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Employment Search


Information and guidance

There are lots of different ways to find a job.  Here we profile the most popular, and give you some basic information and tips so that you can navigate your way through searching for a job and get the best out of the process.

Job adverts

Recruitment adverts are probably one of the most popular forms of recruitment method.  Most local papers will have one or two days when their job section appears; national papers, such as the Guardian, will have job adverts appearing on a number of days, with different categories of jobs on different days of the week.  Trade publications usually also contain a careers section, and these can be an excellent source for jobs if you know which sector you are interested in.  Increasingly, job adverts which appear in a hard copy publication are simultaneously published online - of which, more below.

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Online job search

Many papers and publications also have websites, and will replicate job adverts here.  Most organisations now publish their vacancies on their websites - this can be a good place to look if you are more interested in working for a particular organisation than a specific job.  There are also a growing number of online job search websites, which contain hundreds or thousands of jobs which you can browse using increasingly advanced search techniques - for example, you can search by location, industry sector, job title or keyword.  Later on we will discuss applying for jobs online.

Recruitment and employment agencies

Employment agencies offer a recruitment service to employers, whereby they undertake to find someone to fill a vacancy.  The service they offer varies, but they will frequently advertise on the employer’s behalf, and will screen, shortlist, test and sometimes even interview candidates for the employer.  Most agencies have extensive databases with details of candidates who have registered, which they will search to see if anyone matches details of a new vacancy.  Agencies can be a good idea as they can save you a lot of the hassle; they match you up with jobs and submit your CV on your behalf, and you will also be able to access jobs which haven’t been advertised.  The agency is paid by the employer, usually on a percentage basis, so they should not ask you for any money when you register with them.


Headhunters work on similar principles to employment agencies, but rather than wait for candidates to come to them, they take a more proactive and some would say aggressive approach, using their market knowledge and networking abilities to actively seek out and approach candidates who are currently working for other, often competitor, organisations.  Due to the amount of research, time and sensitivity involved, headhunters tend to be used for highly paid, senior roles, or very specialist jobs.  Headhunters will usually approach you, although some have databases of candidates similar to recruitment agencies, and it is possible to register your interest with them.

Speculative applications

A speculative application is when you write to an employer with your CV on the off chance that they have a suitable vacancy, and not in response to an advert or invitation to apply.  This approach can pay off if you’re lucky, and the employer is looking for someone with your skills and experience just when you happen to write.  It’s also a possibility that your application will be kept on file, and you’ll be contacted in future if anything comes up.  However, bear in mind that employers often have limited resources for this kind of matching up, added to large volumes of speculative applications, so don’t expect too much from this kind of approach.  Get the name of the right person to address your application to wherever possible, and in your covering letter be as specific as you can about what work you are looking for.


Networking itself is not enough to secure you a job, but it can be invaluable in finding out about current and upcoming vacancies in organisations, and securing an initial meeting or interview.  Talk to your friends, family, people you know through work and contacts from other employers.  As well as being good research about jobs in other organisations, you could find out about vacancies before they are advertised as well as unadvertised jobs.

Graduate recruitment

Many larger companies run graduate recruitment schemes where they recruit a small number of graduates each year.  This process, known as the milk round, usually happens during the final year of university, with deadlines at the end of the calendar year.  Employers usually do the rounds of the universities giving presentations about the company and opportunities available.  It is usually a competitive process so it pays to do your research and be well prepared - you can get further information from your careers service.

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