"It's great feeling like you matter, not like you're just another head count."

Gemma Gregory, Head of IT Service

Your seven step guide to creating the perfect graduate scheme application

29 January 2015
Your seven step guide to creating the perfect graduate scheme application

Here is our seven step guide to the perfect graduate scheme application:

1. Make sure you understand the company and the scheme

So you’ve found a scheme that looks good – brilliant. Before you rush into clicking ‘apply’, take the time to really understand the company and the scheme. What do they do? What would you be doing on the scheme? Building up a good knowledge early on will help you shine throughout the application process. Beyond just a search engine browse of the company, have a good look at their careers website, read the stories and you could even consider contacting someone who works there to find out more.

2. Polish up your CV

Your CV is typically the first impression that a company will have of you and, as we all know, first impressions matter. When preparing or updating your CV, you should take all the care that you would if you were preparing for an interview. Make sure the information is up-to-date, that it’s clearly presented, free from mistakes and in a format that can be accessed easily across different platforms. 

3. Keep your application authentic 

Of course, you want to impress in your application but it’s important to be yourself. Try to avoid copy and pasting generic information or using unnecessary jargon. Think about your personal qualities: what are your strengths? What could you bring to the organisation? Go through the criteria and marry up what the company is looking for with what you can offer and vice versa.

4. Back up your descriptions

Provide evidence of every statement you make about your skills or experience. Instead of just saying ‘I’m a real team player’ or ‘I thrive on challenge’, include examples of where and how you’ve demonstrated these qualities. This could be in part-time or volunteering roles if you have a limited employment history. Thinking about this at application stage will also help you later down the line in interviews.

5. Practice makes perfect

Most graduate schemes will require you to take some kind of numerical and verbal reasoning tests. You’ll normally have the opportunity to practice the tests before completing the real ones and it’s a good idea to do this as you’ll then be familiar with the types of exercises you might need to complete and the time you have available. Always make sure you have a pen and paper to hand and a glass of water before you start. 

6. Take your time and save as you go

Take the time to read and digest questions and ensure that you understand what is being asked of you rather than rushing through and making mistakes. Save as you go so that you don’t risk losing all of your hard work if your internet or computer crashes. Another good idea is to draft your answers in a Word document in case something goes wrong online. 

7. Re-read, check, repeat

Go through your application with all the care and attention that you would a crucial piece of coursework. It might be useful to get a second pair of eyes to read it too. Attention-to-detail is a key skill that employers look for so don’t jeopardise your chances with a missed spelling error. And don’t forget to check your contact details!

Once you’re 100% happy, press send! Good luck.

Find out about the NFU Mutual Professional Trainee Scheme.