Writing last-minute graduate job applications
The more time you have to research and finesse your graduate CV or application form, the better it will be. But when life gets in the way, following our time-saving tips will help ensure that you meet the deadline. Take note: they are specifically designed for ‘application emergencies’ rather than ‘standard operating procedure’!
However much of a rush you're in, you still need to do all of the following for your last-minute graduate job application to be in with a chance of success:
- Complete all aspects of the application, including any preliminary tests such as numeracy and literacy tests.
- Follow all instructions, including guidance on format and word counts. Give your application a sensible name.
- Tailor your application to the job role and the employer.
- Proofread it.
- Save a copy so you can refer to it if you are invited to interview. It could also come in useful for other (less rushed!) job applications.
Job applications: ‘Here’s one I made earlier’
The easiest way to submit a good job application quickly is to follow the example of Blue Peter and use one you made earlier. This doesn’t mean copying previous applications verbatim; rather making efficient use of work you’ve already done.
Keep an updated CV and list of your essential biographical details (educational details, work experience dates, referees etc) on file. This allows you to copy and tweak when necessary. You can then focus on customising it to the role and the employer rather than laboriously typing out the basics.
Setting up your browser to autofill online fields is another way to input information quickly.
Borrow and tailor good phrases
Application form questions are centred on similar competencies so you can borrow good phrases and examples from your earlier applications, a work experience tracker or even your UCAS personal statement if you still have it.
Be sure to read the questions thoroughly and actually answer what has been asked. If the question asks you how you have used your communication skills in a team environment, for instance, and you select an example of teamwork from another application, focus on how you applied your communication skills rather than how you worked as a team.
Let the job description be your guide
When time is short, find the job description or person specification first. The job description outlines the role’s requirements and differentiates the essential from the merely desirable. You need to demonstrate evidence that you have all the essentials and as many of the desirables as possible: include them as key words occasionally.
Always ask yourself whether you have fulfilled one of the job description’s criteria when writing a sentence. You can also use the competencies listed to focus your application and keep to the point.
Be selective in your employer research
Graduate employers expect you to know what the company does, what the job involves and something about what has been happening to the company and in the sector. Again, the job description is a good place to start. Then widen your research to the rest of the company website, searching out explanations of its main areas of business, its press reports and its company reports. You can sprinkle this information into your application in appropriate places.