As the economy shows welcome signs of recovery, Government and businesses are waking up to the fact that digital is a key driving force behind this growth. But, in order to make the most of the digital opportunity, there must be people with the right skills and experience at the heart of our workforce.
At O2, we recently commissioned a piece of research which revealed that 745,000 extra digitally-skilled workers are needed by 2017 in order to fuel the future digital economy. Of these jobs, a fifth are ideally suited for under-25s. That's because, as the first generation to have grown up with the internet, you have the natural ability to capitalise on this digital potential and turn it into something real and meaningful.
As an employer of almost 1,500 under-25s, we see the genuine value that young people bring to our organisation every day and we know that you, for whom everyday technology is second nature, will form the future of our business. And we're not the only ones; many other British businesses are also on the look-out for the brightest young recruits.
But the fact remains that before you can start using your digital know-how to make a difference, you've got to land that all-important job in the first place. So, how exactly do you show off your digital skills when applying for a job? Here's my advice for how you can use each stages of the application to demonstrate the real value you could bring:
• Demonstrate your digital know-how. Use your CV to sell yourself through the lens of digital, drawing on your own experiences to illustrate your skills. Employers won't expect you to have invented Twitter 2.0, but there are plenty of ways you show digital expertise in your daily life. Have you helped arrange a school event and publicised it on Facebook or Twitter? Ever blogged about something you love? Do you document every minute of your holiday on Instagram? These digital skills that you often take for granted are assets that many employees simply don't have - so don't ignore them; signpost them throughout your CV and show how you'd use those skills in the role.
• Don't just tell us, show us. Your CV can stand out in various ways - not just from what you write on it. Adding a digital aspect to your application, whether that's a blogpost or a Vine video, can leave a lasting impression.
• Do your homework. It goes without saying that you should research the company you're applying to before an interview, but don't forget to have a good look at their digital channels too. What does the website look like? What tone do they use on social media? How many Twitter followers do they have? Not only will this give you a good understanding of how they work and communicate with their customers, you may also have suggestions of how to take these channels further. Perhaps their website isn't properly optimised for mobile or tablet? Maybe they're not following the right people on Twitter? Is there a Facebook competition you'd like to run to generate conversation or uptake of a product? Making intelligent suggestions shows that you'd hit the ground running, making their business better from Day One.
And don't forget, no employer will expect you to be an expert at this stage of your career, it's all about showing them your potential.