By Stephen Furlong, Careers Information Officer
Searching for your first graduate job can be stressful, but there are things you can do to make the process a little easier.
Find the right job sites
It helps to know where to look. Job sites like Indeed can be great because they list so many vacancies – but that can also be really frustrating, especially if you keep seeing roles that don’t seem relevant to what you’re searching for.
Indeed works by aggregating job listings from thousands of websites. There are benefits to sites like this: you might stumble across a vacancy you would have never found elsewhere, but if you’re finding Indeed a bit overwhelming, try searching job sites that specialise in the sector you want to go into. You’ll find fewer jobs on these sites, but they’ll probably be more relevant to you. You can find these sites by looking at our job sector pages or the job profile pages on Prospects (almost every job profile includes a list of relevant vacancy websites).
Use your search skills
Use your library skills when searching a job site. That means using different search terms to find all the vacancies relevant to you.
This is where LinkedIn can help.
Use it to browse profiles of people who work in organisations you’re interested in. You’ll probably find that their job titles are not what you expected, but it’ll give you some more search terms to use.
For example, if you’re interested in working in a research role for a charity, your job title could be charity researcher, but it could also be insight analyst, evaluator or social scientist.
Understand the job market
Knowing what’s going on in your job sector will help you with your search. You might hear people talking about this as labour market information. In your job search it will help you to know where the jobs are and what skills are in demand. For example, if you’re desperate to work in the biotech sector it will help to know that most companies are based in the ‘Golden triangle’ between Oxford, Cambridge and London, with comparatively fewer elsewhere in the UK.
Knowing how your sector is changing can help, too. Are certain skills or jobs in high demand? If you see many similar jobs advertised, that may indicate that there is a skills shortage in that area or that a recent development in the sector has created more demand for the role.
Aside from job sites, reading sector news and talking to people in the sector will help you understand what’s going on and how you can make the most of it.
Use the hidden job market
Many jobs are never advertised – as many as 60 or 70% in some sectors.
Why? It is costly and time consuming to advertise a job, so many organisations – especially small and medium sized ones – rarely advertise. Instead they rely on their networks to find the right people and on good candidates approaching them for work.
To unlock the hidden jobs market you need to do two things:
- Network – connect with people on LinkedIn, join and engage with professional associations and trade bodies (many have free membership for students and the unwaged), attend careers events and chat with employers, and reach out to organisations for job shadowing.
- Send speculative job applications – identify organisations you want to work for and put together an application that makes clear why they need you and why you want to work for them. Send off your application and – crucially – follow it up if you don’t hear back. Even if they can’t offer you a job you can still build your network.
We have a lot more information on our website about all aspects of your job search, including many things not mentioned here like recruitment agencies, understanding job adverts and looking for jobs abroad.
Use the job hunting toolkit if you’re not sure where to start or visit the drop-in between 11 and 1, Monday to Friday during term time.