Finding a job

First things first, what are your strengths? Finding your first job can be daunting in terms of where to start. It may be helpful to identify where your skills are as well as what motivates you.

Find your potential

If you're aged 16-20, look at our Find Your Potential tool to help you identify your skills and what motivates you, as well as development areas. It will also help give you an idea of the type of job that might be suitable.

Find your potential

Once you're clear on your skills and experience, start by considering the type of company you want to work for. There are hundreds of thousands of companies so thinking about the type of company - and the industry - to start with, can help you narrow it down.

Here are some things to consider:

Company
  • Big or small?
  • Global or local?
  • Corporate, charity or public sector?
Values
  • Do you want to work for a company with a strong focus on diversity or ethics?
  • Is sustainability and climate change important to you, if so, what companies have this at the heart of what they do?
Sector
  • Retail
  • Financial services
  • The arts
  • Healthcare
  • Technology
  • Tourism

How to search for jobs

Now you're starting to have an idea what's important to you, you can begin to do some online research to identify companies that seem like a good fit and find where their open jobs are listed. There may be jobs that you didn't think existed, so it's important not to rule out sectors at this stage.

The internet puts thousands of job ads at your fingertips, with many companies and agencies advertising their open roles via their own company websites or posting to job boards.

Job boards

Well-known job boards in the UK include Indeed, Universal Jobmatch, Monster, Total Jobs, LinkedIn and Reed. Job boards are updated regularly with new vacancies and they often allow you to register and upload your CV. You can upload your CV so that employers and agencies can contact you directly. Most job boards allow you to set up alerts for any new jobs that have been uploaded and match your search criteria.

Writing a solid CV

Don't have a CV? Read our advice on how to create a great one.

Learn how to create a stand-out CV

To search for suitable positions on a job board:

  • Be specific about your job requirements such as location or working from home
  • Identify key words that relate to the role such as the job title
  • Be specific about whether you're looking for a permanent or temporary job
  • Specify whether you're looking for full time or part time hours
  • Set up job alerts to make searching easier
  • Make sure you have a version of your CV ready

Company websites

If there's a specific company that interests you, they may have their own careers website that lets you make applications directly. Looking at their website will also provide valuable insight into the company, which you'll need if you're successful in getting an interview.

Social media

Companies often advertise on social media too - on platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If you're interested in a specific company, it's worthwhile following them on social channels – specifically their careers or jobs accounts if they have one.

LinkedIn

You can use LinkedIn to search for jobs as many companies post their jobs on the platform, but companies also use LinkedIn to search directly for candidates. It's also a professional networking tool, so it's worth setting up a profile if you don't have one already. The LinkedIn website has useful guidance on how to set up and create an impactful profile. Keeping your profile up to date is key as it will help you show up in key searches and recruiters will check your profile when they are looking for candidates. The site is also useful if you have any interviews – for example you can research into the company and you can look up your interviewer to understand a little bit more about their background before you meet.

Don't have the skills the job is looking for?

It's a competitive job market so taking the time to understand your skills and experience is really important. If you don't have the relevant skills, experience, or qualifications for a specific role, you'll want to show the employer how your skills are transferable.

A transferable skill is, by definition, a skill not limited to just one job, academic subject, area of knowledge or specific task. It doesn't matter what your background is and where you're aiming for, you'll have a range of transferable skills which will fit a wide variety of jobs and situations, for example, clear communication skills which are important if you are working in a customer services role or numeracy if you are working with finance or data. You may have learnt these from school, playing sports or volunteering.

Voluntary work can give you the opportunity to gain additional experience and transferable skills.

You could even consider taking a two-step approach – taking one job to gain the skills you need for the job you want, and remember check out the Skills hub to explore the types of key skills you may need.

Find out more about volunteering
Visit our skills hub