Last Updated 27 Mar 2020

How to Apply for a Graduate Scheme

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How to Apply for a Graduate Scheme

So that’s it – you’ve done it, you’ve graduated; three years of hard work have come to an end and you’ve finished university with a stellar degree and a shedload of memories, but what happens nextWell, by now you’ve probably realised that you’re no-longer a student and the fear has started to creep in – yep, it’s time to start thinking about the next chapter of your professional life. For some graduates this will mean applying for post-graduate study but for many others this will mean applying for a Graduate Scheme.

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What is a Graduate Scheme?

A Graduate scheme is a career specific programme that is tailored to develop your skill and abilities to work in a certain profession.

Hundreds of organisations offer graduate schemes, ranging from John Lewis to Mercedes, the BBC to McDonalds, there is a wide variety of schemes out there.

Many companies use graduate schemes as a way to get the brightest young minds into their workforce and to develop the business leaders of tomorrow.

While each Grad scheme can vary massively from company to company, most schemes provide a structured progression path for graduates to make the transition from beer-drinking student to business-winning professional.

Some programmes offer on-the-job training and even the opportunity to complete professional qualifications, while others are rotational and offer you the chance to experience multiple roles in different areas of the business – and in doing so, expose you to an array of actual, real-world situations.

Schemes can vary in length, with some running from 2 years and others taking up to 6! After the graduate scheme finishes, most companies will offer you a full time position with that company.

Of course no two graduate schemes are the same, but the principals of exposure and responsibility remains the same.

Why should I choose a Graduate scheme?

There are a many benefits to being on a Graduate Scheme; these can range from a higher-than-average starting salary, to the opportunity to try your hand at a wide range of different business areas and roles.

Opportunities on graduate schemes can vary from business to business, and can include roles within consultancy, corporate sales, service operations, and project management. By having the opportunity to try out different roles in different areas of the business, you can get a better idea of the things you do or don’t like, and help to plan out you long-term progression path.

Typically, a Graduate scheme is a great place to build your skills and climb the career ladder quickly and will also put you in a position to make valuable contacts that could pay off later on in life.

Sounds great, so what do the Employers want from their Graduates?

While some industries and employers may look for certain degree skills – such as engineers – the majority of employers tend to search for applicants based on three qualities: knowledge, skills and attributes.

Most employers recognise that while your degree might not be directly related to their industry, the skills that you will have developed in your time at university will be an invaluable asset to them, as will your ability to learn and grow.

Employers are looking for graduates with degrees and skills that can be further developed in the working place; for example, Mathematicians and Engineering graduates often go straight into graduate schemes which look to build on and utilise the relevant knowledge that you will have learnt from you university studies.

Alternatively, other employees will look for the skills and attributes that you will have developed through your degree; for example English or History graduates can go into HR and Marketing schemes because of their excellent analytical and communication skills.

Regardless of what subject you studied at university, there is a Graduate scheme for everyone.

Awesome! So how do I applyAnd what’s involved with the application process?

Most Graduate schemes accept online applications, either through a company website or through a specific job site.

Online applications are very common in graduate recruitment as they make the job application process more efficient and practical for both you and the recruiter. The online applications will typically contain questions about your professional or academic experience, as well as some situational questions to get an idea of your background and your interest in the role.

Some online application forms will have built in psychometric or numeracy tests, depending on the scheme, so it’s a good idea to practise doing these before you start to tackle the job application.

A CV is a must-have for graduate jobs, so it’s best to spend a bit of time preparing yours before you start applying for schemes. Remember to keep it concise – two pages – and plain and simple. No fancy fonts, colours – just black and white – and no pictures of your ugly mug!

If you’re successful in the initial stages of the application, you may well have a phone or face-to-face interview. For a phone interview, make sure you are in a quiet room and let everyone know you are expecting a phone call so that you don’t have your Mum bursting in on you halfway through the call!

Ok I think I’m ready to apply for a Graduate Scheme – so where can I find out what schemes are available to me?

Many graduates feel confused over which Graduate scheme to take following university, but websites like Milkround are great for searching through the types of graduate schemes which are available across a range of industries – from arts, entertainment and media to logistics, transport and I.T. It is also packed with valuable careers advice articles, such as where to start looking for a graduate scheme, which are well worth a read.

Another site to use is WikiJob, a wikipedia-style website that is designed for students and graduates looking for career opportunities. WikiJob provides comprehensive insight into many professional areas including investment banking, consulting, engineering, accountancy and law.

Also, you can try and for tips and advice on vacancies for graduate schemes.

When looking for the right Graduate scheme, it is important to do plenty of research into the sorts of companies and roles you think you might like to get into, finding out what skills and experience are needed for each, and what you will get in return.

Graduate schemes are not for everyone, but with the right guidance, training and investment, the right scheme can help develop you from being a green, young graduate to a business-savvy, experienced professional.

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