Happy New Year everybody! I’m sure many of us are now in that new year mindset of trying to ensure our lives are organised and we feel on top of everything going on. Considering that, I’m sure you’ve all realised applying for placements can be a stressful process. Most applications usually involve multiple stages which each require different knowledge and preparations in order to go into them feeling prepared. Whilst we all wish the initial CV and covering letter were the only things to consider, you can end up being bombarded with various deadlines for things you’ve probably never done before.
A common second-step is having to complete online psychometric tests which usually aim to test your numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, diagrammatic reasoning and/ or logical reasoning. Following this, things such as video interviews and/ or assessment centres are often used to filter down applicants further. All of these things involve deadlines, pre-planning and, potentially, some background research meaning it is important to stay on top of all these different steps.
Having gone through the application process myself, I am definitely aware of how time consuming and overwhelming it can feel and so here are my top tips on how to nail those applications:
Use a diary
To me, this is more of a tip for life. You feel 10x more organised when everything is written down and scheduled out in a diary and it also means you can easily see which deadlines are approaching first. To make this stand out even more, I usually write any deadlines I have in a bright red colour so that it stands out against other appointments/ social plans that may not be quite as vital. Knowing which deadlines are coming up means you know what to prioritise when and can plan your week ahead without having to rush round the hour before your video interview needs to be completed trying to find out everything there is to know on the company.
Only apply for the jobs you really want
Of course, it can feel like an incredibly stressful time when other people start to receive offers from various companies whilst you’re still on the hunt, however that doesn’t mean you need to panic. I know a lot of people who just applied for any position that became available in their sector, however being swamped with application deadlines is not good for anyone. Having to write 7 different cover letters in a matter of days will definitely end in rushed work that has limited engagement with the specific organisations, vastly lowering your chances of receiving an offer. Organisations want to see that you’ve put in the effort and have some passion for the position you’ve applied for. Background research is key to craft an application tailored to the organisation so make sure you give yourself enough time to do it right.
Use the Careers and Placements team
Whilst this might look like some shameful self-promotion on the blog, this is genuinely one of my best tips. I struggled a lot at getting my CV and cover letters up to scratch, however arranging a meeting with my nominated placement co-ordinator to discuss these in detail was one of the best decisions I made. She showed me how to develop an ideal structure for a covering letter whilst still keeping it unique for each role, which made all of my future applications flow out considerably easier and didn’t mean I was still editing it up until the final deadline. In addition, the workshops they put on each week throughout the year were very helpful. I had no idea what to expect at an assessment centre. However, after attending their workshop and getting to practice some of the typical tasks involved, my mind felt a lot more at ease and prepared for what was to come.
For things such as psychometric tests, I found looking online for practice ones a massive help. As they say, practice makes perfect. Even if you’re not getting the top marks, practice tests will help you improve and get yourself used to working within the time limits in place. In addition, online forums like Student Room are full of people discussing their application experiences, including assessment centres, which may give you more of an understanding of what you need to prepare beforehand.
So, there you have my top tips on how to stay on top of all your placement applications. It is a stressful period, but just try and remember all the blood, sweat and tears will be worth it once you end up in the role you wanted.