So your internship is closely approaching and you’ve decided to pull yourself out of your comfy bed, and put together some applications to ensure that you actually get some work experience before you leave university for the big bad world.
That is something we can help with, below you will find the 5 do’s and 5 don’ts to applying and gaining a placement, some of these may seem obvious, but in this world you’ve got to play to the 1%.
Happy reading, and good luck!
1. Make sure your CV is professional and up to date
The English language is a tricky mistress, and mastery of it is something that students globally have been trying for years, however a simple grammatical mistake on your CV can be the difference between getting a position and not. I know this can seem finicky but if you can spell a word wrong on your CV, then you could do it again on a work email or on promotional material, it’s all about attention to detail.
2. Check your emails often
Most companies move very fast, in my experience I have almost missed an interview opportunity after leaving my emails for two days, with easy access to emails through smartphones this should be easy to keep up with. As most positions are very competitive, even missing an email from a recruitment agency can mean that you miss out on the perfect opportunity that you have been applying for.
3. Be flexible
Chances are your ideal position might not be within 10 miles of you with companies located all over the country, your perfect position might not be based in your perfect location. Whilst it’s important for you to feel comfortable in the company, part of a placement experience is to be independent and the responsibilities of a position should be number 1 on your list of priorities, as it is your experience that is important.
4. Customise your cover letter (and CV) for each position
I know this might seem like a pain, but there is nothing more off putting to a recruiter or HR manager than a cover letter that is either very vague and nebulous, or even worse mentions the wrong position or hiring company… trust me it happens, it’s actually an easy mistake to make and again it falls down on attention to detail.
5. Be professional when talking to companies or agencies
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s amazing the way some people will talk to a member of the HR team if they don’t believe that they are the decision maker, when actually their recommendation can be the difference between a successful and failed application.
1. Pester a company or agency
Although being proactive is good, pestering a company can hinder your chances of gaining their favour, there’s probably a good reason for them taking their time, if it’s been a week feel free to chase them. (Please note that if the application deadline hasn’t passed, the company probably won’t have made a decision.)
2. Be arrogant, unresponsive or difficult in your interview
Although your queries are important, and you need to feel comfortable, you also need to be patient, as being negative, interrupting your interviewer or coming off irritable can lose you a place in their company, and they will not want to be your friend.
3. Forget your spelling
Email correspondence is important, don’t lower your standing by using slang or misspelling words, the company are wanting a candidate who will come into their business and be able to represent the company, if they can’t trust you to compose an email they will unlikely trust you with the position.
4. Blanket apply for positions that you wouldn’t be able to perform in
This shows that you are confused, or don’t know what you want, companies want a candidate who is passionate and ambitious, not someone who is just taking whatever is offered. This is especially relevant when applying through agencies, they will receive all of the applications and will know that if you are on a business management degree, chances are you aren’t a qualified engineer.
5. Miss organised calls or interviews for anything that is not important
Missing organised calls shows the company that you are not trustworthy and will make them seriously reconsider hiring you, sure there are plenty of good reasons that people can miss interviews, and the company will understand this, but seriously consider your priorities before you reorganise an interview to hit the beach with your pals.
These are the bare essentials to remember when applying for a placement position, and being a nice person.
Good luck in your job search and may the force be with you.