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Graduates applying to an employer with a small intake

Applying to small banking firms and boutique investment banks

It can be easy to focus on the big fish when it comes to applying for graduate jobs in banking, but take the time to check out employers with a smaller graduate intake.

Rather than worry about the size of the group you'll be joining with, focus instead on the quality of the training you'll be given and the more personal approach it will take.

Sometimes it's easy to overlook the fact that some employers only take on a few graduates per year. You might rather take your chances on an employer with 250 jobs on offer, than one only offering 25. But choosing to work for an employer with a small graduate intake could be a far better option if you're looking for a job that's going to recognise your contributions more quickly and drive your professional development.

Benefits of joining a smaller graduate class

With fewer fresh graduates to circulate around departments, employers with smaller intakes tend to offer more responsibility from the get go. By being one of – at most – two graduates placed in a team, you're likely to be playing a key role in the departments you work in far sooner, rather than being given less important work along with a bank of other graduates. As a result, you'll need to focus on the quality of your work rather than the quantity. You'll need to integrate into new teams quickly but, if you can, you could find yourself trusted with live projects or major clients far sooner than you'd expect to with an employer recruiting hundreds of graduates per year.

Rather than worry about the size of the group of graduates you'll be joining, focus instead on the quality of the training you'll be given and the more personal approach it will be delivered in. Employers with smaller intakes are able to invest more in the graduates they do take on. They will also be in a position to offer you more opportunities within the business, simply because there'll be fewer people to give them to. A key difference you'll notice is a closer working relationship with senior staff and stakeholders due to the extra responsibilities you'll be afforded.

Beating the competition

Though there are more opportunities available than you might think, the challenges of securing the job and being able to function in it are more obvious. You'll be under pressure to adapt to and integrate into teams quickly as you'll be a key team player. Competition for these places will also be fierce. There may not necessarily be more applicants per place but application quality will be higher, so you'll need to do something special to stand out from the crowd. Check out our advice on CVs to make sure yours is up to scratch.

Stand out in your application

Having a smaller intake can have its benefits though. With competition for places so high, employers tend to take their time reviewing the applications they receive more thoroughly to ensure they choose the best of the best. And, with assessors under less pressure to meet high recruitment targets, you'll have a much better chance of getting to know recruiters and vice versa. These assessors will also require fewer candidates for assessment centres, that process, as a result, can also be less intimidating by having a smaller group to contend with.

If you are successful, the career benefits you'll receive will be invaluable. With fewer new recruits straining departments, you'll get more exposure to various aspects of the business and gain a greater depth of knowledge of the different roles your employer offers. And with your employer only taking on a few recruits each year, they'll have a vested interest in your career development and will want to promote a long-term career with the organisation, meaning better progression and development.

To find employers with small graduate intakes check out our investment banking job listings for more.

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