How to apply for a graduate scheme

How to apply for a graduate scheme

How to apply for a graduate scheme

Here’s the full lowdown on where to look for graduate schemes, when to apply and how to give yourself the best chance of success by acing the application process!

Applying for graduate schemes is something we’d recommend any student consider if they’re in their final year at uni.

Not only are grad schemes a great way to kick off your career, but salaries tend to be really generous – particularly when you’re still going to be learning on the job. Being paid to learn is certainly a refreshing change from paying £9,000+ a year to doing so, right?

We’ve already given you the lowdown on what graduate schemes are all about – so, if you’re convinced that they’re worth it for you, it’s time to get started on the application process. This guide has everything you need to know.

Tips on applying for graduate schemes

Graduate scheme applications are a little more long-winded than the average job application. Here’s what to expect and how to get it right:

Only apply for grad schemes you actually want to do

This sounds obvious, but applying for graduate schemes en masse is a trap that many fall into. Before you do anything, think about the sort of scheme and company you’d like to work for. There’s a graduate scheme out there for pretty much everyone – it’s just a case of finding the right one that suits you.

Employers are not receptive to generic applications: like all of us, they want to feel special, and that’s one of the secrets to getting any job. Your intention should be to show a genuine interest in the company, and it’ll become clear very quickly to whoever is reading your application whether or not this is the case.

The key to success with graduate schemes is picking out a carefully considered few that really appeal to you, and spending your time getting your application just right.

Make note of your relevant professional experiences

There are a couple of things you can do way before your first application. First of all, have an up-to-date CV. Some recruiters and employers will ask you to fill in their own application form rather than submit a CV, but it’s always wise to have one ready.

You might also find that some sections of your CV are easily transferable and highly relevant to certain sections of the application, so you can copy/paste and edit them to suit the question at hand.

If you need a few tips and templates to get the perfect CV, check out our guide to writing the perfect CV. Even if you think yours looks great as it is, there’s always room for improvement, and getting this part right will be a good pivot point for answering many of the questions you’ll be asked.

What to expect from the application process

The recruitment process is likely to involve several stages. The specifics will obviously differ from one employer to the next, but there are a few things you can expect to be asked to do as you progress through the stages.

The recruitment process is likely to involve several stages. The specifics will obviously differ from one employer to the next, but there are a few things you can expect to be asked to do as you progress through the stages.

Stages of the application process

  1. Submit your initial application (long before the deadline) – This may include a CV and covering letter, plus general questions about your skills and experience. Make sure you tailor your documents and responses for the specific role.
  2. Complete psychometric testing – This will usually be in the form of maths and English tests which you complete online in your own time (more advice here).
  3. Have a phone or Skype interview – This will generally be a one-to-one conversation with a recruiter, typically lasting around half an hour. Have notes at the ready! Find out how to smash standard interviews as well as phone and video interviews.
  4. Attend a face-to-face interview – You’ll usually have to travel to the recruiter’s offices and meet with a panel of interviewers. Again, depending on how many applicants there are, this could possibly take place over Skype rather than in person. Competency-based and job-specific questions are common at this stage, so read up on how to nail your interview.
  5. Attend an assessment center  This stage of the process tends to involve several exercises over a single day, including group discussion, teamwork and leadership activities, a presentation, and further interviews. You’ll be surrounded by lots of other candidates, but don’t let this intimidate you. Graduates currently taking part in the scheme could also be involved in organizing the exercises, so this is a great opportunity to ask lots of questions. They’ll know firsthand what it’s like to be on the program, and may even be able to offer a few tips.

Remember – while you’re looking into your potential employers, chances are they’ll be looking into you too! Don’t leave anything to fate and get your online presence looking as professional as your CV.

Courtesy / Credit: Save the Student

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