How to search for a job online ?

20th Dec 2020

Are you one of the many people who made a new year resolution to search for a job online? The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to start looking for your next career move because many recruiters prefer not to post vacancies during December in the busy run up to Christmas, meaning that January sees a higher number of opportunities. However, searching for a job online has plenty of challenges because, unlike looking through the vacancy pages of a newspaper, the internet is infinite. Try to think of it as a marathon rather than a sprint…Good Luck!

 1.  Plan before you start

To find a job online, list the different tasks you will have to complete – search for a job to apply for, prepare your answers, complete online application forms, sign up to job alerts, post your CV to job search sites and online recruitment agencies.

Make a timetable and give each element on your list an allocated time e.g. job search Monday – Thursday, volunteering on Fridays.

Think about when you work best (are you a morning person or more creative late at night?) and reserve that time of day for deciding how to sell yourself and crafting your answers to any tricky online application questions, because these tasks need maximum care and attention.

 2. How to assess which are the best job search sites for you?

There are hundreds of job search sites out there and it is easy to waste valuable time browsing endlessly before actually getting started on your job search.

 Consider the following:

Is the site free or do you need to pay for a subscription or extras?

Is there an option to sell yourself through a profile or to post your CV?

Does the site offer extra services such as a CV audit or cover letter review?

Is it easy to use? If you haven’t found your way around in the first few minutes, move on

Does it allow you to set up an account with your preferences and sign up for job alerts?

Does it offer only jobs in the UK or can you search for a job in Europe, or globally?

Can you filter to see only remote or home working jobs?

3. Getting the most out of a job search site

The key is to think about what you want to get out of the site.

General job sites: If you are looking for a career change, you want to generate ideas or to understand more about the current labour market then general job sites are a good place to start. Here at  for example, you can create a profile, get matched to employers through  our unique  "Sell Yourself Page", register for job alerts and post your CV. We also offer an online job search system where you can find a job by searching on job title, keyword or location. In addition, you can find careers advice articles and courses to enhance your continuous professional development.

Sector specific sites: If you want to work within a particular sector then these job search sites are useful – they hold less vacancies but have already done some of the filtering for you and they can feel less overwhelming. These sites sometimes also list relevant volunteering opportunities.

Freelance sites: If you are, or want to become, freelance then seek out freelance specific sites where you can sign up, create a profile and offer your skills for an hourly or a fixed rate.  These sites are also useful if you are looking for remote or home working opportunities.

4. Online job search through Trade/Sector bodies

For those in a particular trade, your sector institute/trade body will be invaluable during your time of job searching because they can open up a new and partially exclusive network - there are usually entry requirements linked to qualifications/years of service

If you are not already a member and cost is a factor, contact them to discuss options. During the pandemic, many bodies reduced their joining fees and offered flexible payment plans. Discount codes can also help reduce the subscription fees – these are sometimes given out at the end of online events as a thank you for attending.

Sector bodies often host their own "job boards” and you can sign up to their email newsletters too e.g., The Chartered Institute of Building:

Some can also put you in touch with mentors who can help with career development.

5. Using online recruitment agencies

Research online recruitment agencies and sign up with a handful.

Some agencies are sector specialists so explore those first.

Consider whether you prefer a big agency with lots of vacancies or a small agency that gets to know you.

Sign up for their job alerts as this can save you a lot of time searching online.

As you start contacting agencies you will get a feel for which are your type. It is a bit like dating so don’t give up if the first ones you contact don’t get back to you.

6. Online networking events

COVID-19 has meant that many networking events have moved online. Although these have their own challenges it does mean you can attend events hosted by organisations across the country and the world.

Seek out events that suit you – do you prefer a large event with the opportunity to break into small groups or a medium sized event with a panel of speakers followed by Q&A?

If you find networking events in person exhausting or stressful than an online event might open new doors – you can dip in and out more easily and there is no need to travel.

Go local – online regional networking has flourished during the pandemic and with many people home working there has been a new interest in the value of local connections.

7. Social media

If you know you are at risk of redundancy, or are already out of work, be proactive in updating your social media and reach out to new connections.

Are you already connected to colleagues in your existing/previous employer? Many jobs still get filled without being advertised but through the digital equivalent of "word of mouth”.

Consider writing a social media post explaining briefly about your situation and the skills you can offer, and ask your network to share it more widely. Remember, due to COVID-19 many more people are facing redundancy than ever before in our recent history – and whilst this means that there are more people competing for each job, it also means there is less stigma about being unemployed.

 8.  Online volunteering

This is a way to build your network if you are unemployed, at risk of redundancy or planning a career change. It can be difficult to justify taking time out to volunteer when you feel you should be spending every moment job seeking but think of your volunteering as part of your job search: you are developing skills and expanding your network.

Since COVID-19 many organisations have switched to offer volunteer from home roles which are helpful if you have caring responsibilities or find it difficult/expensive to travel.

Volunteering boosts your mental health and gives you something positive to talk about in your next interview.

Volunteering can sometimes lead to you being offered paid work because it has given the employer the opportunity to get to know you and see your skills and enthusiasm in action. 

Try or to get started

9. Blogs/Podcasts

Add variety to your job search by listening to career focused podcasts and reading blogs. These can often spark ideas for new employers to approach or different online sites to explore. Podcasts can be built into your job search timetable and you can listen while exercising, so boosting both your physical and mental health.

10. Online jobseeker training

Learn more about how to find a job online by seeking out free training on job search techniques. Platforms such as your local adult education centre or the national careers service are good places to start and the Open University also has a range of free online courses to guide you through the process e.g. Open University course "Succeed in the Workplace”:

And finally, people often comment that finding a job is a fulltime job in itself, and in the midst of a pandemic you may feel that it is difficult to know where to start. We hope that this article will help you take the first steps to finding your new job in this new year.


Find more about how to sell yourself at the interview on our career advice page.