09/04/2014 09:27 BST | Updated 09/06/2014 06:59 BST

How to Make Your Mark - and That All-Important First Impression

The outlook for young people looking to take that first step into work is definitely looking brighter. Youth unemployment is declining, the Chancellor promised to double the number of apprenticeships in last month's Budget and all over the country there's a growing excitement around the digital economy - and the vital role young people will play in it.

For a long time, the focus has been on how to get your foot on the career ladder and make the transition from education to the workplace. But now employers are increasingly realising that you hold the key to unlocking the digital potential of their business and they're looking to bring you on board.

The question is then, once you've got the job, how can you use your digital skills to your advantage and make an impact right from the start?

First impressions count

First impressions are exactly that. Formed within seven seconds of meeting someone, they are made almost instantly and, fair or not, are hard to shake. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to nail that first impression by doing your homework on the person you're about to meet. Think about how you can use social networks like LinkedIn to give you the inside track - it'll make you feel more prepared and ultimately more confident when you have that all important first meeting.

Highlight your digital potential

When we recruit young people at O2, we're not looking for ready-made experts, but people with the raw digital talent and enthusiasm we need to work in the world of tech. While you may not have as much practical experience as others within the business, you'll bring a fresh new perspective and understanding of new technologies that can be foreign to other people - you just need to showcase your potential to others. Whether that's thinking about how technology could be used to speed up an existing process or using social media to interact with customers in a different way, don't be afraid to speak up and show what you can do.

Learn from those in the know

When you start a new job, you'll meet so many new people it can be difficult to remember who's who. But some of these people could be vital to the next stage of your career. Treat every opportunity as a networking opportunity. Ask lots of questions (within reason...) be interested in what they've got to say, and crucially - follow up! This could be a case of adding them on LinkedIn or even just following up on email to make sure you've made a lasting impression. A word of warning though - people don't generally want to be bombarded with requests on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter after a five-minute meeting, so pick your approach carefully.

Think about the little things

Perhaps for the first time, how you're perceived matters. This doesn't mean you shouldn't be yourself - far from it - but it's important not to neglect the little things. If you work in an office, how you dress and behave in meetings will have an impact on people's perception of you. Equally, with more and more people working remotely or from different locations, the way you conduct yourself on email or via digital channels is often the main interaction someone has with you - so make every opportunity count.

Throughout your first few weeks, it's important to remember that you were hired for a reason. In this increasingly competitive market, you should feel confident that your employer will be excited to have you on the team. But the job offer is just the start of a great career. By using your digital skills to your advantage, you can make sure you're given the chance to go far in the company that you worked so hard to join.