If you want to succeed in getting an entry level job you need to understand how organisations recruit graduates. Read on for top tips on how to get your application read.


Timing is everything 

If you want to land a graduate job in the business and role that you want apply early. Most larger recruiters open their applications in July or September each year. Most recruiters work on screening applications as they are received. Once roles are filled vacancies will be closed or you will have your application diverted to another business line. In practice this means that your application will not be looked at and will be placed on hold in case a role opens up or rejected outright. Recruiters won’t take the risk of over recruiting for a role. 

Some recruiters will want to make sure that they interview their star applications first, i.e those that score the most on their screening criteria; are from their target universities, yes this does happen! or who they already have a connection with. 


” there are now on average 85 applications for each graduate job” 

Organisations will screen by automating part of the process and using either an in-house team or outsourcing. What does this mean for you? If you do not  meet the entry criteria you will be automatically rejected, this means if you don’t have the right degree, number of UCAS points or are graduating in the right year your application won’t get looked at. So please don’t apply for roles that you are not qualified for and always carefully read the application criteria. 

When screening applications recruiters will mostly be working to a system that allocates points to the way that you answer the questions and the experience that you have. These are linked to the key criteria, competencies or strengths that the organisation is looking for.

Always read the careers website and link your answers on the application form to the criteria that is required. Lots of website have sections on on how to apply and top tips for success, spend time viewing these sections and really understand what is required. Make sure you always customise your application to the role and organisation that you are applying for. 

Use the STAR technique, Situation, Task, Action, Result when completing the competency based section of the application form. Spend most time on the Action and Result and always focus your answer on YOU. 


Recruiters will want to know that you have some kind of work experience, screening criteria will be based on this, often you get a higher score if you have done a Spring week or a summer internship in a relevant field. This will be most important if you want to work in a sector that is highly competetive. 

Online testing 

You will often be asked to take an aptitude test, Yes you do need to complete this yourself, recruiters have checks in place in make sure the applicant has completed the test. You may also be asked to complete the test again at a later stage, if there is an inconsistency in results you will be rejected no matter how good your application form or interview performance. 

Harsh as it may seem recruiters will reject on test scores alone. They need to have some way of getting those hugh numbers of applications down. Good recruiters will look at your test score and your application form and then make a decision, if your test score is marginal and your application form has some weak sections you will be rejected.  

To improve your chances, look at what tests recruiters use and always take a practice , these are readily available online from all the test publishers. 

Good luck. 

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How to succeed in your internship

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Whether you are doing your first work experience or have completed a number of internships learn how to make sure you build lasting connections and have the best possible chance of being offered a full-time job after finishing your studies. 


Always be on-time; dress appropriately; don’t turn up with a hangover because you drank too much at the party organized for interns last night, and yes I have seen it happen so many times!  

No matter how you feel BE PROACTIVE and be useful no matter how small or menial the task, you can always learn something. Don’t have an attitude that you are too good to do the coffee run or go to the print room. Never refuse to do a task that you are given.

Everybody has to start somewhere this is a journey not a sprint to the top. The interns that don’t get asked back are those that show lots of attitude and no interest. 

Don’t sit there plugged into your i-pod even if everybody does it. Just listening to others conversations can help you understand the culture of an organization. 


Speak to as many people as you can, identify who are the key influencers and arrange a coffee with them as early as possible in your internship. Find out who makes the hiring decisions and how they are made.  

Seek out the alumni from your university talk to them, find out what it is really like, volunteer to be an ambassador back on campus, this will ensure that you stay connected to key stakeholders and the organisation. 


Meet with your  manager on day one, agree objectives for your internship. Review these regularly and seek feedback. Be prepared to act on any development needs identified. Remember you can only be assessed on observed performance, You need to make sure that everybody knows if you have done a great job, share any feedback you get from peers, managers or clients. 

Don’t just stick to your immediate peers, find out as much about the organisation as possible. If you are in an internship that you don’t want to pursue but want to stay in the organisation seek out decision makers and influencers in the area you want to move into. Find out how you switch roles, Make connections with the campus recruitment team they influence hiring decisions and can connect you with key hiring decision makers in the business. 


Having conversations and doing face to face networking is the most importnat thing you can do. Anybody can be a successful networker; it helps if you are prepared. You need to be able to talk about yourself an ask questions of others. Make sure that you know your personal elevator pitch. Who are you, what your role is, what are you interested in doing, why should you be hired. Practice asking who, why, what, where type of questions. Research the person you are talking to, check their linked-in profile, know what they do and their role in the organisation. 



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