How to bag the perfect work experience placement

In this blog Brian Matthews, Managing Partner here at The Candidate reveals how you can bag the perfect work placement to gain the experience you need for your dream job! 

How To Get The Perfect Work Placement

It's well known that gaining work experience is important to boost your CV and help you make the first steps in many industries. However, landing a placement that will look great on your CV as well as helping you gain the skills you need to make the next steps isn't easy.

At The Candidate we work with a number of universities in the North, and we are currently working with Manchester Metropolitan University and the university's Agency Life programme, which places undergraduate students into work experience placements. The programme has recently published research that found graduates are 50 per cent more likely to secure a place on a graduate programme if they had previously undertaken an industrial placement. So we thought we would offer our five top tips to help you land the perfect placement, that will help you boost your CV and give a good impression to future potential employers.

What is it you want?

You really need to carefully consider what you want to get out of the placement before you start contacting businesses. Asking yourself the following questions will help you clarify what it is you're looking for:

  • Is there something that you've missed out on in your degree or through other qualifications that you would like to learn through hands on experience?
  • What type of working environment do you want to work in? Smaller companies often allow you to get a breadth of experience across various departments, whereas in larger companies you can spend all of your time in one department and really get to know how it works.
  • What are your career goals for the future?

Research is key

All of the work experience you gain will give you new skills and make you look impressive when you start looking for your first professional job. But it's really important that you try and get placements that are in the area you want to progress your career in.

Here are some things you should consider:

  • How well-established is the company? Search them online and see what you can find out about the company as a whole.
  • Do they offer work placements already? If so, do they outline what you would be doing if you worked with them? Also, do they pay their interns?
  • Does the company have an office culture you are comfortable with? Looking at a businesses' social media pages will give you a good feel about the office environment.

Act like you're applying for your first professional role

You want to come across as professional as possible when you first get in touch with a company that you're looking to work with. First impressions are crucial.

Create a cover letter and perfect your CV like you would if you were applying for a permanent role. Then, if you can get the managing director's email from the website, or the address provided for placements and careers, and personalise your cover letter with why you want to work with them in particular.

Voice your opinion

When you reach the interview stages for a placement you need to come across confident and be able to talk about the industry you want to work in and the issues currently facing it. Most people seeking work placements are students or young people fresh out of education, therefore candidates sometimes feel like they don't have the authority to express an opinion when it comes to the industry they want to work in.

Cliché's exist for a reason

Don't forget the basics when it comes to looking for your perfect placement:

  • Proofread you email, CV and cover letter.
  • Check your social media accounts are up to scratch and give off a professional vibe.
  • Dress smartly for your interview.
  • Send a follow up email thanking your interviewer.
  • Be 15 minutes early to an interview.
  • Make eye contact with your interviewer.
  • Prepare an appropriate portfolio to show off your work.

Candidates often get their first full-time position through a successful internship, so getting the best placement you can is likely to be a great investment in your future career.

To read the full article and get more advice on landing your perfect placement see our piece on the Total Jobs website.


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