Five top tips for creative job seeking

We are all familiar with the traditional ways to job search: online vacancy sites, newspapers, recruitment agencies, visiting the Job Centre and word of mouth. But what if you’re interested in a sector where it’s challenging to find vacancies and some jobs are never even advertised? This requires a broader job search and thinking outside of the box. We refer to this as creative job seeking.

Here are five Top Tips to help you:

1) Build your network

Networking is ‘the art of people getting to know you’ and can greatly improve your career direction and prospects. Your personal network includes your family, friends, peers and colleagues. If you have a clear career goal, make sure you share your ideas with your network. You never know what contacts they may have! You can also actively expand your network by talking to tutors, professionals and anyone working in the field. Don’t worry if you’re not a natural networker – you will improve with time. Networking is a skill you can master throughout your career.

2) Use social media

Many jobs are now advertised via social media channels, so it’s important to establish and maintain a social media presence. You can follow companies you’re interested in on Facebook and Twitter. You can re-tweet information to try and get noticed by smaller companies. Set up a LinkedIn profile to make contacts within your area of interest.* You can join discussion forums and ask for advice (just don’t ask for a job outright as this will put people off!). Connections and opportunities can be found on social media so don’t miss out.

3) Make speculative approaches

A speculative approach involves contacting a company/organisation even when they are not advertising vacancies. This is a way of informing them of your interest and perhaps catching an unadvertised opportunity. Your style of approach may depend on the company – you could send in a CV and covering letter. It might be worth contacting them first via phone or email and asking whether you can send in your CV; this way you can ask for a named person who should take responsibility for responding to you. It might be worth checking in with companies you are really interested in on a regular basis, perhaps once every six months. Use your judgement to decide what’s appropriate, or ask for advice.

4) Create opportunities

Try to create opportunities to meet professionals and grow your network. You could ask for an ‘information interview’ for example. This is a short, informal meeting where you talk to a professional about their role and the company they work for. Even though it’s informal, try to make a good impression so that they will remember you positively. There may be future vacancies you could be suitable for. Attend careers events to meet a range of professionals – talk to people at careers fairs and departmental sessions. Show an interest in what they do and ask questions.

5) Know your sector

If you know which career area you are aiming for, make sure you’re up to speed with what’s happening in the field. Read the relevant literature/online materials; perhaps there are sector magazines or associations you should become familiar with. If possible, attend relevant conferences or events that showcase the sector. Not only will you meet people and improve your networking skills, you’ll also enhance your sector knowledge which will always impress at a job interview or informal meeting. Broadening your knowledge will help you to find out how other people secured their job roles, and how they’ve progressed in their careers.

Creative job seeking can seem like hard work and may be frustrating at times, but perseverance will pay off and has led to success for many job seekers! For any further advice about how to tackle your job search please visit us at the ECC. You can also read more about creative job seeking in our leaflet: Job Seeking: The Hidden Job Market.

*We run LinkedIn workshops to help you, please look out for these on Surrey Pathfinder.

Further networking tips