Navigation auf

Career Services at the University of Zurich

  • Bewerbungsstrategien


CEP Phase 4: Employer Research and Application Phase


Welcome to phase number four! Last week you created your social media profile and thus took the first step towards your job market research.

In this phase, you will elaborate on a research strategy that allows you to search and monitor the relevant job markets. At the end of this phase, you should know more employers and job titles than you do now, and you should also be clear about what appeals to you and what doesn't.

And if you've found a suitable job to apply for, we'll give you the key considerations for the cover letter and tips for the interview.

This phase will continue until you have found a job. This may take some time, depending on the job market situation and the efforts you have already made during your studies. We, therefore, recommend that you adjust your planning from phase 1 accordingly.

We will now introduce you to various considerations and methods for researching potential employers and wish you good luck and also some fun!

Hidden labour market

Before you get started, we would like to introduce you briefly to the concept of the hidden labour market. The "hidden labour market" refers to the phenomenon that a large number of jobs (between 20% and 70% depending on the study, sector, and estimates) are filled without ever having been advertised. Vacancies that have been published exclusively on the company's website or in social media channels are also included in this category. The number is less important than the considerations behind it: While job seekers search "top-down" and start with the simplest method - setting up job subscriptions on the job platforms - employers start their candidate search for open positions by searching among current employees and their network, i.e. "bottom-up".

Logical, right? If I already know someone who I can promote, I can judge much better whether the person will be able to successfully complete the task. If no one is found, it goes up a notch, which increases the costs, because more applications have to be screened and because the risk of making the wrong choice increases. With this logic, it can be assumed that companies advertise mainly those positions on job platforms that could not be filled “on a deeper level”.

So for you, this implies:

1. the deeper the level at which you can present yourself to the employer, the better.

2. you are most likely to succeed with a diversified strategy that addresses the different levels in combination. This enables you to gather a lot of information and to stand out from your competitors on the job market.

Hidden Labour Market

Warm up 1: Job advertisement mosaic

If you do not immediately know what appeals to you in a particular place, we recommend the method of the job advertisement mosaic.

1. collect 30 job advertisements from companies or job platforms that match your profile (specialisation, knowledge, skills, preferences).

2. mark the tasks, functions, working conditions, employers that appeal to you with one colour and those that do not appeal to you with another colour.

3. make an overall analysis: which terms are multiple green and red and why? Does this have something to do with your existing / non-existing career resources? Which red markings are based on your knowledge, which ones on assumptions? You can check the assumptions with the informal interview.

Methods for finding a job

Job platforms

The easiest way to monitor advertised positions is Job Subscription. For example on or on one of the numerous other job platforms. We have compiled a list of around 200 job platforms for you here.


  • The more specific you define your search criteria, the fewer results you will get. Therefore, start with the most open criteria and specify the criteria every week.
  • Make sure that you don't end up in spam.
  • Take the opportunity to make your CV visible.

Job pages of companies

Search the job pages of companies. Maybe you can also subscribe to a newsletter there. If not, copy the URL into your Excel list and check the job page once a week. To learn more about the employers, check out their projects. And read about mission statements and other basic information that tell you more about the company/organization.

Social media accounts of companies

Follow the companies that interest you in all professional social media. If you also follow on Instagram and Facebook, be sure to check the security settings.

Where your contacts work

Go through your network and see who works where. Look for people who have studied the same subject/degree and find out where they work now: Which employer? In which function? And how did they get there? Maybe it would be a good idea to have an informal interview with these people?

Informational interview - a way to make contact on social media

An informational interview is a key strategy for building a network and identifying career opportunities.

In the informational interview, you identify interesting people in companies and organisations and interview them about their job, their career path to date and other points that interest you, such as how the company fills vacancies or what advice they can give you for your career.

This is not a spontaneous application, but a method of research that gives you first-hand information that you would not otherwise find. It goes without saying that you can also present yourself. With every informational interview you conduct, you expand your network and become more confident.

Try to use LinkedIn to network with people and ask them if they have time for an informational interview. Watch our video tutorial on this topic and learn more about the informal interview here:

You're not sure if this method suits you?

  • Remember that the person you contacted for an interview always has the freedom to refuse.
  • Since you are not asking for a job but for the person's inspiration and help, you will not put them in an unpleasant situation.
  • Have you discovered the interview partner with your dream position? Practice the method with another person first to feel more confident.

We receive enthusiastic feedback from students who have used this method!

Another possibility to find employers for an interview ...

... offers our partner When you register with the program, matches will be suggested to you. In times of social distancing the interviews are held online. Further information and registration under this Link

Undiscovered dream employers

Maybe you know other employers where you would like to work that you have not yet found using the above methods. Checklist:

Additional tip: Jobshadowing

You can also try to organize a job shadowing (observing, "intervision") appointment through a contact (your network or a new person on LinkedIn). Many employers are surprisingly open and a job shadowing has often resulted in a "real" job for many graduates.

Whatever you do, remember: the job search strategy must suit you! Try to "show" yourself because only through true enthusiasm and perhaps creativity will you stand out from the crowd!

There is a lot to be done

As you can see, there is a lot to do here. Our suggestion is that you now adjust your planning. There are one-time steps like the checklist, signing up for job newsletters, evaluating the job mosaic and collecting undiscovered dream employers as well as permanent activities like evaluating the job mails, collecting the job ads for the mosaic or writing down the results in the Excel list.


We are convinced that it is worthwhile to plan these steps and set goals. Do you remember the SMART concept from phase 1 Link

Application Phase

Now we will take another look at your documents and check whether they are up to date so that you can submit them as soon as you have found a suitable position for which you would like to apply. In addition, we would like to give you a few tips on how you can convincingly tell your "story" in the job interview and thus score points.

Final Version of your CV

Now take your CV again and see if you have highlighted your experiences and competences. Did you mention the university project with which you were able to prove your ability to think abstractly and critically, the responsibility and team spirit you showed during your internship? Did you think of the social skills you acquired as a volunteer, your ability to work under pressure and your organizational talent as president of the student association?


However, your CV is only a part of your application documents. It is a tabular, chronologically reversed (the most recent is always on top) list of your biography.

Letter of motivation/cover letter

The cover letter is also part of a complete application. Here you have the space to describe your enthusiasm for a position and your career resources in more detail.

Although recruiters usually look at the CV first, the letter of motivation can be the deciding factor in inviting you for an interview, as it is a first sample of your work and allows you to explain your story in more detail. However, be careful to limit yourself to one page and get to the point in 3-4 paragraphs. The structure could look like this:

  • you -> the first paragraph is the most important one. It is about making a connection to the company, the job, the project or content and showing your enthusiasm for it. So "you" refers to the person you are applying to, the company you would like to work for.
  • me -> In this paragraph you should mention your professional qualifications acquired during your studies and in previous jobs and convince with your experiences.
  • us -> How can you now profitably contribute to the company, what is the common concern, why should the company hire you instead of someone else?


In order to convince a company why you are the right person for the job, you also have to prove your experience with examples. Think about the situations you have prepared with CARL.

Job interview

Remember: Preparation is essential and practice makes perfect!

With CARL, you should now be able to prepare yourself for a job interview. If you are nervous, write your examples on index cards, practice in front of the mirror, with peers or contact us for a mock interview if you have an invitation for the interview.


Important: always go into a job interview at eye level and write down beforehand what you want to find out in the interview about your tasks and development possibilities, the company culture and the conditions. You will spend a large part of your time there, so it is worth making a sound decision.


Consider the interview as an opportunity, because you have a lot to offer!


If you would like to delve deeper into this topic, sign up for our "Dos & Don'ts in the job interview" (in German only)

Or contact us for a mock interview session, if you have an invitation for an interview.


A professional career cannot be planned 100% in advance. Stay open to random events and encounters and continue to dare to seize the opportunities that come your way!

End of phase 4: You Made It!

Now you have reached the end of our Career Empowerment Program and through your engagement with your future you are hopefully ready to start your career. It doesn't matter if your graduation is imminent or if your studies will continue for a few more semesters:

We would like to continue to accompany you, as career advisors, sparring partners or coaches. Stay in touch with us and keep us up to date on how your career path is developing.

If you would like to discuss your thoughts about your future with us in a free 60 minute consultation, please contact us at:

Thank you and all the best!
Your UZH Career Services

Weiterführende Informationen

Call to action

Call to action 1

Send me a list with your search strategies. I will give you feedback if the mix is right.


Further information

Further Information

No, this is not a mistake: we would also like to point out at this point that networks are extremely important in job and employer searches.

Further information

Do you know what you expect from employers?

More about Do you know what you expect from employers?

The Universum Career Test allows you to reflect about your requirements.










Call to action

Call to action

Now send me your revised documents for a definitive feedback so that you can hand in your application:

If you are interested in a 1:1 conseling session to discuss your individual research and application strategy, register for a free consultation.


Further information

Further information

In our career planning guide you will find many other useful links on the topic of profile building: