Six ways to make your graduate application count

By Pippa Thompson

Recent reports have suggested graduate prospects are at a ten-year high. And with more graduates in the market than ever before, competition for jobs is heating up. Firms are feeling considerably more confident about investing in their future talent than they did a few years ago and this has led to many ramping up their graduate recruitment plans. But with so many aspiring professionals out for the same roles, how can you make your application stand out from the crowd?

– Firstly, put yourself in the hirer’s shoes. If you’d just received 800 graduate applications for five vacancies, it’s unlikely you’ll have time to read each one from cover to cover, particularly if each one is ten pages long. By keeping your application short, sharp and to the point, it’s likely the hirer will take more notice than they would of a small novel.

– However, while it’s important to be concise, you must also remember to include all relevant experience that could potentially benefit your application and remove anything that doesn’t add value. There’s some debate amongst hirers about whether to include information about hobbies or interests in an application. Personally, I would recommend mentioning this as employers will want to understand more about you as a person and your potential cultural fit. For the same reason it’s also worth touching on extracurricular activities that you’ve undertaken that highlight desirable skills such as leadership or motivation.

– Graduates should also recognise the importance of the cover letter. As above, it’s crucial not to send something that resembles War & Peace, but there is a bit more freedom to express yourself more clearly. Rather than repeating what’s on your CV, describe how you could directly benefit the company. You could, for example, describe how you would solve a chosen problem in your new role. It’s also important to keep the hirer engaged by using sharp, concise sentences. As we’ve already mentioned, these people have limited time, so it’s up to you to hold their attention. You should also remember to get someone to proof your application thoroughly – sending a mistake-ridden submission will only make you look sloppy and unlikely to secure the role.

– It’s also worth considering the other ways you could show value to your potential employer. If they’re looking for communication skills you could, for example, highlight your blog or a time when you’ve spoken in public. Even if you’re temporarily working in another sector from your chosen career path, you must highlight to the employer that you have an understanding of trends within that particular market and how they could impact the organisation so it’s worth highlighting your market knowledge.

– One thing that may slip the mind of many graduates is the importance of an online profile. This has obviously risen in significance in recent years with the growth of social media and many employers are likely to give this and your CV equal value. After all, this is a clear opportunity to see the ‘real you’. For this reason, ensure your social media accounts look professional and aren’t plastered with photos from nights out that could negatively affect your chances of securing a role.

– There are also a number of other smaller changes you can make that can affect your success. Ensure that you come across as enthusiastic and show a desire to better yourself as no one wants to hire the graduate who thinks their degree has taught them everything. You should also follow up your application with a call. It may seem insignificant, but this could make the difference between being considered for the role or not.

So with this advice in mind, you should be set to storm the graduate recruitment process. And now the hard work is out of the way, all you need to worry about is the interview!

Paul Myers is Internal Recruitment Manager at NonStop Recruitment

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