Optimise your graduate job search

Within this blog, uncover actionable steps to support a successful graduate job search. Our tips will help you prioritise tasks to make the most of the time you have available.

The most successful job hunters do not wait for the jobs to appear, they are proactive in tracking down the best opportunities. Your approach to job hunting can be improved by using methods that are most appropriate to your target career area. For example, many jobs in the media, or charity sectors, aren’t publicly advertised. In this case, directly approaching organisations that you want to work with can be extremely beneficial.

How to optimise your time and find graduate jobs

Giving structure to your job search

As a starting point to your job hunt, a simplified way of researching the graduate job market is by breaking it into layers. Researching by sector, organisation or occupation. This can help you think about options/opportunities and provide you with a framework to research as part of your search. For example, what areas of the science and pharmaceutical sector can I work in? Who are the main graduate employers and what jobs can I do? Do the employers advertise and, if so, where? Intelligent job hunting involves gathering information!

Accessing the advertised job market

Here are steps to take to access the ‘advertised job market’. These tasks are less time consuming, and fairly easy to identify when beginning the process of job hunting.

  • Search mycareer for graduate-level roles; some have an immediate start date. You can also search for vacancies by sector or region. Some companies are exclusively targeting UoB graduates. You can also search for work outside the UK on mycareer.
  • Access and set up email alerts for graduate jobs boards e.g. Prospects, TargetJobs, Milkround, Indeed, Gradcracker (STEM), Student Circus (useful for international students).
  • Identify sector specific job sites via our sector guides. This resource may act as a useful foundation for your job search at a sector level. Professional and trade bodies listed in our guides may include relevant employer directories. Searching these directories will help you identify organisations related to your interests.
  • Attend employer events, bookable on mycareer. Graduate jobs are regularly promoted and representatives often provide tips to help you stand out in your applications.
  • Check out vacancies promoted via careers themed newsletters from your school.

Accessing the unadvertised/hidden job market

You could consider networking and making speculative applications. A successful job search can often stem from being resourceful. Here are steps to take to access the ‘unadvertised (hidden) job market’. These activities will be useful throughout your career in a changing job market.

  • Search 5000+ organisations on mycareer, by sector, region, and size. This provides an opportunity to target and speculatively apply to interested companies if they don’t have a relevant advertised job.
  • Build a network of contacts both as a source of information about potential jobs, and as a way to get yourself known e.g. through engaging in careers fairs; employer events on campus; presentations by external speakers invited in by your academic unit; or societies. Let your contacts know the type of work you are interested in.
  • Actively use LinkedIn and Bristol Connects for online networking, keeping your profile up to date and gaining career insights. Being clear about your goals can help you stand out, such as stating you are looking for a graduate role in a particular field.
  • Consider asking for an ‘informational interview’ from one of your contacts. You can ask your questions, to gain an understanding of their job role and insight into their experiences in the sector. You might progress to discuss setting up work experience.
  • After drawing up a company and contact shortlist – send off your tailored CV and cover letter via email to a named contact. An initial phone call to the company can help identify useful contacts. You could say you would like to meet in person or chat over a zoom call to find out more.
  • Check out local business and science parks, often based on the edges of cities/towns, as they can present perfect opportunities to find SMEs in a field that may interest you. Find out more on how to find your own internship via our SME scheme.

Review your job-hunting strategy

Job hunting requires persistence and determination but if you are not getting any results after a substantial period of time, you may want to review your strategy. This may also mean:

  • Acquiring or developing skills by taking a course.
  • Gaining experience by volunteering.
  • Taking a less responsible job which would enhance your chances of getting the job you want.
  • Changing your CV and covering letter to make it more effective (based on advice from your contacts).

Where we can help

Our “Job Hunting and Networking” session, or our “Find and Apply” pathway will further support you with the strategies needed to job search successfully. You can also speak to a Careers Adviser one-on-one to brainstorm ideas and refine your strategy.