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Finding a company that suits you is often overlooked when hunting for your first job. Mainly because getting your foot in the door is such a challenge that you forget it's a career decision and you just start sticking your foot in any door that is open.

Doing your research beforehand will help you get a feeling for a company before you apply. It'll tell you if you really want to work at that location, with those people, on their projects and with their clients. If you do, your passion for doing so will come through in any written applications or interviews so you'll be more likely to get the job.

Working somewhere you know you want to work also increases your chances of enjoying the job and doing well in the long run. You'll be more likely to perform well while you're there making it easier to get promoted (or to find your second job).

Here we have given some tips as to what you should be asking yourself, where you can find some answers and how having a research driven approach to job hunting is a very strong strategy. While it may seem long at first, it'll save you a lot of time in the long run and propel you towards the role that is just perfect for you.

We must add that no matter what you think and what we can tell you, the best form of research is to spend some time working at a company. This is where internships, work experience and placements are vital.

What to ask yourself

Which area of the creative industries do I want to work in? Check out our guides to find out more about advertising, branding, design, marketing and media. What sort of role do you want within that area? Are you destined for the project management side or do you want to be in with the design team? Think about your skillset, are you organised and comfortable presenting ideas or better at sketching ideas and brining them to life in photoshop?

Where do you want to work? There are creative companies all across the UK, the majority are in London but the North of England is the best place for gaming and Bristol has a strong creative scene.

Establishing the answers to these questions can be done through a mixture of using the information on FutureRising, searching Google, attending industry events and talking to professionals with experience in multiple areas.

The following questions are a bit harder to find the answers to and while you can get a feel for a company through their website and by connecting with people who work there, you may only truly know after experiencing them.

Do I want to work for a big company or a small company? Bigger agencies often work with bigger clients and bigger budgets (thought now always) but with smaller agencies you'll be closer to senior management and more involved with everything.

Should I do a graduate scheme or start at a junior level? Are you looking for more of a learning environment where you can explore the industry or are you ready to roll up your sleeves and get stuck into a particular role?

Where would I want to be after two years? Maybe you fancy setting up your own thing or rising up the career ladder within that company or area of the industry. You might even want to cross over to other areas of the industry but in a similar department.

Planning ahead

Ambitions are vital to keeping a career direction in place, knowing where you want to be in one, three, five or even ten years is important for personal development. Keep this in mind when researching companies. Imagine yourself jumping from job to job. If you’re unsure of career progression, take a look at our career guides.

Picking five companies to research

The industry has hundreds of companies and you will waste a lot of energy if you try applying to all of them. Think of it this way, would you rather spend a day trying to catch as many fish as possible with a piece of string or spend the day making a proper fishing rod and finding some excellent bait just in time to catch one big, juciy fish.

PICKING FIVE companies at a time will help you keep focused and increase your chances of landing a job. Sticking to a process of finding, researching and contacting 5 companies every two weeks will guide you into your first role.

We have a list of companies inside each of our guides, look at the industries you’re most interested in and if you’re still looking for more take a look at Campaign’s League Tables (Advertising, Media and Marketing) and Design Intellect’s Top 50 (Design and Branding).

Use these questions to help you decide who makes it into your top five.

  • What does the company stand for?
  • What services do they provide?
  • What kind of work do they produce?
  • Which clients do they have?

If you’re still struggling:

  • Look at work around you that you love, and find out who made it.
  • Ask friends or someone in the industry who they would recommend.

Once you have your five, it’s time to begin your research.

  • When and how do they hire new people?
  • Who works in the department you want to start in?
  • What do these people get up to? Any side projects?
  • How can you get in touch with people who work there?