Traditional ways of job searching include online vacancy sites, recruitment agencies, visiting the Job Centre, advertisements on LinkedIn and word of mouth. But what if you’re interested in a sector where it’s challenging to find vacancies?
You’ll need to be more creative with your job search. We have six steps that will help you get started and resources for you to delve even deeper.
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 practice. Networking is a skill you can master over time.
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 social media channels including LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. You can write insightful comments on posts, or re-tweet information to try to get noticed by smaller companies.
Set up a LinkedIn profile to make contacts within your area of interest and with Surrey alumni from your subject area or who work in your field. You can also 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. It is 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 from your Surrey Careers Consultant.
4) Create opportunities to grow your network
You could ask for an ‘information interview’ from a professional working in your field of interest. Information interviews are informal meetings 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 they will remember you positively. There may be future vacancies you could be suitable for.
Join SurreyConnects to meet Surrey alumni working in your area of interest. The alumni that have signed up to the platform are keen to help Surrey students and recent graduates start their careers.
Attend careers events, talk to people at careers fairs and departmental sessions. Show an interest in what they do and ask questions.
5) Find specialist recruitment agencies
There may be specialist recruitment agencies for your area of interest. Using an agency is a good addition to your job hunt strategy as they may have access to roles that you don’t find with your own search. But they shouldn’t be used as your only job-seeking strategy.
6) 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 book an appointment with your Careers Consultant.
Resources to help you with finding jobs that aren’t advertised
- Students can book an appointment via MySurrey. Recent graduates can book appointments via their Surrey Pathfinder graduate account. Graduates can create their graduate account here and find graduate support here.
- Read more about creative job seeking here: Job Seeking: The Hidden Job Market.
- Find out more about using LinkedIn: https://careers.surrey.ac.uk/guide-linkedin
- Get tips for finding a good agency in our Recruitment Agencies leaflet
- Tips for Information Interviews.