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Unmissable tips for your grad scheme application

So, you’ve just finished uni after spending the last three or four years downing jagerbombs, gorging on pizza, and every so often showing up for a lecture.

Now you’re heading out in the big wide world and looking for some gainful employment with a degree under your belt…

But the truth of the matter is, so are thousands of other people. 

Yeah, we know, applying for jobs after graduation can be more brutal than five rounds with Mike Tyson… but going after graduate recruitment schemes is the perfect way to leverage yourself into a successful career. It’s 100% worth giving it all you’ve got to get one. Not only will it improve your future earning potential in any job you end up in, but your whole job will be focused on your development. No tea making or coffee runs in the hope that you’ll maaaybe get to shadow someone in six months time.

Plus, you’ll get to hang out at work with plenty of other young like minded graduates… beer pong anyone?

Of course, a ton of people are applying for the grad scheme you want. It’s about more than just your 2:1. Here’s a list of ways you can make your application stand out from the stack…

1. Start as soon as possible

Okay, so the first thing any graduate probably wants to do is leave behind all responsibilities, whip out their sunnies, and hide in Oz for the summer. Or forever… depending on how their final exams went.

But if you’re really serious about securing yourself a grad scheme – and we’re pretty sure you are – then it’s time to realise that while you’re off getting drunk and getting bronzed in another continent, the more dedicated graduates are applying for roles that you want, and getting ahead.

Now we’re not saying don’t go on a holiday. Sure, have a bit of a break and reward yourself for all the late nights and the hours you spent crying into a bag of Doritos. You’ll go mad if you don’t. But all we’re saying is it’s a good idea to at least try and get something lined up or start applying the second you graduate – if not before.

If you get yourself sorted early, the more time you’ll have for enjoying all that sex on the beach*

*Other cocktails are available.

Beautiful woman in a yacht enjoying the summer.jpeg

2. Polish your CV

But before you can do anything you’ve got to make sure that CV of yours is up to scratch and ready to help your quest for a grad scheme. For one, put on basically everything you’ve ever done and jazz that stuff up because let’s face it, you’ve probably not had a ton of experience just yet.

Of course, take that statement with a pinch of salt; just because you made a magazine at the age of 11 and sold it to your grandma for 50p doesn’t mean you were the editor in chief of a publishing company. Lying won’t get you anywhere, just as our mothers taught us.

But do make sure you’re showing yourself in the best light possible and really picking out the things you’ve done that are relevant to the grad scheme you’re applying for… the transferrable skills are the ones to really make a song and dance about.

And as good as you think your attention to detail is, you’ll still need a second set of eyes to make sure there are no silly grammar mistakes or funky spacing going on in the layout.

Man writing curriculum vitae at his desk.jpeg

3. Utilise your uni’s career services

If you’re still at uni or even if you’ve just left, you should absolutely be making the most out of their career guidance service. It’s probably the best free careers service you’ll get in your whole career in terms of their ability to help you with the exact job type you’re looking for.

Sure, if you’re still working on your dissertation, then dragging yourself down to a guidance session is probably the last thing on your list of priorities – well, probably just above clearing away the empty biscuit packets littered across your bedroom floor.

But trust us, they will have some really helpful insight. Plus, you’ll feel far less overwhelmed if you’ve got someone on hand to help you through the application process a little.

Disclaimer: the uni career advisors will help, but they’re not going to write the application for you… you’ll have to make the time to sit and do it to really get the best results.


4. Consider further education and training

Whether you’ve got a degree in biology or zoology or any other ology for that matter… the likelihood is that you’re graduating with pretty identical grades to thousands of other students. *Gulp*

Sorry, we know the thought of that will probably have you reaching for the Doritos again, ready for a uni style sob, because, yes. That is intimidating and it’s one of the biggest fear amongst graduates.

One of the best ways to stand out from the sea of other graduates swimming around like slippery eels waiting to snap up a spot on the grad scheme that you want, is to explore further education options, qualifications or training.

Although it’s a teeeeny bit more work, the final icing on the cake for your applications to graduate recruitment schemes could be another diploma on top of your degree – be it a Master’s or other certification.

Having certifications on your CV proves you know more about a particular area than anyone else applying for the same scheme. It takes you from being just another 2:1 graduate, to having your CV scream, “I’m the best in this stack, and not hiring me would be a mistake”.

See also: The Learning People’s certification catalogue

Go for it

So as well as having a killer CV, learning new skills, being ludicrously over prepared and getting on with your applications before everyone else gets back off holiday, there are plenty of options you can take.

Remember… bagging yourself a graduate scheme could just be the difference between earning a solid wage and having enough money in the bank for spontaneous weekend trips to reunite with your uni pals, or going back to asking your mum for the odd tenner with the hollow promise of whacking out the Dyson every now and then. We know which we’d choose…

See also: Applying for your first job: dos and don’ts