The Civil Service Fast Stream is a popular graduate scheme because of the variety it offers. There are 15 graduate streams to choose from:
- Digital, data and technology
- Diplomatic Service
- Diplomatic Service economics
- Government Communications Service
- Government Economics Service
- Government Operational Research Service
- Government Social Research Service
- Government Statistical Service
- Houses of Parliament
- Human resources
- Project delivery
- Science and engineering
Assessors will be looking at thousands of applications, so make sure yours clearly states what you can offer, how this matches what the stream you're targeting needs and what motivates you about the role. Follow these steps to make sure you're giving yourself the best chance with your application.
1. Look at the core skills and competencies required – how do you fit the role?
The first stage of the Fast Stream application process is an online application – but before you click 'submit' on yours, make sure you've highlighted what you can bring to the job and matched this to what's being asked for.
If you're not sure where your strengths lie, take a look at our article on the top ten skills that'll get you a job when you graduate.
Once you're clear on what you can offer and how you can demonstrate this, you're ready to start your application.
2. Pay attention to detail
A simple way to stand out from the crowd is to make sure your application is error-free. Write what you want to say in a word processing document, spell-check it and proofread it – then paste it into the online application.
You could also ask a friend or a careers adviser to check your application. It's difficult to spot common but serious mistakes, such as pasting the wrong employer name, when you've put a lot of work into a document.
3. Plan ahead for a strong application
The Fast Stream application process has several stages, including a series of online activities and a video interview. You have a timed window in which to complete these, so make sure you plan this time carefully. A last-minute rush plus a technology glitch could take you out of the running.
The keys to successful video job applications are practice and preparation. Use your phone, tablet or laptop to do some run-throughs, keeping an eye on your body language and tone of voice. Find a quiet place and a flattering angle for your device and you'll start to feel more confident.
Fast Stream video interviews explore your strengths, so focus on the ones you identified in your initial application and make sure you can give evidence of how you've used them.
4. Shine at your assessment centre
If you're successful in the initial stages of your Fast Stream application, you'll be invited to an assessment centre. This will now be held online, and involve a leadership activity, along with a group and written exercise.
Confidence is critical at this point – but being yourself is just as important. Interviewers are looking for the real you and how you'd perform on the job. Aim to be your best self: assertive but not aggressive, able to listen as well as speak, and with clear ideas about what you could bring to the Fast Stream.
For advice specific to virtual assessment centres, take a look at our article on what to expect and how to succeed.
5. Act on feedback
You'll be given feedback throughout the application process. Many employers don't give feedback, so this is a rare opportunity to get a sense of how you come across in your job applications and how you could improve.
Reflect on the feedback you're given and talk it over with a careers adviser if you need to. It'll be invaluable later in the Fast Stream process, or in other applications.