10 smarter ways to find a job

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By in Jobs & Careers. Updated August 2015.

Trying to find a job can be darn tricky – and even when you see something you’re into, applying is only half the battle.tryingtoffindajobBut trawling job websites aside, have you ever thought about how the way you find a vacancy and how you land an interview can play a part in you getting the job? Probably not.

One thing all employers love is initiative, which is fuelled by the other big-winning qualities: problem solving, creativity, self-motivation and commitment.

Times are hard

The competition for jobs in a recession is fierce and often disheartening, especially for students and graduates who tend to lack valuable experience. But it’s not all doom and gloom!

fingers crossedYou really need to think about your approach to finding a job. This is often overlooked by students who prefer to idly follow the masses in their search for student jobs by dropping impersonal CVs and covering letters at the most obvious high street retail stores and bars.

Hope is the only thing spurring many students on in their job search, and each letter of rejection tightens the crossed fingers. You need to be smarter! Remember the theory of ‘survival of the fittest’ in secondary school? Well, it applies to the job market too. Those who are willing to mutate (in approach!) will quickly reap the rewards.

This guide is a part of our Jobs & Careers section where you’ll find lots more advice. We even have a student job search!

Top 10 job finding tips

To get you thinking outside of the box, here are 10 unique ways that you have probably never thought of when looking for that elusive student or graduate job.

  1. Online Networking

    Get plugged into online business networking websites like LinkedIn.com. Join industry groups and build your social network to keep in the loop for the latest job offers. Making contacts with those already well established on the career ladder is a fantastic investment in your future.

  2. Talk to friends and family

    Staff referral is one of the most popular methods used for recruitment by employers, since it is cheap, easy and pretty reliable. Take advantage of this, and find out about vacancies before the competition do, by keeping in touch with anyone you know with a job in the area in which you hope to work.

  3. Local newspapers

    Skip the job listings and keep an eye out for articles about local companies expanding or investing in the area.

    A growing company will almost always be looking for new employees, so be sure to take the initiative and contact them directly regarding any vacancies which aren’t advertised yet.

  4. Executive job advertisements

    Spotting higher-end job offers can also be a good indication that a company has vacancies lower down in the business which may not be advertised. Again, take the initiative and contact them.

  5. Be direct and personal

    Visit or phone up the company you want to work for. Before even hinting that you’re seeking a job, ask to speak to the decision makers (eg. HR or the manager) to get past one of the greatest barriers to employment – the receptionist!

  6. Work for your university

    There are hundreds of part-time jobs on campus for students, including bar work, events work and giving guided tours to prospective students. With decent pay and hours (as well as usually being quite close to your bedroom), these jobs are gold dust, so you need to apply for them early.

  7. Go unpaid

    Offer to work unpaid for a company you want to work for in the future. Over a short period of time, you will pick up valuable skills, experience, and contacts relating directly to your preferred business and industry.

    Your employer will still need to invest time (and thus money) in you. Perform well and there’s a good chance that they will be tempted to keep you on in a paid and long-term position.

  8. Be career minded

    Beer money’s one thing, but work experience is something far greater. You need to think about that CV and your future career.

    When looking for any job, always try to get into the industry (or even company) you want to be working in 5 years down the line. There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, so don’t assume you need to settle for those mundane shelf-stacking jobs!

  9. Careers fairs

    Free Smarties are always nice, but don’t go to graduate fairs solely for the freebies. Careers fairs offer a unique opportunity to meet and talk directly to big-time employers and recruiters. Remember, they pay for their stalls and really value the opinions of degree students. Make the most of the opportunity to network and be informed about application processes and chances.

  10. Create your own job!

    The school and university system in the UK is highly career focused. Many students and graduates often feel discouraged from starting their own business due to risk or insecurity.

    Yet, at this time of economic downturn and hostile graduate job market, being your own boss may be one of your smartest moves. Of course, it depends on who you are and your greater ambitions, but if you’ve ever thought about it, give it a go!

    As a graduate I decided to expand some of my business ideas and that is how Save the Student came about. It’s exciting, adventurous and if you have the right idea and the self-motivation to work for yourself, it may turn out to be profitable.

    There are a growing number of organisations and websites designed specifically to help young entrepreneurs succeed at business. Check out Smarta and Shell LiveWire for excellent advice and support on starting up.

    If after the first year you decide it’s not for you, then that’s something valuable you’ve learned for life and (hopefully) you’ll have no regrets in having tried.

What about job websites?

Of course, you should keep up your assault on more traditional methods of finding a job; you never know where an opportunity might come from. The point of this article is to get you thinking deeper and wider in your job search.

And on this note, be aware of the fact that not all job sites offer the same opportunities for students. Employers know that you’ll cost less than a professional and are happy to compromise by offering flexible part-time work to fit around your university timetable.

There’s no harm in registering yourself on sites like Save the Graduate (no bias, honest), which can prove to be a great resource. Another useful website for graduates and internships is Wexo.co.uk, which will match you up to a work placement or job. For more information, check out our other article on student job websites.

What about agency work?

You may be tempted into temping for a recruitment agency. It’s not always a bad choice. Indeed, recruitment agencies regularly and actively search for work on your behalf. Therefore, as an agency temp, you’re very likely to find a job much more quickly than if you were simply searching by yourself. However, while there are often big positives, do be wary. Agency work for students tends to be poorly paid, boring and (depending on the job) lacks long-term security and prospects.

Also, try to stay away from unregulated websites like Gumtree, which often list a host of misleading and sometimes dangerous job ‘opportunities’ (especially for girls). Some people do land an OK job, but just always be on your guard against scams and remember that your safety is priceless. If it sounds too good to be true…

Leave a comment

4 Responses to “10 smarter ways to find a job”

  1. Ununanimous

    14. Sep, 2013

    Thanks for helping

  2. Janny

    28. Jan, 2013

    Good post!

  3. jacob

    28. Feb, 2012

    These are some great tips on how to get a job. Online job hunting should only be done once or twice a week as it never seems to change that much so don’t waste too much time checking it. Someone i know just sent some CV’s out to places he wouldn’t mind working and within a week he has a job now!

    This comment is awaiting moderation.

  4. Amanda Horner

    06. Apr, 2011

    This is an impressive article, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing an analysis on this subject. And he bought me breakfast as a result of my discovery :). So I have to say thank you! Massive thumb up for this blog post!

    This comment is awaiting moderation.


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