Airbus graduate application advice: how to give detail
You might think that, superficially, your Airbus application will be similar to hundreds of other soon-to-be graduates, and there is an element of truth in that: ‘For some of our graduate roles, all applicants will have a mechanical engineering degree, for example,’ says Charlene Coleman, early careers coordinator at Airbus. But this shouldn’t stop you applying: ‘You need to tell us about your experiences that differentiate you from other applicants,’ she continues. Your experiences, qualities and achievements make you distinctive and give you something unique to bring to the role – you just need to tell Airbus recruiters about them.
You can apply to more than one Airbus graduate scheme at once (which is not the case for all graduate employers), but, as Charlene explained to us, always include separate CV and covering letter documents for each scheme, tweaking each of them to show that you have the skills and knowledge specific to the particular scheme: the avionics engineering scheme, for example, or the software engineering scheme. Some candidates only submit one CV and covering letter while applying for more than one scheme, but this makes your application sound generic – the opposite to what you need to do.
Go into detail about your degree
‘Lots of universities have similar degree courses but with different modules so we are interested to read about what you have studied on yours,’ says Charlene.
In your CV: list the modules and projects that are most relevant to the programme you are applying to. If it’s not clear from the title of your project how it is relevant to Airbus, include a short explanation.
In your covering letter and online questions: explain why any of your modules are especially relevant or talk about roles you had in university projects that required you to demonstrate the abilities and technical knowledge that Airbus is looking for. For example, if you're applying to the flight physics scheme, you could explain that a particular module gave you a basic understanding of computational fluid dynamics calculations and how that would stand you in good stead during the aerodynamics placement on that graduate scheme.
Go into detail about your responsibilities
‘Don’t just include the title of any positions you have held, but include details of what your responsibilities were,’ says Charlene. A part-time job title alone, for instance, can be meaningless to a recruiter. How are they to know that in your part-time job as a sales assistant at a building materials supplier you: regularly contacted clients with promotional offers, scheduled deliveries, monitored stock levels and kept the company database up to date? Not including this information makes the Airbus recruiters’ jobs harder and is a missed opportunity to show what experience you can bring to the Airbus business.
In your CV: for each position you are including on your CV (whether a job, work experience, a voluntary role, a position of responsibility or a leadership role in a club or society), give a short bullet-pointed description of what YOU did. Frontload each line with action words, such as ‘organised’ and ‘promoted’ (try to use ones that are in the job advert), and, if possible, include facts and figures that show what you have achieved.
In your covering letter and online questions: expand on any especially relevant positions of responsibility that are on your CV. What motivated you get the job/internship/leadership position? What were your main responsibilities and achievements? What skills and qualities did it develop in you that are relevant to the Airbus graduate role? Look at the skills required on the job advert for your specific scheme and see the Airbus advertisement in The Guardian UK 300 for a list of the core skills the company requires, such as problem solving and teamwork.
Go into detail about your added extras
Include anything you do outside of your degree course that has developed the skills Airbus is looking for or that shows you are genuinely interested in the business or engineering area. ‘Sell yourself for that particular role and demonstrate what relevant experience you have,’ says Charlene. ‘Think about the transferable skills you’ve gained from things you have done outside of your university work.’
In your CV: if you have hobbies or interests demonstrating skills or a passion that Airbus is looking for, don’t confine these to a short ‘extracurricular activities and interests’ section at the end of your CV. Format your CV so that it showcases these – that might mean including a whole section on voluntary work or space-related activities, for example, if you have several points to put under that heading. If you are following an example CV structure, don’t be afraid to divert from it if it doesn’t allow you to include all your relevant experience.
If you decide to include a ‘skills or ’technical knowledge’ section, rather than interspersing in other sections the skills and knowledge you have developed, always mention where and how you gained the skill or knowledge: ‘If you have experience of a type of software that we ask for, for example, tell us whether you learned it by yourself or as part of your course. Learning something outside of university is especially impressive as you have gone out of your way to gain skills, which shows us that you are motivated,’ says Charlene.
In your covering letter and online questions: elaborate on anything you have done that you think has developed the skills and knowledge that would make a good Airbus graduate. In your CV, you might not have the space to detail the skills and knowledge you gained from your experience of going into primary schools to promote engineering. But in your covering letter you could explain how it allowed you to reflect on what excites you about your engineering specialism, made you recap your basic engineering knowledge, improved your communication and presentation skills, gave you the chance to meet professional engineers and informed you about the range of career paths open to you.
Final tips for success
Detail is important, but you also need to take care to do the following, according to Charlene:
- Read the job advert all the way through and work out how you have demonstrated the skills listed in it. ‘It is common for students to see the educational requirements but not read further down the job advert to find out what else is required of them,’ says Charlene.
- Read the job application guidelines from Airbus. If you don’t you could miss important deadlines. For example: ‘Online tests often need to be completed within seven days of submitting your initial application. Some applicants miss this,’ Charlene points out.
- Practise online tests. Charlene says: ‘Applicants need to practise the online testing before doing it for real. Lots of people go through it without practising, which can be detrimental to their application.’ Job Test Prep is one provider of practice tests.
You should also familiarise yourself with the basics of what to include in your CV and covering letter: