Pursue your Career
So, how do you find a job? Of course through looking for job vacancies at several vacancy sites, websites of companies, in papers or at agencies. However, did you know that only 20% of all the available job vacancies is publicly advertised? This means that 80% is hidden! These do exists, but where to find them? You will discover these through networking, using social media and writing open application letters.
Once you have found a job vacancy make sure you write an excellent application letter and CV, these will make you stand out from the crowd. For this reason, your letter and CV should be targeted and tailor-made for the job you apply to. Having passed this first selection round successfully, then prepare yourself for the next round: the job interview.
There are several strategies to search for a job.
Many job vacancies (80% for high level jobs) are never advertised because of the expense and time involved. For these reasons, we advise you to start your job seeking process in your personal network. Start communicating your ambitions, your preferred career field or company to people you already know. Even if you have nobody in your personal network who can be directly helpful, they can always connect you to others who can be useful in your job search. Make sure that as many people as possible know that you are looking for a job and tell them exactly what you’re looking for (for more networking tips see also 'Research the employer'.
Vacancies are not advertised but are filled with the help of colleagues and recommendations from others. This is also the case with open applications. If you know what kind of job you are looking for, don’t wait for the company to post this vacancy! Show that you are motivated and proactive by sending the company an open application letter in which you offer yourself for a specific position. Alternatively, you can ask an employer for opportunities to volunteer, do an internship, shadow other employees or take on a summer job in their company.
- You should always make sure that the tone of your application letter (for example: your motivation and interests) matches the company culture.
- Be very clear about your motivation regarding the company, and what you can do for them, how you can contribute to the company (your sales pitch: your skills, knowledge and personal characteristics). Do not make your interest field too narrow.
- Careful targeting is far more likely to lead to success than sending out numerous near-identical applications. Follow our advice for writing CVs and application letters.
- Make it clear what you have to offer them.
- Also, have a look at the speculative application letter example.
Whether you’re looking for a part time job during your studies or for a full time job after your graduation, an employment agency may be a good starting point.
Employers use recruitment agencies in order to recruit for a new position or new type of post for which they have no expertise, to minimise publicity when recruiting in one area of work while losing staff in another, conceal recruitment activities from competitors or get help with the recruitment process - e.g. if they don’t have enough staff to deal with it.
Many agencies specialise in certain types of work, within certain sectors or in particular geographical areas. The employer pays the agency to assist them in filling a particular job.
Well-known recruitment agencies:
During the academic year various activities are organised on campus to allow students to get in touch with future employers.
There are also campus recruiters – students who recruit successful fellow students on behalf of a campus recruitment agency. Campus recruiters may also recruit fellow students on behalf of large multinational companies, for example Unilever or Shell.
Well-known campus recruitment agencies:
Please also see campus events and schools/faculties for more information.
These online sites enable you to post your curriculum vitae on the site for employers to view. You need to check the security of the site, as you are supplying personal information.
Links to vacancy websites for non-Dutch speaking people or international vacancies:
Since 80% of all the vacancies are not published, networking can be a great way to gain access to this hidden job market.
Networking is one of the skills that can enhance your employability and ensure that you will be able to stay employable throughout your life. If you would like to enhance your networking skills, we offer you great workshops.
The reasons why you should network are very simple. Many jobs are never advertised on job vacancy sites or through other visible channels. To avoid long recruitment processes, companies often recruit internally or on the basis of recommendations of (previous) employees. They may also find suitable candidates in their own (personal or professional) networks or from open application letters they receive.
Networking not only has advantages, it is time consuming and it can be a lot of work. You need to schedule time to talk to people and invest energy in your preparation. Networking might not be the fastest way to find a job, but it is very often the most effective way.
Before you attend any networking event, look at the professional (and personal) contacts you already have. List the contacts you have and mark them as cold, tepid or warm contacts. This helps you to make a better estimate of the outcome of a conversation with a certain contact. If you approach a cold contact, you need to ask other questions than when you approach a warm contact.
It is very important to prepare yourself for a networking event. Networking is a skill you can develop and improve. It will get better the more you practise and the more experience you get. You will need to start by doing a lot of research on the companies that will be present at the event. Look at the websites of the Erasmus Recruitment Days, Job Fairs, Career fairs, for example, and decide in advance which companies you’d like to get in touch with. The next thing is to prepare: dress well for the event (casual business), adapt your CV, update your LinkedIn profile, edit your list of questions, practise your personal pitch several times and you might even consider taking business/networking cards with you.
If you have attended a networking event or conversation and you have handed out your business card or received one, you should try to stay in touch with that person. Don’t wait too long before contacting them, but you must have a good reason to contact this person again. It has to make sense, otherwise you are just wasting his precious time! And that’s not the impression you want to give.
- Never ask for a job when you are networking.
- After attending a network event or taking part in a network conversation, make a list of the people you have met, what they do, what you discussed and how they can help you. This ensures that you make the most of the gathered information.
- If you decide to contact the people you have met during such an event or conversation, don’t forget to thoroughly research the company, career field or the person’s background.
- Always take your CV, with your photo on it to a network event or conversation and make sure that it’s well written. It will make it easier for the person to remember you.
- Don’t ask superficial questions that can simply be answered by visiting the company’s website. Think about what questions you would really like the answers to.
It is important to network offline through networking events, but it is also important to have an online presence and manage your online presence in a professional manner. This is because many recruiters and employers search on LinkedIn for potential candidates and they consult Facebook or Twitter to find out what kind of person you are. These online profiles are ways to develop a personal brand online. It is therefore important to carefully consider everything you place on these profiles. Also many vacancies are advertised through social media and a lot of other information is shared through these channels. Especially if you aspire a career in marketing, sales, media or PR, it is important to have a professional online presence. However, online presence will be a big part of the application process in other careers too.
Personal branding is obviously something you will do offline too. When you send in your CV and application letter, you should adjust your application to the company or job. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are great platforms for building your online presence and developing your personal brand. You can improve the way your brand yourself with the help of one of our career advisors, please make sure you make an appointment before visiting us.
If you have a Facebook profile, make sure you don’t have anything on there that you would not want a future employer to see: unwanted photos (your own or tagged), silly messages on your wall, strange groups you take part in, etc. Your Facebook page has to be completely foolproof. Try to look at it from an employer’s point of view. Be very critical!
Some definite don’ts:
- References to drug abuse
- Extremist / intolerant views, including racism, sexism
- Criminal activity
- Evidence of excessive alcohol consumption
- Inappropriate pictures, including nudity
- Foul language
- Links to unsuitable websites
- Lewd jokes
- Silly email addresses
- Membership of pointless / silly groups
LinkedIn is often seen as the professionalised version of Facebook. It is possible to join groups, add contacts and view LinkedIn profiles of relevant people or organisations. LinkedIn is not only used to connect recruiters and employers with students or potential employees, it is also used to connect students with alumni.
LinkedIn can be a way to put an important part of your CV online in a professional manner. Your LinkedIn account can be the first hit that a recruiter or employer gets when they Google you. If your profile is complete and looks professional, a recruiter is more likely to click further. Also LinkedIn is a great way to keep yourself up to date about developments in your career field or within the companies you find interesting. Furthermore, it is also a way to connect with the decision makers in the recruitment process and to find out when companies have open vacancies.
Some practical tips:
- Maybe needless to state, but you should add a professional photo to your profile
- Under your name, you should provide an informative profile message. For example, if you have just graduated, put your title in this message. If you are searching for a job, you can also say which career field you prefer.
- Make sure that your work experience and education section is complete. You need to sell yourself online and the best first way to do this is by letting professionals see your achievements.
- In the skills section, you should put down all the skills that you acquired during your studies, jobs and other activities.
- Show your ambitions by joining relevant groups. This will not only help you to connect with relevant people from your preferred career field (networking!!), but it will also show visitors of your profile what your interests are.
- If you have worked somewhere, participated in particular activities or organised events, try to get the recruiters, employers, colleagues or other people write recommendations on your LinkedIn profile. A good review will serve to upgrade your LinkedIn profile.
Twitter is a platform where you follow people or organisations and you can accept them as a friend. So it is also a great way to connect with relevant persons in a specific career field or in a particular company. Through Twitter, you can stay updated about open vacancies and developments within a particular industry.
If people tweet an open vacancy, it can reach a large number of people in a matter of minutes. As we said before, many vacancies are only advertised through online channels. Companies that advertise in this way also prefer people who have a professional online presence. This makes it even more important to regularly update your profile. If you want to search for jobs that are advertised on Twitter, you should use the search box at the top of your screen and fill in something like ‘management jobs’.
If you would like to be one of the first to know about vacancies in a particular company, you should follow their recruiters. They will post the latest information, developments and possibilities in the company. Twitter is also a great way to ask questions to recruiters in a not so formal way. This first online contact can be the first step in making good impression.
Some practical tips
- Search, find and follow relevant people and organisations. This will make it clear to others what your interests and ambitions are and it is a perfect way to stay updated on your preferred organisations.
- Be active on your Twitter account, retweet interesting posts and comment on relevant messages regarding your career field. You need to be visible for relevant people and companies.
- Join the online discussions and the conversations of the groups and people you are following. This is a great way to feel out whether they need new employees, whether new opportunities will present themselves in the near future or if you can do an internship or traineeship.
Magnet.me is an online graduate careers network. It can help you find a internship, placement or graduate job. After you have created a student profile, you will directly see an overview which opportunities you are qualified for and which companies would like to connect with you based on your profile. Students can like jobs or apply directly, connect with companies and be approached by graduate employers.
When you are successful in your job search, you will find the job that you like and fits your qualifications. Before you actually land the job, you have to apply. Most of the time your application starts with you sending in your CV and application letter, In response to these documents you will be invited to a job interview. Depending the company and job, you might be asked to take part in a second interview and an assessment. It is important to excel in all these aspects, because you only have one chance to make a good first impression!
When it comes to applying for a job your CV should stand out from the crowd. The following tips should help you create a successful CV and secure your first job.
There is no right or wrong way to write a CV, but there are some common sections you need to cover. You must include your personal and contact information. Specify your education, qualification, work history and other experiences in an organized manner. Also, provide an overview of relevant skills, own interests, achievements or hobbies; and some references.
A successful CV is always carefully and clearly presented. The guideline for a well written CV is no more than two pages. However, for some industries like banking and consultancy, a one page CV is required. A good CV is concise and illustrates every section or detail with no room for ambiguity. A CV serves as a checklist for a potential employer.
Make sure you do not use a standardised CV. Use your CV to stand out from the crowd. You do this by providing the information the company is looking for. Have a close look at the requirements in the vacancy and try to meet these in your CV.
There are a few optional things to put in your CV (marital status, religion) and some you really should avoid mentioning (disability and health information and current and/or previous salary details). You are not expected to attach a picture to your CV in the UK and the US. In other Western countries (like the Netherlands), it is more common to add a picture, although it must be a professional picture. Information regarding date of birth, gender and nationality are also optional but recommended in the Netherlands. When applying in the US, you are not allowed to put it on your CV.
Every CV must be tailored to the job you are applying for, so create a CV specifically for that role. Make sure that you write a CV that matches the job requirements. It is not necessary to write a whole new CV for every job application, but highlight the details that are relevant for the job you are applying for.
A CV ought to demonstrate your skills. It is important that you show how valuable skills and experiences which you have gained from past work experience contribute to your fit for the future job. These could include: communication skills; computer skills; team working; problem solving etc.
You can create different subsections for work experience (including internships), extracurricular experience, study projects and volunteering experience. Describe the experience of a certain job or event by briefly outlining the activities that you were involved with as well as the results you accomplished. It is important that you show how valuable skills and experiences which you have gained from past work experience contribute to your fit for the future job.
In many cases including an accomplishment that was gained from outside the work history can support and reinforce your qualifications. For example, you may want to include your fluency in another language, a special community project, or technology skills. Make sure the information is related to the career.
You are not obliged to include references on your CV. However, it is a good idea to ask already your current employer if he/she would be willing to be a possible reference, in case you need it in the future. You only give the contact details when asked by a future employer. If you've never worked before, it is OK to use a teacher or tutor as a referee.
It is important to regularly update your CV with relevant accomplishments, new job duties, recently achieved certifications, and other similar achievements. There's nothing worst than scrambling to come up with an accurate and interesting resume when you have two days to make the submission deadline for a job opening.
When you apply for a certain position, a recruiter will first take a look at your CV. If your CV fits the position, they will read your application letter. A well written application letter will trigger a recruiter or employer and improve your chance of being invited for an interview. Usually you are required to send in your CV (or resume) as well as your application letter.
- You must adjust every application letter (but also your CV) to the position or the company concerned. Before your write your application letter, you should definitely research the company (see also the section Career Research).
- Read at the job description. This shows you the core skills and qualifications that you need to be a good candidate for the job. Think about situations and experiences when you demonstrated these skills or qualifications.
- Also check your own network to see whether people have experience in this career field or with the company and ask them for tips and tricks. Any link in your own network can give you a head start!
- Use a business format when you write an application and address it to a specific individual (often this person is mentioned in the vacancy). The basic business application letter starts with your name address, the name (of the company and contact person) and address of the company you are applying to, subject, the date, a correct salutation, the content section and a correct closure. We will briefly discuss the content section
- Start the opening paragraph with a short explanation of where you found the vacancy and which position you are applying for and (if you did, which is recommended) refer to your phone call to the company and the person you spoke to. You must explain the reason for sending your CV and application letter. Be very clear about which position you are applying for: an internship, a traineeship, whether it is an unsolicited application or a regular job application.
- In the mid section, you start with the two motivations (why you like this position and this company) and your sales pitch (in which you sell yourself).Make it clear to the recruiter or employer that you have the skills necessary to successfully execute the position.
- In the final paragraph, you should communicate what you would like to happen after the recruiter or employer has read your CV and letter. Let them know that you would be very interested in a job interview. Refer to your CV (or resume) that you enclose with the application letter. Give them the opportunity to get further information about you.
- Also, have a look at an example of the structure of an application letter.
- Sell yourself to the organisation by describing past experiences that are relevant for the position
- Research the organisation and communicate in your letter what you find interesting about the organisation
- Write down facts that will make a recruiter or employer curious about you as an individual (with your experience and education).
- Check your grammar and spelling!
- Make a phone call to the company for extra information
- Make it clear which position you are applying for by mentioning it in your subject line
- Adjust your letter to the job you are applying for and the organisation you want to work for.
- Don’t exclude an Ms or Mr, by not mentioning them in your salutation. Avoid the salutation: to whom it may concern, that’s not personal! Try to make the application letter as personal as possible.
- Don’t introduce yourself in the letter. Avoid the sentence: but first let me introduce myself, my name is……, I’m 22 years old and currently a student at Erasmus University Rotterdam….
- Don’t come off as a desperate job seeker (‘I send out so many CVs’), but also not overly confident (‘You will miss a great asset to your team if you don’t hire me’).
- Never make it longer than one page.
The purpose of a job interview is for recruiters or employers to decide whether you fit the organisation culture, whether you could handle the job tasks and whether you can represent the company well to clients and others. The job interview has a purpose for the recruiter or employer, but it is also a perfect way for you to find out whether the company and job match your wishes, ambitions and expectations.
- Read your CV and application letter again to make sure you know what you wrote and what you highlighted.
- Read the job description, so that you know what you should definitely focus on during the interview.
- Research the company and work field.
- It is important to make a good first impression on the interviewers. Decide upfront what to wear. It is better to be overdressed than underdressed. Also check how you can get to the interview location and make sure you are there at least 15 minutes in advance.
- Prepare questions that you can ask the interviewer. This shows that you are really interested and have done your homework.
- Biographical questions: These questions are designed to put you at your ease and to tell something about yourself. For example: can you tell me something about yourself? If I asked your best friend/a colleague/fellow student who you are, what would he/she tell me about you?
- Motivation questions: These questions are designed to measure your motivation for a certain job/career. For example: Why did you apply for this specific job? What is it about this job that attracts you? What are your career goals? Which aspirations or ambitions do you have? What do you like about our company? Why do you want to work for our company? Why did you choose our company?
- Strengths-based questions: These questions are designed to measure your inner strengths/qualifications/skills and see how much understanding you have of yourself. For example: What are you good at? What do you do well? When do you feel you are most like yourself? When are you at your best? What drives you? What gives you energy? What stimulates you? What are your skills? Do your skills fit the job? What are your strengths – weaknesses? Why should we hire you? Why you rather than someone else?
- Hypothetical/case questions: What would you do if…..? These, often complex, cases are designed to test your ability to think quickly and anticipate unexpected questions/situations. For example: What would you do if you had to make a big decision that would have major consequences for the company? What would you do if you had an argument with a colleague? How many balloons fit in this room? Remember that there is no right or wrong answer to these questions! The interviewer is mainly interested in how you handle such a case, what your approach is to solving the case. You have to show your analytical skills, your creativity, your flexibility in thinking if the interviewer suddenly comes up with new information etc.
- Competency-based questions: These questions are designed to measure certain core competencies that will be important in executing the job successfully. The focus will lie on how you used these skills in the past. For example: Tell us about a situation where your communications skills were crucial? Describe a situation in which you really demonstrated good listening or writing skills? These questions refer to the STAR interview.
- Answer carefully. If the interviewer asks you a question and you do not know the answer right away, repeat the question out loud (in your own words) so you can briefly think about your answer. Alternatively, decide at that moment to take a sip from your coffee or tea. That also gives you some thinking time!
- Use examples from previous work experience, extra curricular activities or study related activities (STAR method).
- Stay professional in your answers. Don’t answer and greet an interviewer in an informal manner.
- Silences during questions or while answering a question aren't necessary a bad thing. Be precise in your answers. Don’t talk just to keep the conversation going.
- If you do not understand a question or you need more clarification, just ask the interviewer. It’s better to ask for more explanation about a certain question.
- Remember that the interviewer does not know you. They only know you on paper. So don’t think that they will assume or infer certain things from your CV or application letter, because they are so obvious to you.
- You have to be positive throughout the interview. Never speak negatively about previous colleagues, employers, recruiters or others. You have to show the interviewer how you would make the most of the same situation in the future.
- Most of all, stay relaxed during your interview. The best way to achieve this is to prepare well and go in with an open mind. If they are interested in you: great! If they reject you: on to the next! There are plenty of fish in the sea!