Tag Archives | southampton

Top 10 Tips for Applications

Today we have a guest post from Joe, one of our placement students who is soon to start his placement year working at Morgan Stanley. Whether you are applying for a placement, internship or graduate job, his tried and tested tips should help you during the application process!

  1. Start looking early:

Many schemes open up to applications at the end of summer and recruit on a rolling basis. Spend a few days of your summer noting opening dates and deadlines for applications.

  1. Prepare key documents before the application cycle:

Save yourself time down the line when university work builds up by having already put together your CV and a general cover letter structure over summer. Also, make both a 1-page and 2-page CV, as various companies may state a preference.

  1. Consider the main factors in deciding which jobs to apply for:download1

i. What role do you want to be in? ii. Do you want to work for a large or small company? (both have advantages and disadvantages) iii. Do you want work in another city? (consider relocation costs) iv. Is it a paid position? (salaries can vary greatly)

  1. Research the company and the role you are applying to:

Generic applications get nowhere. Read up on the business news relevant to the firm and about the firm. Go on the firm’s website and look at the recent developments and core values. Read up on what the role will actually entail. Look at intern reviews on websites such as “Rate My Placement”.

  1. Tailor each application to each specific role and company:

All that research you’ve just done should be embedded in your cover letter so you come across as genuinely interested in the position you are applying for.

  1. Apply early:

Once all this is done, get in those applications! This is for two reasons. First, you are more likely to be successful if you get your application in early. Second, you don’t want to have to be filling in applications when it comes to exam season.

  1. Use the resources available to you:

Southampton Business School has a really strong placement team and website – so use them! Get them to go over your applications, do mock interviews with you, and ask for advice.

  1. Interviews – competency questions:

Plan in advance, but don’t try and create an individual answer for every possible competency question you can think of. You will never remember all of them. Instead, know really well about five things you have done in the last 2-3 years that display your skill set. Then when you get asked, “tell me about a time you when displayed skill X”, select your most relevant example and apply the STAR (situation, task, action, result) method to it when giving your answer.

  1. Assessment centres

Arrive early so you are not stressed, and then just be yourself. If feel like you need to act differently, then maybe the company isn’t the right fit for you anyway and you wouldn’t enjoy yourself there. Also, there’s a good chance they’ll call you out during interview if they’re not too sure about the way in which you are presenting yourself.

  1. If all else fails…it’s a numbers game:

There will be many good candidates out there with similar qualities to you, so it all may come down to fine margins. Play the odds and do lots of (quality) applications and something will eventually fall into place!

Wishing the best of luck to Joe next year! 

Share your own application tips with the hashtag #FindYourPlace

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Why work for an SME?

As you search for work experience, whether it is a placement, internship, or job; you will probably be instantly be drawn to the huge iconic companies such as ‘L’Oreal’, ‘Deloitte’ or ‘Disney’. Although these are all fantastic places to work and gain experience, have you ever considered applying to work for a Small-Medium-Enterprise?

Here’s some aspects you might not have considered…

  • You can make a big impact – Being a small fish in a big pond can be tough and, whilst you will contribute, you probably won’t make as much of an accountable impact to the company as a whole. With smaller SMEs you will be part of a much smaller team and so you will probably have more responsibility and your work will make a bigger difference, which can be very rewarding.
  • A simpler application process – Being smaller, SME’s often have a less lengthy application process, and so whilst still competitive, you are more likely to be given the opportunity to shine at interview.
  • More accessible – If you aren’t someone who wants to move for your placement, an SME might just be for images (12)you as there are plenty of opportunities local to Southampton which would mean you won’t have the hassle and expense of moving to another location.
  • Valuable experience – A placement at an SME is just as valuable as one at Coca Cola. It’s not where you do your placement, but what you do and what you make of it. Future employers look for skills and attributes you gain from a placement more than the size or reputation of the company itself.


If you are interested in working for an SME, we can help you out. Take a look at our Jobs board for current opportunities or pop in and see us for some advice!

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