There are lots of different ways to find
a job or get
work experience. Planning your job search and using a variety of
methods will help increase your chances of success.
Broadly speaking there are three
main routes: applying for advertised vacancies, tapping into the ‘hidden’ job
market, and getting creative to generate your own ways to get experience
our guide to Internships
and work experience for more information on the value of work
you’ve found a job you’re interested in, visit our section on ‘CVs,
cover letters and applications’ for advice on making effective
applications. You can also make a careers appointment to
get support at any stage of the job hunting process, including applications and
Also see our 'Careers Advice and Support during the Coronavirus Lockdown' page for advice and tips on job hunting and finding summer work experience during the pandemic, as well as a list of live vacancies.
**In addition, our St Mary's Internship Programme is now open!**
1. Applying for advertised vacancies
This involves searching and applying
for live job vacancies and there are lots of places you can find advertised
roles. These often have the benefit of a clear job description (listing the responsibilities of the role) and person specification (outlining the
skills, experience and attributes in the ideal candidate).
You should use this
information to tailor your
application to each different role (see ‘CVs,
cover letters and applications’). You can also book a careers appointment for help or
feedback on your application.
Places you can look for advertised
- Job boards and online vacancy websites
that collate vacancies from many different employers into one
place. They include:
Tip: Bookmark job sites you
like, sign up for email alerts, and check them regularly for updates.
- Employer websites: If there may be specific organisations
that you are interested in working for, check their websites regularly for
suitable vacancies and keep up to with them through their social media.
and social media: Online networking platforms can be a good source of
job opportunities, as well as a great way to expand your network, build your online
profile, and follow industry developments. Follow companies of interest on
Twitter and Facebook; register for job
alerts on LinkedIn and update your LinkedIn
profile to show you have the skills needed for roles you are interested in.
agencies: These act a bit like a matchmaker between employers with job
vacancies and candidates looking for roles.
Visit Agency Central for a
list of agencies by location and job sector and the REC
website for more advice on choosing and using an agency.
2. Tapping into the ‘hidden job market’
“At least 60% of all jobs are found through
networking rather than traditional job searching.” The ‘hidden job market, Balance Careers
Not all vacancies are advertised, so it’s worth being open to other ways
of finding jobs and letting people around you aware that you are job hunting. Here are some ideas for how:
applications: Lots of jobs never even get advertised (e.g. because of the cost of advertising or
because some employers prefer referrals). So, if you know which sector you want
to work in, do your research to find employers in that area. Make a list of
organisations and send them your CV and a cover letter explaining your interest
in working for them and how your
skills and experience would benefit that particular organisation. This usually
works best with small/niche organisations rather than large companies. You
could also try reaching out on social media.
Tip: Always try to write to a named contact (do your research on the
organisation’s website or LinkedIn) and follow-up with a phone call if you haven’t heard back after
a couple of weeks.
- Make the most of your contacts: Let your contacts know that you
are looking for work and what type of job you want. They may be able
to help you arrange relevant work experience and/or put you in touch with other
useful people in your sector of interest. For example, if you have had a
part-time retail job, investigate whether there are work-shadowing
opportunities in their head office (e.g. in finance, legal, marketing, HR,
and events: Attending
events (e.g. talks, jobs
fairs, and networking activities) is a great way to increase your contacts, gain
insights that will help your job search, and build your commercial
awareness. Ask people about their job, what is happening in their industry,
where and how they recruit, and what they look for. Try and get contact
details and follow-up afterwards with an email, following them on
social media, or connecting on LinkedIn.
Tip: Feel nervous networking? Doing some research about who will be at the event and preparing questions or conversation starters
beforehand can help. Be curious – people like talking about themselves, so a
couple of good questions can get the conversation flowing! Make a careers appointment to
get ideas, practice, and boost your confidence. For more tips, see this guide to student networking.
- The St Mary's 'Traineeships (internship) in Europe with ERASMUS+' scheme provides an opportunity for you to internationalise your CV with a structured work placement (from 2-12 months) in Europe over the summer or for up to 12 months after you graduate. To apply, fill out the Study and Work Abroad application by 1 March. Then you need to research and find a work placement and fill out some additional paperwork to receive a stipend of 470-540 Euros a month toward your living expenses. Visit the Study & Work Abroad module for more details.
3. Get creative to generate your own ways to get experience
If you have gaps in your skill set for the job you want, lack relevant
experience, or just want to try out something different, then you could get creative
to generate your own opportunities. Possibilities include:
Do a work placement module: Check whether your degree course offers the option to a work placement module (either as part of your programme or via the Centre for Workplace Learning). Ask your tutor or Programme Director, or come and visit the Centre for Workplace Learning in the hut next to the Dol.cHe Vita.
Join or set up a student club or society: This is a great way to meet new people, develop new skills and take on additional responsibilities (e.g. if you’re interested in events management, organise an event! If marketing is your thing, help promote the society and its activities). Visit the St Mary’s SU website for details of existing clubs and societies and information on how to set up your own if nothing takes your fancy.
Work shadowing: This is a great way to get a deep insight into a particular role or organisation and make new contacts in that area. Plus, it’s often an easier ask than work experience as it requires less organisation from the person you shadow.
Do a short course or summer school: There are lots of online courses available that enable you to learn new knowledge or skills, often for free. Or you might attend a workshop or summer school, which is a great way to meet new people and develop your skills. For example, websites like FutureLearn and Coursera offer a wide range of free online courses.
Start your own project, enter competitions, build your portfolio: Depending on your career of interest, it may be helpful to create examples of your own work. For example, if you’re interested in writing, could you create your own blog (or contribute to someone else’s, like an organisation or student club/society) or write your own screen play? If you like filming, could you create or edit something to help build your portfolio? Could you collaborate with students from other programmes to bring your work to life? Also think about how you might share your work – e.g. through your own website, LinkedIn, social media or by entering competitions.
This can be a good way to get a taster of a particular job or experience as
well as gain valuable experience, meet new people and do something rewarding.
Not everyone has the financial freedom to volunteer, so this may be something
to consider alongside a part-time job. If you are giving up your time for free,
make sure you are also getting something worthwhile out of it (e.g. relevant
experience to boost your CV). Visit websites like www.do-it.org
to search different types of opportunities by location.
part-time job to get relevant experience: If you work in a large
organisation (e.g. in retail or a chain of restaurants), could you shadow or
speak to someone in head office who does a role you’re interested in, such as HR,
marketing, legal or finance? If you work in a small shop, café or bar, could
you do something to support their marketing or social media (or whatever area
it is that interests you)?
business or social enterprise or do some freelancing:
Increasing numbers of students and graduates (and not just business students!)
are considering or have started working for themselves. Visit our ‘Starting
your own business’ page for advice and information.
For more information and ideas, see
more ways to get work experience guide or make a careers appointment
to speak to one of our Careers Consultants.