8 September 2023

The 10 Stages of Applying for a Placement

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Doing a placement year while you’re at university will really improve your chances of getting a cracking job after you graduate.

But applying for a placement is a little bit like wrapping an oddly-shaped present. It’s tricky. So we’ve put together a ten-step guide to help you through the process.

1. Start searching for placements as early as you can

September is a time for freshers events, the first lecture of the year, slightly undercooked pasta and / or hangovers.

You’ve probably seen our RateMyPlacement stands dotted around most university freshers fairs. We start early, and so should you. We don’t bite! Come and say hi and we’ll sort you out with one of our infamous guides. 

But don’t worry if you missed us last year – we’ve got you covered. You can download a digital version of the Guide to Placements, Internships and Insight Schemes.

2. Browse roles on RateMyPlacement.co.uk

Have a browse on the RateMyPlacement.co.uk website. Get an idea of what placements are available. And keep up-to-date with our Best Student Employers

Then sign up to the website to get tailored job opportunities emailed straight to your inbox.

This just means you don’t have to sacrifice all your time scrolling through our website for new job opportunities – the amount of time you can spend playing Candy Crush will significantly increase.

RateMyPlacement’s crazy-cool features

  • Shortlist and follow your favourite companies – a great way to keep track of them and the jobs they have
  • Browse over 70,000 reviews and get to know the company before you apply
  • Create notes and to-do lists on your tracked companies / jobs
  • Add the job to your digital calendar to remind you to apply
  • If the impossible happens and you don’t find anything on the website that tickles your fancy, you can register your interest for future jobs.

3. Explore our Best Student Employers

Know what industry you’d like to work in but not the employer you’d like to work for? That’s okay! Choosing a company is hard, especially as there are so many great ones out there. 

Luckily, our Best Student Employers table is here to help you out. The Best 100 is based on genuine reviews from students all around the country who’ve completed a placement or internship in the last three years. You’ll get the highs, the lows, and everything in between. 

So if you’re looking for a company with amazing diversity, sustainability and mental health initiatives, one that shares your values, be sure to check it out.

4. Get your CV up to scratch

A great tip is to update your CV with each application. Read the job description carefully and make sure your CV is relevant to the role. Employers will be searching for keywords when they read it, so make use of the job description!

Is your CV looking rusty? Don’t worry, we have a 10/10 guide on Writing CVs for a Placement Application.

5. Apply for as many roles as you can

You can’t expect to miraculously get a placement if you only apply for one or two jobs. Searching for a placement has a similar process to searching for a job. 

Just make sure that each application is as perfect as you can get it. Don’t rush. It’s pointless sending rushed applications. Take your time. Spread out your applications over a couple of weeks. 

Don’t just apply for your dream job or for your dream company. Even if you aren’t 100% sure of a role, apply anyway because you might get to the interview stage and completely change your mind – and if not, it’s still great practice!

Want to set yourself up for success in any future work experience application? Sign up to our FREE Career Coaching Course, a four-day virtual programme in October, to upskill yourself on CVs, applications and interviews.

6. Keep going!

Don’t stop now. We know how long these applications can be. You might have numerical tests to deal with, maybe online questions too. But don’t give up. 

If you don’t hear back straight away, don’t be sad – get back on the alpaca. You need to be checking the website regularly OR signing up to receive tailored job alerts. The perfect placement is out there – you just have to put the work in to find it.

7. Ask for feedback

If after a couple of weeks and 101 applications, you still haven’t heard anything, you might have to accept that there’s a reason your applications have been unsuccessful. 

It’s nothing personal. Maybe it’s your CV. Maybe you need to look at how you’re filling in the application forms. Read our blog on How To Deal With Rejection to learn how to ask for feedback.

8. Tweak your CV

Once you’ve tweaked your CV, it’s time to start applying again. By this point, you’re probably getting unnaturally good at filling out application forms. 

Remember, J.K. Rowling was rejected by thirty-something publishers before Harry Potter was published. They all said NO to Harry, Ron and Hermione. 

But J.K. kept plugging away, and eventually, she prevailed. And she’s done fairly well since then. You can too.

​9. Prepare for your interview

That special moment comes. You get an email from an exceptional employer and they want you to come in for an interview or assessment day. 

This is it. Your big chance. But no pressure.

Seriously, don’t stress. It’ll show in your body language and screw up your whole interview. 

You just need to breathe and prepare, prepare, prepare! We have a whole blog dedicated to Placement Interviews & Assessment Centres.

10. Nail your assessment centre

Most employers include an assessment centre as part of the final selection process. It’s the final hurdle. So make sure you read our top tips on placement assessment centres.

An assessment centre is like an extended interview that includes ice-breaker activities, group tasks, possibly psychometric tests and even a presentation. 

Be as cool as a cucumber – you’ve made it down to the final few candidates for a reason. 

When you have the job, buy a delicious packet of biscuits to celebrate.

Want some advice on securing a placement? Hear from ProspectSoft students who have been in your shoes!

Those are the 10 steps of applying for a placement. It’s probably just as tough as applying for Love Island or applying for planning permission to knock through your student accommodation to create a more open living space.

But it’s totally worth it. Once you have a placement, you’ll be on cloud 9.

And your career will have officially kick-started.