It was with a sense of relief that I heard this week that my niece has finally secured a work placement, to gain invaluable experience in the work place, before resuming the final year of her degree course in 2014. A recent review of her numerous un-successful applications helped address where things were perhaps going wrong. I hope sharing these may help others in a similar position.
Applications should demonstrate time has been spent researching the company and a keen interest in what they do. They should be addressed personally to the relevant individual, be clear, to the point, spelt and formatted accurately. Beware ‘copy and paste.’ An application letter with CV will give a better impression than an email unless the latter is requested.
Within the letter, emphasise a reliable, committed approach to working hard and that you are willing to make a contribution via mundane tasks such as filing, photo-coping, making tea or data entry, in exchange for the opportunity to learn and utilise new skills. Spending time in the work-place builds valuable experience and transferable skills no matter what tasks are undertaken on a daily basis. Work will not always be exciting and getting used to the varied demands of 9 to 5 will be beneficial later. Prove yourself indispensable by being very good at basic tasks, which support the effectiveness of the company as a whole and this will undoubtedly lead to other opportunities.
When invited for interview, turning up on time and dressed appropriately for the workplace will give a good impression. A portfolio showing examples of relevant project work or references from previous employers which demonstrate reliability and a hard working attitude will support your application. Appear enthusiastic, interested, well-informed and keen to learn.