Find hidden gems in the job market

Written by Louise Sethi, Careers Consultant at the Careers Service

When beginning to look for job, it’s worth knowing that lots of graduate roles and work experience opportunities are only advertised on specialist job sites or social media.  Some roles aren’t advertised at all, and form part of the hidden job market which is substantial but not that difficult to access.  This is the case in any career area, but is particularly common in the creative industries (e.g. the media), the not for profit sector (e.g. charities) and smaller businesses where roles may need to be filled quickly and preferably without too many applications to review.  It’s less true, though, in sectors such as Finance, IT and Engineering, where there are more graduate schemes and entry level roles that are advertised on graduate job sites.   But, regardless of the area of work that interests you, taking a proactive approach to your job search will keep you in the loop for opportunities.  And, with many employers looking to save on recruitment costs, this has never been more important.

Begin your search for hidden jobs by reading about the career sector that interests you in the Which Career section of our website.  Here you’ll see job profiles that list specialist vacancy sites and links to professional bodies that provide valuable insights into recruitment for their sector.  You can also register for Careers Service events where guest speakers offer advice and information.   Afterwards, be sure to email them to say thank you.  Very few people do, yet it’s a great way of making contact with someone who may be able to signpost you to opportunities.

You don’t need to be the most confident person, or have super charged motivation, but you do need to be bold enough to reach out to people. Be prepared to take a speculative approach when searching for opportunities such as sending your CV to an employer enquiring whether they would consider offering you a role. Sometimes you won’t get a response and you may need to try again.  One employer told me they ignore the first speculative approach, but reply to a follow-up one because this shows the person is genuinely interested in them.

Additionally, volunteering and other types of work experience will add to your CV and could bring you into contact with employers who have vacancies.  Look for opportunities on the University’s volunteering site, the Careers Service online system CareerConnect, our social media accounts and employers’ own social media. 

You can also use LinkedIn, a professional networking site that is increasingly used by employers for promoting their vacancies.  Adding your personal profile is straightforward and in our Hidden Jobs recorded session , we demonstrate how you can benefit from connecting with Manchester graduates professionally online. If you want to find out about a particular employer, go to their LinkedIn page where you’ll see a job section and profiles of staff members.  You can look for the most appropriate person to connect with – perhaps the head of the department you’re interested in –and send a simple message. 

Visit the company’s website to see if this person’s contact details are listed so you can send a follow-up email. I’d advise that a copy and paste email never works. I was on the receiving end of this kind of approach when I worked as a television regulator and I appreciated a well-researched and personal email. It’s best to send fewer tailored ones that ask for advice on how to get into their area of work, explains who you are and expresses an interest in what they do.

Finally, don’t ignore the power of ‘word of mouth’.  Ask people you know such as former teachers, friends’ parents and people you’ve worked with. If they can pass on vacancies they come across or put you in touch with someone who could help, their support may prove invaluable.

If you find an opportunity through being proactive, consider mentioning this in an application: for example, ‘Found my own work experience by reaching out to employers in the charity sector’.   It’s likely to impress.   Finally, bear in mind that one day someone could reach out to you and hopefully you’ll remember what it was like to be in their shoes and will be pleased to help.  

Careers advice Graduate jobs networking

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