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How to find work

There is a wide range of career opportunities available to you after you graduate. You will find many jobs advertised on MyCareer, on graduate job websites and on general and specialised sites. Most students and recent graduates concentrate their job search on applying for jobs that are advertised online on various job websites. This can be an effective strategy, but focusing solely on advertised jobs is not the only way to find work. In fact the majority of jobs are never advertised which means it’s important to spend time trying to access this hidden job market to have access to a wider pool of opportunities.

Advertised jobs

You will see a high volume of graduate programmes advertised, and these can be a great first step on the career ladder. Alongside these, there are all kinds of entry level roles available to you, in large multinationals as well as in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which may be less obvious at first glance but which can be just as rewarding.

Graduate schemes

Many of the roles advertised for final year students are graduate schemes or graduate development programmes. Larger organisations typically use this type of programme to recruit graduates who they deem to have strong potential to move into managerial or leadership roles within their company. These programmes are highly structured development programmes and typically involve training and support from mentors. They usually last from one to two years, or longer in the case of accountancy traineeships.  Graduate schemes are found across all sectors, but are particularly common in Finance, Science and Technology companies.

Demand for these structured schemes is generally high and competition is strong. Organisations spend significant amounts of money on marketing these opportunities and developing their recruitment processes in order to attract the best graduates. Most of these companies will advertise on MyCareer and will have a presence at one of our Career Fairs as well as at the GradIreland careers fairs that take place several times throughout the year.

Graduate jobs/entry level jobs

Despite the large amount of publicity and attention that graduate schemes get, most students do not begin their careers on one of these programmes. The majority of jobs that are available to recent graduates are what are called graduate or entry level jobs. Many of these opportunities are with smaller firms, which can offer great opportunities for graduates to learn and develop. Take a look at the “Sourcing Vacancies” resource below, and the job search resources specific to your course on our “What can I do with my degree” web pages. 

Academic/research jobs

Many research roles including research assistant, PhD roles and Post-Doc roles will be advertised on the vacancy pages of the individual Higher Education institutions website.

Internships and work experience

More information on internships can be found on our internship and work experience page:

The hidden jobs market

The majority of jobs are never advertised.  Some of the reasons for this include:

  • Companies already have a bank of suitable candidates who have speculatively applied to the company
  • Many companies use existing employee referrals to fill roles
  • Potential employees are targeted using LinkedIn or other social media.

This can have a significant impact on how you plan your job search strategy. You need to ensure that you are putting yourself in a position to be considered for these unadvertised jobs.

Informational interviews

Informational interviews are conversations, in person or online, where you ask a professional questions about their job and the sector in which they work. This is a really useful way to gain an insight into their role and the company they work for, the type of experience and skills that are sought after, how their employer recruits candidates and to learn about current industry trends and future opportunities. Having conversations like this will help you decide if you want to work for this company or in that sector and can help you narrow down, or redirect, your career options.

Once you have identified who you want to approach you can send them a short email to introduce yourself and explain why you are getting in touch. Ask for 15 minutes of their time to ask them questions about their job and how to best go about looking for work in their area. Most people will be happy to give you a bit of their time to answer your questions. You are much more likely to get a positive response if you have been referred by someone they already know, so it is important to mention this in the message.

Some things to bear in mind for your meeting:

  • Do research on the company and sector.
  • Be professional and business-like.
  • Be aware that time is precious; do not overstay your welcome.
  • Have specific questions in mind that you would like to ask
  • Always follow up with a thank you email

Finally, don’t be disheartened if not everyone you approach responds to the request, and don’t let it put you off contacting other people. While most people are happy to help, they might be too busy to respond at the time when you contact them. If you’ve tried to contact a number of people and had no response, set up a Next Step appointment with your careers consultant to review your networking strategy and get advice on how best to approach contacts.

Speculative applications

You can send job applications directly to a company even when they haven’t advertised a role. However sending a generic CV and cover letter to many companies is not effective. Identify a couple of companies that you would like to join and send each of them a tailored application. You need to spend time researching the company and identifying the person within that organisation who would be the best point of contact. In your cover letter you should outline why you are interested in working for them and why you feel that you would be a good fit for that organisation. Highlight your skills and experience and what you feel you could contribute to the company. It is important that you spend time identifying how you could add value to the organisation. After two weeks of sending the application follow up with a phone call. If there are no vacancies, ask the company to keep you application on file for future opportunities.