6 Graduate scheme application tips [FT StudentJob UK]

Aug 18, 2019

Editor’s note: We’ve teamed up with Rebecca Hart from StudentJob UK to bring you these 6 graduate scheme application tips!

Have you just finished uni and are recovering from the mix of all-nighters, either from studying or partying? Well, we hate to break it to you, but there is little time for relaxation as you will need to think about your next career steps. But, you may not know where to start when applying for graduate jobs. To help, here are our best graduate scheme application tips.

1. Research and Plan in Advance  

After years of trying to work out what you want to do in your life in advance, you should hopefully be used to this by now! Choosing your GCSEs when you only just discovered there were three different sciences was just the first of your big choices. 

By researching and planning, you can work out what you want to achieve with your first graduate job and set goals to help you get there. Through researching the jobs you are interested in, you will also be able to see what common skills are required.

Once you understand what the valued qualities are, you can then add these to your CV to attract employers.

If you do find your dream job when researching then great! However, don’t rush and apply straight away. Yes, the pressure is on to submit your CV and cover letter but also make sure you understand the company and the role you are applying to.

It is vital to understand the companies recruitment strategy before starting to apply.

Rebecca Hart

Do they do group interviews? Where would you be based? Anything and everything you can think of. If you can’t find out information, then why don’t you make a list that you could use if you get through to the interview stage.

Also, find out as much as you can about the application process. Will you be required to complete psychometric tests? If so, it’s wise to start preparing for them.

Most graduate schemes require candidates to attend interviews and assessment centres. These will also need to be prepared for.

We can’t emphasise the importance of this step enough! It is vital. Employers need to see that you truly understand the company, industry and the role that you have applied to. That’s why we have put this tip as number 1 on our list of graduate scheme application tips!

2. Optimise your CV

Make your CV tailored to the role you are applying for. Recruiters will be able to tell when you use a standard template for every single job you apply to.

If you tailor your CV and cover letter to the specific role, then this will firstly stand out. It shows that you care about the job and are passionate about being explicitly hired for that vacancy.

A good way would be using the relevant work experience that relates to the job you are applying for. So be creative, but remain professional. 

You do not want to make a list of your achievements. The aim is to sell yourself so that you are asked back for an interview.

You may have many stories to share about your life;  however, focus on a couple that shows how your skills have developed. Did you do a year abroad or had great success? Have you even got a failure which you overcame? 

Picking only one or two achievements will convey a stronger message to the employer. You can show how these qualities can be used in your graduate job, making your CV stand out above others. 

It is not all about your work experience, so ensure you also include your hobbies and interests. This is important for recruiters as they can identify your personality and see if you are right for the company culture.

It is also recommended to send a cover letter with your CV to entice the recruiter to open your CV and find out more. 

3. Make your CV Easy to Understand

Employers will receive hundreds of CVs, for just one available position. They won’t want to be reading every single sentence. Make yours stand out by it being easy to follow and let the readers know the primary information in 6 seconds. 

Yes, 6 seconds is the average time someone would look at your CV. So you want to attract them to carry on reading. One spelling or grammar mistake and you could find your CV is chucked in the bin, so make sure this doesn’t happen to you! 

Try not to overcomplicate your CV too. You may think making it fancy will help show off. However, employers are looking for a simple CV with a logical layout that quantifies your achievements.

Using elaborate fonts and images will detract from what you want to a recruiter to see. Also, try to break up the text, so it is easier to read – the easier it is to read, the longer they will read it!

Remember always to get your CV proof-read and get a second opinion. This also applies to your cover letter.  

4. Use Social Media to your Advantage

Social media is a great way to find a job if you use them in the right way. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are ideal places to start. With 500 million users, LinkedIn is the most popular medium for recruitment. 

9/10 companies use LinkedIn when looking for employees. Complete your profile, connect with pages that fit your studies and add your skills and work experience. Doing this will make you stand out to recruiters as they will be able to see your qualities when glancing at your profile. 

Make sure you choose a good headshot too and include a headline that is straight to the point, showing off what you are looking for. Whether you find a job via LinkedIn, or just add to your professional network, it is a great way to engage with others.

Remember, LinkedIn is a two-way street – so reach out to others and don’t expect recruiters to find you.

Key graduate scheme application tip: Use LinkedIn to build up your professional network.

You can find professionals in the area of work you are interested in and see how their career path progressed.

Graduate employers will check your social media even if you haven’t used them for your application. So make sure to make all of your channels have a positive balance of personal and professional life.

5. Get ready for the Interview Stage

If you have got to the interview stage, then congratulations! However, you need to smash this stage to reach the next step. 

So to prepare for an interview, you have to practice lots. Even practising with family and friends will help you understand what you could be facing and make you think about the points you can bring to the interview.

As part of your preparation, make sure that you actually want the job.

It may seem obvious, but it could be a waste of time if it turns out the company or role isn’t for you. This links to stage 1 of researching the company.

Key Graduate scheme application tip: The graduate recruitment team will have been trained to determine genuine motivation.

Therefore, if you don’t genuinely want the job or if you want the job for the wrong reasons you’ll waste your own and the recruiter’s time.

Grad schemes aren’t for everyone. They provide structured training and sometimes rotations across departments. Some graduates prefer a graduate job rather than a graduate scheme.

If you are enthusiastic about getting the job offer, then you should prepare questions to ask, this is a great way to find out the missing information and show that you want the job.

Read through your CV and cover letter application to make sure you know what you have said.

It is a good idea to know what’s on your CV so you know interesting points to develop on and understand what they could be referring to. Also, know what you didn’t include in your CV so you can speak about it in your interview if it is relevant.   

Many graduate schemes/jobs require candidates to take a video interview as part of the application process. Preparing for your video interview is essential.

graduate scheme application tips

6. Bounce Back from Rejection

Some companies have many applicants through to the interview stage, so don’t be disappointed if they don’t offer/reject you straight away. Hopefully, at the end of the interview, they will give you a timescale for how long their feedback will take, but if not, this is something you could always ask. 

If you don’t hear from them within a suitable time, contact them to see if they have any news. This is the same for any of the application stages. 

Good luck, and remember, rejection is something which everyone goes through at some point, and it still gives you application practice! If you don’t get your dream job straight away, don’t stress.

Key graduate scheme application tip: There are plenty of other ways to get to where you want to be in your career, and your first grad job is just another stepping stone. Finding a graduate job may take some time, but persevere.

We’ve put together a post on what you can do to restore your confidence after a failed interview.

Graduate scheme application tips: Summary

We really hope that these 6 graduate scheme application tips are useful in helping you to land your dream graduate-level job!

Do you need some help securing your graduate role? Our career services are designed to help students, graduates and career changers.

We offer:

  • Interview coaching (online and in-person)
  • One-to-one coaching
  • CV writing
  • Application support
  • Help to prepare for assessment centres

And more!

Graduate scheme application tips: overview

  • Make sure that you’ve researched the employer
  • Take the time to understand the graduate recruitment process
  • Apply for the graduate schemes that you are genuinely passionate about
  • Tailor each of your applications

Before you go, don’t forget to check out StudentJob UK for nationwide job opportunities and if you find yourself struggling to secure a graduate-level job, check out how we have successfully helped 500+ students and graduates!

Written by Rebecca Hart, an Online Marketer at StudentJob UK. If you are looking for a job but not sure where to start then check out StudentJob. Our application tips will help you create an effective cv, cover letter and help you smash interviews!

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