The end of the school and college term is here, marking a life changing point for many of you - whether you're heading to uni this September or looking to start your career.
If you've just collected your A-Level results but haven't got a job lined up yet, don't panic.
It may seem like a daunting time, but there are some simple things you can do that will make you stand out to employers and help get your foot on the career ladder.
Not got LinkedIn? It's probably time to sign up. With over 20 million members in the UK using it, it's a great place to get noticed by employers and businesses where you want to work.
First impressions count - particularly online - so get your profile up to date and make it interesting for potential employers to read. Take a few minutes to fill in each section to boost your chances of being found by the right people and having the right jobs matched to you. Make sure you include a good professional photo - it makes your profile up to 21 times more likely to be viewed so it really does make a big difference.
Next, use the Summary section to clearly show recruiters and potential employers that you're looking for apprentice or entry-level job opportunities. Highlight a couple of your top achievements and, if you can, mention the type of job or career you're looking to get started in.
Demonstrate your skills
Now you've got your profile up and running, it's time to refine it. As well as listing your skills, consider what you've achieved and learned from your time at school and work experience - it's a lot more than you think when you break it down.
It really doesn't matter if you don't have any paid experience in your chosen field - few school leavers do - but make sure you include volunteering work, academic qualifications, skills and extracurricular activity (sport, music, certificates) to paint a picture of what you're like as a person and what you have to offer.
Think carefully about the language you use in your profile and in interviews, as overused words and phrases can turn-off employers. Anyone can call themselves 'creative', but what matters is actually demonstrating why you are. One way to do this is by uploading images, presentations or design portfolios from school work or hobbies to your profile or taking them along to job interviews - this will help bring your experience to life.
Use who you know
They say it's not what you know but who you know... and who they know! Make sure you connect with family, friends and any contacts from various walks of life online and offline. Crucially, this will make you visible to your contacts' connections too who could help do some of the job-hunting hard work for you. You could, for example, discover that your aunt's friend works at that very company you're interested in.
Meet a mentor
This may feel like an intimidating time, but you'll be surprised at how many people are willing to help if you know where to find them. Ask your friends and family to introduce you to someone with experience in an industry you might be interested in.
It's also easy to find the top companies in the industry you're looking to work in and the HR/recruitment contacts that work there. Be bold and get in touch to ask for some guidance - they might well have some great advice and tips to share even if there are no job openings.
Become an expert easily
You've just proven yourself as an expert in your school subjects, but you may not know a huge amount about the professional sectors you're considering a career in. Before you commit to pursuing something try tapping into LinkedIn's Groups and Company Pages to learn more about an industry you're interested in and the companies within it. This could be a big advantage when applying for a placement.
But remember, it doesn't happen overnight
It's important to be realistic. You probably won't build a huge network overnight or land the first job or apprenticeship you come across; but don't put undue pressure on yourself and take a "little and often" approach.
We found that as little as nine minutes a day spent making new connections or honing your professional profile is all it takes to make an impact.
Visit the LinkedIn Student site for lots of great guidance and advice for getting started on LinkedInSuggest a correction