A successful job search strategy will depend on two types of job markets:
- Published job market – positions advertised via online and print media.
- Hidden job market – opportunities which may not be advertised, and are found by making direct approaches to employers, or being approached directly by employers.
It is estimated that about 50 per cent of graduates find work through advertised positions, and 50 per cent through the hidden job market. To optimise your job search, consider the following points:
- Take time to browse for opportunities on job sites. It is useful to set job alerts, but don't rely on these – browsing can also unearth opportunities that you may not have anticipated.
- Develop skills in 'reading' job advertisements to identify all realistic possibilities.
Look closely at advertisements and don't dismiss possibilities too easily. Consider your skill set carefully, for example:
Don't be limited by the disciplines or qualifications specified in a job advert. Think about whether your course has provided any relevant skills – employers may not be aware of all relevant courses.
Don’t be put off if you have little experience – even when some experience or skills are specified or preferred. Instead, emphasise the skills you do have.
- Selection Criteria:
Don't expect to meet every criterion completely. Keep in mind that those at the top of the list tend to be most important.
That said, it is also important to read job advertisements closely to make a realistic assessment of whether the job is really suitable for you. For example, if five years of experience is being asked for, and you have six months, then this is not the job for you.
- Refine and make choices. Competitive job applications are time consuming. It is generally better to do fewer, high-quality applications that have a realistic chance of success than to do many mediocre or unrealistic applications.
Hidden job market
Accessing the hidden job market means that either you directly approach employers, or they approach you. This may include:
- Being offered work following an internship or voluntary involvement.
- Being referred to an employer by someone in your network who works in the organisation.
- Directly approaching an employer of interest.
- Being offered a professional position by an employer for whom you did part-time work while studying.
The most common approach, especially for career entry positions, is to approach employers directly.
Employers are generally pleased to receive well-thought-out approaches, as recruitment is expensive. Being able to represent yourself directly to employers is widely practised and considered a necessary professional skill in contemporary work life.
There are two steps involved in approaching employers
Employers can be approached via phone, email or on occasions, in person. Which of these is appropriate will vary with the type of organisation and your own style.
It is critical to be well prepared – to have a good understanding of the organisation, why you have targeted the organisation, and be able to articulate this clearly, whether in writing or in person.
For organisations of particular interest, aim to meet with the employer to discuss your interest more broadly rather than focusing only on immediate opportunities; this way, you may be remembered for opportunities which come up subsequently.
Identifying employers to approach
Making direct approaches only works if you have a well-developed idea about what you want to do, where and why. Your approach needs to be purposeful, making it clear to an employer why you have chosen to approach them, and what you have to offer.
To identify potential employers:
- Think about employers who you might already have a connection with. For example, organisations where you have undertaken work experience or part-time work.
- Ask people in your network if they know of opportunities or organisations in your interest area.
- Do some research to identify potential organisations of interest. For example, using online organisation directories.
Organisations can be approached as a 'warm call' or a 'cold call'.
Warm calling means that you already know someone within an organisation and can use their name as a contact. Your contact may have provided a name within the organisation to direct your enquiry. This method relies on having network and using it.
Cold calling means that you approach an organisation without a third-party referral or connection.