Top tips when searching for placements

Person writing notes on desk

Written by Jannine Thomas, Employability Consultant (Placementsat The Careers Service

Doing a placement is a great opportunity but searching for one can be testing. Here are some of our recent placement year students’ top tips when searching.

Tip 1: Make the time

Alex Bell’s (BSc International Business Finance and Economics) advice is to “plan your days, setting aside time to search and apply for placements, take tests and undertake interviews”.

Niky Moolchandani Adwani. (BSc Biochemistry) suggests “spending 2 hours every week looking at different opportunities and applying”.

Tip 2: Be organised

“It is a good idea to keep track of who you are contacting and when”, says Charlotte Playle (BSc Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology). She notes that she “found it helpful to create an email subfolder to keep track of where I was with applications, offers etc.”

Daniela Devaney (BSc Geography) agrees that keeping things organised “makes it easier to prepare for interviews”.

Tip 3: Use a variety of job search platforms

CareerConnect is a great place to find placement opportunities. Try also searching on ratemyplacement, targetjobs, LinkedIn and Indeed. For those seeking roles in STEM areas, Rory Harris (MPhys Physics) notes that “Gradcracker was the best one I found”. While Daniela advises exploring specialist sites like W4MPjobs (Work 4 MP), which “are more likely to have actual placements rather than volunteering opportunities”.

Tip 4: Balance quantity with quality

While Alex suggests that “applying for placements is primarily a numbers game i.e. the more you apply to, the greater chance an application process will go well”, he and other finalists advise on tailoring your application every time. As Charlotte says, “employers can usually tell if what you’ve sent them is fairly generic, and it’s likely they’ll be a lot more interested in you if you show a genuine interest in their research or what they’re working towards”.

Tip 5: Be targeted but try and keep an open mind

Charlotte states it’s useful to try to “narrow down what sort of placement you want to apply to as early as possible, as you’ll save a lot of time”. Alex recommends that you don’t become too closed-minded in your search though as, “any role you secure will develop your skills and knowledge and will be invaluable when you look for your next opportunity”.

Tip 6: Remember to take breaks

Niky advises that “it is important to relax and take a break [when searching for placements]! It is not the end of the world if you don’t get a placement sorted by January. There is still a lot of time and many other opportunities will be available.” Taking breaks stops you from losing perspective and can, Alex notes, help to “improve your performance”.

Tip 7: Practice and prepare

All past placement students advised it is crucial to practice and prepare for the various elements of recruiter processes. Daniela urged readers to, “Use the Careers Service! They have information on every sector and every type of application, look at their website and talk to them”.

Tip 8: Think about your interview answers from the employer’s perspective

Rory suggests that “an interview is a chance for you to find out if you’d like to work for an organisation”, as much as the company seeing if you’re suitable. Keeping this in mind as well as Rory’s advice that, “a big factor in coming across well in an interview is enthusiasm”, may help to quell some of your interview nerves.

Tip 9: Reach out to people in the company/role you’re applying for

Sites like LinkedIn – as well as the employer events run each year – can help you “learn more about the role and culture of a company, which you can utilise in applications and interviews”, according to Alex. Don’t be scared to reach out to people before and while you’re applying.

Tip 10: Don’t take rejections personally

Alex offers a great final bit of advice: “you will inevitably receive rejections and you mustn’t take them personally. You need to realise that each rejection is a learning opportunity and you should always ask for feedback and use this to improve your next application, test, or interview”.

Good luck with your placement search! Further information and advice is available on the Careers Service’s Placements website, from your school/subject’s Placement Office and by emailing

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