercial I did when I was 23 and poor! All of my other embarrassing faux pas have, I hope, been lost in the mists of time.
It was a great way to spend an hour. You might want to do something similar. At present I have only put the fear of god into 70 teenagers… there are many more of them out there!
I had a nice email and bottle of wine from the Careers Teacher, she wrote, "Your words of advice were invaluable – a real wake up call for some pupils, especially your points about social media."
So hopefully they learnt a few valuable life lessons from me. They won’t learn many from Pokémon.