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Finding a job

Find the right job for you with our range of job hunting resources

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Effective job searches involve a tailored and targeted approach, using a range of methods.

Increase your chances of success by using a combination of different strategies such as networking, sending speculative applications to companies you want to work for and attending careers fairs and events to explore opportunities.You can also try using recruitment agencies focused on your sector to broaden your job search.

Checking our Jobs Board regulary will help you access to lots of different opportunites, including organisations who are specifically targeting Brunel Students.  

Networking

What is networking?

It's not only WHAT you know, but WHO you know that counts!

Networking is all about building mutually beneficial relationships and talking to people with a view to discussing topics that are of joint interest.

Every time you make a new contact you are effectively tapping into a new circle of people, so you can gradually build up a list of contacts who can help you.

Find out more...

Why do it?
  • Approximately 70% of jobs are never advertised publicly as employers fill positions internally instead or in response to direct approaches from job seekers. Cold approaches, where you don’t know the employer, can work but are exponentially more effective if you can harness your network and drop a name or two!
  • Draw a mind map – where do you come into contact with people? Make a list, reach out to them, and tap into their networks too.

networking

What can you get from networking?
  • Work experience – politely ask for a chance to gain work experience in that job, company or sector. You’ll be amazed how willing people are to help, they’ve all been in your situation before.
  • Knowledge about a type of job, company or industry - ask those you know to give you the low down on this, they’ll be more honest than websites.
  • A mentor – can help with looking for work (checking out internal jobs boards for you, advising on your CV, providing further connections and recommending recruitment agencies).
  • Inside knowledge – on company culture, recent company news, and even the person interviewing you.

How to do it

Different types of networking require different approaches
  • Networking events: Ask yourself ‘who do I want to meet and why'? Practise your 30 second commercial, who you are, what you are looking for and how you can help that person/organisation.
  • First impressions count: Eye contact, a firm handshake and a smile will get you a very long way. Jot down their contact details. Always remember to offer something in return such as an article you’ve been reading or some social media advice for example. Even if the person you meet cannot help you it is quite likely that they will know someone who can. Always follow up with an email saying how nice it was to meet that person, reiterate your need and offer something in return.
  • Networking via phone or email: Contact those in your network with a letter, email or phone call, stating the connection you have and why you are writing. See our examples of how to write a speculative email.
  • LinkedIn  Connect with alumni, and other work-based contacts, you can ask for support in your endeavours. We're here to help if you'd like to learn more about building your profile.

Finally

Create a contact list of people that you meet, with a few notes about what they do and any other helpful information you have picked up about them. You can use Microsoft Outlook to manage this task by producing contact business cards.

 

Speculative applications

Are you looking for jobs, work experience, placements or internships? Try the speculative, or direct, approach. Contacting companies directly and enquiring about opportunities to shadow, meet for coffee, gain work experience or insight into a company or sector. It really works. You demonstrate initiative, tap into the hidden market, and it puts you in control.  

Find out more...

Why it’s vital
  • Approximately 70% of vacancies are never formally advertised. Everyone else is tackling the 30% that are, so avoid the crush, and the competition.
  • It impresses employers. It's essential in very competitive sectors such as media, advertising and environmental work.
  • Only a small percentage of graduates work for traditional graduate recruiters. The speculative approach allows you to access many other vacancies in small to medium companies, that might not be able to afford expensive recruitment programmes.
  • Reaching your career goal may take several steps (including voluntary work, unpaid work experience or a lower level job to gain relevant experience).
How to do it
  • Be clear about the purpose of your approach - is it to land work experience, a job, a chance to pick someone’s brains about a sector? Sometimes it can be better to seek a quick 20 minute meeting where you buy coffee and build the relationship from there rather than ask outright for a job!
  • Tap into your network and LinkedIn to locate the right people to contact, or a name to drop when approaching a company. Starting a letter 'Person X suggested I drop you line' is one of the best ways in. 
  • Think about where you would like to do this. For teaching work experience, for example, start with your old schools, or local school, and work outwards contacting all the head teachers in easy commutable distance.
  • Be specific about the type of organisation – are you interested in engineering or media jobs, for example? That’s a big pool. Narrow it down, perhaps start with companies you admire, companies that are local to you, companies named best to work for.
  • Create target lists. Look at the top 100 best firms in a sector for example, but don’t start with the number one firm in that sector as everyone does this, start from the middle or bottom and work upwards. 
  • Find the correct contacts for recruitment; a blue-chip company may have a recruitment team that you need to go through whereas with a small and medium-sized employer (SME) it might be straight to the directors.
  • Have your CV ready and, ideally, checked by a Careers Consultant
Enquiries by letter and CV or email
 
Enquiries by telephone
  • Find out who deals with recruitment and ask to speak to them.
  • State the nature of your enquiry clearly. Are you asking about any current post they may have coming up which may suit you? Are you asking if it would be possible to work shadow an employee of the firm? Are you asking if you could gain some (maybe unpaid) work experience with the firm?
  • Think about what you want to say in advance and be clear and direct.
  • Be prepared to talk about yourself and to sell what you have to offer.
  • Sound positive, enthusiastic and polite. Offer evidence and examples from your CV.
Enquiries in person with a CV
  • Direct 'cold calling' - going on foot from one workplace to another, asking about employment. It requires a great deal of persistence, resilience and self-confidence in the face of potential rejection. However, using this method, you are more likely to succeed in getting jobs within the retail sector and in sales orientated environments where it is part of the job to be able to sell and persuade.
  • If the person you need to speak to is not available, make an appointment.
  • If this is not possible, ask for their name and whether to phone, write or email.
  • You may find Informational Interviewing useful for tips - this is obtaining information about an occupation or industry by talking to relevant employees.
Find out more
  • Our website contains information on specific industries
  • Look at Prospects, TARGETjobs, Guardian UK 300, and Times Top 100 Graduate Employers or pick up the directories from the Professional Development Centre reception
  • Use Brunel Library market research databases, e.g. Passport, Business Source Premier, Nexis Company Dossier, that contain company profiles
  • Kompass provides financial and product information for companies
  • Small and medium size employers (SMEs) are offering more jobs. They are less likely to advertise and more likely to take up speculative applications. Try www.yell.com or Thomson Local directories. PDC staff can also give you some leads in this often-neglected area 
  • Talk to family and friends. Lots of job opportunities come to light this way
  • Your careers consultant can help you contact employers by offering advice on approach techniques and strategies
 

Careers fairs and events

The perfect opportunity to meet and chat with employers face to face!

Whether you're looking for work experience, searching for a graduate job or placement, recruitment fairs, employer pop-ups and other careers events are a great way to network with companies from a variety of sectors. Find out who is coming onto campus.

It is crucial that you take some time to prepare before recruitment events by researching the employers and their opportunities. This should help you to get the best out of interactions, make a positive first impression and build connections.

Prepare for the day

Research the companies that interest you by visiting their website. You should also carry out some background research into the company and its industry sector.

Remember that employers may offer a range of opportunities, not just those restricted to the main activity of the company; technology companies, for example, may also recruit for finance or marketing roles. Don't discount a company because you don't recognise their name. Try to keep an open mind and be flexible; you may come across a career or sector that you hadn't considered!

If you're not sure what career would suit you, which organisations are relevant, or can't see the kinds of employers you want, come and talk to a careers consultant before the event to help you prepare.

Questions to ask employers

Prepare some questions that you would like to ask the exhibitors. Try to think of things that aren't covered online or in recruitment literature, and consider what you’re looking for in an employer.

To help tailor your application and CV to specifically meet the employers’ requirements, you may want to think about asking the employers questions to gain a greater understanding of the job or placement. Print out the following questions - highlighting the ones that you think would be most relevant to you and bring it with you on the day.

The Company/Sector

  • I've read about your graduate scheme, can you tell me a bit more about what's involved in the IT/finance/marketing (or whatever) programme?
  • How is an individual's performance evaluated in your company?
  • If I were to start in x role, where might it lead?
  • Do you use the placement role as a feeder into your graduate scheme?
  • I get the impression from the website that the culture at x is y, is that how you would describe it?
  • I'm interested in a couple of roles you offer, can you tell me more about them to help me decide between them?
  • What do you think of the experience I've had so far in terms of entering this field?
  • Who could I talk to or who could you refer me to that could give me a better insight into my chosen area of work?
  • How do you see jobs in this field changing in the future?
  • What training, support, and induction programmes are offered upon joining?

Work experience

  • What are the opportunities for postgraduates to obtain short-term project work with your company?
  • Do you offer work experience placements? What can I expect from a placement?
  • My study commitments are x hours per week, would I be able to fit this work around my timetable?
  • During the vacation periods or after I graduate would there be an opportunity for full time working?
  • When I graduate I hope to do x. I would like to gain experience in y, would this be possible?

Applications/skills

  • I don't have the required A-level points to apply for a graduate post with your company? Do you look at alternative skills?
  • Can you tell me more about what you look for in applications so I can target my experience appropriately?
  • What makes some applications stand out for you?
  • What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in this job?
  • What kind of person does well in your selection process? What traits do they have?

Questions for graduates

  • What do you think makes x a good company to work for? How would you describe the culture?
  • What do you think helped you get the job?
  • Can you tell me what you've been doing this week - is that typical?
  • What do you like most/least about what you do?
  • How would you describe the prospects for new graduates? 

Refresh your CV

Get a head start, book an appointment in preparation for the event or, alternatively, Career consultants will be on-hand at Brunel fairs to help you revamp your CV, making it more targeted and more effective to land that perfect interview.

The larger companies recruit using an online application process but you should update your CV to show the skills and experiences that are most likely to interest employers.

First impressions

You could be meeting your future employer so creating a positive first impression is extremely important. The more professional you look and sound the more seriously you are likely to be taken. Dressing the part in smarter clothes shows you mean business.

Often the representatives on stands are recent graduates so don't be afraid to ask questions informally - they were probably in your position last year. At the same time they will expect you to be business like so avoid the temptation to approach in large groups or appear overly casual.

Plan your visit

Take a list of the companies you want to see, plan your approach, and go over the questions you want to ask. Don't visit your 'top' employer first, take a practice run by talking to others first. Introduce yourself by giving a brief profile, e.g. your name and degree course including information about any relevant skills and work experience.  Demonstrate your interest in the employer and how you might fit into the company culture.

Note any advice employers give you about their recruitment process - taking a name or business card is great for when you make applications. Also, remember to thank people for their time!

After the fair

Take time to write some brief notes including the names of any contacts that you have been given. Research companies in which you have a positive interest so that you can make focused applications. Check out the required application procedure - this may differ for individual companies. Where appropriate, send an email to company representatives to apply, with attached CV, for a particular post or to thank them for their time. Remember to keep a copy of all your job applications including the job spec, connect with people you have met on LinkedIn and visit company Twitter or Facebook pages.

Visit the PDC for CV or application checks, job search tactics, help with LinkedIn and advice on how to manage your social media profiles, and attending interviews and assessment centres.

 

Using Recruitment Agencies

Recruitment agencies, when used effectively and as part of a wider search, can help you to find work.  

Keep in mind that agencies are paid through earning commission for successfully filling vacancies they receive from employers. Their job is to assess your skills and experience and put you forward for positions that would be a good fit for their client’s needs.  When using agencies, it’s best to be well-prepared and to be clear about the type of role and organisation you’d like to work for, otherwise you may be pushed towards vacancies that don’t fit with your career aspirations.

Which type of recruitment agency would be right for you?

Recruitment agencies vary enormously in the services that they provide and the way in which they function. It's best to find the right one for you.

  • High street agencies offering temporary jobs probably offer most to the new graduate who possesses some basic work skills but little work experience.
  • Graduate recruitment agencies specialise solely in the recruitment of university graduates, often across all business sectors and industries.They can offer either temporary or permanent work and work experience placements.
  • Specialist recruitment agencies which recruit for jobs within specific fields of employment such as computing, media, marketing, engineering, scientific, sales, accountancy, law and finance. Some may be limited in what they can offer to new graduates but can be good for graduate sales roles or for people with technical degrees and substantial work experience.

Top tips for using agencies

  • Remember you need to create a positive impression from your very first telephone call, email or visit, so make sure you have a concise, targeted CV, matching their needs.
  • Ensure you understand what types of vacancies the agency handle and make sure you are clear about the types of vacancies in which you are interested
  •  Establish a relationship with the agency by giving them as much relevant information about yourself as possible. Be honest about your skills and experience.
  • Check that the agency will not send your CV to companies without letting you know first. It's important to know where your CV is being sent to, particularly if you are registered with mutliple agencies that may be sending your CV to the same companies.
  • Contact them at regular intervals to remind them you are there and to find out if anything is available, but avoid being too pushy.
  • Agencies cannot charge you for helping you find work – they are paid by commission from their client. Remember that your careers service is here for you to offer free CV, application and interview advice.

 

 

 "Why do you really want to work for this organisation?" This is the key question you should be looking at when researching a company.

Popular employers get many applications from candidates who just fancy working for a ‘big name’. If you can demonstrate a genuine interest you are half way there. Briefly indicate how you’ve researched the organisation and show them what interests you about their business, its ethos, specific projects or the client base.

Display recent knowledge of the company and awareness of the industry and commercial pressures. Sound keen and enthused and show them that you have you researched their work and found a specific case or area interesting. Do not make vague and general comments or cut and paste information from the website. Instead try to show you have carried out research and then share your opinion.

Questions to help fuel your research?

  • What does this company actually do and has it been in the trade press or the wider news lately?

  • Why do you want to work there? Talk about clients, competitors, culture, strengths and challenges. Keep it positive.

  • What are some of the issues and trends in this profession or industry and how might you be able to help to contribute towards solutions?

  • What impact you believe economic and technological changes will have and why do you feel the company is in a good position to compete moving forward?

  • What skills do you believe will be in demand now and in the future and again how do you hope to contribute?

What other sites can you use for research?

  • LinkedIn Find company information and connect with people you know who already work at the company

  • Glassdoor Glassdoor has millions of jobs, salary informationm, company reviews and interview questions, all posted anonymously by employees and job seekers 

  • Gradcracker  Search work placements/ internships and graduate jobs relevant to STEM degree subjects 

  • GradQuiz Brings together key information to help you make an informed choice about where to start your career  

  • TARGETJobs Graduate vacancies, employer profiles,  in-depth guides to graduate career sectors and career planning advice 

  • Prospects Graduate jobs, postgraduate study, advice about work experience, internship opportunities and graduate careers 

  • RateMyPlacement The UK's leading job resource for undergraduates seeking placements and internships 

 

 

Gaining work experience while at university will dramatically improve your chances of finding work after you graduate.

Short placements, internships, part-time roles and volunteer work are all valuable ways of building your skills and experience while studying. These opportunities can help you figure out what you'd like to do as a future career and can also be the first steps towards growing your professional network. Read more below about the different kinds of opportunities you could explore.

 Unpaid work experience

The Professional Development Centre always encourages employers to pay the national minimum wage (NMW) or above unless they are a charity and legally exempt. While we recognise that in some industries unpaid work experience is considered normal practice we will not advertise these vacancies. 

Please check the opportunities in these links carefully and, where work is unpaid, try to ensure you are not being exploited. Come in and talk to a Careers Consultant if you would like some help deciding if an opportunity is right for you.

Further information

Points to remember

  • Match your skills and personal qualities to the job requirements. Market yourself by selling yourself as a solution to the employer’s requirements. Target your attributes to appeal to them.
  • Many large organisations have deadlines for vacation schemes in autumn or early spring. Remember to check websites so that you don't miss these opportunities.
  • Consider small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) as the work can be very varied giving you all-round experience. SMEs may only recruit occasionally – research and networking will help you identify these jobs.
  • Many vacancies are never advertised. Put together a list of organisations that you feel will offer the right kind of experience but are also likely to need your skills.

Resources to help you find work experience

  • Adzuna Search for jobs by UK location or by job category and opt to receive jobs by email alerts
  • AllAboutCareers Search for internships and sandwich placements by sector, location and employer
  • AnyIntern Search for internships by industry and/or location
  • The BigChoice Search by location and industry
  • Create Jobs Employability programme for young Londoners (16-25) and the creative industries. The site includes a jobs board  and you can register for a fortnightly email digest of jobs and opportunities 
  • E4S Job board helping students find part-time and temporary vacancies, internships and graduate jobs during Christmas and summer
  • Enternships Internships and entry-level jobs in starups and small businesses across UK and Europe
  • Fledglings All types of work experience including part-time jobs and internships
  • Give A Grad A Go Work with new and more experienced graduates in a range of industries from media to finance. Registration required
  • Glassdoor Search for jobs by keyword and location. The site gives employer reviews (provided by employees) and salary information
  • Go Think Big Work experience opportunities and advice
  • Gradcracker A specialist website for technology and engineering students
  • Graduate-jobs.com A specialist independent graduate job board where you can set up an account to match your academic subject, ensuring you only view relevant jobs
  • Graduate Recruitment Bureau Offers intern work experience opportunities, part-time jobs and vacation work at locations throughout the UK
  • Graduate Talent Pool Designed to help new and recent graduates from countries within the European Economic Area (EEA) gain real work experience
  • Indeed Search jobs by keyword and location
  • Inside Careers Graduate jobs and placements in Business & Management, City & Finance and Engineering & Technology
  • Inspiring Interns Helps graduates find internships that lead to full-time jobs
  • Internwise Aims to connect employers with students and fresh graduates
  • Joblift works with partner job boards and allows you to search for internships by location
  • Jump in Sport Publishes employment and internships opportunities in sport from around the world. The website also features volunteering opportunities in sport, and tips and advice to help search for jobs
  • LinkedIn Search for UK and international internships
  • Mediargh Offers advice, resources including a jobs board with internship opportunies and blogs to people who are interested in media production
  • Milkround Searchable by location, industry, job role and type
  • National Association of Student Employment Services (NASES) supports student workers
  • PDC Jobs Board Part-time, vacation, and short-term graduate jobs on and off campus
  • PDC Placements Find out who is the Placement and Internship Adviser for your course, how to register, and where to look for placements
  • Placement UK Undergraduate placement and internship opportunities in a range of sectors for European and UK students
  • Prospects Student/graduate careers website with employer vacancies, information on all types of jobs, and job search
  • RateMyPlacement Student work placements and internships, reviews and careers advice
  • Reed advertise vacancies from employers and job sites. Search using the term 'internships' or look at the listing under 'Temporary jobs'
  • Save the Graduate Browse graduate jobs and graduate schemes. Site includes employer profiles and graduate scheme deadlines. Wide range of job sectors covered, search by keyword or by location
  • Step Browse placement and internship opportunities across the UK
  • StudentGems Connecting employers with students and graduates for one-off jobs and projects. You can register, complete a profile, then search and apply for jobs
  • StudentJob Specialist online job portal offering part-time jobs, summer jobs, and internships searchable by region, job type and area of study
  • Student Ladder Placements for first year students, internships for second year students, graduate schemes, and a section on careers with insight on job roles, applications and recruitment processes
  • TARGETjobs Search the database to find internship and work experience opportunities. Use the Work Experience Tracker to help you keep track of what you've learned during your jobs
  • TopIntern.com Dedicated to undergraduate, graduate internships and placements with opportunities across multiple sectors
  • Totaljobs.com Searchable jobs board for part-time, internship and placement vacancies, by sector or location
  • Work Placement Search for placements by sector, job role and location

Equal opportunities

  • EmployAbility Not-for-profit organisation dedicated to assisting students and graduates with all disabilities, including dyslexia and long term health conditions, into employment
  • Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) Not-for-profit organisation enabling ethnic minority students to take up internship opportunities with graduate employers
  • Where women work is a company careers comparison website advertising internships and events only from companies and not from agencies
  • See our Equality and Disability  section for more information

Voluntary/Charity work

  • Brunel Volunteers Advertises a range of opportunities, will search for specific opportunities on your behalf and help with The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks - formerly the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB)
  • Do-it Searchable database of voluntary opportunities by interest and location. The website also gives details of Volunteer Centres: local agencies that promote and develop volunteering

Working abroad

Use the resources in our Working and Studying Internationally section to look for internship or other opportunities. Start your search early as you may need to organise a visa.

  • Absolute Internship Helps university students and graduates gain international work experience by providing internship programs in Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Shanghai and Singapore
  • Erasmus+ offers Brunel students the opportunity to study or undertake work experience in Europe through one of the University's partner institutions
  • BUNAC offers a range of summer camp, work abroad and volunteer abroad programmes
  • ErasmusIntern.org Set up a profile, search and apply for internship vacancies
  • Glassdoor Search for jobs by keyword and location. The site gives employer reviews (provided by employees) and salary information
  • GoinGlobal Contains resources for finding employment at home and abroad, and gives international job openings and internship positions
  • i-to-i Offers students a chance to gain an English government-regulated TEFL certificate and practical TEFL experience through its international TEFL internship programme
  • InterExchange Non-profit organisation devoted to promoting cross-cultural awareness through work and volunteer exchange programs
  • International Arts & Artists (IA&A) Internship in the USA Recognised sponsor for the J1 trainee/intern visa that is required for unpaid and paid internships and training programs in the United States. Programme costs vary depending on the length of the internship
  • InternJobs.com A global database of internships and entry-level positions for students, recent graduates and career changers 
  • Internships.com Searchable by category, location and company to find US internships
  • Jump in Sport Publishes employment and internships opportunities in sport from around the world. The website also features volunteering opportunities in sport, and tips and advice to help search for jobs
  • Prospects Country profiles, vacancies, and suggestions on how to prepare for working in another country
  • TARGETjobs (in partnership with AGCAS) Country profiles that cover the job market, applying for jobs, vacancy sources, getting work experience, visa information, and living in the country
  • TeamWork Online Covers a range of North American sports and organisations
  • Xpatjobs Global jobs board