To the inexperienced, searching for career information on the internet is a bit like throwing a bunch of sticks up in the air and seeing where they land. In a worst-case scenario, using a search engine to research jobs and careers could result in an individual inadvertently making decisions based on old facts and figures, drawing advice from a different nation’s perspective or picking up a skewed version of events.
To guide students to an organised, carefully chosen collection of websites means that they’re starting from a good position. So if you’re wanting to set up a virtual careers library but don’t know where to begin, here are a few starting points.
- Get organised
A list of websites without organisation or explanation makes meaningful browsing or research difficult -the last thing you want to do is switch someone off before they’ve really got stuck in. Make a start by coming up with a few categories that will organise your chosen links in a way that guides them to the information that can best help them at the age or stage they’re currently at. You could organise by year group or topic – I’ve listed some suggestions here.
- What to include?
Once you have your categories you can select the resources you want to signpost to – some links may fit into more than one category. The biggie here is to prioritise quality over quantity, so choose websites produced by organisations with credentials; in other words, those which aim to be impartial. It’s surprising how many careers websites profess to be ‘leading’ but have been set up by individuals wanting to give advice based on their own experiences. Check for currency and stereotypes and good promotion of diversity.
Also aim to choose a variety of resources that cater for different needs – video case studies, infographics, interactive games… there’s plenty of good stuff out there to choose from! (you could start here)
This is the point where you’ll probably have to call on school IT support to put into action the results of your preparation so far. As you start to create your virtual library on your website or extranet think about how graphics might help to ‘lift’ the content. Just a few relevant photos or images can make it look all the more appealing. Use websites such as www.pixabay.com for ‘free from copyright’ images.
- Plan to maintain
Websites change more frequently than you might think so just as you’d set up a maintenance routine for your paper-based resources, set up a reminder to check your online collection every so often for broken links or to add new ones.
- Spread the word!
You’ve now set up your virtual careers library and are well on your way to helping your students access a wealth of quality careers information which will help to inspire and motivate them to be successful in their future careers. Just don’t forget to tell them about it!
Promote this excellent resource in your school newsletter, signpost to it through posters around the school, make sure subject teachers know it’s there (and roughly what’s in it) and use events such as parents’ evenings to highlight its value. Getting it used regularly is what you’re aiming for, so make sure you spread the word.