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How to conduct an effective job search

Published on: 23 Mar 2022

Maximise job boards

Set up job alerts
Jobs by Email (JBE) is a simple but effective feature; just register your personal details, criteria of preferred jobs, which can be refined with keywords, and location. Emails containing matching jobs are then delivered straight to your inbox, or to your mobile phone. You can also set up saved searches, allowing you to vary your job search and save time. It’s important to be realistic about the time you have available to wade through job alerts and to respond to them. Focus on setting up alerts that are most likely to produce the kinds of jobs that you’re interested in, such as those that are graduate or sector-specific.

Expert view: “Like all forms of digital and online communications, the number you sign up to should depend on how much you are realistically prepared to engage.”

Upload your CV

CV banks are a feature of most job boards and are used by employers to spot potential recruits, as it’s a cheaper method than advertising. However, the service is open to all recruiters that have paid up so there is the possibility of getting hounded by organisations with unsuitable jobs. Don’t forget your own employer may have paid for the CV browse service: sight of your CV posted on a job board boards it is a sure-fire way of letting them know that you are not happy and actively looking for a new job.

Expert view: “A CV posted to a job board will be generic, rather than optimised for a vacancy and needs to be crafted with this in mind. Immediately beneath your personal details, list in 10 bullet points your most marketable skills and achievements, including supporting evidence.”

Use all recruitment channels

Recruitment agencies

Treat agencies as they treat you, and interview them to ensure that they are fit to represent you to a future employer. If an agency doesn’t get back to you in a timely manner from the outset, that’s a warning sign. Examine how the agency’s job advert is posted, to see how much information they have managed to gather from their client and how in control they are. Larger outfits may have access to more jobs, but specialist agencies may have the better grasp of the kind of jobs that will suit your experience and qualifications.

Expert view: “I made a long list and cold-called them all. The ones that weren’t competent or didn’t reach my standards, I struck off my list. This meant that I never sent out my CV cold in and that I was in charge of the process.”

Social media

Tools such as Linked-In, Twitter and Facebook offer the opportunity to have a conversation directly with an employer, circumventing official recruitment channels. It’s amazing with Linked-In how close you can get to the recruiter or interviewer you are interested in speaking to. But there are good and bad ways to use social media for your job search. Find out more.

Expert view: “I never launched into a conversation cold, however, but rather used social networking as a way of gaining intelligence about potential companies - and bosses.”


Business-to-business magazines or trade are a good way of gaining early intelligence of hiring opportunities. If you read a story about a company expanding, opening a new office, or even landing a big business deal, you can be sure they’ll be recruiting soon. That’s the cue to send your speculative CV. Find out more.

Expert view: “Subscribe to your industry or profession’s magazine, it’s usually free to those who work in the sector, and a great source on intelligence.”

Network to find a job

Personal contacts count

A Prospects study found that one in six graduates find their current job through friends, family or speaking to their tutor. Once established in the workplace, the likelihood of finding your next job through networking becomes even greater. Never underestimate the power of acquaintance – or just how many you have!

Expert view: “’A former boss of mine once commented, while sifting though CVs: “If they (the candidates) were any good, I would already know them’. He was very well informed and connected, and it was a lesson to me to work at being connected with those in my field.”

Attend events

Networking can happen on the train, plane or at the water cooler but a fruitful place is a professional membership body. Professional societies host a variety of events from wine tasting evenings to technical seminars. Employers also often speak at events to raise their profile and to spot new talent. Events are an informal way of meeting companies and their employees and the organised setting makes it easier to make an approach.

Expert view: “It’s a serendipitous way of gleaning information about roles and employers. Meeting employees enables you to build a realistic picture of a company, rather than relying on the messages they put out via their websites.”

Leverage for advice 

An invitation to interview is a good time to put your network into action. Linked-In is the best way to track down contacts who work for the company who can provide inside information in the culture, and perhaps even your interviewer.

Real story: “A former colleague of mine started a business and became an official Microsoft partner. I leveraged that connection and got him to critique a presentation I was asked to prepare for the Microsoft interview. My former boss knew someone else working for Microsoft and I talked to her on my way to the interview. I now work with her regularly since becoming a colleague.”

With thanks to:
Linda Chandler, enterprise architect, Microsoft
Chris Rea, employer unit business manager, Graduate Prospects
Laura Drysdale, chief operating officer, Change Recruitment Group