Which organisations should I apply to? Drawing up a shortlist

If you’re just finishing your 2nd year, your thoughts are probably on exams and then the nice, big summer break rather than job applications for next year. But September will come around quickly and you might find you don’t have much time to think about job hunting in October, so it pays to do some preparation in advance. So apart from getting some valuable work experience, what else can you do over the summer to give you a head start?

One of the most bewildering things for many students I speak to is the sheer volume of companies, sectors, job roles, grad schemes out there. How do you identify and research organisations in the sector you want to work in which will be the right fit for you? Applications for grad schemes often open over the summer or in September the year before the job starts (i.e. summer 2011 for a September 2012 start!) and these can fill up quickly, so it pays to have a list of organisations you want to target so you are all organised come September.

Here are just a few quick suggestions:

  • Use online business directories like www.yell.com and www.kellysearch.co.uk searching by sector and location.
  • Search online lists of graduate employers on sites like Prospects, TargetJobs and Inside Careers. And look out for the paper-based directories (free to pick up) that are available from the Careers Service from September.
  • Do an advanced company search on LinkedIn – see my recent post for more info.
  • When you’ve identified a list of companies you think you might be interested in, research these in more depth by spending a bit of time on the individual organisations’  websites. The big graduate recruiters will normally have dedicated graduate recruitment websites where you’ll often find features like videos with recent graduate recruits and profiles to look at as well as the standard recruitment information. But even if you are targeting smaller organisations, you’ll often still get lots of useful information from their website.

Check out my post about ‘Finding the right employer’ which talked about the importance of getting the right cultural fit with an organisation as well as finding the right role.

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