I hated applying for graduate jobs. Online application systems became the bane of my existence. Keying in GCSE grades for the 75th time was enough to drive me insane. I mean, this was the 21st century. Surely, there must be somewhere to store all of these qualifications, so that, when the need arises, you can just click apply and your grades will be inputted for you.
Well, I guess Ill have to carry on then. The grades are burned onto the inside of my eyelids now, anyway.
It is easy to become complacent with online applications. For some reason, they do not feel real. I found my concentration wandering every single time I filled one in. I mis-copied the name of a company so many times, you just had to laugh. Could I follow up that last one with an email saying Where RBS read Barclays? That would look professional. Rejected? I didnt want a job anyway.
My attitude was one of frustration and apathy. They are two ingredients to sure fire failure. There was no chance I was going to succeed. You have to be better than that. I will share with you what I learnt when I applied for graduate roles online, so that you can avoid my mistakes and reach success.
Here are 5 tips to ensure that success
1) Check your spelling furiously
Companies have built these systems to be spelling and grammar Nazis. Some are more lenient than others, offering you three strikes before elimination, but others are more stringent. It is important that you check all of your spelling and grammar.
If you think spell check will suffice, think again. What if you mistyped team and put tea instead? Spell check would not pick this up. You would be excellent in working as part of a tea. Along with vegetables and gravy. This would conjure images of cannibalism and create a strange sense of hunger. Not a great combination.
Incidentally, I just typed five instead of give. Another easy mistake that the spell checker would miss.
Be careful to five your full attention.
2) Copy and paste with care
I have a friend, lets call him Dave, who made the mistake of uttering the wrong name whilst enraptured in the throes of passion. It didnt end well for him. Poor sod.
This is precisely the mistake you run the risk of making when copying and pasting. Just as Daves sparring partner wanted to feel special, so do potential employers. They want to feel that they have your full attention, and that it is really them you want to be with.
Copying and pasting the wrong company name is telling an employer that you dont care. It is telling them that they arent the one for you, and that you are thinking of someone else.
Just like in the land of love, this will find your nose out of the door quick smart. Dont be like Dave.
3) Practice Psychometric tests
My daughter was 2 years old when I started to apply for graduate jobs. She was full of energy, sense of purpose and, most importantly, tantrums.
I sat down to complete an application, when, at the end, I was redirected straight to a numerical and verbal reasoning test. A timer displayed the time I had remaining before the test commenced, and my daughter started to play with the pot plant in the corner of the room. Great.
I fudged my way through, in between running to prevent impending accidents as Lucy found every conceivable activity to prevent me from concentrating on the test. Needless to say, I didnt pass, but I had an uninjured 2 year old. Sigh.
As with everything, preparation is the key to online tests. There is no shortage of practice material, available in the form of a book or website. Complete as many as you need to feel comfortable.
Then, when it comes to test day, situate yourself somewhere quiet, somewhere you can concentrate. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed.
4) Write long answers on a word processor
My favourite thing in the world is writing 2000 words on a web page, clicking next, only to get this: –
Then clicking back to get confirmation that none of your work exists: –
Then punching your computer so hard to get this: –
Well, ok, the last one was a bit extreme. But what happens is, you rewrite your answer with a little less verve, energy and enthusiasm. And you can read that. It really comes across.
You need to sound full of energy in your writing. You can tell who doesnt want to be there. They write like Robinho played football for Manchester City. He just didnt want to be there. He lacked energy, looked with despair at all of his teammates, and his form dipped to that of Niall Quinn.
OK, that last paragraph may be slightly resentful, but United lost 10 to City yesterday. Im allowed a wobble.
So yeah, losing work is enough to sap your energy to the point that it shows in your writing. Avoid this scenario by writing all of your longer form answers in a text editor. You will be glad you did.
5) Apply in batches of genre
In all of your applications you have to be relevant. There is no point saying that your sales skills are akin to Richard Bransons when you are applying for an analysts role. Each of your applications should be tailored to the position in question.
That is a time consuming affair.
As a solution, batch the genre of positions you want to apply to. One night, apply to all Banking Analysts jobs, the next marketing department roles. The skills required for these roles will be different, and so will your application. Applying for the same types of jobs in batch will allow you to copy and paste a lot of your longer answers, saving you time (remembering to change the company name!).
If you tried this technique between differing roles, your answers will probably be irrelevant to at least one of the roles. By batching, your answers will always remain relevant.
Applying for graduate jobs online can be a soul destroying activity, a necessary evil. The rewards for success are great, so it is with investing proper time and care into each application. The process is designed to whittle application numbers down to a manageable size for the company to proceed along the process. Dont give them an excuse to reject you. Take care, and you will live to fight another day.