Where can I find hidden vacancies?
A common misconception about looking for a new job is that all vacancies will be either advertised or easily visible. Unfortunately, that couldn't be more wrong.
Many vacancies are regarded as 'hidden': never to be seen by the majority of people - instead of advertising, employers will fill these vacancies by word-of-mouth, headhunting or simply recruit internally. Knowing how to get yourself in contention for these roles could give you a major boost when it comes to finding your next role.
Getting the word out
Using your network is the other main way to source hidden positions. Past employers, colleagues, friends, family and just about anyone you meet can form your network; and for serious jobseekers, even the most casual of meetings should be treated as a potential job lead. Conferences in particular provide an invaluable chance to meet a large number of useful contacts
If you're looking for your first job, your teachers or professors can be an invaluable source of information about the job market. As experts in their field they're bound to have contacts in the relevant industry and will know your strengths better than anyone. Make the best use of your university careers facility while you're there, no matter how distant the idea of getting a job appears.
Making a move
Even if an employer doesn't have any vacancies at the present time, they will always be willing to create a position if an exceptional applicant comes along. This is done by contacting companies on a prospective basis to ask if they have any opportunities for somebody with your skills.
The courteous way to carry this out initially involves giving them a call, preferably not during a stressful period, and then following up with an email thanking them for their time and attaching a copy of your CV. It's generally a good idea to get hold of the manager of the department you're looking to work in, who will then pass you onto the relevant person in the HR team to follow up.
As well as searching for hidden vacancies, you still need to continue applying for the vacancies that are visible through regular search methods. They will let you know the kinds of job descriptions that are on the market and the kinds of people that are being sought to fill them.
If you're adamant on working for a certain company and simply can't find a way in, consider applying for a lower level job and working your way up. Then you can use your contacts on the inside and be the first to hear about vacancies, leaving a pile of regular jobseekers trailing in your wake.