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8 ways savvy jobseekers look for work
Digital technology has completely revolutionised the way we find work. Smart apps let us bash off a job application on the bus. Email alerts send us the latest vacancies without us having to lift a finger. It’s a far cry from the days of scouring the classifieds with a magnifying glass. But the Internet is not the only show in town. Here’s a run-down of all the bases that any keen jobseeker would do well to have covered.
1. Online job sites
Job ads are still the single biggest source of employment opportunities and the most obvious place to start your job search. Online is the first place to look. The Internet is the go-to tool for recruiters, because it is by far the quickest and cheapest way to reach the widest audience possible. Visit a bunch of sites recommended by colleagues, friends or your search engine of choice, to see which ones work for you. Don't necessarily limit yourself just to the biggest and best-known though. There are sure to be smaller niche job sites focused on your geographical area and employment sector that will list vacancies relevant to you.
And don’t forget to check directly on the websites of any employers you are particularly interested in.
2. Recruitment agencies
Limit your search to job sites and you may be missing out on many jobs which only get filled through recruitment agencies. Getting on the books of a decent agency could land you the job you’re looking for, and it won’t cost you a penny. It also frees up your precious time to pursue other leads and avenues. Make sure you approach agencies that specialise in your industry and cater to your level of work.
If you’ve not used one before, a basic understanding of how recruitment agencies work and who they work for (i.e. not you!) will stand you in good stead. See our Recruitment Agencies advice section for more details.
3. Professional networking sites
As well as using professional networking platforms to advertise jobs, many recruiters will also search them for suitable candidates to fill their vacancies. Your job is to make sure you come up in their results. It’s vital that what they find shows you at your professional best – that means a profile that is up-to-date, erudite and error-free. Here’s how to present yourself at your most employable.
4. Social media and discussion forums
Before we ‘take this offline’, it’s worth mentioning that discussion forums and social media can also be good places to connect with employers, find out about opportunities and even make polite enquiries about work. But remember there’s a time and place for everything, so make sure that you understand and observe the etiquette for the space in question, or risk provoking a shirty response.
5. The press
Plenty of employers still advertise in print, so don’t overlook traditional media. Find out which of the national papers specialises in your sector and on which day. Regional and local papers may not specialise but they will show you what’s available near you. Subscribe to trade journals and magazines dealing with your industry.
6. Networking (word of mouth)
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is as true in the world of work as anywhere else. A lot of good jobs are filled through word-of-mouth or internal appointments. Having a broad professional network to draw on can help you get a look-in on jobs that are going under the radar.
But there’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to network. If you value the people you meet through networking in terms of what work you can get out of them, you’re likely to come away disappointed – and without making any friends or useful contacts to boot. On the other hand, connecting with others to learn or share something might do your job prospects no harm at all.
7. On the blower
There’s nothing to stop you applying to employers ‘on spec’ to ask if they have any opportunities for somebody with your skills. Because emails are easily ignored and since it shows courtesy and confidence to pick up the phone, why not give a prospective employer a call? Prepare your pitch in advance and check before you launch into your spiel that they’re not in the middle of something. Then follow it up with a polite email with your CV attached to thank them for their time. Try to speak to the person most likely to be recruiting rather than delivering your speech to the office intern.
Employers admire initiative, but don’t expect miracles. If you have exceptional skills, it’s possible an employer could create a role for you, even if they don’t have any current vacancies. But, it's perhaps more realistic and constructive to see success in terms of getting them to consider you for future roles.
8. Out and about
Obviously, you’re pretty unlikely to find a FTSE 100 directorship advertised on the noticeboard of your local newsagent or church hall, but this may actually be the only place where particular kinds of jobs in your local community are offered.
And last but not least, don’t forget your local Jobcentre Plus.
It may take you weeks or months to find work, so staying upbeat while your hunt drags on can be a challenge. If you’re struggling to stay focused, read our tips on how to stay motivated while you’re looking for work.
You can find further details about all these jobhunting avenues in our Looking for Jobs section.