Last Updated 26 Jan 2021


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It’s that time of year when thousands of new graduates will leave university and enter the highly competitive world of job applications and graduate schemes.

Many top companies offer specially tailored graduate schemes for talented young graduates, offering the chance to receive top training and learn from the best in the business. However, due to the popularity of these schemes, we are seeing one of the toughest graduate job markets for decades – meaning that to distinguish the top candidates, many schemes have a rigorous application process.

In this article, we offer you advice that can help you stand out from the crowd and book your place on that prestigious graduate scheme.

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1) How do I find the right scheme for me?

It’s important that you do your research when looking for graduate schemes. Find out what options are out there and where each scheme might take you.

Most graduate schemes have dedicated websites that you can check to find out more information. Another great way to find out about various graduate opportunities is to go along to careers fairs or workshops.

2) Don’t panic

Most graduate scheme application processes are long and challenging. A lot of these will also include timed online tests; however it’s important not to let panic take over. Be calm and methodical in your approach. Answering half the questions correctly is preferable to rushing through and getting every single one wrong.

3) Always be yourself

At some stage during the application process, you might be invited to attend an assessment centre to meet with existing staff; these assessment centres can feel intimidating but keep in mind that they aren’t trying to trip you up. While it can be quite intimidating feeling that you have to fight for the attention of the assessors, bear in mind that assessors will be looking for a range of different competencies, so it’s not about who talks the loudest.

4) Prepare

Whether you are going to an assessment centre, or for a one-to-one interview, make sure you’ve done plenty of preparation beforehand. Research the business and its competitors, show an awareness of what’s going on in the industry in general and come up with intelligent questions to ask at the end of the interview.

5) You’re never too old to apply

Graduate schemes often have a blend of different ages. It can be hard to start at the bottom when you have other life experiences, but if you are prepared to work hard and get on with it, you’ll move through the scheme quickly.

You can use your age as a unique selling point to help you stand out. If you decide to do this, be very direct and open about this on your cover letter.

6) There are plenty of opportunities if you graduated with a low grade

There are many graduate recruiters who will accept candidates with a low grade. However, it might be a good idea to spend some time developing your CV and your work experience portfolio to show your prospective employer your passion in a given area, and your ability to perform in the workplace.

7) Persistence pays off

Most graduates will apply to a number of graduate schemes before they eventually land a job. If you do get rejected, don’t let it get you down. Hardly anyone manages to attain a graduate role without being turned down for plenty of other positions, and, if the recruiter doesn’t think you suit the job, it’s definitely for the best that you carry on hunting until you find something that really is right for you. It’s definitely a difficult time to get a graduate scheme because there’s so much competition, but it’s the people who really persist that end up with the decent jobs.

If you’d like further assistance, please get in touch with us about our CV and Cover Letter services.


This essay was written by a fellow student. You can use it as an example when writing your own essay or use it as a source, but you need cite it.

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