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Students need to articulate their skills to employers, says SYLO Associates

As the post-education job market becomes increasingly competitive, SYLO Associates argue that students are leaving education unprepared for the real world of job searching, which in turn causes low self-esteem which itself has a detrimental effect when looking for a job. Students leaving university in particular with huge debts may feel an inordinate amount of pressure to get a well-paid job in a field in which they may not be interested in, or suited to.

Managing partner Sally White says, “In this country students are asked to narrow down the subjects they study at a young age which you can argue limits their job option choices early on.   This means an evaluation at sixth form level is vital so as to really look at their skills and what jobs are suited to them and to find a way of matching them up rather than just throwing them into the big wide world and hoping they magically get a job that fits and that they enjoy.  The same applies to college and university graduates.”

White argues that if both sixth formers and graduates had a clearer idea of what they are suited to what skills are required and, how to articulate them to get a job in their chosen industry, they could be given real direction towards relevant extra-curricular activities or work experience in advance to help secure them the best role for their future.   White strongly believes that schools and parents need to work together to identify and develop students’ skills, demonstrate how these relate to what employers are now looking for.  This in turn will help students understand what will be expected of them at interview, or through an online application forms or via telephone interviews when applying for their first job.

When visiting schools, White works with Leadership Teams to help ensure they have the skills and abilities to support students by delivering workshops on what employers are looking for,  interview skills, telephone and communication skills, and CV writing development. Increasingly schools are being measured and required to focus on exam results achieved by their students together with the pastoral care provided.

Using their Skills4Employability programme at Lord Williams School in Thame, SYLO Associates are currently working with the sixth form students on their CV’s and will be hosting skills workshops, leading up to mock interviews with local businesses.  This will help identify their skills whilst highlighting competencies & skills employers are looking for.  More importantly though is the students’ ability to articulate their skills in a relevant and compelling way.

Nicky Stalwart, personal development curriculum manager at Lord Williams's School said, “Through our Business Forum, the School identified a need to develop a programme of job preparation for our Year 13 students who are not going on to university at the end of their A Level studies.  SYLO Associates brought an employer's perspective to the programme which focused our support of students to accurately address the challenges facing young people in the job market.”

White added, “We may want to give our children the very best education but they really need to be prepared about the realities of the job markets post school, college or university.  It’s a highly competitive market and we want our children to stand the best possible chance.”


1.      When it comes to presentation remember the recruiter’s eyes will naturally fall in the upper middle area of the first page. So, make sure you include something important here such as your key skills or main achievements.

2.      Ever watched the interview stages of the Apprentice and see someone crumble because they’ve lied on their CV and have just been caught out? Always tell the truth in your CV so that you can easily back it up in an interview without changing your story.

3.      Recruiters spend a matter of seconds looking at you CV so ensure yours stands out from the pile and make sure it’s punchy and to the point. Don’t be afraid to use bullet points, but ensure they are in sentence form. Keep your CV to two A4 pages and make sure it is well formatted with a clear and consistent presentation. Don’t be afraid to add some colour to grab attention. Make use of white space between sections and make sure it is consistent in size.

4.      Accuracy is essential. Around 60% of employers automatically reject candidates due to spelling mistakes or typos in their application. Ensure you read through your CV and covering letter thoroughly and ask a friend to proof read it too. If you’re using a digital spell check ensure that the language is correct and you are using English UK rather than English US.

5.      Essentially recruiters are looking to employ someone best suited to the role but we all prefer to work with someone we can get on with so include your hobbies and interests, especially if they are a bit quirky as this gives the recruiter a sense of your personality.  If they ask you about it you are also more likely to light up which helps make you seem animated and passionate about things that interest you.


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