Careers Service

Using networks to help you in your job search

People make new professional contacts (sometimes known as ‘networking’) for many different reasons: for information, advice, uncovering new contacts and business deals, or even just to meet people and find out what’s going on in their industry. Making contacts can also be a good way to find out about jobs and careers.

  1. Many jobs are never advertised, its expensive and the recruitment process can be time consuming. So to avoid this some companies recruit internally, recruit from speculative approaches or from people who are known to them and via social media.
  2. Sometimes it can be hard to know whether a job or career is right for you, talking to people who do that job can help you clarify your ideas and give you some tips on where to find opportunities.
  3. Networking is not about asking for a job, it is about gathering information, discussing ideas and in some cases raising your profile within a professional setting. By doing this you may make useful contacts and find out about opportunities that have not been advertised.

Before you say no it's not for me read this article on our blog: Networking I'd rather eat my own shoes thanks

Opportunities for networking

Social networking online

Many companies have a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. These can be great tools for making contacts with recruiters and professionals, and conveying a professional image.

Be careful how you present yourself on social networking sites, as well as with comments you post on forums etc. Many employers "check out" job applicants and could find information about you that you would rather they didn't know. Check your privacy settings carefully!

Student networking and networks

There are plenty of opportunites to meet and network with professionals or other students interested in your chosen field.

  • Student societies There are lots of department related societies listed on the Students Union website many of them will run social and networking events for you to get involved with.
  • Careers fairs and events We run a variety of employer events for you to attend where you can ask questions and find out more from the people who currently work in the profession.

Alumni networks

Some universities have particularly active networking groups for alumni. It may be alumni of a particular course or from a particular country of origin. Register with the Alumni Office to find out about events.

Professional networks

Most professions with have one or more professional body or membership organisation. You may be able to get student membership at a reduced price. Many professional bodies offer events and training and have social and networking events, often on a regional basis and for students or new professionals.

  • Use our sector pages To find out about national professional bodies and local groups related to your area of interest.

Managing and using your networks

  1. Make a list of people you know - what do they do and can they be of help to you?
  2. Keep contact details or business cards of people you meet at conferences or events.
  3. Do your research. If you are going to make contact with these people again find out more about what they do, their company and sector.
  4. Join professional groups, and be active. Consider joining a committee and helping to organise membership activities or events.
  5. Plan your first contact carefully.
  6. Never directly ask for a job when networking! Ask for information and contacts and see where it leads.