1. Perfect that CV
Your CV will be the starting point to most of your applications, make it count. Your most relevant personal information, educational, past-career and extra-curricular experience should be listed here very concisely. Having a well laid out CV tailored to the specific role you are applying for is a sure way of making an impact. Learn how to do this with the GRB's guide on Graduate CV's. Remember that you’re selling yourself to the employer, although there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, don’t be afraid to tether that line and list your most boldest of accomplishments. Needless to say, a simple Times New Roman or Arial font will suffice.
2. Create a LinkedIn Profile
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, then make one. It is very easy to set up and in the long term will reap many rewards. Often recruiters will ask for your LinkedIn URL and you don’t want to be the only applicant out of a bunch who has no LinkedIn. When crafting your profile keep in mind that LinkedIn is a professional platform for businessmen and women to market themselves and grow their networks. So make sure that your picture is a headshot in a smart professional setting. You certainly want to avoid any blurry or pixellated images which do no-one any justice! Get friends and family to add you to their networks and even send speculative invitations-who knows you may be able to have a productive conversation with a thought-leader in your given field. Just be proactive!
3. Clean those social media channels
Although this may seem rather paranoid and far-fetched, social media profiles are all too accessible to employers and ought to be made private-at the very least. Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat very few people, especially those who’ve grown up and ‘come of age’ with social media, can easily say that they have nothing embarrassing on their profiles. It is best to privatise these channels as much as possible, arduous as it sounds. It may also be useful to untag or delete posts which you would not want your employer seeing. Everyone has their own unique quirks, just try to employ a level of discretion when posting onto these channels.
4. Broaden your Horizons
This may seem common sense to most, however many applicants forget that narrowing the roles they are willing to undertake naturally narrows the opportunities that they receive. Applying for related roles and sectors is greatly beneficial, as you gain a plethora of transferable skills. For example, a student who has their mind set on working in the political sphere of Parliament would invariably do well to apply to sectors who are intimately involved with Parliament. Summer placements in public affairs or journalism would be an appropriate start! No matter the industry of the summer placement you’re looking for, it’s likely many roles are directly or indirectly related to it. Don’t limit yourself!
5. Apply, apply and apply some more
Have you applied to as many relevant placement schemes as possible? Given the vast selection of recruiter websites, it is highly unlikely you have. With the world at your fingertips, there is a world of possibilities which you may be missing out on! To begin, use your own university careers website and then work from there. As a rule of thumb, the more you apply to placements, the easier they become. The age-old maxim, practice makes perfect. Although it is important to note, that your applications
won’t become perfect through countless and aimless applications but through feedback and continued improvements. Persevere. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Needless to say, the greatest achievements aren’t given but earned.
6. Research extensively
There are two kinds of placement applications, ones which are extensively and meticulously researched and ones which lack even a modicum of research! Endeavour to be a part of the former, for potential employers find it all too easy to distinguish between well-researched applications and those that are wanting of more substance. Use sticky notes and revision cards to test yourself on basic history of the firm, the current market it exists in and what challenges it faces. Start watching the news and go from there!
7. Perfect that Cover Letter/Statement of Purpose
Needless to say, the cover letter is another key staple of the application process make sure you treat it as such. The document should have a beginning, a middle and an end. All of which will be addressing a different theme. Although advice on the structure differs greatly, what remains true for all applications is that there are three questions which should characterise your cover letter. Why do you want this role with this specific organisation? What do you think makes you a suitable candidate for such a role? What is your USP (Unique Selling Point) and how will you utilise this in your placement? Each paragraph should cover one of these themes and avoid lengthy paragraphs, as this only puts off employers. Also, this isn’t your dissertation-so keep it less than a page! For some more tips on cover letter's check out GRB's guide to cover letters.
8. Great References
References are a tricky business, but fear not, as if you’ve had a few odd jobs here and there they will be easy to come by. You’ll be surprised if you kindly ask a senior colleague from your past or present employment and they may be more than willing to put in a good word for you. Make sure you have two or three former employers or work colleagues, even teachers to vouch for how amazing of a person you are! Email addresses should do, however, to be on the safer side take your referees phone numbers as your potential employers may want to give them a quick call!
9. Get your friends to proofread everything
This cannot be emphasised enough-proof read everything! Every sentence, every email and every part of your application. For a pair of fresh eyes politely ask one of your friends or family to look through your writing. Employers may shudder at even the slightest of grammatical mistakes, so it is best not to take the risk.
10. C.A.R structure-Context, then Action and Result
Lastly, if you have managed to make it to the interview stage-bravo! As long as you have nailed the firm, measured handshake then there remains only one more thing to keep in mind. In interviews, there is a way of speaking about oneself, which you must know like the back of your hand! When interviewers invariably ask you for real-life examples on where you have shown certain qualities - remember to C.A.R. Give the ‘Context’ so what happened leading up to your example, then tell the interviewers of the ‘Action’ you personally took to deal with it and lastly what was the positive ‘Result’ of your actions. Doing this succinctly whilst avoiding digressions will be greatly appreciated by your interviewers.
As long as you’re writing more applications than you can count and if you are able to craft a cover letter in your sleep-you’re onto a winner! Remember to be yourself, to a degree, whilst showing the best side of your academic, vocational and relevant experience. Go forth and prosper in your summer placement applications.
If you enjoyed this piece, check out 6 Steps to Improve an Internship or Career Planning: 4 Ways to Make the Most of Summer (List)