How to get into work

Heading into the world of work offers you the chance to start earning, get experience, build your skills to increase your employability, and improve your CV for the future.

Why go into work?

Going straight into work gets onto the first step of your career, builds your confidence, gives you experience, and gives you the opportunity to meet new people. You can start developing the essential skills and experience you need for your career progression, while increasing your employability – having work experience and building your CV will make you more attractive to employers, and will open up more job opportunities in the future.

Things to consider

  • Are you ready for work?
  • Would you suit an apprenticeship or school leaver programme? These also offer the chance to work and earn, as well as to continue learning.
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages for you of going into work now?
  • Is it because you want to start earning some money? Compared to graduates, going straight into employment can make it more likely you find yourself in a lower skilled job, and with lower pay.
  • You need to have a clear idea of the sort of work you want to do.
  • Do your research – explore the job profiles, industries, and employers offering the kind of work and job roles you’re interested in.
  • Set out what you have to offer – skills and qualities, work experience, qualifications, achievements, and interests – and match these with what employers are looking for in the job roles and career areas you’re aiming for.
  • Where do you want to start? Would you like to get a part-time or full-time job, take on voluntary work, become self-employed, or set up your own business?
  • Job scams and internet fraud are on the rise — read our tips on how to protect yourself.

Ten tips on how to make the right choice for you

What sort of work do you want to do?

Focus on what sort of career pathway you may want to follow:

  • Find information about different careers and job profiles on your national careers website, and on
  • Take note of any entry requirements and work experience that might be required or useful to have, and the general skills, interests, and qualities employers are looking for.
  • If you don’t know what you want to do longer term, take our career quiz to help you find careers that match your interests.

Do you need work experience?

Work experience is a great way to find out more about working life, decide on future careers or study options, and develop your employability skills. Although not all employers will expect you to have work experience, it can be an advantage when looking for work.

Work experience can take many forms, including part-time work, volunteering, work shadowing, and summer jobs.

If you have definite career plans, you may be able to find something that is directly relevant. Otherwise, you can gain a variety of 'employable' skills through any temporary opportunity. These can include:

  • fluency in verbal and written communication
  • numeracy
  • commercial awareness
  • analytical/lateral thinking
  • planning, organisation, and time management
  • flexibility and tolerance to change and pressure
  • creativity and self-awareness
  • teamwork, leadership, and skills of persuasion and negotiation
  • training and coaching skills

You may want to use work experience to build abilities that would look great on your CV.

Finding work experience opportunities may not always be easy. Your school, college, or course provider might have links with local businesses, or information on opportunities you can follow up yourself. Alternatively, you can search for current opportunities online, or simply contact local businesses directly.

Do your research

Once you’ve got an idea of the work you want to do, investigate how many vacancies there are and the salaries for jobs you’re looking for in your preferred location. Try to do this over a few months so you can get an idea of how competitive it can be to get the job you really want.

There are a variety of job sites both locally and nationally. Here are a few to get you started:

Find two or three vacancies for the kind of job you’re interested in, and consider these questions:

  1. How confident are you that you’re ready to commit to a particular job in this career area/sector?
  2. Find out about the employer – is this the type of company you want to work for?
  3. What are the three most and three least positive aspects of this job role?
  4. Have you achieved the required qualifications, subjects, and/or grades they are looking for?
  5. Can you find examples of how you meet the ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ skills and experience the employer is asking for? 
  6. What interests you most about working in this job role/sector?
  7. Why you want to work for this employer?
  8. Would it be useful to get some work experience before going into full-time employment?

Get advice

It’s important to discuss your ideas further with teachers, parents, and a careers adviser. You can also call the helpline number or visit the website for the region of the UK you live in:

  • England – National Careers Service – 0800 100 900
  • Wales – Careers Wales – 0800 028 4844
  • Scotland – My World of Work – 0800 917 8000
  • Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland Careers – 0300 200 7820