Finding the hidden job market

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Many graduate opportunities are advertised through a variety of channels so if you are looking for these make sure you are registered on key websites such as the Careers Service vacancy database, Prospects, Target and others related  to your profession. Make sure you are setting the right preferences for what you want and remember you may need to update these from time to time.

However going through these sources isn’t the only way of getting employed by a company, you can approach companies in a number of ways. Initial  contact can be made at events and ‘on line’ via social networking sites. You can also contact them direct with a CV and cover letter asking them for work experience and possible employment.

One way to meet employers face to face is at a careers fair. We hold our annual fair in November jointly with the university of Sussex and there are others organised by other universities and professional  bodies throughout the year including large national ones at the end of the academic year in June in major cities.

Keep an eye on the social media channels where we publicise them.

Just a  few words of advice …too often we hear the cry of students at fairs that ‘There is nothing here for me’.  Whilst as a service we strive to get a good cross section of companies at the fair it isn’t always possible to fit in everyone.

  • Don’t give up at the first challenge. Be imaginative and strategic, research companies before attending a fair and think who might offer possible opportunities for you.
  • Don’t  dismiss a company if it’s main function is in an area not directly related to your degree and/or career interest. Larger companies  will often have support functions such as HR , finance and marketing/communications so if those careers are of interest ask large companies to give you more information.
  • If you have tried large events and what you want isn’t covered and there is really no one of interest then other specialist events might be better for you.

The university Careers Service together with individual schools organise events so look out for these and prepare some questions beforehand. Also look out for external networking events related to the industry you want to enter. Are you a student member of a professional body that holds such events?

So you now have some contacts.

From these events we then move onto ‘on line’ networking which is a great way of building up any existing contacts, finding new ones, and finding out what goes on in an industry before approaching employers. There are loads of reasons to start this level of engagement with companies and there is a great guide on the careers website you start to build a presence on LinkedIn.

A good ‘on line’ presence is required by some industries especially media and marketing but it is becoming commonplace for most employers to use this kind of interaction.  Some companies won’t look at anyone who hasn’t got an on line presence.

A common response by students to the question are you on LinkedIn is ‘Yes I created a profile but I haven’t  done anything with it’.

So once you have started it’s important to keep up the momentum. The link above will help with this.

Communication  is a two way process with students and graduates also being contacted by companies about opportunities . Some websites help this process in a more formal way,  the website advertising jobs for STEM students  and graduates, GRADCRACKER, for example enables you to upload your CV to their website.

You can locate companies via LinkedIn and Twitter  but also via yellow pages, good old ‘Google’ search or via countyweb.

From there you can find out more and assess if they would be the kind of company you would like to work for.  If companies that interest you are not advertising any vacancies, then you can contact them via what we call a speculative application i.e. send a CV and a covering letter direct to them. These documents should be tailored, state why ou are contacting them and be very much aimed at the company you are applying to.

What skills for example have you got that they would be interested in ? What do they do that you would enjoy working on?

Make that connection between you and them by highlighting your key skills or the potential you have to develop these further.

It is a gamble as it may not lead to anything but your message might just land in someone’s inbox the day they are short staffed and thinking of advertising for new staff. Or they may just like the look of your CV and invite you in anyway. ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’ as the saying goes.

There are obviously some caveats here as well for your own safety. Always use your judgment and ask for advice if you are unsure.

If you are approaching companies be wary about businesses  that are sole traders or just employ a few people at a residential address.

If they are offering a high salary then be cautious, there is the old adage ‘If something looks too good to be true then it probably is’.  Similarly if you are just earning commission, think about how that would be paid and what would happen if you didn’t reach the target needed to get paid.

Our advice would be not to do any unpaid work experience, if you going to do any period of work experience agree in advance how long this will be for and how much you will be paid.  If you are not working with any form of written formal contract then if you get offered a permanent job in the meantime you can leave, although it is courteous to give as much notice as you possibly can.

You can research  any company via Companies  House to find out more about them and also via websites such Glass Door If in doubt or have any questions always come and talk to the staff at  the Careers Service.

Creative Commons LicenseMark Gunn via Compfight


careersemployabilityemployabillity skillsemployersemploymentengineeringeventsgraduatejobsnetworkingrecruitmentSTEMtechnology

Pamela Coppola • 13/02/2018

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