Finding a Placement – FAQ’s

By Jannine Thomas, Employability Consultant (Placements), Careers Service

Searching for a placement is a very personal journey but, don’t fall into the annual trap of thinking you’re the only one returning from Christmas break without a placement. You are not the only person still waiting hear back from the opportunities you applied for months ago and nor are you the only one wondering if doing a placement is still for you.

Whether you’re nearing the end of your search or only just starting, the effort you put in will pay off. I’d also like to assure you that it’s not too late to find something of interest!

How long should it take to find a placement?

The time it takes to find a placement can vary depending on who you apply to and when you apply. In previous years, it has not been unusual for students to take an average of 3 months to secure a placement (time from making the application to gaining a job offer) however; this time does vary from sector to sector and year on year. There is nothing wrong if your journey is shorter or longer!

Why should I still look for a placement, all the opportunities have now gone?

Every year, rumours circulate that if you haven’t got a placement by Christmas, you won’t get one at all. This however, is total nonsense, as the below graph shows.


Placements are logged onto Careerslink throughout the year and whilst high numbers of opportunities are logged in the autumn, principally by very large companies, we get a new wave of placements starting to appear in the New Year and beyond. The key is to keep looking.

Setting up email alerts can aid your search, as it removes the need for you to keep remembering to check for new opportunities. You’ll get a notification when something of interest appears and you can then log in and read further details at your leisure. Further information about how to search Careerslink for vacancies (and save the searches you make to create e-alerts) is available on the Careers Service website.

 I’ve applied to all the companies I want to work for, I’m not interested in anyone else.

Though it’s perfectly natural to have a list of ‘companies of interest’, it’s important to remember that any big name/well-known brand opportunities are liable to be highly competitive and thus the chance of success can be vastly reduced. Whilst we don’t expect you to work for someone you don’t want to, it is usually better to look at the competitors, customers and clients of the names you know (as well as applying to them). Looking into this will not only increase the number of opportunities available for you to apply to, it’ll help you better understand the sector/market you’ll hopefully be joining on placement, aiding your performance in the recruitment process. It may also open the door to more interesting opportunities that you wouldn’t have found otherwise.

All my friends have got placement offers, is there something wrong with me that I haven’t had one?

Absolutely not! The first wave of placement opportunities are usually offered by very large companies who, whilst having lots of opportunities, also receive enough applications to fill their placement positions four or five times over. Placement offers arrive at different times and it’s not unusual for those receiving offers to be kept waiting for news of their application for months. Sometimes, you just have to keep your nerve!

“I only received my offer in February after months of applying. Luckily it was at my first choice. But I have friends that were looking until summer. And whilst they aren’t always doing what they set out to are loving the experience anyway”. Daniel Lythgo, BSc Management (Marketing) with Industrial/Professional Experience.

Equally, if you’ve applied to companies and received rejections, don’t let that put you off your search. To quote Daniel again, “don’t stress if you receive rejections as you only need one yes!”

If you are rejected for a role, it’s always useful to ask if it’s possible to receive feedback, so that you can learn what not to do next time. Please be aware though that providing feedback isn’t compulsory, and many employers only offer it to those who’ve reached the final stages of their process.

I can’t find a placement in the field or organisation I want to work in.

Whilst Careerslink can be a great resource during your placement search, you may also find it helpful to look elsewhere for example; websites of companies of interest, careers pages on linkedin, facebook and other third party sites including; ratemyplacement, totaljobs etc.

For some roles however, you will probably never see the placement you’re looking for, instead you’ll have to play a part in creating it with the organisation concerned. If your placement interests are quite niche or you really want to work for a company who just doesn’t seem to be advertising an opportunity right for you, our Finding Hidden Opportunities for jobs and experience guide is well worth a read.

You don’t need to be alone.

Everyone’s placement search is different but no matter how easy or hard yours may be, remember that help is always available from the Careers Service. Check out the help and advice available on the Careers Service website, contact us at, pop into the Atrium (first floor of University Place) or call 0161 275 2829.

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