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How to land the perfect placement

By Apr.10, 2015

Brian Matthews provides his expert opinion on how important it is to get a work placement

Brian Matthews provides his expert opinion on how important it is to get a work placement

Graduating with a good degree is, of course, the main priority for all students when they first walk through the doors of their Business School. Yet, graduating with work experience in the bag is even more important as recently mentioned by Steve Lowy on this blog, and students should maybe refocus their aims slightly to ensure they achieve exactly this.

We all know that interviews are all about experience, these days a degree is just a prerequisite.

So, this post is about getting you a job, about making sure you feel as ready as possible for that first interview, and about helping you to wash away those pre-interview nerves.

Our most important tip is to remember that an interview is just an opportunity to tell someone how awesome you are…

How to get a placement?

How to get a placement

Image (CC) Opportunity Center

Gaining relevant experience is obviously crucial in order to boost your CV and help you to make the first steps into a new industry. However, landing a great placement that will help you to gain the necessary skills that you will need isn’t always that easy.

Manchester-based digital recruitment agency, The Candidate, is the official business partner of Salford Business School’s new Masters in Digital Marketing course, which has been recently named as a great example of how certain universities are making big strides in adopting digital offerings. The Candidate has many responsibilities as a partner, one of which is to assist with identifying placement opportunities within digital businesses and provide students with work experience.

My name is Brian Matthews, managing partner at The Candidate, and here are my top tips on how to bag a great placement, with some help from Dr Aleksej Heinze, co-director of the Centre for Digital Business and senior lecturer at Salford Business School.

1. Decide what you want

Dr Aleksej Heinze believes it’s really important to have a clear vision of what you would like to do in your

Aleksej Heinze providing his view on how to get a work placement

Aleksej Heinze providing his view on how to get a work placement

placement. If, for example, you really enjoyed a subject that you have studied previously or have always identified an area in which you would like to spend the rest of your career, then that is a great start.

 Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there something you have missed during any university, college or school courses that you would like to learn through hands-on experience?
  • What type of working environment do you want to work in? Smaller companies can give you a breadth of experience across different departments, whereas in larger companies you can spend your time specialising in one area.
  • What are your career goals for the future?

2. Plan, and plan early!

It is vital that you make sure you’re spending time at a place where you will gain the skills you need, so do your research and write up a plan before you approach a company. Key questions to ask yourself include:

  • How well-established is the company? Have a look at them online and see what you can find out.
  • Do they offer placements already? If so, do they mention what you would be doing in a placement with them? Do they say whether they pay their interns?
  • Is the office culture something you would be comfortable with? Look at the company’s social media pages to get a good feel of the office environment.

Bear in mind the timing of your application, too.

Dr Heinze says that in order to land your dream placement it is important to start planning early –

Work experience will improve your employability when you graduate

Work experience will improve your employability when you graduate

sometimes perhaps several months or even a year ahead of the date when you want to start. Some organisations have a year-long recruitment cycle and have different assessment stages that you need to get through before you get to the final interview.

3. Engage with your ideal placement organization

Most organisations have events where they engage with their industry – so why not speak to them? Follow them on social media and engage with their content online. If they have a blog, read through and post comments.

Why not write a blog post yourself and share your thoughts on what the organisation is currently working on? This could be a great way to get your foot in the door.

4. Make sure your social profiles are optimised

Check your social media profiles – do they give off a professional vibe? Aside from when you contact an organisation, this is the first impression they will get of your personality – make it a good one. Check out our steps to how to brand yourself at

This guide was created with our experience at The Candidate and should help you to improve your personal digital profile.

Personal branding advice

Do you have other advice on how to get a placement? Please do share below.

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