It's that time of year again when millions of young people up and down the country finish their summer exams at school, college or university and look ahead to the world of work. Yet with ever increasing competition for opportunities, it's understandable that many are feeling daunted about their future and how to get that all important first foot on the career ladder.
However, I believe that the digital world represents real opportunity for young people. Young job seekers have skills that large swathes of other workers don't. They are the first generation to have grown up with the internet and have in abundance the digital skills that many employers need. The blogger, the social media manager, the app developer - these three buzz jobs didn't exist 10 years ago.
We recently carried out research which identified that a third of young people are confident in at least one digital skill valued by employers, including web design, coding and social media expertise. With UK businesses expecting a fifth of their growth over the next three years to come through digital channels, now is the time for young people to showcase their digital skills to prospective employers.
With nearly 25 per cent of our workforce under the age of 25, I'm privileged to see first-hand the benefits that young people bring to our business. Like many other companies, we receive thousands of applications each year, so making yourself stand out from the crowd can be really important. Here are my key pieces of advice on how to bring your digital skills to life and make them shine in front of potential employers:
1. Make yourself visible - I always remember reading about one web-smart advertising executive who got his dream job by buying Google AdWords next to the names of the firms he wanted to work with. While I'm not suggesting that you need to buy adverts to get yourself a job, it's important to think about different ways to make yourself visible online. Whether it's keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date; networking online with relevant groups through Facebook, or blogging about the issues or trends you see affecting the industry, it all helps to bring your experience and skills to the attention of would-be employers.
2. Digitise your CV - Be imaginative and think of ways to present your CV differently to showcase your digital skills: whether it's hosting a webpage; using Pinterest to visualise your skills, achievements and interests or creating an animated version and hosting it on YouTube, having this as well as your paper CV will help to show off your creativity and illustrate what you can do with your digital skills.
3. Apply your digital skills to the business - Consider how your digital skills and experience can make a difference to the business you are applying to. Perhaps you think that their Facebook site needs freshening up or they're missing a trick by not using LinkedIn or Twitter. Demonstrating the business need for your skills and experience will demonstrate why you'd be valuable to the organisation as well as showing a business-minded individual in the process.
4. Prove your digital prowess - As well as highlighting your digital skills on your CV, give examples of when you've used these skills in practice. If you don't have examples already, getting some work experience will help. It could be anything from offering to set up a website for a local interest group, to volunteering to help a local charity organise an event through social media. It all counts and proves the value of your digital skills.
5. Map your digital skills to the job - Employers receive thousands of applications each year. Make it easy for a recruiter to put you through to the next stage by thinking about how your digital skills and experience can be positioned to match those required in the job description.
There are many routes into the workplace, whether it's an apprenticeship, internship or short-term work experience placement. We're working hard to provide a range of opportunities for young people to harness and build on their digital skills. For example, Europe's biggest tech festival, Campus Party will be hosted by Telefonica at The O2 on 2- 7 September, to inspire a generation of young people and help create new pathways into digital careers.
Now is the time for young people to capitalise on the fact that they have grown up in a digital world and show employers that they should no longer be excluding from the workplace the very people who have the skills needed to help us pull the economy out of recession.
For more information visit O2.co.uk/careers