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Ask your contacts

Has anyone ever told you “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know"?  That can be very true when you are looking for work.

Find out how to use your contacts to get the job


What is the 'hidden job market'?

Quite a lot of jobs out there aren’t actually advertised.  Instead, they are filled by people that the employer knows.  

This means that if you only search for jobs online or look in the paper, you’ll never 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.  Here we mainly focus on offline but making the most of your social networks online is just as vital. Read our guide to managing your online social networks.

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 
  • Get 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 – look for networking events, industry conferences, jobs fairs, talks and workshops. Introduce yourself to as many people as you can and ask if you can stay in touch
  • Get social – search for and join business networks on sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Check out our advice on using social media to improve your chances of finding work
  • Strike up conversations – you meet new people every day and you never know where a chat might lead
  • 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 experiencevolunteer 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

Some people arrange to have a chat with a contact to introduce themselves and find out more about a particular company or industry.  This is called an informational interview. 


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