Finding a placement can be a daunting task, especially if this is your first time searching. Below is a non-exhaustive list of tips that can increase your efficiency and help you land an interview for that coveted posting.
Finding relevant postings can be time consuming. I spend at least an hour every day looking around. Job find websites are a good place to start, but I’ve had more success by identifying potential employers and following their social media feeds. What works for you may be different, you just need to put in the time.
Nothing will get your application tossed quicker than sending a generic cover letter and resume. Look at the job description and try to cover as many skills as you can. Research the employer and adjust your sales pitch to meet their needs.
The first internship I ever did was with Amnesty International Australia. More than 100 applications had been received for a handful of positions. I asked my supervisor why I had got the job. Short answer – I had called to follow up. This may not be appropriate for all positions, you need to be aware of the organisation's culture. Be creative, there are plenty of ways to demonstrate your commitment.
A common complaint from employers is that the current generation of graduates expect to be king of the boardroom on their first day. Education alone will never replace the experience needed to rise to the top. Start from the bottom, do your best, and give employers a reason to let you sit at the table.
A fib or two on your resume might help you get the interview, it might even help get you the job. In the end, the truth will eventually come out – and your mistake may follow you for the rest of your career. If you really want to put that bullet on your resume, you need to earn it.
Keeping number 5 in mind, don’t be afraid to portray yourself in the best possible light. Treat each application like a sales pitch.
If most positions get 100 applicants, it’s logical that it may take upwards of 100 applications before you get a response. Perhaps 300-400 if you want options. Provided you don’t quit, something will come eventually. My inbox is filled with rejection, but it only takes one yes.
When you do get a placement, your goal shouldn’t be to work hard, it should be to get results. Most internships are unpaid and most employers understand that. Do your work to the best of your ability, ask if you can do more, and if you can’t go enjoy your time off. Your determination to be the first one in and last one out will only give the impression that you are inefficient if there’s no work.
You will forever be associated with the organisations you support. Ensure that your values align with that of your potential employer. No experience is worth selling your soul.
Ignore what the HR department told you. The next time you are in an office, take a minute to observe the employees. You might be surprised how many of them had a connection prior to employment. Love it or hate it – you need to accept it and adapt. It’s quite common in the development sphere in particular to see jobs posted that were never available. The only purpose the posting serves is to meet bureaucratic requirements, the successful candidate has been pre-determined. Maintain your contacts and your professionalism, you never know who might be hiring in the future.
OK maybe two more...
Let old employers know that you’re on the hunt, write a blog, go to industry specific events. The more people know you are available, the greater your chances of getting referred.
Not all opportunity comes in the form of job postings. I was recently invited to join a business delegation to North Korea, all because of an article I read in The Guardian. Once I read the article, I began emailing my resume to project organisers, now I'm going.
And if all else fails…
If nobody will give you the opportunity you want, give it to yourself. I didn’t start my business in Kenya because of any entrepreneurial ambitions. I started it because I wanted to live in Kenya, but nobody would hire me. It doesn’t need to be that extreme; if you need project management experience – start a project. You determine your future, don’t let rejection be an excuse for failure.
Thanks go to our writer Scott Howe LinkedIn, a current student on the GELLB1 programme at the City Law School. Prior to coming to London, Scott travelled all over the world completing internships at the Canadian Red Cross, Amnesty International Sydney and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Scott worked as a Business Development Consultant in Kenya whilst becoming an entrepreneur. He is working as an Associate Expert at Bridging the Gap Foundation Asia in tandem with his law studies.