Finding a job can seem daunting at first, particularly after a long period of not working. But there are resources that you can use to find suitable roles.
Know what you’re looking for
Before you start searching, you need to know broadly what such a job would look like. Figure out what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. This may mean knowing the specific roles that you’d like to fill but it can also be simply knowing what field or industry you’d like to work in.
Think about whether you have the necessary skills to do the job. It may help to make a list of personal strengths that you can consider when looking at job advertisements.
What hours are you looking to work? Jobs can be full-time (usually 35-40 hours a week) or part-time. Some jobs may offer flexible working hours, which can be tailored to your needs and situation. You should also consider whether you are looking for permanent or temporary work.
Read more about flexible and part-time work.
With a zero-hours contract, an employer does not guarantee to provide work and only pays you for the hours you worked. In working out whether a zero-hour contract will affect your eligibility for benefits, you should consider the average number of hours you work per week.
Plan your job search and set goals
Your job search has a greater chance of success if you create a plan at the start. You should:
- identify suitable job sites (pick a few)
- set aside several hours a day to look for work
- set measurable goals such as ‘x number of jobs applied for each week’.
You should by now have a shortlist of jobs that you can apply for. There may be tight deadlines for applying. You can make things less stressful by preparing the following documents and keep them together in a folder on your computer:
- your most recent CV (you might create variations for different types of job)
- details of your references and referees
- a basic cover letter that you can tailor for specific vacancies.
It’s a good idea to make a note of any job websites that you plan to check regularly.
Looking for advertised jobs
Many jobs are advertised publicly and you can usually find these on job websites. These sites are frequently updated so make sure you keep checking back for new jobs.
Popular UK job websites
These are the biggest job websites and they will allow you to search for what you are looking for. Different employers list their vacancies on different sites so it’s a good idea to check several regularly.
Finding a job in the public sector
As well as searching for jobs with commercial companies, you may wish to look for public sector jobs at places like your local council, libraries, schools or hospitals. Working in the public sector can be a good way of helping your community, and public sector employers often offer flexible working hours. Such jobs can be more stable and have a number of other benefits compared to working in the private sector. You can often find public sector jobs advertised in the jobs section of your local council’s website. Find your local council's website. Here are some other places to look:
Job websites for disabled people
Some job sites have been designed to help disabled people find a job. Here is a small sample:
- Evenbreak matches disabled job seekers with suitable employers.
- Disability Jobsite helps disabled people to find work by offering ‘barrier-free’ e-recruitment.
- Disabled Workers is a registered charity that supports disabled people looking for work. It lists the latest job opportunities and provides a space where you can showcase your skills online.
If there are any companies that you particularly wish to work for, look for the jobs section of their own websites and check these regularly. This way, you’re less likely to miss an opportunity if it is not advertised widely. You may also find it useful to follow their LinkedIn pages as companies often advertise job vacancies there.
If you’d like to know a little more about a company and other people’s experiences there, visit Glass Door. This website features reviews, average salaries and interview questions for a variety of roles.
Understanding job adverts
Recruiters use abbreviations to make the most of the limited space in job adverts.
- FT – Full-time
- PT – Part-time
- PA – Per annum (annual salary)
- Hr – Hourly rate
- FTC – Fixed-term contract
Which employers are positive about disabled people?
One quick way to identify whether an employer is disability-friendly is to look for the 'Disability Confident' symbol alongside job ads.
Try posting a polite and professional status on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. Ask if anyone knows of any opportunities in your area of work if you do not have a job. This is not a good idea if you are employed though as what you post online may be seen by your employer.
You could also try:
- using social network search boxes to find relevant vacancies
- liking or following the social pages of companies you’d like to work for – they may post interesting job opportunities there
- keeping an eye on relevant Twitter hashtags, such as #EngineeringJobs
- making sure you have a completed and up-to-date LinkedIn profile – people may view your profile when they are looking for people with your skills.
Approaching companies that are not advertising
Get in touch with companies that you’d like to work for, even if they’re not advertising. You have nothing to lose and even if they have no vacancies for you they may keep you in mind for the future. Follow these steps:
- Identify companies that you are interested in working for. You could use something like Yell.com to find local businesses.
- Search online for the email of the HR department or someone who deals with vacancies relevant to you. Try looking for website sections like ‘Working for us’, or ‘jobs’.
- Email your CV along with a brief cover letter that outlines who you are, your skills and experience and the kind of work you are looking for.
- The response rate to this kind of speculative email is generally low. If you contact lots of companies, the chance of hearing something positive increases.
Registering with agencies
Registering with recruitment agencies can help you find some kinds of work.
Adjustments in the application process
If you are worried that an application process might disadvantage you, ask if you can apply in a different way. This could be submitting your application in another format or asking for extra time in assessments.
Know that you can ask for adjustments to the role
You can ask for adjustments to the role before you apply. This could include things like changes to the advertised hours or duties.