So you’ve read our advice about where to look for graduate jobs, now find out how to apply. You might only have just got to university, but it’s important to think about what happens after. If you’re going to grab the bull by the horns and enter the big bad world, it’s more than likely that at some point you’ll have to complete a job application.
But don’t take it lightly, even if you have a million and one things to do by the end of the week, successfully getting on to a graduate scheme is not an overnight thing. There’s research, interviews, tests, more interviews, presentations, assessments centres, more interviews… Sometimes the recruitment process can take up to six months and even then, it might be a ‘no’. So don’t leave it to the last minute. Here’s my (hard-won!) advice on how to make the application process a little less painful.
It’s important to get organised as I’ve found some applications can take up to 2 hours to complete. Top tip: make sure you are applying for those roles with deadlines closing first. The worst thing to happen is planning to complete an application only to find out that the deadline was two days ago. Create a document that has all your applications and the dates that are important to remember, it will help you keep track of application deadlines and interview dates. I use Excel, and it’s kept me organised enough to make over 50 applications in a short amount of time.
This is so important that it gets its own paragraph – please have an appropriate email address. When someone is reviewing your application they don’t want to see firstname.lastname@example.org or HoopKillz11@hotmail.co.uk. Keep it professional and keep it simple. Your name or a small abbreviation followed by @gmail.com will become your best friend. I personally have an email address I use just to apply for jobs so everything is organised in one place.
Interviews are usually conducted face-to-face, via telephone or video. Some of the questions that I’ve found typically are asked at graduate scheme interviews include:
- Why do you want to work for us?
- Why should we pick you?
- What can you bring to the table?
- Tell us about key issues affecting our sector.
So if you get an invitation for an interview make sure you do your research. During my time making applications, I’ve always been asked about the company and why I wanted to work there. I always like to mention their social responsibility and community projects, but each company is different.
If you get this far, then you’re almost there, assessment centres usually take place near the end of the process but remember, it’s not over yet. Often you will have to deliver a presentation and do another interview whilst there, so if you know the questions in advance, make sure to plan and actually answer the question being asked – don’t waffle. In my last assessment centre, I had to complete two interviews, a presentation, an unseen task, a quick group exercise, a numerical test and a role play. Assessment days can be long days but the important thing is to keep your cool and relax.
Applications can get frustrating and sometimes you might get 100 rejections before you get an offer but when you here that word “congratulations” you’ll know it was all worth it.
If you need more help, then check out the Careers and Employability Service website.