How to start looking for work

I need a job. What should I do?

Finding a new job isn’t easy. 

You might be searching for your dream role. You might want a job that uses your previous experience or qualifications. Maybe you have no experience or qualifications. You might even simply be looking for any job to start earning straight away.

Whatever your motivation, there are plenty of ways to find work if you know where to start. Planning your job search and using your time effectively is really important. That way you’ll get the desired results quickly and be less likely to become disheartened.

We’ve put together the most common reasons for looking for work and our top tips on how to get started.

1. I need a job, ANY job.

For lots of people, the type of work isn’t important. You just need to find a job, start work and earn your pay-check. 

If that sounds like you then the first thing to do is to make sure you can be flexible. You might need to take a job you wouldn’t normally consider or work non-standard hours. You’ll need to be immediately available and be able to demonstrate enthusiasm and willingness to learn.

Most jobs with a quick turnaround from application to start are temporary jobs. You can find these by searching on job boards or by registering with a local recruitment agency. Make sure you let them know you can start work straight away and be ready to answer their call when they get in touch.

It’s also a good idea to update your CV with a short statement at the top to let employers know you’re willing to do any type of work and can start at short notice.

Take a look at our CV templates here

Search our latest temporary jobs here

2. I need a job but don’t know what kind

For some people, they need a job but don’t know what work might suit them or what’s available.

Start by thinking about your skills and what you are good at. You might be good at organising or like talking to people. Maybe you prefer a physical, hands-on job or maybe you like the idea of being in an office.

Then research what jobs are available. Have a look on job boards to find what sort of local vacancies are being advertised. Find out what that job involves and do your homework about the skills or experience required. 

Whilst it’s nice to find your “dream job”, remember that most people don’t figure this out until later in their career. You should start by getting some experience first to give it a try or talking to other people who do that job at the moment.

If you have an idea of what you’d like to do long-term, but don’t have the experience or qualifications necessary just yet, don’t panic. Plan out where you want to get to and take small steps to reach your goal.

Find out about work experience, internships and volunteering here

Take a look at our career guides

3. I need a job but don’t have any experience

For others, it can be hard to find work if you don’t have any work experience. Lots of jobs require you to have worked somewhere else before, but how do you get experience to begin with?

Work experience placements, internships or traineeships are a good place to start. These are usually short-term job placements that allow you to get experience in a certain industry and sometimes get paid whilst doing it. 

You could also consider doing an apprenticeship. These are longer and involve working with a company for 1-2 years to develop specific skills and earn a trainee wage. You’ll need to do some study each week or complete some coursework to document the skills you’re developing.

Volunteering is also a really good way to get experience and develop your skills. Employers like to see volunteering on your CV too because it shows you’re proactive and have a good work ethic. Volunteering can help you develop skills like confidence, organisation and how to work as a team. These are all important skills for your future workplace.

Search our volunteering jobs here

Find out more about traineeships and apprenticeships

4. I need a job but don’t have any qualifications

Lots of jobs ask for a minimum level of qualifications like GCSE or equivalent passes in English or Maths. But others don’t need any experience at all.

If the job you’re looking for asks for qualifications you don’t have, don’t be put off. Find out more about the training involved and how to get it. It could be that there is funding available to help you or a short-term online course to get you started.

There’s plenty of ways to catch up on basic skills like reading, English and Maths. Plus, don’t forget you’re never too old to learn something new and apprenticeships are open to all age groups!

If you’ve done your research and it’s simply not possible for you to gain the qualifications required, you might need to alter your expectations. There’s often more than one way to reach your ultimate career goal – such as vocational routes or simply working your way up the career ladder. Revisit your career plan or speak to a careers advisor to get some advice.

Find out about career services here

Search local training courses

5. I need a job that uses my degree

If you’ve been to university, you’ll most likely want a job suitable for graduates. 

You might have qualified in a specific subject that leads to a single career path, like accountancy or law. But you might also have completed a more general subject, like art or media studies, and have lots of potential options.

Graduate scheme or internships could be a good option for you. Many of these have set in-take dates (like March or September) each year, so you might be in for a wait if you’ve missed the deadline. If you know the type of job you’re after, research the employers who offer graduate schemes in that area and keep an eye on their career pages. It’s also a good idea to follow them on social media to find out about any careers events that might be coming up.

If you’re not quite sure where to go after university, you’ll need to do some research. There will be some jobs you’re more likely to get based on the subject you studied, so start with those first. Don’t be put off if you need to start with some temporary work whilst you figure it out. If you’ve spent this long on your education, it’s not a bad thing to spend a few more months or even a year figuring out how best to use it.

Some graduates may also prefer to continue their studies, top-up with further vocational training, do some volunteering or even take a gap year.

Search our graduate jobs

6. I need a job with hours to suit me

For some people, the priority will be a job that fits around your other commitments. Whether you’re studying, have childcare or caring responsibilities, or for another reason, you may only be interested in jobs with specific part-time hours.

There’s lots of reasons people might need part-time work. The good news is that more and more employers are offering flexible working jobs. Some jobs are even more suited to working on a part-time basis.

If you need a job with fixed hours each week, make sure this is clear on the top of your CV. Employers will want to know at the outset what working pattern you can commit to.

If you need a job with variable hours, you might want to consider freelance work or self-employed jobs. May jobs are also available on zero hour contracts so you can choose how many hours you work each work.

Search our part-time jobs here