With nearly 50% of employers favouring students or grads with previous work experience, it’s clear that you need at least some relevant work experience to get hired. But what do you do if you have no clue how to get some? What if you find that asking for work experience is more intimidating than actually doing the work experience?
Luckily for you, you can ignore your grandma’s advice of ‘just walk into the offices and ask to speak to the manager’, and instead take the slightly less outdated method of simply sending an email.
Before we do that however, we need to figure out who you’ll be sending that email to, which leads us into our advice on how to ask for work experience like a pro…
Start Asking Smaller Or Local Companies For Work Experience
When looking for work experience, we aaaaalways recommend starting with smaller companies. Not only will the big companies receive hundreds of emails asking for work experience every month, but the chances that all you’d be doing is making coffee for the senior staff is extremely high.
Reaching out to smaller, local companies makes it more likely that an actual human will look over your email, that they’ll then say yes, and also that you’ll have actual responsibilities during your work experience.
Approach Someone You Have A Warm Connection With
Warm connections are the not-so-secret sauce to getting work experience. A warm connection is essentially someone who you already sort of know, they’re not a complete stranger. Reaching out to them wouldn’t be a ‘cold email’ (anyone else got the sudden urge to turn the heating on?!) and they’re far more likely to respond.
This could be someone you know, someone your friends/family know, someone your lecturer/tutor knows or even someone you have a connection with (e.g. attended the same university, same industry event etc.) – anything that will create some sense of familiarity between you and them is ideal, and you can mention it in the introduction of your email.
Introduce Yourself And Give Context To Who You Are
So, it’s important to remember at this stage that (unless they’re a close family friend) they have literally no clue who you are. So tell them! Introduce yourself and give them some context as to who you are, any previous (relevant) experience and show some personality and passion for the industry.
When gaining work experience it’s often your attitude that matters more than skills, so make it super clear how excited you are to learn more about the industry and workplace from them specifically. If you need help getting started with your email, check out our free email templates here.
Be Clear About What Work Experience You’re Looking For
To avoid any confusion, you should be very clear about what work experience you’re looking for and the form you’d like it to take. A month placement over summer? Every Friday and Saturday? Volunteer or paid work? Shadowing or hands on?
Obviously you don’t want to write a list of demands, but make your availability and the type of work you’d be interested in clear so they can get an idea of how you’d fit into the workplace.
Explain How You Can Help Them
Show ‘em your skills, baby! Taking on someone for work experience can cost a company time and therefore money, so make it clear what relevant skills you have (e.g. organisation, time management, administrative skills) that could help them out. Really sell yourself and show them how you could benefit their team.
Include A Clear Next Step For Them To Take
You want to make this as easy as possible for them, so include a simple and clear next step for them to take. This could be encouraging them to reply to your email with their thoughts, or suggesting some times for a phone or Zoom call – do what you can to get things in motion.
Follow up If Needed
It’s far too easy for emails to get buried in a busy inbox, so if you don’t hear back after a week or two, send a follow up email. (Always reply in a thread of the initial email you sent so the receiver can find it easily!)
Alternatively, you could follow up with the person directly on LinkedIn if they seem to be active on there, but make sure your profile is in good shape first in case they decide to give you a stalk. (Download our FREE LinkedIn Guide if you need a hand with that one)
Remember, taking the initiative to reach out could be what ultimately helps you land that dream graduate role, take the leap and give it a go!