Preparing for work

young people dressed for office work, walking down some steps

Need help writing your CV? Not sure what to say in an interview or unsure how to search for a job?

There is lots of support in Westminster and online to help you prepare for work.

1. CVs

Your CV is a list of your education, training and work. It also lists your skills and achievements. It's your opportunity to show an employer why they should invite you for an interview.

CVs should:

  • talk about the skills, experience and knowledge you have suitable to the job you are applying for – for example, if you are looking for a job in retail, it will list customer service skills like being helpful, polite and able to work in busy environments
  • be up-to-date with your most recent job, course, training and work experience
  • be relevant to the post you're applying for, with the most relevant experience a the top

This video, made by young people from Westminster, gives you some more useful tips about what to include in your CV:

For more CV tips and advice, visit the National Careers Service

2. Application forms and cover letters

Application forms are used by some employers instead of a CV, but they do a similar job in helping the employer understand your skills and experience. If you already have an up-to-date CV, it will help you to fill out applications forms quicker.

Save your application form - you can reuse parts of it in other job applications.

Cover letters are often required alongside your CV. They are an opportunity to introduce yourself and your skills in brief, saying why you would like to work with the company and why you would be the best fit for role.

Visit the National Careers Service website for more advice on application forms

3. Interviews

Interviews are your chance to dazzle the employer with your personality, skills and experience. It is also your chance to see if the employer and the role is right for you.

There are many different types of interviews such as:

  • telephone or Skype
  • group interviews or assessment days
  • 1 to 1 or panel interviews

You may also be asked to take a written or practical test.

Give yourself plenty of time to dress, eat and travel before your interview - and make sure you make time for any traffic jams or train delays. Don't turn up late - punctuality is something employers value. 

Interviews can be scary but with practice you'll be able to perfect your interview skills and improve your chances of getting the job you want.

It’s worth remembering that if you have applied for a job and been called for an interview, the employer already likes you 'on paper'. You just need to bring your story to life when you meet them.  

4. If you have a criminal record

You might be concerned about your chances when applying for jobs if you have a criminal record - some employers perform a background check. Visit Nacro for helpful advice.

This video is about a young woman on the verge of a new career who is worried about her criminal record.

This video was produced by young people from Westminster.

5. Managing money

Support locations

There are many places in Westminster where you can get advice and help with debt and managing money.

Online help

The Money Advice Service uses plain English to help everyone understand and manage their money better. You can answer some questions which will give you a personalised action plan to help you sort out your money priorities now and plan for the future – whatever your goals may be.

Take the Money Health Check

Benefits calculators are available via GOV.UK. They are free and anonymous, and will tell you what benefits you could get, how to claim and how your benefits will be affected if you start work.

6. Get employment advice

All of the local services below offer some form of help with getting young people into education, training or employment.

Cardinal Hume Centre

Offers many services including employment advice to young Westminster residents and homeless people.

City of Westminster College 

Offers free courses if you are 16 or over and claim Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA). If you don’t claim JSA or are over 19, please see the college website for more information.

Families and Communities Employment Service (FACES)

Offers free help with finding work for parents aged 16 and over, alongside a separate initiative for young people who are affected by gangs. View more information

The House of St Barnabas

Offers free employment support for over 18s who are homeless or have been affected by homelessness. Referrals are made by the Job Centre or key workers.

One Westminster - Youth VolEmploy

Offers free mentoring to 16-25 year olds who are unemployed.

  • address: One Westminster, 4 Sutherland Avenue, London W9 2HQ
  • phone: 020 7266 1992

Peabody Reconnect Service

Free, and for everyone over 16.

Vital Youth

Free, for young people aged 14 to 25.

Westminster Kingsway College

Free courses for people over 16 (depending on your circumstances).

  • address: Employability Hub, Regent's Park Centre, Longford Street, London NW1 3HB
  • phone: 0870 060 9800

Westminster Libraries

Most libraries offer some kind of job-seeker's advice, though sessions might not be regular. Contact your local library to find out what's on offer.

Working with Men

Free service for males aged 13 to 25 years of age who are not in education, employment or training, and live in Queens Park or Church Street wards of Westminster.

National Careers Service

You can also find information, advice and guidance to help you make decisions on learning, training and work at the National Careers Service.

7. Map of employment advice locations

Map key Location
1 Working with Men
2 Peabody Housing Employability Project
3 Cardinal Hume Centre
4 Charing Cross Library
5 Church Street Library
6 Church Street Neighbourhood Centre
7 City of Westminster College
8 Little Venice Sports Centre Library
9 Maida Vale Library
10 Marylebone Library
11 Mayfair Library
12 Working with Men - Amberley Youth Project
13 Paddington Library
14 Pimlico Library
15 Queen's Park Library
16 Westminster Kingsway College
17 St John's Wood Library
18 The House of St Barnabas
19 Vital Youth
20 Victoria Library
21 One Westminster Youth VolEmploy


Last updated 31 January 2019

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