1. 1

    If you are uncertain of what sector or career pathway you want to explore, don't panic! You are not alone, there are a huge variety of sectors and career pathways that it can be difficult to know where to start. 

    A good place to start would be researching sectors and career pathways right here on HOP and seeing if anything jumps out at you, you may find a job role that you have never heard of.

    Another options would be taking a Career Quiz on Prospects. These are really useful tools that match your personality traits to job sectors and career pathways. 

  2. 2

    SMEs | Family | Friends | Contacts

    Once you have found the sector or career pathway that you want to explore, it's time to look for opportunities. Make sure you ask any family, friends and your wider network of any opportunities they might know of. 

    Another opportunity would be checking out local Small to Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs), you might need to do a bit of research in your local area and contact them directly. You can find big and small local businesses on our Employer Spotlight page.

  3. 3

    Professional | personal | Informative

    A lot of work experience will be through speculative applications so taking the time to address the application to a named person hints that you have done your research and put in some effort. Usually this can be found on their website, if they have the break down of the team you will be looking for HR or Recruitment. If they don't display this then asking who to contact over a phone call to the company should give you a name. 

    You should send an email with an up to date CV and cover letter. The email itself should include who you are, why you have contacted them and what experience you are looking for. Detail what you have attached and thank them for your time. 

  4. 4

    Adapting your CV to a speculative application

    Finding work experience can involve contacting employers without an advertisement for an opening. This means you won't have a person specification with a list of skills to refer too. The company's website is where you will have to do some research, finding out what they do and their mission and values. Make sure your CV aligns with them, including relevant experience and examples.

    You need to be specific as possible, ultimately you are asking the company to create an opportunity for you so, you use your persuasive skills and show them that you have done your research and you are passionate about the company. 

  5. 5

    Research | Interacting

    Use your social media platforms to find out more about the company. Look out for any recent updates and take advantage of interacting and connecting with them. Be sure that your social media platforms are prepared for professional eyes by finding out more about How to promote yourself on social media.
  6. 6

    Demonstrating your interest

    This is your opportunity to tell the employer a bit about yourself, what level you are studying at and what experience you are looking for. Remember to be flexible and keen, at this stage getting a few days work shadowing may lead to further work experience offers. 

    Then you need to express your interest in the company and how this reflects in your career aspirations. Here you can highlight any key skills, interests and extra curricular activities that would relate to the company.  

    Remember to be professional and check for spelling and grammar mistakes. Leave a variety of ways for them to contact you such as a professional email and mobile number, state your availability and recognise that they will have a busy schedule also. 

    Sign off positively and thank them for looking at your application. 

  7. 7

    This can be a crucial step to gaining work experience

    Knowing when to contact the employer to follow up your application can be difficult. Bear in mind that the employer may be busy but after 1-2 weeks if you have not received a response it would be a good time to follow up with a phone call. This is a really important step as they may have meant to get back but it might have slipped off their radar. This can also demonstrate to the employer that you are keen and passionate about gaining experience with them. 

    Remember, not all organisations have the time or are equip to carry out work experience so it may not be you or your application. Always thank them for considering and welcome any feedback and ask them to keep you in mind for any future opportunities. This can be really useful practice for other speculative applications and communicating effectively with employers.