A school leaver’s guide to navigating the job world

Are you finishing school or have you recently graduated? The road to completing your high school years is a different journey for everyone. For some, deciding on a career map is an easy choice, but for others, the decision can seem overwhelming. Whether you already know what you want to do or if you are waiting for Google maps to guide you, we have put together a school leaver’s guide to help.


HOW TO choose a career destination:

Girl sitting on chair

PASSION is your driving force

When deciding what job or career path to pursue, it helps to stop and think about what you enjoy doing. Ask yourself, what are you good at and what makes you happy? The answers to these questions can be a good starting point for thinking about what your long-term career path could be.

Use the resources around you

In the lead up to finishing school or commencing further studies, talk to someone in the field you are interested in. Sometimes perceptions of what a job *looks like* compared to the day-to-day function can be very different. Talk with your teachers, guidance officer, parent or guardian, or someone else you know to get more information.

Get firsthand insight

Have you considered the value of volunteering your time? It helps to get firsthand insight, practical experience and even get your foot in the job door. Volunteering is a great way to get job experience and have something meaningful to put on your resume. If you are pursuing a career that requires tertiary study then volunteering, graduate programs and even internships can be a great way to get practical on-the-job experience. It pays to think about this early and not in your final months of study.

If it doubt, consider a gap year

If the idea of studying or undertaking an apprenticeship/traineeship straight away doesn’t appeal to you, consider taking a gap year. Practical, firsthand job experience can be a great way to help you make informed career decisions while earning a wage.

Remember, you can always change your destination

Although the decisions you make now will have an impact on your career journey, it’s important to remember that you can change your destination later. Move forward with a flexible and adaptable mindset. If you change your mind later, there is always an opportunity to use or leverage the job experience and qualifications you have accrued, to take a side-step into something different. The choices you make now, don’t have to be set in concrete or be *forever* decisions.


HOW TO put together a resume:

Girl typing on laptop

Whether you’re looking for a casual job or something more permanent, having a resume that tells potential employers who you are and why they should hire you is important.

Tick the essential boxes

  • If you have limited job experience, focus on your education, volunteer experience and extracurricular activities. Highlight any awards, leadership experience (e.g. student council, sports house captain, school captain) and achievements.
  • Highlight your practical skills. For example computer skills, software you can use and cash handling experience.
  • Include any qualifications. For example first aid, certificates you have completed, high school certificate.
  • Include contact information for two or three referees. Make sure you ask these people first and consider people you have a good relationship with and can provide a good recommendation. For example, if you are or have been in a sporting team, your coach might be able to say you are reliable, demonstrate commitment and work well in a team.
  • Make sure you clearly explain what you are looking for in a role and why you think you would be a good fit for the job you are applying for. This can be articulated in a cover letter and you can find free templates in Microsoft Word.

Make it look good

  • Use Microsoft Word or an online program like, Canva for examples of how to set out a resume and what headings to use. Alternatively, you can approach a professional service (like us at Classic) to write it for you.


HOW TO nail an interview:

Girl on computerWhen you land a job interview it can be difficult to know how to prepare, what to wear and how to act.

Do your homework

  • Invest time into finding out more about the business before your interview. Find out things like what they do, the area they service, how long they have been established and other key details. Visit their website and social media platforms.
  • Prepare for common questions you might be asked. For example, why do you want the job, why are you interested in working for their business, why should they hire you, describe your ability to work as part of a team and explain a time where you have solved a problem. Where appropriate, give practical examples.
  • Before the interview, ask if there is anything you need to bring with you.

Put your best foot forward

  • Dress appropriately, thinking about the role and the business. For most jobs, business casual will be suitable. Make sure your hair is neat and tidy, and avoid wearing excess jewellery, makeup or cologne/perfume.
  • Make sure you are on time by planning to arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Turn your phone off or on silent.
  • Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and take note of their name. Look them in the eye and give them a warm smile.
  • At the end of the interview, make sure you ask any questions you have.


Starting out in the job world is rarely easy and getting your foot into any door can seem like a challenge. Remember, landing a job takes time and patience (it rarely falls into your lap). If something doesn’t go the way you want it to, there is always something else around the corner.

Make sure you use the resources and people around you. Talk with your teachers, parent/guardian and other people you know and trust to gain insight and advice. You can also turn to professional recruitment services for help, like our team here at Classic.

Wherever your journey starts, remember to believe in yourself, think carefully and don’t rush into things without thoughtful consideration. The road ahead will be filled with excitement, challenges and opportunities to learn – enjoy the experience ahead and be prepared to step outside your comfort zone!