How to help your child stand out

Making the most of lockdown: Tips on what your child can do now to help them stand out from others in job, university, college, sixth form, training and internship applications.

It doesn’t matter if your child is applying for a job, an apprenticeship, a university or college place, training or an internship – the bottom line is always the same: they’re more likely to get the interview if their application stands out from others and they’ll get the place if they are likeable and impress their interviewer.

It’s personality that differentiates one person from another. Positive, proactive, committed, resilient individuals make good students and great employees – they’re quick to learn, quick to forgive and pleasant to be around. And that makes them attractive.

Preparation is key; nothing beats preparation in improving confidence. Here are our top five ways to help your children prepare for their future, while they’re at home.

Listening to a podcast

1. Listen to Ted talks

An absolute blessing if your child has a short attention span. Most Ted Talks are around 15 minutes long, covering diverse subject ranges from science to business to global issues and feature some of the most eloquent, thought-leaders of our times. It’s a great place for your child to develop their interests without a huge time commitment.

2. Enjoy some podcasts

Not every teenager loves to read, so Podcasts are a fabulous way to discover interesting themes and topics. The length of podcasts vary significantly from 15-20 minutes to feature length episodes; some are very long and split into series, others are broadcast regularly as complete episodes but an overarching theme linking them all together. Podcasts are a relatively new media and very popular with teenagers.

3. Stay up-to-date

It’s a good idea for your child to be able to demonstrate relevant general knowledge. They should keep an eye on the news to be aware of headline stories. During interviews, this can very often be “elevator talk” – i.e. something that is mentioned when someone meets them at reception to take them to the interview room. It may not be part of the interview, but it can have an influence. Not knowing anything about world events suggests a lack of interest, which may not be true but does not reflect well.

If they’re not sure about news articles or are struggling to get a balanced view, they could try reading opinion articles to see what other people are saying so they can develop their own thoughts on the matter.

4. Take an online course

If there’s something that really interests them, why not take a course? Choosing to study outside of the school curriculum, and taking assessments/exams to prove knowledge, is very impressive. It shows initiative, commitment, and an ability to follow through – all desirable qualities whether the next stage is further education or finding a job.

This doesn’t have to require massive commitment; some courses and modules are very short – others are longer. What’s on offer is vast, and lots of the courses are free during lockdown. This sort of activity will stand your child in good stead when asked by potential universities or employers how they used their extra time during lockdown.

Useful links:


With over 2,400 courses and 10 million learners, there really is something for everyone! You can learn by watching videos, listening to audio and reading articles. We particularly love the option to chat, follow and discuss ideas with other learners - a really great way to learn and consolidate information. Methods of assessment include quizzes, tests and assignments, although you will need to 'upgrade' and meet the course requirements for a certificate.

Harvard EdX

Established in 1636, Harvard is the oldest University in the United States. It offers a range of free online courses in a variety of subjects. Once you finish a course, there is an option to receive a verified certificate for a small fee.

Eton X

Eton College offer a range of courses designed to help young people develop the skills they need to succeed in the future, both at university and in the workplace. This includes courses designed to help young people improve their researching, writing, interviewing and public speaking skills. In response to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, Eton College is making some of its courses available free of charge to state school pupils in the UK.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)

With over 2,900 courses on offer, MOOC offer an impressive range of free online courses available for anyone to enrol.

Reading around the curriculum

5. Reading / audiobooks

Reading is a brilliant opportunity for your child to find out more about their curriculum subjects, favourite areas of interest, idols, topics they enjoy that are not covered at school and pretty much anything else on the planet – including fiction. If your child isn’t a great reader (either of hardcopy books or online) no matter – they can listen to audio books instead.

Whether they choose to read around their set texts, in subject they are not studying but interest them, fictional books, biographies or personal development books, they must be able to explain what they've discovered and say how it has had an impact on them. There is little point in mentioning they have read something in an application or interview if they have nothing to say about it. Your child is looking to demonstrate that they can read, digest and summarize information, establish an opinion and express themselves. These are all transferable skills that are vital in the workplace and very useful in further study. It doesn’t matter whether your child concludes that they liked the book or not – it’s how they say it that matters.

You can help your child get into the habit of explaining the WHY as well as the WHAT by regularly asking them about it.

For more information on how your child can stand out from the crowd, with sections on things they can do at home and what they can do outside the home once lockdown is lifted, you may be interested in The Parents’ Guide to helping your child stand out from the crowd 2020-2021

If you’re interested in regular updates about other ways you can help your teenage children, click here and join our online community.

And lastly, don't forget to download our FREE ONLINE GUIDE - coping with school closures (April edition).

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Wherever we refer to ‘parents’ we mean ‘parents and carers.’ This includes grandparents, older siblings or any other  person with significant caring responsibilities for children.

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