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Ask your contacts

Being successful in finding work takes more than searching online. Having contacts means that you give yourself more opportunities to find work. Find out how to use your contacts to get the job.

What is the 'hidden job market'?

Some jobs aren’t advertised and instead they are filled by people that the employer knows of. This means that you will need to search for jobs in other ways in addition to online or in the paper to find these vacancies.

Companies recruit like this because:

  • It’s cheaper - they don’t have to pay to advertise the job on job boards
  • It’s easier – they don’t have to spend lots of time sifting through lots of CVs
  • It works – they know and trust the person so it’s less of a gamble for them

So, ask your contacts if they know of any jobs. This is also known as networking.

Just think of your network as the people you know, the people in your contacts list. These include friends, family, teachers and tutors, bosses and co-workers or maybe a careers adviser. They all know people too who could be looking for a new employee.

How do I make a new contact?

Networking can be done online or off-line. Making the most of your social networks online is particularly vital. Read our guide to using social media to find jobs.

Here are some networking tips to start you off:

  • Draw up your list of contacts – think of all the people you know such as former teachers, employers, family and friends and tell them you’re looking for work. They might be able to help you or know someone else who could. Make sure they know what you’re looking for
  • Ask for an introduction – if someone you speak to knows of someone that might be able to help you, ask them if they will introduce you
  • Find events /online events – look for networking events, industry conferences, jobs fairs, talks/webinars and workshops. Introduce yourself to as many people as you can and ask if you can stay in touch. A polite introductory email may be the best first step
  • Search contacts on social media – search for and join business networks on sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Check out our advice on using social media to find jobs
  • Set up a virtual meeting - you could send an email introducing yourself and invite your contact to a virtual chat
  • Ask for an informational interview - some people arrange to have a chat with a contact to introduce themselves and find out more about a particular company or industry
  • Get your pitch ready – think of what you would say if asked “tell me about yourself”. Read more on interview techniques
  • Sound positive – tell people about your skills, your strengths and your ambitions. Sound like you mean it
  • Keep positive – not every contact will lead to a job, but it only takes one successful one to find you work
  • Get some experience if possiblevolunteer or do some work experience. You’ll make new contacts and you’ll be in “the right place at the right time” should a position come up
  • Be patient - potential contacts are likely to be very busy

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