Using your network to find a graduate job

I’m a strong advocate of using every channel possible to find yourself a new job – agencies and job boards are the obvious two, but there’s also a hidden jobs market which you need to tap into. Your network can be a powerful way of finding out about jobs which wouldn’t otherwise have hit your radar.

But is this still the case for graduates, who by their nature don’t usually have a mature or extensive professional network? Well yes, absolutely. You might be surprised at the people you know who could help you uncover a role you might not otherwise have known about.

A case study in using your network

As a recent graduate you might not think you have a very big network, but you’ll be surprised at how many people you can connect with on LinkedIn. Make sure you send connection invitations to your lecturers, careers advisors and fellow students, but also think about friends and family. If you have a part-time job, connect with people you meet there too, as you never know when you might be able to help them – or when they might be able to help you.

In this blog I’ve chatted to Will Crookes, a recent graduate who started his first career role during lockdown. In it he shares his experience and tips for others doing the same. Will is actually the perfect case study for using your network as a graduate, because he wouldn’t have heard about his dream job without it.

Will is the son of a former colleague of mine, and as families we’ve spent lots of time together. Will knew I am a careers coach and asked if we could have a quick phone call so I could pass on a few tips as he was starting his search for a graduate role. During the call he explained a bit about what he was looking for, and I gave him a few pointers about places to look and ways to approach the search.

It was a few weeks later when a contact shared a graduate role with me in case I had any clients who fit the bill. I didn’t, but the role at boutique management consultancy thevaluecircle sounded perfect for Will. The rest, as they say, is history.

Will explains: “I’d done all the usual things to look for a graduate job, including approaching my manager at Waitrose, where I was still working part-time. I explained I was interested in policy and strategy, and as a result was given the chance to speak to people at Waitrose head office in the strategy team.

“Finding a job is hard if you don’t know exactly what you want to do – and how many graduates are certain? I used my network of family friends and colleagues at Waitrose and just tried to explain what I was interested in so they could look out for jobs in their own networks.

“Of course, I was doing all of the usual looking at job boards and on LinkedIn as well, but as I knew I didn’t want to work for a huge organisation, the standard graduate programmes didn’t appeal to me.

“In the end it was the phone call with Meg which turned up the job I’m now loving. So even though graduates might assume you don’t have much of a network to use in your job search, I’d suggest you know more useful people than you think.”

Networks work for employers too

The other side of the recruitment equation is the employer, and thevaluecircle was delighted not to have to pay a recruitment fee or spend hours sifting through CVs after advertising the job on LinkedIn. Managing partner David Cockayne knows the importance of networks too.

“Most of our new work comes from established professional and personal networks, so we never underestimate the power of who you know.

“Recruiting Will via this informal route worked brilliantly. He still had to go through the process of submitting a CV and being interviewed, but there’s no way he would have seen any of our adverts or engaged with the recruiters we were talking to, so we were delighted to have found him as he’s such an incredible asset to the team.

“Whenever we recruit we use our wide network of associates to search for candidates who we might not come across through the traditional routes, and we’ll continue to use this as a powerful way of finding bright new talent for our growing business.”

So networks are powerful both for the job-seeker and the recruiter, and at a time when graduate jobs are in more demand than ever, using your network to uncover opportunities might just be the thing that makes the difference in your job search.

For support with your first step on the career ladder or with making your next move as a seasoned professional, give me a call to set up a free chemistry session and hear about how we could work together.


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