Who to approach and how to apply for work experience

Who is the best person to approach at a company when you’re looking for work experience and how should you contact them? We let you know…

Young professional On most occasions your application for work experience should be sent to the human resources (HR) department of the organisation you're targeting.

"The HR team is responsible for people resourcing and will know about vacancies on their work experience programmes. If they do not have an ongoing programme, HR could be so impressed with your application that they create an opportunity for you," says Andy Airey, chief executive of the Inspiring Futures Foundation.

Do your research

If you want to make your application stand out, be sure to do your research before you contact a company. This can be something as simple as addressing your letter to an individual - check the company website for the name of the HR director or manager. If it is not published, call the company or companies and explain that you are applying for a position and would like to write to a named person. This is more professional and demonstrates that you pay attention to detail and are resourceful.

For smaller businesses that may not have a HR department per se, if you feel bold, you could even contact the chief executive.

"It always impresses me when I am contacted directly by someone looking for work experience, and even more so when they know the company and have an interest in what we set out to achieve at Tharsus - it shows you would fit in with our team easily," says says Brian Palmer, chief executive, Tharsus.

How to apply

Airey explains that personalisation is key to making successful contact. Be professional, courteous and highlight why you've specifically contacted a company.

"When you submit an application, prepare a well-written letter and a CV," advises Airey. "The letter should explain why you want to undertake work experience at that particular company (that means researching your targets - avoid sending standard letters), what you hope to learn and how the experience will help you to progress towards your career goal. You need to demonstrate that you have thought through your application and convince the company to invest time in you."