How to find a job

Job hunting and the different strategies you can use

Large numbers of graduate leave university every year, but most find their way into jobs within a few months of graduation. One of the classic mistakes that students make is focusing on the most visible parts of the job market such as the web pages of large recruiters and graduate ads in the national papers. The large recruiters make up only about 5% of the total job market for graduates. Only focusing here can guarantee you stiff competition and may mean you miss out on other fantastic opportunities.

Securing a job isn’t easy, but job hunting provides the opportunity to reflect on what career or role you really want. If part way through you begin to feel unsure about your career direction then have a look at our web pages on working out what I want to do. Each sector requires slightly different tactics, so do your homework before you get started. Prospects has useful advice on tactics for each job role. Head to their types of jobs ( section and select the role that interests you and then click on “entry requirements” and “employers and vacancy sources” to access this advice. Despite these sector differences each one tends to use some or all of the following approaches.

Using a Careers Service

The Careers, Placement and Experience Centre (CPEC) at The University of Reading offers a range of services to help your job hunting: you can look at job vacancies as they come up and attend careers fairs and events to find out more about potential vacancies and ask questions – for opportunities and events, use My Jobs Online. My Jobs Online enables you to set your job preferences, sign up for the jobs alerts, book up for Careers Centre employer events and ask questions. Another way of finding jobs is to talk to employers at our careers fairs. Careers Advisers are also available to help you to tailor your CV to particular roles, give you tips on getting into particular job sectors and staying motivated.

Using jobsites and other websites

There are more specialist and generic job sites that, as graduates, you can use to track down vacancies. Make sure you know what you are signing up to when you register: are they a recruitment agency or simply a vacancy advertising service? Sites advertising permanent and work experience opportunities for graduates include Prospects graduatejobs, TARGET Jobs and Inside Careers.

In particular, Inside Careers has four profession-specific websites:


You can also use more generic sites not designed specifically for graduates if you are interested in part time work such as Total jobs and Monster. Remember to look at the national papers too. The Guardian, The Times and The Telegraph cover jobs in a range of sectors. The Financial Times advertises finance jobs on Wednesdays.

Many sectors have their own specialist job sites so look on the Job Sectors pages on Prospects. Many specialist sectors have their own journals and magazines that you can subscribe to either online or in paper format and who advertise job vacancies. You can use the industry insight links and the types of jobs links on Prospects to identify relevant ones and subscribe.

Using employer websites. There is a range of ways you can track down employer lists for the sectors that interest you. For example, you could use Prospects’ types of jobs select the occupation that interests you and click on “employers and vacancy” sources for suggestions and useful links.

Using employer websites

If you have a clear idea of which employers interest you and the kind of job role you want then heading straight to the employer website makes sense for many sectors. Recruiters often provide detailed information about their graduate roles and searchable databases for current vacancies. Some roles are recruited for in a similar time pattern each year, others are more sporadic and less predictable, so you can also set up tailored RSS feeds so vacancies come to you and reduce the time you spend on them. See the section above for how to track down employer listings.

Using Recruitment Consultancies

If you are considering using a recruitment agency or consultancy to help you access jobs then head to our web pages on how to use a recruitment consultancy for further advice. They are an increasingly popular method for graduates to find work, but not all sectors like using them for new graduates. REC is the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and they have a search engine that will help you identify specialist agencies for the types of roles you are seeking.

Capitalising on prior experience at work

A major way that graduates secure jobs is through prior work experience, placements and internships. In many cases, employers may offer permanent jobs at the end of a period of work experience to those who have performed well. Would you like to work for a previous employer, even if it is in a different capacity to your previous role there? Previous, successful experience with them may make you a more predictable option than other unknown candidates. If you would like to go back, reflect upon the most suitable role and weigh up which of your contacts there to target first. Take it steady. Perhaps ask to meet a couple of people first to investigate the opportunity you seek, before broaching the subject of a job.

Creative job search

The vast majority of jobs never get advertised. Speculative applications are where someone sends an organisation a CV and covering letter without having seen a job advert, hoping to secure work. If you have a role in mind, but haven’t seen it advertised, then you may need to instigate a creative job search and begin to network. If this is the case head to the relevant Getting Started I need to access the hidden job market pages.

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