Shall I just send the company an email?
Not yet! Research each company first, using their website, and follow them on LinkedIn and maybe Twitter. Find out about their business, what they do, what projects are they involved in, who are their competitors?
And then think about yourself…
What will they want to know about me?
What strengths, skills, and key experiences do you have that the company would be interested in? Prepare a strong CV highlighting these strengths and skills. Think about developing a LinkedIn profile, clearly stating in the heading that you are seeking a placement, and the industry and type of role you are interested in.
How should I approach a company?
This could be by email or letter. If emailing, send your CV and cover letter as attachments, ideally in pdf format. If possible, find a named person to send to - check their website, give the company a ring, or try LinkedIn. Be polite and professional in all of your contact, and check your spelling and grammar!
What should I say?
What do you have to offer them? Why should they take you on? Make this clear. Why are you approaching them - why do you want to work for them? Show your interest and enthusiasm for what they do. Be clear about what you are asking for - a sandwich placement year, or shorter work experience? Give possible dates and any other requirements of the placement. Say in your email or letter that you will be following up with a phone call in a week or two.
Don't give up - follow up!
A mistake a lot of people make is to give up if they receive no response to their initial approach. People who are successful in finding their own placements tend to be those who follow up, and don't give up! Follow up by phone after a week or so, referring to the email or letter you have sent. Ask if you can talk to a relevant person, or arrange a time to phone and talk, or perhaps arrange a meeting. Even if a company is not able to offer you a placement, show an interest in what they do, and use this as an opportunity to gather information for the future.
I need more advice on using LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a powerful tool that can really help with finding work experience as well as jobs. Book onto a "Are you LinkedIn?" session, attend one of our drop-ins, or make an appointment to see an adviser.