Job hunting: An alternative guide, by Hannah Barkham

The internet is awash with job and recruitment websites and for most of us they’re our first – or only – port of call when looking for employment.

True, most large organisations rely largely on online advertising, certainly for graduates. But while they can offer a huge choice of jobs, it also means you’re likely to be one of hundreds applying for the same role.

So if your eyes have glazed over form staring at lists of jobs on monster or guardian jobs, why not try another tack to bag yourself a job?

Speculative CV’s – what have you got to lose?

Some companies ask you not to send them, but there are many organisations out there that might be open to offers. If you like the look of an employer – even if they’re not recruiting – tailor your and CV and write a covering letter and send it off.

But do your research on who the best person to send it to is. Avoiding sending it to the Head of HR or ‘to whom it may concern’ as it’s likely to be binned.  If you address it to a relevant individual, such as the head of a particular department that you might want to work for, they’re more likely to read it.

Wait about a month then call to check if it arrived at its destination and ask if there are any upcoming opportunities. Don’t bombard them with calls and emails though. Even if your CV is great, they will get bored and annoyed.

It’s not what you know…..

If you have friends or know of people who work in an industry you want to pursue, don’t be afraid to ask for an “in”. Again, be tactful and don’t put people on the spot, but if you ask around you never know what might come up. Email friends a copy of your CV or resume and ask them to pass it on to anyone they know who might be looking to recruit.

Networking opportunities – put yourself out there!

London and most big cities are awash with these. Sign up for e-newsletters, web alerts and publications that notify you of seminars, launches and  lectures in your field. Chatting to people at events like these are great way to build up your list of contacts.

Newspapers – think outside the box

Never underestimate the humble paper, especially the weekend broadsheets. Flicking through, you’re more likely to see jobs you would never had considered if you’re just doing internet searches with particular keywords of fields. Don’t limit yourself to the same work you have done before or areas you feel you ought to be working in.

Volunteering - get a foot in the door

Volunteering and internships are invaluable in today’s job market. If you need experience to get into your chosen field, unpaid (or low paid) short term voluntary work could be the answer. Not for profit organisations are often crying out for volunteers. And because charities are so reliant on them, you’ll often get great support and training that will make your CV shine above the rest.

If you can’t afford to be without an income for a few months, why not find a 2 or 3 day a week temp, bar or shop job and the rest of the time interning?  And there’s always the chance that once you have been there a few month’s they might like you and offer you a paid position.

Blow your own trumpet – build your own website!

If you’ve got a particular skills or a specific interest, why not see if you can get your own domain name ( and build a website all about you? This method is normally employed by those doing freelance work, but if you’re confident in you capabilities and have some past achievements you can sing about, why not try it? It only needs to be a simple website, but just putting the web address at the end of your email etc will mean more people are likely to be nosey and see what you have to offer.


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