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How to apply to a graduate scheme
Graduate schemes are a fantastic way to boost your career prospects and personal development after university. If you’ve decided to go down the route of a graduate scheme, you might be wondering what the application process is like. Lucky for you, this guide has everything you need to know when it comes to applying to a graduate scheme, to ensure you’re fully prepared for each and every step.
What are graduate schemes?
Graduate schemes, also known as graduate programs, are structured employment opportunities aimed at graduates recently out of university. These schemes are mainly offered by large companies and organisations, with the goal of attracting, developing, and retaining talented graduates by providing them with a structured pathway to enter their chosen career field.
Organisations who run graduate schemes know the importance of investing in their graduates and provide these individuals with high-quality in-house training. Many graduate schemes also offer opportunities to gain a recognised professional qualification.
Characteristics of a good graduate program.
A good graduate program should ideally offer a well-rounded and supportive experience to recent university graduates, that helps them smoothly transition into the professional world.
One of the main characteristics of a good graduate program is that they provide a structured framework that includes role rotations, training sessions, workshops, and seminars. This ensures that graduates receive a comprehensive learning experience and get exposure to different departments.
How to apply to a graduate scheme.
Here’s a general outline of how to apply to a graduate scheme:
- Carry out lots of research
- Update application materials
- Apply & complete online assessments
- Attend interviews
1. Carry out lots of research.
First and foremost, you want to research as many suitable grad schemes in your field of interest, so that you can compare and find the best one for you. Once you’ve found the grad schemes that interest you the most, research the companies and try to find some testimonials of previous applicants. Sites like the Student Room and Glass Door are great for this.
It’s also important to look into the company’s culture, values, and mission, and assess whether they align with your personal and career goals. Company websites or social media accounts are a great place to find information like this as they often have sections dedicated to their culture and employee experiences.
How to find graduate schemes.
Researching graduate schemes is an important step in finding the best program for you, and there are a number of different ways you can find them:
- Attend career fairs – Many universities hold career fairs, industry-specific events, and virtual job fairs which allow students to interact with recruiters and representatives from companies offering graduate schemes. These events are a great opportunity to ask questions and gather important information that will help the application process.
- Check online – The best place to find grad schemes is online via job portals, company websites, and career websites dedicated to listing graduate schemes. Check out sites like Gradcracker, TARGETjobs, Prospects, and GradTouch.
- Network – Connect with professionals in your desired field on professional platforms like LinkedIn. You could also use LinkedIn to reach out to current or previous participants of the graduate schemes to gain insights into their experiences with the company.
To discover what to look for in graduate schemes, check out this blog.
2. Update application materials.
Most graduate scheme applications will require your CV for the initial screening process. And as you can imagine, organisations will get bombarded with thousands of CV entries, so make sure yours stands out. Remember to tailor your CV to highlight relevant education, skills, work experience, and extracurricular activities that makes you different from the rest.
Here are some additional tips for creating a graduate scheme CV:
- Put your relevant skills at the top & above education – Ensure you match those skills to the schemes you apply for.
- Structure experience in date order (most recent first).
- Quantify your achievements – For example, mention how much you increased efficiency or sales.
- Proofread your CV for grammar, spelling, and formatting errors – When organisations are receiving thousands of CV’s, avoiding these kind of mistakes is incredibly important.
- Aim for a 1 page CV – If you have too much experience to fit on 1 page, you can have an additional page CV, but ensure the content is relevant and engaging.
You should also compose a customised cover letter for each grad scheme application, explaining why you’re a strong fit for the scheme and the company.
Discover how to act on LinkedIn & your personal platforms here.
3. Apply & complete online assessments.
Once your CV and cover letter is ready to go, you can start applying online via the graduate scheme portals or company websites.
You will firstly have to fill out the online application form, such as personal details, education, work experience, and other requested information like a CV and cover letter. Remember to tailor your documents and responses for the specific role you are applying to.
During this stage, it’s also likely that you’ll be asked to complete psychometric testing. This is usually in the form of Maths and English tests, which you complete online in your own time. Some graduate schemes may also ask you to carry out online assessments, such as aptitude tests, situational judgement tests, or personality assessments.
Some companies also hold assessment centres, where you’ll participate in various exercises (group discussions, role-playing scenarios and presentations) to demonstrate your skills and abilities.
4. Attend interviews.
If your initial application is successful, you’ll be invited to one or more interview stages. These interviews may include telephone interviews, video interviews, and in person interviews, or a combination of them all.
Graduate schemes interview tips.
- Research the company thoroughly – Show your genuine interest in the organisation by thoroughly researching the company, understanding its values, culture and recent news.
- Understand the role – Make sure you understand the job role you are applying for and what is required of you. You will need to explain how your skills and experiences align with what the company is looking for.
- Prepare STAR Stories – Practise behavioural questions and prepare STAR stories (Situation, Task, Action, Result).
- Dress Professionally – Make sure you make a good first impression by dressing professionally.
- Body language – Maintain good eye contact with the interview, sit up straight, and offer a firm handshake to convey confidence.
After completing interviews or assessment centres with the company, it’s good practice to send a thank-you email to the interviewers, expressing how grateful you are for the opportunity and reiterating your interest in the graduate scheme.
If your application is successful and you receive an offer, spend time carefully reviewing the terms, salary, benefits, and other important details before accepting the offer.
And there we have it! Hopefully this article has provided you with a solid understanding of how to apply to graduate schemes. To learn more about the wonderful world of university and student life, check out our student blog page.
Written by Kate for Host.
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