When you’re looking for a job do you just apply for advertised vacancies and hope for the best? This may work but surveys suggest that many good jobs are not advertised – they don’t need to be advertised because the most proactive job seekers are knocking on employers’ doors.
By networking with people in the industry of your choice you often hear of upcoming vacancies on the grapevine and can then approach the hiring organisation before they’ve advertised them. Networking may sound scary but it’s not as hard as it seems. Start by speaking to your friends and relatives – do they know anyone in the industry you are interested in and can they put you in touch? Organise some work shadowing and then connect and keep in touch with staff you meet on LinkedIn. Do the same with colleagues from your part-time job.
Outside of networking there are other ways of finding jobs that aren’t advertised. There’s even the possibility of persuading a company to create a job for you. We call this the speculative approach. Start with a well-tailored CV and covering letter (a different one for each company!) and send them to organisations of your choice, stating the kind of role you are looking for. It can be beneficial to follow up with a phone call a week or two later as well.
This worked for me when I was looking for my second role after university. I really wanted to work for a particular company and join their management scheme, but they weren’t recruiting. I wrote to them showing my research into the organisation and my motivation to work for them. They were impressed and took me on in a different role. They then guaranteed me a place on the next assessment centre for their management scheme. So it does work! I also know someone who wanted to do a year in industry with a company that did not offer these placements. She wrote a letter selling the benefits of taking on a year in industry student and explained what she could offer the company. They were so impressed that they took her on!
My advice is to apply for advertised vacancies but also to network so that you can find out about other interesting opportunities. If none come along, be proactive and ask for them!