If you try to see the graduate recruitment process – and your own part in it – from the employer’s point of view, it will help to clarify what you need to show in your application. Understanding what the recruiter is looking for will help you to get the graduate scheme place, internship or job you want.
The recruiter wants to take on the best and brightest graduates, both to meet current staffing needs and to develop the company’s future leaders. However, even if you’re right for the job in every way, your prospective employer doesn’t know it yet. You have to succeed at each stage of the recruitment process in order to get your chance to show what you’re really capable of.
Recruiters have checklists, so help them tick them off
Whether they’re going through applications, interviewing, or observing at an assessment centre, graduate recruiters will be looking for a specific checklist of qualifications and skills. You know what it is, because it will be set out in the job description, and you will also be able to use the company website and literature to find out more about what they want. Make it easy for them to work down that checklist and put a big tick next to every point. Be clear about how you meet each requirement.
All employers want the best… but they have to sift to find it
The recruiter may have numerous other applications to filter out before coming to the conclusion that you’re the one to go for. How many graduate applications do employers in different sectors expect to receive for each vacancy? Here are the figures, according to the most recent edition of the biannual membership survey carried out by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR).
From a job-hunter’s point of view? These are intimidating odds. From a recruiter’s? Hard work.
- AGR average applications per vacancy 2011-2012 recruitment cycle: 73.2
- Retail: 153.8, up from 71.2 in 2012-11
- Investment banks or fund managers: 141.8, down from 232.5 in 2010-11
- Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) 134.1
- Insurance company 98.9
- Energy, water or utility company 94.8
- Transport or logistics 84.6
- Banking or financial services 78.6
- IT/telecommunications company 76.3
- Accountancy or professional services firm 55.1
- Engineering or industrial company 50.8
- Construction company or consultancy 50.3
- Consulting or business services firm 44.5
- Law firm 44.5
- Public sector 43.7
Bear in mind these stats are likely to be on the high side, because AGR members tend to be large graduate employers that attract a high volume of applications. Also, these are average figures, and mask variations between employers, so can be misleading.
Don’t overlook the small and medium sized enterprises who are also on the lookout for graduate talent; they may offer great opportunities for early responsibility.
Give your application the best possible chance of getting through
If you were a recruiter, how would you work through all those applications to find the best candidate? Chances are you would:
- Be disinclined to tolerate spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and any other signs of sloppiness.
- Weed out applications that don’t follow instructions.
- Stick to your checklist, looking for applications that are a good clear match for the criteria you’ve set out, and rejecting any that aren’t. Are the candidate’s skills and experience described in a way that shows he or she has the right qualifications and aptitudes? If not – why not? Courtesy of Target Jobs.
Don’t forget you can get help with your applications by checking out our Careers webpages on this subject and when you have a draft application ready, pop in to see a Careers Advisor for advice.