Alongside the headlines desponding of the economic slump and the diminishing number of graduate jobs, job-seeking graduates are bombarded by job-hunting clichés in the press. These include the importance of relevant work experience and transferable skills to complement academic achievements and the need to seek jobs from a wide range of sources.

There is, however, less frequently mentioned graduate jobs advice that could serve the graduate well when hunting for the dream role after university.

The wisdom – or foolishness – of undertaking an unpaid internship

According to the law, the majority of unpaid internships are technically illegal because they undermine the national minimum wage. Because few employers are prosecuted, there are opportunities for graduates who can afford to work for free to gain some experience.

With so many graduates desperately seeking experience, employers who offer relevant experience have their pick of willing unpaid interns.

  • It would be wise to get work experience, collect good references, and add achievements to your CV.
  • It would be foolish to overlook the opportunity to prove to an employer that you are a valuable member of their workforce.

When unpaid work experience does not unduly interfere with the search for relevant longer term paid work, many graduates grab the chance to ‘get out there’ in the work-a-day world.

If you don’t ask, you won’t get

Just because a company is not currently advertising for staff, it doesn’t mean that jobs are not available. Graduates can use the research skills that they honed while studying for a degree to investigate companies in order to find those that are expanding and/or that use their specific skill set or subject knowledge.

As well as a compelling speculative cover letter, the graduate will need to set out a strong business case for being hired, which should specify the type of work – or even the specific role – that would most benefit the target company. Graduates can build and work their network of contacts on LinkedIn in order to find out the name of the appropriate hiring manager.

A well-thought-out speculative job application will certainly grab the reader’s attention and make a positive impression when you are applying for graduate jobs vacancies, including retail jobs, engineering jobs, and law vacancies.