Being successful in your applications #tipsforgrads #yourehired


In the run up to the launch party for our You’re Hired! Graduate Career Handbook Korin Grant and I are posting a series of blogs aimed at students and new grads which offer some tips on career building. In this seventh post we look at how to deal with recruitment processes.

The graduate recruitment process can be long and arduous for both the applicant and the organisation. A typical application can last from 6 weeks to 5 months (or more) and will likely involve the following:

  • CV and cover letter
  • Online application
  • Psychometric testing
  • Telephone or video interview
  • Assessment Centre
  • Interview
  • Job offer!

There are many books and websites that offer in depth help on each of these stages, including our own Graduate Career Handbook. It’s no surprise that our longest chapter is the one devoted to ‘making effective applications’.

We can’t give you all the information about all stages in one blog post so here are ten top tips to keep you on track:

  1. Be aware of the deadlines for the companies or sector that you are interested in. Now, (November) is a key time for graduate recruitment, placements and summer internship applications. Make a list of your top ten roles and schedule in time to make applications ahead of the closing date.
  2. Fewer, well targeted applications will be more successful than many generic applications. The recruitment process is long and takes effort. Put effort into roles and organisations where you have a genuine interest. Your enthusiasm will come through in your application, it will energise you when you need it most and all the research that you do will pay off for other similar roles and organisations, meaning no time is wasted time!
  3. Spelling and grammar count for a lot. Always get a friend to read your application, CV and cover letter before you submit it. Or ask your careers service to have a look before submission.
  4. Make it easy for the employers to find the evidence they need. The truth is that the person on the other side of the interview table is very keen for you to do well. Help them by researching what they are looking for and practicing questions accordingly.
  5. Practice psychometric tests and you will improve. Your careers service probably offer workshops on this and access to a free practice area.
  6. Assessment centres rely on you contributing during an observed group activity. Think about how you will do this. You don’t have to be the loudest, cleverest or most creative person in the room. At this stage the employer is probably looking at employing a number of candidates so work with your team mates to help everyone to do well. Keeping an eye on timings is very important. The task might not be fully achievable in the time allocated, so what can you successfully achieve?
  7. Make sure you run through a mock interview before your interview. Again, you will improve with practice. Your careers service will offer this too!
  8. Getting a job offer feels great. Remember that you don’t have to accept immediately. Thank the representative, tell them how very excited you are and ask if you can have written/email confirmation with the full details and a day or two to consider. Take a bit of time to be sure that this is the role you want and communicate your response to the employer in good time and in a friendly, professional manner.
  9. Help others with their applications and research. Sure, you might be in competition with Paul for placement roles but helping him with his CV will help you with your own applications. He might have information about other jobs or more experience with interviews than you. And when Paul gets offered a second role that he has to turn down who will he recommend to the recruiter? The recruitment process can seem long and lonely – it will help to share the highs and lows with your peers.
  10. Use the help available. Your university wants to help you do well. It’s in their interest for you to be successful. So make use of the many different types of help available today.

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