When you’re trying to get on the career ladder, you can find that you’re constantly trying to contact companies to find out if they’ve got any vacancies, can offer you any work experience, or can even just give you a bit of advice about getting into that particular industry. It can be a bit daunting, so we’ve found out the best ways to get in touch with companies.

For advice

If you’re looking for advice about a particular industry, one of the best places to go is directly to a professional who is working in the job that you want. The internet is a wonderful tool but you’ll get much more specific advice from a real person. And yes, it can feel a bit scary writing an email to ask someone for advice – we promise it won’t be that bad.

Or you could make use of the fact that so many companies use social media in a big way now. “I would recommend that you look for what social media channels an organisation is on. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are great because you tend to get a quicker response,” Andrea Clarkson, resourcing team leader at Telefónica, says. “With emails or letters the culture can be that it takes a couple of days to respond, whereas on social media the response can be sent instantaneously.”

For work experience

When you’re looking for work experience, sending off emails can feel like a never ending chore. But keep going! 

Approach your work experience hunt in the same manner to looking for a job – write emails and cover letters, outlining why you want to get a placement with that company. Finding the right person to contact can be a bit of a minefield too – but don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, dial whichever number is on their website, and ask. Even just phoning through to reception to ask who’s responsible for organising work experience placements can help your email to find the right inbox.

For a job

If you believe the media, unemployed young people are lazy, relying on handouts from the government and unwilling to work at anything other than their dream job. In reality, we know that you’re trying hard to look for jobs, applying for just about everything and are desperate to be able to stand on your own two feet. We’ve spoken before about treating your job hunt as a real job, but job hunting is also about being proactive and not waiting around for someone to knock on your door at offer you a job.

A common suggestion is to email companies that you would like to work for, even if they haven’t actually advertised any vacancies. But you need to be specific – emailing Google HR saying “GIVE ME A JOB PLEASE” isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Before you start writing your emails, you need to think carefully about who you’re contacting and why. Don’t just fire off emails without much thought, speculative emails need to be considered and planned – you’re not just applying for a job, you’re applying for a job that they’re not actually advertising for right now. Much harder. But still worthwhile – you’d be surprised by the number of people who get a foot in the door this way.

That said, choose which companies you decide to contact this way carefully. “With very large organisations it’s unlikely to work,” Andrea says. “They tend to get such a large volume of CVs so if something came in in the middle of that and didn’t go for a specific role it could be lost. But for the SME sector (small and medium enterprises – generally with less than 250 employees) it can be worth sending speculative applications for those and then if you don’t hear anything, follow up with a call.”

If you are interested in working for a big company, you’ll need to keep an eye out for when and where they advertise their entry level vacancies (we advertise all of O2’s and Bauer Media’s here on our opportunities pages, along with plenty of the opps offered by our partners). But don’t be afraid to contact them for a bit more information, if you need it, before you send your application in – Andrea recommends doing this through social media, but if that’s not an option then drop an email or give them a call.

Who should I contact?

In some cases, it’ll be fairly obvious who to contact. If there’s a recruiter’s name on a job advert, Andrea says you should definitely use that. “Most companies also have a resource or talent acquisition inbox that they monitor,” Andrea says, so that’s a great way to get your questions answered or find out a bit more about a job that you’ve seen advertised.

If you need a bit more advice about sending emails, check out our guide to email etiquette. And if you’re looking for entry level jobs, or work experience, check out our opportunities pages.