How I Beat the Competition for a Graduate Scheme Place

career management

careers serviceCompleting the last exam of your University life is a great moment but how many of you, at this point, were thinking about what happens next? I’m guessing not too many. If at this point you are thinking to yourself ‘I’ll take a month off to relax and then start looking for a job”, let me give you some advice; you’re already too late. By this point, most graduate job positions have already been filled and the competition for the remaining ones are extreme.

So how do you beat this competition? The answer is simple; start looking a year early. A year early I hear you say quizzically? How is this possible with coursework, dissertation and exam pressure? Trust me when I say it is possible; I did it!

Looking for a Graduate Job

I was offered a job just before my first exam in May 2011, however, I started searching for jobs in September 2010 just before my final year commenced. At this point, I would bet money that most undergrads wouldn’t even be thinking about jobs, at least, this was the case with most of the people I knew.

There were many reasons why I started to look so early. Firstly, I didn’t want to apply to ‘any old job’. I wanted to apply to, what I considered, large corporations like the ones on the FTSE100 and Times Top 100. Why? Well why not? By starting early you might as well set your sights a bit higher because what’s the worst that can happen? After all, you might get a job at one of these big corporations and start your career on the right path. How do I know this? It happened to me. Secondly, I wanted experience of the application process.

I knew damn well that I was unlikely to get the first job I applied for, or the second, or the third. Because of this, I thought it would be ‘best practice’ to apply to several jobs I wouldn’t mind having but were not necessarily my top choices. This way, I could freely go about attempting the application process, get experience of phone interviews and assessment centres so when I did apply for the jobs I really wanted, I would have a much better idea of what they were looking for and thus have a better opportunity to beat the competition. This method worked wonders for me as by the time I got to the application process for the graduate scheme I am currently on, I knew exactly what the people looking at the application were looking for, I knew how to structure my answers to phone interview questions and I knew how to make myself stand out at assessment centres.

Extra-curricular activity and the Graduate Job Hunt

I’ve talked greatly about being proactive and prepared when it comes to getting the graduate job you have always wanted, but, there is more to gaining a job than just this. In fact, I feel that the graduate job process starts when you get the letter informing you have been successfully accepted into University. I can honestly say that I had not given a shred of thought about graduate jobs at this point; I was too excited about the prospect of living in a new place and all the antics I would get up to. However, I wish I had. I could have bolstered my CV earlier with extra-curricular activities such as charity work, or joined SIFE who help develop business and soft skills through charity projects.

These things can never be underestimated on the CV; they help to give you something extra which can diversify you from other candidates and they give you more to talk about at interviews. I waited until my final year to do this but I feel that bolstering my CV in this way really helped me get my foot into the door instead of being thrown into the bin after the thorough 1 minute the employer spends looking at the CV.

Internship Can Imrpove Your Chances Of Getting A Graduate Job

One last thing; if you ever have the chance to do an industrial placement, grab the opportunity with both hands. There is nothing more that prospective employers like than a candidate who has experience of working in a top company; it trumps a Master’s degree any day. How do I know this? I did one

If you are a graduate or a student, use this as a positive experience and start your job search now! If you have any questions, comment below or share with the social buttons.

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