“I should have started the preparation for applications sooner” says Josh, one of many students I have recently seen rushing and stressing at the last minute to get in graduate job, summer intern or scholarship applications. They didn’t realise how much time it would take. Luckily at least they were using their University careers service to help but in addition to that I’m sure would highly recommend you prepare well in advance and set your own deadline earlier than the one given. So, for example, if you are coming to the end of your penultimate year you know graduate recruitment starts at the beginning of March so use the summer to prepare.
Some articles you may read say job searchers spend too much time obsessing over their resume and cover letter. Don’t be fooled by this advice. It is true that traditional ways of recruiting have changed and that your online profile is important; there are likely to be videos requested as part of your application and yes definitely networking coffee catch ups and informal interviews are worth their weight in gold. However, in many cases the process and your own self-awareness starts with the CV and cover letter or a series of online questions which require you to input similar content.This means taking the time to get this part right, preparing and really thinking about the format of your CV. We have had many blogs on writing your CV and I would recommend participating in CV writing workshops and having a CV check with a careers consultant to contribute to your preparation.
Many recruiters will tell you not enough time has been spent on the application. What they mean is they receive applications from candidates who have obviously not thought about:
• Why do you want the job
• What is it about their organisation that excites and interest you
• How do you think your application might look the first time it’s read – i.e. formatting and grammar
• What do you have that might make you suitable for this role
• Where you have demonstrated competencies such as resilience, leadership potential or the ability to learn quickly
Remember you are expected to have high levels of written skills as a graduate as well as the ability to analyse and assess critically. You should be able to review the job description or scholarship requirements and match your CV or application to what the company is looking for.
Even once you are clear on what you have to do to make an impactful application, it often takes longer than you imagine to insert the right content online or format the word document, decide on font or get it to fit two or three pages professionally. Then there may be additional documentation. Often scholarship applications need sign off from a JP – don’t rush at the last minute as there may be no one available – or summer internships require a copy of your academic transcript or a presentable head and shoulders photo of yourself.
So, spend time on ‘crafting’ and keep refining your application each time.
Take a look at this graduate who was already running his own business but set his sights on working in publishing for a magazine. He took plenty of time to create his tailored application which secured him an internship.