Whether you’re in your final year and applying for graduate jobs this year or whether you’re looking for work experience, you’ve probably noticed that it’s tough out there right now. But… there are jobs out there and not all of them attract 60+ applications. You’ll just need to canny and savvy about how you approach your job search, and you’ll also need to be flexible if you want to avoid ending up just chasing the same jobs (or internships) as everyone else. For many, it will mean being quite tough-skinned and persistent too – being prepared to weather a bit of rejection along the way, not taking it personally and taking a longer-term view when it comes to achieving your career goals.
Here are my 5 top tips:
- Use niche job sites. Don’t just rely on the big graduate job sites like Monster, Milkround, Reeds, Totaljobs and Prospects. On the one hand they’re really useful because they advertise hundreds of graduate jobs, but the flip side is that every graduate knows about these sites and hundreds of people apply for the jobs they advertise. Try regional and local job sites like TheJobsMine and sector-specific job sites like BrandRepublic, as well as organisations’ own websites. In some sectors (e.g. charities and the voluntary sector) organisations commonly post vacancies on their own website, so put together a list of organisations you’d like to work for and go straight to their sites.
- Use job search engines. You can do simple keyword+location searches in job search engines like Careerjet and Simplyhired and these sites will trawl job sites and organisations’ own websites for vacancies for you. They’re a great resource, especially if you don’t know where to look for jobs for your field or if you want to do something which is hard to categorise (where experimenting with keywords is useful!).
- Network your way in – softly softly. Don’t just rely on advertised opportunities. Approaches like ringing organisations you’re interested in working for and asking if they could spare half an hour for a chat about what their organisation does and their job role can be really effective. Be open minded about what this might lead to – it could be anything from a curt refusal to a great source of ‘insider intelligence’ on how to get into that sector, an offer of some work shadowing/experience or information about possible vacancies that might be coming up. See our Networking Guide for more tips on networking and writing speculative applications.
- Use LinkedIn. If you don’t know LinkedIn, it’s an excellent professional networking site, widely used in the UK, and next month I’ll write a post just on how to use it effectively as a student. It’s actually really useful even if you don’t have many contacts already, as you can join professional groups related sectors/types of work you’re interested in, ask questions and even contact people directly. A colleague at LSE Careers Service told me that one of her students managed to secure several offers of work experience purely by contacting people via LinkedIn. Check out the LinkedIn Grad Guide videos for advice on getting started using LinkedIn as a student or graduate.
- Come along to our recruiter events and graduate fairs. Lots of graduate recruiters come on campus and we have a huge programme of events in the first semester. It’s a great way to meet employers which will help you make your applications more targeted as well as demonstrate your motivation.
Of course, don’t neglect the obvious sources either! We advertise hundreds of vacancies on the careers website and both our main career sector web pages and our Manchester/NW sector pages have good links to companies and relevant job sites.