5 myths about your job search with the Careers Service

Whether you have just started looking for your next opportunity or have been searching for a little while, it is likely you will have some ideas about what you think the Careers Service might have to offer you

When to look for opportunities, what opportunities might be available and with who – not to mention where – are often your main priorities when looking at your next step. Whether you are looking for a role after your study, an internship in your break or something a bit different, like a scholarship or mentoring opportunity, this blog breaks down 5 of the myths you might have in mind as you embark on your search with the Careers Service.
We have also thrown in some handy tips on getting the most out of Handshake, as well as our resources on your job search outside of the Careers Service listings.

Myth #1 We only work with large graduate employers

70% of employers are Small to Medium sized enterprises

This couldn’t be more of a myth. Which is why it is at #1. In fact, 70% of the employers and organisations that the Careers Service has a connection with are small-medium enterprises (SMEs). This means that they have around 1-250 employees in their organisation and will likely offer roles throughout the year (rather than a recruitment drive in the Autumn). Working up from this, our next biggest set of connections are with organisations with fewer than 1000 employees. In fact, only 7% of our employers have over 10,000 employees. So, if you are looking for a smaller team environment or even a start-up to kickstart your career, you will likely find an organisation to suit you on our vacancies board.

Tip: Smaller organisations can take more research to check they are the right fit for you and vacancies will be more sporadic. In Handshake, go to the ‘jobs’ page and select the ‘Employer’ tab – here you can filter by the size of the employer, and you can see who is connected with us, whether they have a vacancy live or not. You can do your own research, in your own time – and perhaps even make a speculative application if they really seem like a strong fit.



Myth #2 We only list opportunities with City firms

Did you know the careers service has links to employers in over 60 industries: from farming to fashion; healthcare to higher education and aerospace to advertising? In fact, we list over 700 roles in the Arts & Culture over 12 months. This includes roles in journalism, sports & leisure, PR, film, TV and music. We also listed over 2000 roles in NGOs, non-profits, government and politics and international affairs – not to mention the public sector. If you missed our Creative Careers Festival or our International Development & Charities Festival then you an catch-up with talks on our YouTube channel.

Did you know?

The Careers Service lists over 11,000 opportunities a year from over 5000 organisations? Industries with the most vacancies are Internet & Software, Finance, Consulting, Education and Biotech & Life Sciences.


Myth #3 All the roles are gone by Lent

Did you know 45% of vacancies are posted in eAster and 28% in michaelmas term?
We list over 11,000 opportunities a year and whilst the majority are advertised in Michaelmas term, it is only by a margin. In Lent and Summer, we list over half of all our roles. Lent is the busiest time for internship opportunities to be listed, whilst 40% are listed across Easter and Summer term, including the breaks.
Opportunities are sector dependant – of course, some employers will have all their recruitment tied-up by the end of Lent. However, as candidates holding offers can withdraw late, it is useful to keep an eye on jobs boards in the summer and in particular, summer careers fairs and events.




Myth #4 All the roles are based in the UK

we have employers in over 60 countries, spread across more than 700 cities globally
Whilst London is the most popular base for our employers (followed by Cambridge, Manchester and Bristol) the UK is far from where all our employers are based. In fact, we have employers in over 60 countries, spread across more than 700 cities globally.
With 15% of our employers based outside the UK there is a world of opportunity available. If you are looking for more opportunity outside the UK, we also have our international job search board Goinglobal available for you to use.






Myth #5 I can only find ‘jobs’ or ‘internships’ on Handshake

Whilst most of our opportunities are jobs or internships, we also have several other types of opportunities to help you gain experiences with organisations. You can also search for placements, volunteering and apprenticeships via Handshake and might find things here that are not available on standard jobs boards. For example, in 12 months we listed over 170 ‘experiential learning’ opportunities from our employers. The category ‘experiential learning’ relates to experiences with organisations that give you an insight into their work. This can include insight days, mentoring programmes and scholarships that might still require an application. Tip: You can filter for this category in ‘Job Type’ on Handshake, Lent is a useful time to search for these opportunities but do look year-round.

How to make the most of your opportunity search in Handshake

  1. It’s not all about industry: Ensure you have maximised your ‘Career Interests’ in your profile on Handshake. This should include which jobs or job functions that interest you. This is important because you can take on a number of roles in different sectors. For example, you could work in advertising for a Biotech company.  Keep your options broad. Even if you have a small idea of where you would like to work, or what type of job you would like, that can help. If you have no idea – talk to us or make use of our live and recorded career workshops which can help with ‘How to pick a career’ and ‘Smart job searching’.
  1. Look at different times of year: This is particularly important if you are not looking at working for a large organisation with a formal graduate scheme. Perhaps you are looking to work in an SME, charity, teaching or research role. Those, along with many other industries, will be looking for immediate starts and will advertise across the Easter and Summer months. Even large graduate employers will have a few openings outside of their core recruitment time (off-cycle) as new roles open up, business expands, or candidates renege on offers.
  2. Save your searches: if you are using the same keywords for your searches, then you can save yourself time and save your search (this option will pop up under your search bar on the right if on a PC/laptop). You can choose to get alerts for those keywords. You can also use the bookmark tab (icon next to any role) to save it for later. Why not make use of the employer tab on the job search page? You can choose to ‘follow’ employers you are keen on, so that you can keep track of their opportunities.
  3. Don’t get bogged down by job titles: Increasingly job titles say very little about what the job really is, and your search will be limited by the keywords you use or your perception of what a job really is. The words ‘analyst’ ‘assistant’ ‘executive’ ‘editor’ can mean many different things, for example. Instead, it can be useful to use Boolean search terms (AND, OR, NOT or AND NOT) such as ‘Consultant AND Data’ or ‘Science OR research’ or ‘journalism AND intern’. This can help you to filter some of the results, especially if you are looking in a particular sector.
  4. Use multiple resources: we would love you to find your next opportunity with us at the service, but it would be impossible for us to list every opportunity out there. Using a range of resources, including social media, websites, word of mouth and trade press, can really boost your search. We have a list of handy external resources for you to try and a guide on job searching that you can access (Go to: Handshake> resources > careers essentials publications > Smart Job Searching).


Emily Packer, Careers Consultant

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