One of the biggest barriers to engaging with employers can be researching who they are, where they are and how to contact them.
This guide has covered a lot of the ground work so that you can easily identify employers and make immediate contact.
The information is structured in two parts:
This section will help you to identify ways of finding employers and some of the general sources of contact information. You will find other useful information in know the job market.
Search for regional graduate employers using the Gradsouthwest Employer Directory. You can search hundreds of employers which have previously advertised on Gradsouthwest by location, sector or graduate recruitment criteria.
Every higher education institution carries out an annual survey of graduate destinations called the DLHE Survey – Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education. The data is collected six months after graduation and has a response rate of at least 80%.
Staff of the University of Plymouth, including those in University of Plymouth Colleges, can access this information by contacting the careers service. There is also a downloadable file available with details of every company in the South West which has recruited a Plymouth graduates in the last five years.
Staff from other institutions should contact their careers service.
The following are local papers with their jobs day identified. Keeping an eye on which companies are recruiting will give you an idea of which companies might be interested in working with you.
To find a list of the local papers in your area, go to the UK newspapers website.
Although not specifically about the SW, the Plymouth University Careers Service website includes a useful resource linking employers and professional bodies to individual subject areas, including specialist recruitment sites and magazines for different career areas.
Business directories can usually be found in libraries or local authority websites. Alternatively you can go to the following websites for lists of businesses, searchable by region:
The local Chamber of Commerce is a good place to look for the details of local small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The 'contact your local chamber' section will show you a map and a list of different regions. Many SMEs will be members of a Chamber of Commerce and information about member businesses are often available via the information on each website.
Business Link has a search facility that allows you to find your local business link, and they can also advise on potential business contacts
Tagish offers a full directory of UK public sector information sources and is searchable by region.
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”
Business intermediaries, umbrella organisations, professional associations, and local networks can all provide a quick and easy way to get your message across to a large targeted group of employers.
Most of these groups are keen to work with Higher Education and you can approach their members through regional meetings, newsletters, websites and mailing lists. A single approach to a network is quicker, easier and often more effective than researching and approaching individual employers. Most networks have a named contact you can work with who can offer advice on the best way to get your message across to the right people.
If making a direct approach to an employer, your first impression is critical. It needs to catch the attention of the person you want to work with and set the scene for future partnerships.
Most umbrella organisations recommend that you start by submitting a short piece for their newsletter with an accompanying note to the named contact to put the request in context.
Before approaching an umbrella organisation, it’s worth looking at their website to get a feel for their overall approach.
When writing something, remember:
You’ll need to give some thought to how you manage the responses from employers.
Key things to consider:
If your newsletter or website item doesn’t get a good response, you could request a meeting with a contact from the network to see if they can suggest any other avenues.
To test the principle that your existing contacts are likely to help you find employers with whom you can engage, apply the ‘famous person’ test:
Ask yourself “who do I know who’s famous?” Write a list of all of the famous people you know.
If your list is short, ask the follow up question "who do I know who knows someone who's famous?" Write a list of your contacts and who they know. Your list will soon be much longer.
Applying this to the issue of employer engagement:
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