Helen McNally, Career Adviser shares her thoughts on ‘How to find unadvertised jobs’
It’s final year and the pressure is on to find a job.
You’re looking on all the relevant graduate websites, checking the local and national press, attending careers fairs left, right and centre and registering with any recruitment agency that will take you.
But did you know that only around 40% of jobs ever get advertised in the first place? This means that you could be missing out on up to 60% of the jobs out there.
So how on earth do you track down jobs which don’t get advertised? By being proactive that’s how.
Don’t wait for your dream job to appear in the paper or online. Contact employers directly if you hear about possible opportunities. Instead of sending a CV to HR, try to find the name of the key contact in the department you wish to join and mark your speculative CV and cover letter for his/her attention. Make sure you research the employer thoroughly and tailor your letter accordingly each time – employers can spot a blanket approach from a mile off and won’t be impressed. Pick up a copy of our guide to CVs and Covering Letters next time you’re passing Careers & Employability to double check that your documents are up to scratch.
Tell everyone you know that you are looking for work – family, friends, neighbours, academic staff, previous work experience contacts… If they know of possible openings with their own employers, they may be able to provide you with inside information to help you make an effective speculative approach. Networking, including online networking via Facebook, can help you identify opportunities where you least expect them. Whilst you’re still at university, Careers Fairs are a great place to start networking with relevant employers. Do your research on the organisations attending so that you can make interesting, intelligent conversation with them. You may be lucky enough to be given a business card or two to follow up, and if nothing else, your applications to those employers will be stronger if you can say that you have already spoken to current employees about their work.
Social media is great for keeping up with the latest gossip but you should also be using it to enhance your job search. Twitter is a great source of vacancies. It’s easy to join and then you can start following employers in your field. You can even tweet the recruitment manager in your chosen organisation to ask about possible vacancies. Professional networking site LinkedIn has traditionally been more popular with graduates than students, but it’s definitely worth setting up an online profile with a professional headline eg ‘Joe Bloggs – Graduate Mechanical Engineer’. Use keywords to highlight your skills and experience. Some employers use LinkedIn to search for candidates so a strong profile will help them to find you. There are hundreds of professional networking groups on LinkedIn covering most career areas. Why not join the groups most relevant to your professional field and include in your introduction that you are looking for work. Other members may let you know about jobs within their organisations, and you’ll be able to contribute to discussions, ask questions, and possibly pick up useful leads regarding potential future opportunities.
The big advantage of being proactive in your job search is that most people don’t do it. The majority of students will spend 100% of their job search effort focusing on the open jobs market – ie the 40% of jobs which actually get advertised. The press regularly publishes figures about the number of applications per graduate vacancy – 52* at the last count – so whilst a proactive approach may seem like time consuming activity, investing the time and effort to track down unadvertised jobs is likely to pay off in the long run.
Best of luck!
For more information about job search strategies pick up a copy of The Smart Job Search next time you’re passing Careers & Employability at 50 Park Place or login to our online resource Career Central.
*The High Fliers survey of the 2012 graduate market (July 2012)