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Using vacancy websites and understanding job adverts

There is no shortage of job sites out there - we list quite a number of general ones in the Graduate vacancies (PDF , 1,182kb) information sheet and sector-specific ones in the Job sector pages. As well as the masses of job sites to sort through, job adverts can sometimes be a bit tricky to interpret as well. So, try the following information to find the right opportunities for you and understand what vacancies are saying.

So, once you have all these sites to look at, how can you use them effectively?

Search options

Most will have some sort of search function to help you sort through the huge number of advertised jobs. Some typical search fields are:

  • Job sector (particularly on general, multi-sector job sites)
  • Type of work (eg graduate job, internship, part-time, etc)
  • Geographical location (eg UK region, country)
  • Salary bracket
  • Keywords.

Here's an example taken from

Prospects job search page

Tips on searching

  • Don't be too general in your searches - it's likely to end in a long list of vacancies to work through.
  • Don't refine your search too much - it will narrow down the results too much and you might miss some great opportunities, because you’ve been too restrictive.
  • Start with a general search and then try variations on it to narrow down the results.
  • Keep an open mind when looking through the results. Don’t dismiss something because the job title doesn’t match what you’re looking for or you’ve not heard of the company before.
  • Beware of fraudulent sites asking you for payment or offering something too good to be true. Check SaferJobs for advice.

Read the detail

  • The job description is more important to help you decide whether this is a job you’ll be interested in.
  • You may find, when you look at the role requirements, you have experience from your previous employment, volunteering and extra-curricular activities.
  • Avoid focusing on the one thing you can’t do or have no experience of, when there are seven other qualities you have and can demonstrate!

For more on how to understand a job advert, see the section, Understanding vacancy details.