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. 


About karen Paginton

I provide consultancy services to organisations and individuals in the emerging talent space. I help organisations transform, develop and implement their emerging talent strategies including attraction, programme management and business engagement. I provide careers coaching to graduates and school leavers on employability skills ensuring that they have the best chance of securing an entry level role in their organisation of choice. I am passionate about ensuring equal access to graduate and school leaver opportunites and working with individuals, schools and organisations to increase student's employability and drive social mobility.
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