I was interested to hear about professional services firm Deloitte's decision to introduce 'school and university blind' job applications. In a bid to prevent unconscious bias and tap into a more diverse talent pool, the company will consider next year's 1,500 candidates without seeing details of any of the educational institutions they attended.
It could be only a matter of time before other top companies follow suit.
This trend is likely to prompt a shift in emphasis away from the traditional curriculum vitae (CV), with employers focusing far less on where you studied, and much more on what you did while you were there. And many schools are already in a great position to be able to respond to this.
Here are five top tips from schools that will help you to ensure your child shines brightly - through any cloak of anonymity - to clinch the job or university place they are after.
1. Take a holistic view
We are entering an age where school leavers and graduates will need to change the way they shape their CVs and personal statements to showcase a rounded picture of themselves, alongside their academic results.
Encourage your child to think about the different attributes they possess that might make them a good fit for a particular role - this could be anything from organisational or leadership skills to qualities like empathy, tolerance and determination. It is these that will be key to helping them stand out from other applicants.
2. Make the most of the information already available
Check what information your child's school is already gathering about their achievements and character development. Some heads encourage teachers to put a range of information into the school computer system, such as details of children's achievements in the different co-curricular activities they participate in, be it as a member of the football team, student council or orchestra.
One school I visited recently awards merits to pupils for effort and success in sport, music and drama, as well as for classroom work, which are keyed into the system. Then, when a child reaches a certain number of merits, they receive a printed certificate, their parents are informed the same day by text or email and their achievement is recognised and celebrated in the forthcoming whole school assembly.
This kind of scheme can really encourage children to aim high. But it also ensures that a complete record exists of a child's time at the school, which they can take with them when they leave and include in their CV.
3. Think outside the box
When a child is putting an application together, they may need help understanding which bits of information about them will be most relevant and how to frame this, so that they can tailor their application carefully to the organisation they are approaching.
If a student played a lot of sport at school, for example, that might not, on first glance, seem relevant to an application for a business studies course. However, the fact that they organised an inter-house rugby tournament or spent their lunchtimes training younger students, highlights some key leadership or management skills.
The seven years your child spent learning the violin to successfully audition for the school orchestra does not simply show they mastered the instrument either. To an employer, this will indicate that they are capable of long-term commitment and have the determination to reach their goals. Succeeding in the school elections to become a lead mentor during anti-bullying week could be just the thing to help your child's CV stand out from the rest.
4. Find out how the school could help
Schools will often run maths refreshers courses for parents looking to support their child's learning from home. Why not ask whether the head could consider putting on a session for parents who would like to help their child create a CV? Teachers could explain what a well-rounded education looks like, making it easier for you to suggest activities and interests which are happening outside of school that will strengthen your child's job and college applications.
This could help you play your part in ensuring your child competes successfully in whatever they choose to do after they leave school. And such a session may also, of course, prove useful for many parents too!
5. Look at your child's school as a partner in their development
Your child will gain so much if you work more closely with their school to help them be the best they can be.
If you know your child tends to be quiet and thoughtful during discussions in school, encouraging them to join the local drama group might help them to come out of their shell. And if they are interested in fashion as a career, teachers could encourage them to get involved in producing costumes for the school play.
There will be many things going on both inside and outside school that might impress - the weekly visits your child makes to help grandparents carry their shopping, their involvement in helping out at a fundraising event or even the growth of their babysitting circle. They could be added to your child's school record and help enrich a job or university application.
In today's competitive world, both schools and parents have a part to play in developing all aspects of a child. And this partnership is becoming increasingly essential for helping children to shine brightly in whatever pathway they choose to follow in life.
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