In the UK not all vacancies are advertised. If you have searched all the vacancy platforms and can't find the job or work experience you want, you may have to adopt a more pro-active strategy whereby you approach companies to find out if they are able to offer any opportunities.
This is called making speculative applications i.e. you approach an employer about the possibility of working with them even though there is no advertised vacancy.
This process requires research and planning.
Tips on how to get started
1) Researching employers
Firstly, you need to identify employers who are in the work sector or career area that you want to work in.
- To research employers effectively use a company's website, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter pages.
- Use the Careers Service website: Employer & Business Information includes links to online employer directories
- Use the Prospects website to research job sectors and explore job profiles.
- Use online employer directories such as Talent Scotland to identify SMEs.
- Understand the Graduate Labour Market.
- Read the business pages of newspapers and contact organisations that are announcing expansions or developments that interest you.
Undergraduates: register on the Undergraduate Careers Module and work through PLAN Effective Career Research
Postgraduates: register on the Postgraduate Careers Module and work through Section 6: Prepare for recruitment processes
Graduates: Work through the Exploring Your Options section of My Graduate Career which is a short course designed to support you and your career development as a graduate
Login to MyCareer to download the leaflet "Questions to help you research the role, company, industry and sector" (can be found in the Useful Resources section).
While you are researching employers you may use existing contacts as well as make new contacts who are working in a job or sector that interests you. Find out more about networking.
Undergraduates: register on the Undergraduate Careers Module and work through EXPLORE Building and Using Your Network
Postgraduates: register on the Postgraduate Careers Module and work through Section 8: Build and use your network
Graduates: Work through the Hunting for Jobs section of My Graduate Career which is a short course designed to support you and your career development as a graduate.
Use Social Media to identify/follow employers of interest.
Research the organisations that previous graduates of your discipline have entered by using the LinkedIn Alumni tool and follow up those of interest to you.
3) Your CV and cover letter
Use a cover letter to tell your preferred employer why you want to work for them, what you think you can offer them by way of knowledge, skills/strengths and experience, and what you are looking for.
Tailor your CV to their organisation and the type of role you are hoping for.
Make the style and tone of your letter persuasive but not pushy.
Tip: If you have not received a response it is good practice to follow up your application with a phone call 1 to 2 weeks after sending. This demonstrates commitment and enthusiasm.
Find out more about CVs and cover letters.
If a placement is not possible, you may wish to consider organising an informational interview. This is where you meet with someone who is currently working in a sector or in a specific job in order to get an understanding of their role.
You could do this via contacts you already have, or through contacts you make via networking in your job/internship search. Ask the person if they can spare a short amount of time to meet with you (and always at a time that suits them).
If you do go ahead and arrange an informational interview, you should not ask the person for a job or work experience.
Next steps and other resources
Login to MyCareer for up to date information on Employer Presentations on campus or in the city centre, Recruitment Fairs or Employer Skills Sessions.
Try registering with Recruitment Agencies who may be able to find work for you.