Henley Webinar: Hidden Jobs

Now that we are starting to see the end of the third lockdown, lots of companies will be opening up their hiring departments to find new entry level, graduate scheme or placement recruits. This is your chance to get back to job hunting. However, I appreciate that a lot of jobs, especially graduate schemes, have hit their deadlines. But this does not mean there’s no jobs out there! It is all about finding the hidden jobs that not everyone would be aware of.

I went to a webinar run by the Henley Careers Team on how you would go about finding these Hidden Jobs to then break it down for you in a blog. Helen Slingsby and Sarah Rourke took the students through being aware of what is around you, how to establish your own network and a new speculative approach for students to try. As well as how to make themselves the most employable they can be.

Know What Is Around You

Firstly, they stressed that it is good practice to remember that 70% of jobs are not advertised in the usual places like prospects or brightnetwork. These jobs often go to people with connections and those that have gone out of their way to find them. This is where you need to learn how to access these hidden jobs and how to create your network. Both these questions were answered within the webinar!

You also need to be aware of the reality of your own situation. What can you bring to the job? Why do you want to go into this career area? Why are you better than other candidates? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, you need to contemplate how you are even meant to persuade employers to hire you.

Get help and feedback! If you feel like you’re hitting wall after wall, try and force yourself to do something active to help yourself. More importantly, this is what the careers team are for. Send them your CV or Cover Letter, run through practice interviews, or just generally get some help by booking appointments.

Unfortunately, there is not a quick solution to job finding but this is why helping your profile stand out by being aware of these tips and tricks will go a long way.

Creating Luck

Helen and Sarah both agreed that they don’t believe in just lucky people. They stressed that you create your own luck by putting yourself out there and using what you have to your advantage.

One of the most important aspects of this is social media. We live in an age where you can follow your favourite companies online and keep up to date with them…so make sure you do! For example, a lot of media companies advertise for jobs quickly with a short deadline, so by following them on their social medias, you’ll be able to see the job posting first and get your application in.


Another aspect of the webinar was the importance of your network. Many will assume they don’t have a network if its not starring at them in the face, but you would be surprised to see how many connections you have before even starting to work. Your “hot” network, as they called it, are people you already know and that would be willing to help you, including family members and friends. Other network avenues can stem from “colder” connections like from previous work, school members or even random people you’ve connected with on LinkedIn.

When you have found a connection you want to pursue through your network spider web, you want to focus on asking them questions like, can you get me the details of your HR team so I can send them by CV? Or can you tell me more about your role or other areas that might be hiring? By using questions to get to know the company and their positions, you get to be less direct in asking for help.

An extra way to help yourself is by using the LinkedIn Alumni search. If you search The University of Reading in the search bar of LinkedIn and follow the page down to the tabs labelled “home…about…posts etc” you will see a tab labelled “alumni”. It provides statistics on where Reading alumni work, what areas specifically, what locations, what they studied and even your direct connections to them. These will be an advantage to you when looking to connect. By using things you have in common, such as going to the same University, you can establish more of a connection and use it as an opener to learn more about them.

Let’s say you’ve now found someone you want to message, either through LinkedIn or an email. How should the message be formed? The webinar leaders discussed a 4-point plan that people should follow when messaging connections:

  1. Keep it to less than 100 words overall.
  2. Your connection to the person goes first. You want to summarise your position and draw attention to any connections you have with the person you are emailing e.g. Dear Mr Clayton, my name is Beth and I am a fellow Henley Business student who found your details on LinkedIn.
  3. Request advice/their experience/information rather than direct help. It is good practice to get to why you are emailing, are you asking for time to ask them questions or are you asking for possible vacancy information e.g. May I have 20 minutes of your time to ask about your experience through a phone or zoom call.
  4. Define your interests and general desired career pathway. Your connections will need to know how this relates to you personally e.g. I am trying to learn more about marketing careers in technology companies and I thought your insights would be helpful.

You then want to end it with a polite thank you message e.g. Thank you for your time and I look forward to your reply. Kind regards, Beth Bennett.

Speculative Approach

The Henley consultants then went onto discuss speculative approaches, which is a new way to find jobs. It involves reaching out to companies that aren’t publicly advertising. It is about doing some research of the companies that you want to work with, or sectors you are interested in and then emailing the head of those departments to try and find possible job vacancies.

  • Make sure your subject line is punchy and relevant.
  • Start the email with I am writing to enquire as to whether you have an opening in roles such as…
  • Make sure the opening sentence demonstrates your knowledge of the company. Research the company’s values, are they eco-friendly? Are their specifically diverse and inclusive? Are they customer focused?
  • Add in a few lines about your experience and background that would make you an ideal candidate for any jobs within this area.
  • Attach your CV at the end.

Remember that this isn’t just about finding a job, it is also about relationship building so you can find hidden jobs in the future.

Also be aware that this approach doesn’t fit for massive national companies that get lots and lots of applications. It is more focused to smaller companies who can’t afford to advertise everywhere or who are slowly expanding.

All these tips and tricks to finding hidden jobs are useless if you don’t remember that any approach to companies or connections should follow the motto “what can I do for you, not how the company can help you.”

A big thank you to Helen and Sarah for taking the webinar from the Henley Careers Team and for providing a real insight into how to find these hidden jobs and how it isn’t too late to still be applying!