25 May 2022

GUIDE: 5 ways to get ahead at work in 2022 without traditional connections

GUIDE: 5 ways to get ahead at work in 2022 without traditional connections

GUIDE: 5 ways to get ahead at work in 2022 without traditional connections

Starting a career on the bottom rung of the ladder can be daunting, and even more so if you haven't grown up with connections and strong supports. 

But there are ways to progress in your field even if you don't have the same access as those who come from powerful and/or wealthy families. 

Only half of people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds starting their first job in the past two years are confident about eventually being able to do the job they want, according to recent research published by Total Jobs and the Social Mobility Foundation. 

This is in contrast to seven in 10 (71%) of those from more privileged backgrounds who feel this way.

The study indicated that not only do those from more privileged backgrounds tend to earn more in their first job – but they are also likely to have been able to carry out unpaid work experience, had help from family or friends in securing a job, and received financial support while looking for work. 

Jobs expert at Totaljobs, Stephen Warnham, says: “The adage of: ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,’ continues to sadly ring true for many – as only a third of people from lower socioeconomic groups have received help from family or friends in securing a job.”

He explains: “A person’s socioeconomic background has a tremendous impact on the opportunities they have in their lifetime – whether it’s their access to education, employment, or their salary potential.”

Employers can do their bit, through targeted work experience programmes, financial support, or support in building a career network, he says.

By putting their hiring strategies under the spotlight, employers “can not only begin to remedy some of the inequality we see in employment, but reach a larger, more diverse pool of talent to hire from”, Warnham adds.

Here are 5 tips for helping job candidates remove obstacles, and boost their ability to move into their chosen career:  

1. Apply for jobs valuing transferable skills over ‘set’ qualifications

“Increasingly, we’re seeing employers looking for transferable skills over set qualifications, and we’re encouraging more businesses to do the same, in the hope that a broader range of jobs will become accessible for people of all educational backgrounds,” Warnham says.

“When looking for a job, remember no one is a perfect candidate; if you don’t meet all the requirements of a role, apply anyway and focus on the value of your transferable skills, such as organisation or communication, in your application.” 

2. Learn while you earn

“Training is often available as part of the onboarding process in a new job, to equip you with the essential skills you need,” says Warnham.

“But many employers are going beyond basic training, and are providing new starters with the opportunity to upskill or gain a qualification.”

He suggests looking for jobs that are part of an apprenticeship scheme – “which mean you can learn while you earn”.

Warnham adds: “From an employer perspective, it’s important apprenticeship programmes are given equal weighting to graduate progression routes, to make this a key step in reducing employment inequalities.”

3. Know your worth in the jobs market

Warnham says: “It can be tempting to fall into a trap of believing that if you have no prior experience, you’re not entitled to receive pay for your work as the opportunity is doing you a favour.” 

4. Consider how remote or flexible working could work for you

Many workers will never return to the office full-time, as the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated flexible and home working trends.

“Depending on your situation or preference, it can benefit you in several ways,” Warnham explains.

“Remote working can help you save money and potentially provide better access to secure work in the future, as this type of work can help bring a broader range of job opportunities to different areas [sic]. 

“While technical equipment like a laptop is typically provided so you can perform your role, some employers are also actively supporting people during the application process, such as by providing tablets for video interviews, or providing the ability to hotspot if local internet connection isn’t reliable.”

5. Create your own network

Social media has opened up huge opportunities to make professional connections with people you might not otherwise have met.

Warnham says: “While it may take time, building your own network from the ground up can have real value in the long run, especially if you’re at the early stages of your career.

“Connect with industry professionals on professional social media platforms, making it clear why you want to connect with them and building rapport. 

“Using online platforms to reach out to those already in the industry for advice and building genuine connections is a great way of showcasing your proactiveness.”

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