How to avoid the last-minute panic when applying for placements

10 May 2021

For a lot of our undergraduates securing a placement is one of their top priorities. We caught up with our WBS CareersPlus Placement Team to help you through the process.

If you’re currently in your first year and you’re reading this, it’s great that you’re already exploring your options. If you’re in your second year and you’ve been applying for placements but still not heard anything or secured one, then this is definitely the blog for you! Within this blog we’ve made sure to include some useful links and information for you to consider, no matter which stage of the application journey you are on.

Where are you right now?

It’s important to keep track of your applications. How you choose to do this will be unique to you. In the past, I know students have found spreadsheets particularly useful. While you’re waiting to hear back from recruiters, use this time to reflect and take note of where you’re at right now. Consider the following questions:

  • How many applications have you already submitted?
  • What stage or stages are you at for each of your applications?
  • How many are you waiting to hear back from?
  • How long have you been waiting to hear back from them?

By answering these questions, you should now feel more in control and clear about your current position. Now comes the hard part. What have you learned from your applications/interviews and assessment centres so far? Here are a few pointers to help you over the next few months:

Tailor your CV and covering letters

From the word go you are encouraged to tailor your CV and covering letters, to make these specific to the role you are applying for. This can be time consuming but you need to trust the process. Employers can sense the amount of time and energy that has gone into an application; they are also experienced when making hiring decisions and this is something that is often overlooked.

If you’re a current WBS student and would like some support or help with your CV you can run it through VMock; throughout the year our careers coaches also run drop in sessions and one to one appointments too. You can find out more about these for summer term 2021 here.

Recruitment process vs student expectations

It’s been a few months and you still haven’t heard anything back from an employer which can be frustrating. At this stage, there is no harm in contacting the recruiter to ask for an update. However, if it’s only been a few weeks then you may want to hold off. Recruitment processes can vary depending on the size of the company you have applied to and the number of applications they have to work through. In the last 12 months, many recruitment processes and teams have also been affected by the global pandemic, potentially causing some delays. In some cases, there may be small teams of people working through applications and not all businesses are using technology to shortlist candidates.

Be open to feedback

Rejections at this stage of your work experience journey will not affect your career path. By putting yourself out there and applying for positions now, you are building on your resilience and preparing yourself for the graduate market. It’s not always about the skills you learn whilst you are on placement; it’s about those that you develop before and after too. If there’s an offer for feedback – take it!  However, if the company do not provide individual feedback it’s important to accept this.

Change your mindset

If you are not successful, consider the reasons why the position wasn’t right for you? We often look to understand why we were not right for something, but it may well be the case that actually you’re more suited to another role. This is often a conversation that we have with students and more times than not, students will change the types of roles and companies they apply to throughout the application season.

Other options

Have you considered all your options? There are different types of work experience that will help you to build your CV and transferable skills. Here are a few things for you to consider:

  • SMEs - Over the last few months, our team have been speaking to more SMEs regarding their recruitment plans and we’ve seen an increasing number of internship opportunities become available. Unlike larger corporations, local businesses/SMEs tend to open applications later in the academic year (January – May). You can see all of the new listings on our exclusive placement’s jobs board.
  • Summer internships - There are also many benefits to a summer internship instead of a placement year. Perhaps a shorter piece of work experience would be better for you? You can see all new listings on our internships jobs board. With new summer internships being promoted every day, it’s not too late to start applying!
  • Hidden job market -The hidden job market will mean different things for each of you; this will be determined by your personal and professional connections. By actively networking you should have been building a personal bank of contacts and direct links to business that could help you. The ‘Hidden job market’ and ‘LinkedIn essentials’ were recently covered as part of our career’s webinar series. WBS students can now revisit the recordings here.

Quality over quantity

You will already know how many applications you have submitted so far. It’s easy to compare your situation to those around you. It may also be tempting to continue to apply for roles that you’re not really interested in. If you’re not feeling motivated or energised by a particular role then you should question how well you’re going to enjoy it if you are successful in securing the placement.

Take time to reflect

Finally, never underestimate the importance of rewarding yourself. Some of you would have been working hard on applications for months now. Take some time to treat yourself, whether that’s with food/retail therapy or time away from the screen and find comfort in the skills you have learned throughout this process.

Remember, it’s never too late to book a coaching appointment with a member of the WBS CareersPlus Team. You can find out more about this here.