Finding a Job

Finding a Modern Apprenticeship Finding a part time or Saturday job Making the most of career events and job fairs Researching companies and organisations Using recruitment agencies Using social media to find work, and careers information Where to look for work

Where to look for work

Article Image

Looking for your first job, but not sure where to start? You’re not alone.

Not much comfort, but well worth remembering! In 2016/17, 22% of Scottish school leavers went into employment. So, there are job opportunities out there.

Employers use lots of different methods to find new employees. This quick guide to their main recruitment methods explains how companies hire new employees. It will help you decide where to start looking and how to plan your job search. 

Word of mouth or personal contacts

Nearly a third of employers find new employees this way. Networking is a great way to find ‘hidden jobs’; the 60% of jobs that are never advertised.

Use your personal network of contacts to help you find work. These might include: family, friends, neighbours, work experience placement providers and other work-related contacts. Maybe you also have contacts through a part time job, volunteering or your leisure activities?  

Make sure your contacts know you’re looking for work, and what type of work you’re interested in. Maybe you could use social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+ to spread the word?

Contact potential employers directly – even if they aren’t advertising

Contacting local companies and organisations speculatively – on the off-chance that they might recruit – can be hard work but it is worthwhile. This is particularly true if you have a specific type of job or apprenticeship in mind, and can target relevant employers.

For example, if it’s a plumbing apprenticeship you’re after, focus on local plumbing firms and your local council. You’ll find firms through the Yellow Pages or, the online version, and in this case a specialist website like ‘Need a Plumber’. The job profiles on Planit list useful contacts that may help you to identify potential employers.

Some big companies start recruiting as early as December or January for start dates in September. So, start planning, and applying, early.

Jobcentre Plus and 'Find a Job'

You can check out Jobcentre Plus vacancies using Find a Job. You don’t need to create an account or register, unless you want to use the job matching service.

Alternatively, you can visit your local JCP office to search for vacancies.

However, you might find the Job Search tool on the My World of Work website more helpful. It uses the Jobcentre Plus database of vacancies but the search options are different. Search for ‘Modern Apprenticeships’ if this is what you are looking for.

Local and national newspapers

About a quarter of employers still use local newspapers, as well as their online recruitment websites, to advertise vacancies. So keep an eye on them too. Local libraries usually have copies of the main local and national newspapers. 

Companies’ and organisations’ own websites

For most employers, except very small businesses, this is now the most popular way of advertising jobs and other opportunities.

Many employers’ websites let you register your details and set up a ‘job alert’, so they can let you know about vacancies by email, text or phone. You may also be able to follow their vacancies on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+. 

Plan your search before you go online. Think about the employers you’d like to work for, any specific industries you have an interest in and the type of opportunity you are looking for. Many industries, like the offshore oil and gas industry, have specific online recruitment sites.

Recruitment websites

Lots of employers advertise vacancies on commercial recruitment sites. Employers have to pay for the service, so it’s more popular with larger companies and organisations.

There are thousands of different recruitment sites. Some post a wide range of vacancies; others focus on specific industries or specific groups of job seekers, like graduates.

Here are some popular general recruitment websites.

Recruitment agencies

Finding staff through recruitment agencies is a popular method of recruitment in the private sector, particularly with smaller organisations that don’t have a human resources department.

The employer pays for the service the agency provides, you don’t. And, you aren’t obliged to apply for every job they recommend to you.

Some agencies recruit for a wide range of employers, others specialise in recruiting for particular industries – for example, the catering industry. They can be useful for finding temporary or seasonal work as well as full time jobs.

Local recruitment agencies are often listed in the Yellow Pages and the online equivalent at You can also find agencies by using a recruitment agency directory, such as Agency Central.

Before you contact an agency about registering with them find out as much about them as you can. You can check them out on the Recruitment and Employment Federation’s Code of Good Recruitment Practice website.

Registering is usually straightforward, just phone or email them. They’ll usually invite you in for an interview and ask you to bring your CV along.  If you register with an agency keep in touch regularly so that they keep you in mind.

Job fairs and careers exhibitions

Make useful work-related contacts. Visit careers exhibitions, job fairs, recruitment events and industry awareness days. In particular, look for Modern Apprenticeship events, particularly during Scottish Apprenticeship Week. It usually takes place around spring time every year.

Look out for posters and social media posts advertising these events and make every effort to get along if you can. You might make some useful contacts.

Social media networks

Social media networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, are playing an increasingly important role in recruitment and selection, especially for large national and multinational companies. Over half of companies and organisations now use social media as part of their recruitment strategy. Take a look at the article Using social media to find work, and careers information for more information.

Was this article useful?
Please help us improve Planit by rating this article.