How to get a graduate job at Savills, by TARGETjobs
Savills is a very popular graduate employer. To stand out to recruiters it is important to tailor your application by doing your research and providing solid reasons for wanting to work for the firm.
The Savills application process
The deadline for the majority of Savills’ graduate schemes has previously been in early November, with a slightly later deadline for its building surveying, project management, rural surveying, food and farming, and urban design programmes. Make sure to submit your application in good time, as employers occasionally begin to fill roles before the deadline.
The initial application form for Savills involves filling in the usual contact details, education and work background, as well as:
- uploading a covering letter
- uploading a CV
Depending on the programme that you are applying for, you may be invited to complete a video interview after submitting your initial application. The next stage for all schemes is an assessment centre and candidates who impress during this will then be invited to a final interview.
As part of the initial application form you are given the option to fill out a ‘contextual recruitment system’. This is a series of questions about your personal background that is designed so that one’s socio-economic background can be taken into account when considering your degree. Again, Savills make it clear that this section of the form is optional, so only fill it out if you are comfortable sharing this information. However, if you do complete this form, it’s crucial that you do so truthfully.
Both your CV and covering letter should be tailored to Savills; recruiters can spot a ‘blanket application’ a mile off and won’t be impressed. Make sure you sell your skills and values in the covering letter and match these to the skills and values Savills is looking for. Unlike some other employers, Savills’s careers site features clear guidance on what they expect to see included in your CV and covering letter, as well as how it should be formatted. It is crucial that you follow Savills’ instructions, as not doing so will make it seem as if you have not properly done your research.
Writing a graduate CV for Savills
Use the competencies that Savills seek as the basis for your CV. Use the same terms that Savills uses and weave these into the CV. Do include part-time jobs and involvement in university activities, particularly if they demonstrate the skills the firm is looking for, such as the ability to operate as part of a team. By showing that you have all the skills you’ll need in this graduate role, you’ll also be showing that you fully understand the role of a surveyor in the industry.
Make sure to format your CV clearly and neatly, so as to make it as easy as possible for recruiters to read. Even while following Savills CV guidance, there are still many ways for you to make your CV distinctive and easy to read. Make effective use of headings and bullet points. You can use formatting to highlight times when you have demonstrated the skills that Savills is in particularly looking for, such as determination, communication skills and decision making skills.
- You can see Savills’ guidance notes on how to lay out your CV and some key things to include.
- Read this advice for more advice on what to include and how to format your graduate property CV. Take a look at the example graduate property CV too.
What to include in you Savills graduate covering letter
Your covering letter is an opportunity to expand on the details and experience that you have included in your CV and to put forward to recruiters a narrative about why you want the job. This involves explaining why you are applying to Savills specifically and why you are suitable for that particular graduate scheme. Use your letter to construct a narrative that incorporates your previous experiences and skills, and which culminates to you applying to Savills' graduate scheme.
Provide examples of when you have developed the skills Savills seeks; you can use examples from university, part-time jobs, societies you’ve been a part of or any gap year experiences. It’s important to link your abilities to the area in which you’re hoping to work. For example, if you are applying to the commercial graduate scheme you should be aware that transactions tend to be longer and that you need to build up strong, on-going relationships with clients. Describe why this suits you. Perhaps one of the things you enjoyed most about your part-time job in a pub was developing your client relationship-building skills through interacting with regular customers.
You will also need to persuade why you particularly want to work for Savills. Write about what attracts you to the firm – to stop this sounding like hollow flattery, relate your reasons back to yourself to include how you think you will develop professionally and achieve your career goals at Savills. Savills also asks its candidates to have an ‘excellent understanding of the APC’, so your covering letter may be a good opportunity to discuss how Savills (and Savills specifically) can help you towards becoming a chartered surveyor – for example, you could mention the range of training opportunities that are held for graduates.
As a general rule, it is always preferred for you to address your covering letter to a specific person, rather than using a general 'Dear Sir or Madam'. However, Savills specify that you should address your covering letter to ‘Graduate Recruitment Team’.
For both your CV and covering letter make sure they are free from spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Give it to a family member or careers advisor to look over – a fresh set of eyes can often spot mistakes more easily.
You may be invited to complete a video interview after the initial CV and covering letter application, depending on the graduate scheme you apply for and whether you specify a specific pathway. Savills says that no ‘pre-preparation’ is required for this but it is wise to familiarise yourself with the different video interview formats, the main things to be aware of in each and how to portray yourself in a professional way.
If your online application is successful you will be invited to attend an assessment centre in January. Savills don’t give many details about the content of the assessment centre, but past candidates have revealed it usually takes place in London and lasts a day. Savills specify that there will not be a formal interview during the assessment centre itself.
Accounts of the assessment days differ, but, from what previous candidates have said, it could include:
- a meet and greet
- group tasks, most likely a discussion
- written and numerical tests (you can practise various aptitude tests with our commercial partner AssessmentDay)
- a presentation task
- listening to an informative presentation
You can find out more about property assessment centres here.
The final stage of the application process is an interview, which is usually held in London but can, on occasion, be held in a regional office.
Plan your journey in advance and make sure you arrive in plenty of time. The dress code at Savills is smart office wear: a suit for men and a smart blouse and skirt/trousers or a dress for women. If you choose to wear heels, make sure they are a manageable height.
Past candidates have given the following advice for the interview:
- Have ready examples of times when you have utilised the skills Savills seeks.
- Research the current property market (as relevant to the scheme you’re applying for). Find out what is/isn’t selling in different parts of the country/world, the possible reasons for this, how political developments have affected the market and any notable transactions/deals over the past year. Some past candidates have said they were asked the Savills share price, so make sure you look at the Financial Times on the day and in the run-up.
- Expect to be asked a lot of questions about you CV and covering letter. Print off a copy and bring it along with you so you can look over it beforehand.
- Questions may be competency based (‘tell us about a time when you showed integrity’) or more hypothetical (‘how would you go about ensuring you adhered to the ethical code?’)
- You are likely to be asked what you know about the role you have applied for and the APC.
Savills’ recruitment process isn’t unusual in the industry, but you are unlikely to yield the results you want unless you take a Savills-specific approach.