'Highlight your ambition': tips for Cushman & Wakefield's graduate application form
The Cushman & Wakefield application form contains several sections and will take a good couple of hours to complete to a high standard – more if you don’t have a CV ready to upload. Cushman & Wakefield don't ask for a covering letter, so the application form is the primary place for you to go into detail about your experiences and skills.
Ambition is key to getting a graduate job at Cushman & Wakefield
Cushman & Wakefield makes much of the fact that it wants ambitious graduates. Ambition is ‘a strong desire to do or achieve something’. You can show your ambition (both to succeed professionally and to work for Cushman & Wakefield) by:
- Showing that you’re aware of the typical career path in property and at Cushman & Wakefield, from passing the APC to progressing to partner level. This indicates that you’re ambitious enough to have thought about your career progression. Karen Poulton, a previous recruitment manager at the firm, provided advice for potential applicants on the University College of London’s careers service blog. She told readers: ‘It will set you apart if you are knowledgeable enough to question your career aspirations and explore the opportunities that we can provide you with.’
- Showing that you’ve done your research on the firm. This is the best way to convey that working at Cushman & Wakefield is an ambition of yours.
- Highlighting any positions of responsibility you’ve achieved, eg promotions in your part-time job or running for a position on a student society’s committee.
- Making note of any time when you had to work to achieve something, eg gaining sponsorship for a charity event.
Summarising your work experience for Cushman & Wakefield: 'Please give details of your responsibilities and what you learned from this experience.' (250 words)
For each work experience placement and part-time job, you need to ‘give details of your responsibilities and what you learnt from this experience’ in 250 words. Give as much, if not more, space to what you’ve learned as to your responsibilities. Use bullet or numbered points to help you keep to the word count.
What you’ve learned can include developing your knowledge of property in a professional environment (if on a placement), but it also includes your soft skills. In a part-time retail or bar job, for example, you will have developed the confidence to deal with customers or clients appropriately, anticipating their needs and solving problems by dealing with complaints.
Answering CushWake’s application question 'Why are you passionate about a career in property?' (200 words)
When tackling this sort of question, it’s easy to miss the point. Applicants often start out with sweeping, essay-like statements (eg ‘The world of the built environment is fundamental to humanity’s survival’) and forget to explicitly state why they are passionate about property. Avoid this by building your answer around more detailed, specific reasons. These could include:
- Your knowledge about the day-to-day work, typical clients and overall objectives of a surveyor. Why does their work fire your enthusiasm?
- How the work that you did on your industry-related work experience has confirmed your passion for property or, conversely, how your work experience in other sectors convinced you that property was right for you.
- Your knowledge of career progression within property and why the career path appeals to you.
- Your understanding of the benefits working in property can have on the wider environment (eg sustainability) and the economy and why those benefits matter to you.
Stay away from the phrases ‘I’ve always been fascinated by how buildings work’ and ‘I’ve always wanted to work in property’. While they may be true, they are also clichés that Cushman & Wakefield’s recruiters have heard hundreds of times before.
A note on location: the application form also asks for a second and third choice of application alongside the location that you are directly applying for. While London arguably gives more opportunities to network, it'd be an oversight not to apply to the scattering of vacancies elsewhere in the UK if the location appeals to you more. Gino D'Anna, a director at Cushman & Wakefield, explains why: 'There is more opportunity to stand out in the regions as you can do more than you might be able to in a London office. You can get a sense of other departments and get to know all the people in your office.'
Answering 'Why do you want to start your career at Cushman & Wakefield?' (200 words)
This question is asking for your specific reasons for applying to Cushman & Wakefield over any other property employer, so you will need to show that you’ve done some research into the firm and explain how that’s convinced you that it’s the best employer for you.
Read the firm’s recruitment literature and website, and its organisation profile on TARGETjobs. Next, have a root around the ‘research’ and ‘case studies’ sections of its website. Then read what the industry press (eg Property Week) and business papers (eg The FT) have to say about the firm’s recent financial performance, business strategy and key transactions. Caroline Dyson, graduate recruitment specialist at Cushman & Wakefield, says: ‘Candidates who demonstrate knowledge of the real estate market are far more impressive than those who just quote back to us what is published on our websites. Candidates need to be able to quote deals, transactions and our key clients in their applications to highlight their knowledge and understanding of the industry.’ However, make sure you don’t just regurgitate information from the company’s website in your answers, whether that’s taking whole phrases from their website or going as far as copying and pasting their marketing materials into your application. Just don’t do it.
Things you could write about in your answer include:
- The firm’s commitment to graduate development and the APC: the firm typically provides three rotational placements of eight months each (whereas some firms, such as Savills, provide four-month placements in up to six departments over two years and others run non-rotational schemes). What appeals to you about being rotated around different teams and spending slightly longer in each placement? What appeals to you about the support given to graduates?
- The firm’s strength and expertise in the area(s) you’re interested in. If joining the commercial scheme, it’s likely that you will work with office properties: you could, therefore, comment on the firm’s analysis in its 2017 research report on the possible overbuilding of office space, and talk about how you’d like to work with a company that provides that level of insight.
- Your impressions of Cushman & Wakefield’s employees when you’ve interacted with them. If you’ve done work experience with the firm, explain how your time there has made you want to work for the business as a graduate. If you’ve met employees and graduates at careers fairs or recruitment events, talk about the positive impressions they’ve made on you.
- How the firm’s values match up to yours. The firm’s core values, as detailed on its website, are: integrity and respect, collaboration and trust, the confidence ‘to deliver the most creative and innovative services’ and mentoring, designed to ‘attract and develop the most talented professionals’. What impresses you about these values and how do you share them?
Answering 'Why do you think Cushman & Wakefield should select you for their graduate programme?' (200 words)
Your answer should ultimately convey that you have the attributes needed to succeed on the scheme and, as evidenced by your response to the question above, you really want to work for the firm. Most of your answer should be devoted to your attributes, but motivation is still very important. Use bullet points to keep to the word count. The key traits that Cushman & Wakefield looks for in graduate recruits are: ambition, tenacity, teamworking skills, intelligence, an entrepreneurial outlook and a clear passion for building a career in property.
Provide examples of when you used or developed the attributes sought by Cushman & Wakefield. These can originate from any area of your life. Here are some examples:
- High drive, initiative and development potential: Examples could come from a time when you’ve tried something new (eg a new campaign to recruit members to a student society) or overcome obstacles to achieve something.
- Ability to anticipate, analyse and solve problems: Examples could come from academic group work or occasions during extracurricular activities or work experience when you’ve faced and overcome difficulties. If you were a waiter or waitress, for example, was there a time of day when you’d be particularly busy? What did you do to ensure customers still got their correct orders in a timely fashion?
Answering the CushWake question 'Please provide details of any extracurricular experience that you have had' (250 words)
The emphasis is on summarising your responsibilities – there is no need to go into great detail because you can do this on your CV. However, it would be good if you explained how you have taken on new challenges and been tenacious, as these are two skills that Cushman & Wakefield particularly value. Charlotte emphasises the importance of this question, saying: ‘Candidates need to give examples of how they have displayed their qualities through work experience, volunteering and mentoring activities’.
The Cushman & Wakefield graduate CV
Cushman & Wakefield doesn’t state a preferred length or format for its CV, so stick to either one full page or two full pages. See these sample graduate CVs for ideas on layout.
Make sure you include all of your work experience (property-related or not) and extracurricular activities, as these are what will make you stand out. Emphasise your achievements, the attributes you developed and any positive feedback you were given. Get more advice on writing your property graduate CV here.