How To Create Job Opportunities

Below is taken from a lesson as part of our six-steps to get into nuclear.

An opportunity is any encounter that might turn into a job, like a role you could apply for directly, a friend who might know of an opening, or a side project you might be able to get paid for.

Opportunity Is Everywhere

It is not unusual that when you are starting out that you may have to apply to 70 positions before you even get a response let alone an opportunity to interview.​

This illustrates the first thing to know about job opportunities; you probably need a lot of them. Especially early in your career, it can easily take 20 to 100 engagements before finding an open doors, and getting rejected 20 times is normal.  ​ However, we are here to help and there is much you can do to raise your chances of success, which is what we’ll now cover.

How to make your own luck: Don’t just send your CV in response to job listings, use connections.

NB- Many large nuclear companies have a standardised application process. They want to keep the process fair, so there isn’t much wiggle room. In these cases, you will need to apply - but do keep reading!​

The most obvious approach is to send your CV to lots of companies and apply to the postings on job boards. This is often the first thing career advisers mention - the bad advice we was talking about earlier... ​ The problem is that sending out your CV and responding to lots of internet job ads does not really create any opportunities. The author of the best selling career advice book, Dick Bolles, estimates that the chance of landing a job from just sending your CV to a company is around 1 in 1,000. That means you need to send out one hundred applications just to have a 10% chance of landing a job. The theory is that because once an opportunity is on a job board, it’ll be flooded with applicants. ​ Moreover, the positions on job boards need to be standardised and mainly at large companies, so they don’t include many of the best positions. The best opportunities are less competitive because they are hidden, you need a different way to find them. ​ The key is to create opportunities in the way that employers most like. Employers prefer to hire people they already know, or failing that, to hire through referrals – an introduction from someone they know. ​ Think about it from the nuclear employers point of view. Which would you prefer: a recommendation from someone you trust, or 20 CVs from people who saw your job listing on The referral is more likely to work, because;

  • the person has already been vouched for.

  • it’s less effort — screening 20 people you know nothing about is hard.

  • referrals also come from a better pool of applicants — the most employable people often already have a job or lots of offers, so they rarely respond to job listings.

For these reasons, many recruiters consider referrals to be the best method of finding candidates. ​ But job seekers usually get things backwards — they start with the methods that recruiters least like.​


Source: “What Color is Your Parachute?”2015 edition

Moreover, applicants find around 50% of jobs through connections, and many are never advertised. So, in short if you don’t pursue referrals, you are gong to miss out on many opportunities.

So, how do you put yourself in a position to get referrals?

To get referrals, here’s a step-by-step process:

1. First, update your LinkedIn profile. This isn’t because you’ll get great job offers through LinkedIn — that’s pretty rare — it’s because people who are considering meeting you will check out your profile. Focus your profile on your most impressive accomplishments. Be as concrete as possible e.g. “ranked third in the nation”, “increased annual donations 100%”.

Cut the rest. It’s better to have two impressive achievements than two impressive achievements and three weak ones. Finally, search yourself on Google and do anything you can to make the results look good (e.g. delete embarrassing old blog and social media posts).  2. If you already know someone in the industry who can hire people, then ask for a meeting to discuss opportunities in the nuclear sector. This is close to going directly to an interview, skipping all the screening steps. Remember, there doesn’t need to be an open position – employers will often create positions for good people. Before you take the meeting, use the advice on how to prepare for interviews below. 3. If you know them less well, ask for a meeting to find out more about jobs in the industry: an “informational interview”. If it goes well, ask them to introduce you to people who may be able to hire you, which is effectively getting a referral from this person. Do not ask them for a job if you promised it was an informational interview. 4. When asking for more introductions, prepare a one sentence, specific description of the types of opportunities you’d like to find. A good example is something like: “an entry level marketing position at a company in nuclear engineering education”. Two bad examples are: “a job in nuclear” or “a job that fits my skills”. Being concrete makes it easier for people to come up with ideas, so lean towards too narrow rather than too broad. 5. Failing the above steps, turn to the connections of your connections. If you have a good friend who knows someone in nuclear who is able to hire you, then you could directly ask that friend for a referral. The ideal is to ask someone you’ve worked for before where you performed really well. 6. If your connection is not able to refer you, then ask them to introduce you to people in the nuclear industry who are able to hire. Then we’re back to informational interviews as in step two. 7. To find out who your connections know, use LinkedIn. Say you want to work at BAE Systems. Go to LinkedIn and search “BAE Systems”. It’ll show a list of all your contacts who work at BAE Systems, followed by connections of connections who work at BAE Systems. Pick the person with the most mutual connections and get in touch. Remember, if you have 200 LinkedIn connections, and each of them has 200 connections that don’t overlap with the others, then you can reach at least 10,000 people using these methods. Additionally there are lots of people through Get Into Nuclear who are happy to give advice on jobs, applications, and may be able to make introductions. ​ If you still haven’t got anywhere, then it may be worth spending some time building your connections in the industry first. Read our advice on how to network. Start with people with whom you have some connection, such as your university alumni, and friends of friends of friends (3rd order connections). Your university can probably give you a list of alumni who are willing to help in the nuclear industry. There are are some good groups you can join and events to attend. Otherwise you can resort to cold emailing. 

Recruiters And Listings

It is much preferred that you use the above tactics, but the right recruiters can be worth talking to, and are often more effective than just making cold applications. This is what Step Six is all about! If at this point you do want to discuss with a recruiter look for those who have a good network in the functions with the nuclear industry that you’re interested in. If you want a list of all of the main recruiters, check out our Where To Find Jobs In Nuclear page here. There are also recruiters who specialise in new graduates e.g. A Degree Apprenticeship at Sellafield Ltd.

Find out more about how you can get into nuclear at

6 steps online course.png