Application tips for Danone's graduate jobs
The first step for applying to any of Danone’s graduate schemes is to submit your CV and covering letter online. Your application will then be assessed by a member of Danone’s recruitment team.
Your CV and covering letter need to make a lasting impression (for the right reasons). In order to do this, you need to make an effort. Your application should show the recruiter that you have put a lot of time and thought into applying to Danone and explain why you are a good match with the company and its values.
What to do in your Danone application
- DO use bullet point lists. When it comes to writing your CV, Lizzie Mooney, an HR manager at Danone, recommends that candidates use bullet points to list their key responsibilities and achievements for each position or experience they include. You could mention a target you hit or a problem you solved, for example.
- DO write about a variety of experiences in your CV. Don’t dismiss an experience as too small or insignificant. Tell Danone about your hobbies and interests. Captaining your local football team might not directly relate to a role in IT, for example, but it does demonstrate your ability to work in, and lead, a team. Lizzie says: ‘We want to hear about it all, whether it’s volunteer work or positions of responsibility at university, eg for a club or society. We like to see the whole picture to show that you are a well-rounded person.’
- DO address your covering letter appropriately. You don't want to trip yourself up from the word go by writing the wrong name or, worse, the name of a different recruiter from an entirely different company. Danone suggest you address your covering letter as ‘Dear graduate recruitment team’.
- DO keep your application concise and to the point. Danone recommends on its website that, if you have fewer than ten years’ work experience, your CV should take up just one sheet of paper. Your covering letter should be no longer than one side of A4. If you have too much to include, narrow it down based on which experiences best match with Danone’s values. See below for more advice on what Danone’s values are and how to show that you have them in common.
- DO check that you haven’t included irrelevant or incorrect information. Lizzie explains: ‘One of the most off-putting things about an application is if they have included irrelevant or incorrect information, such as saying “I want to work for Danone because I like music”.’ Music has nothing to do with Danone as a company, which will suggest to the recruiter that you are either misinformed or you have recycled an application that you sent to a different company. Either way, this is unlikely to leave a good impression.
- DO tailor your CV and covering letter to Danone. Lizzie warns candidates not to submit a generic application: ‘It’s quite obvious when an application is a bit of a copy and paste job.’ This will suggest that you haven’t put effort into your application and sets off alarm bells that you will have sent an identical, or very similar, application to numerous companies. Our advice below will help you tailor your application and make it specific to Danone.
Use your research to tailor your application to Danone
One of the main things that Lizzie says she wants to see in a candidate’s application is that they have made an effort. She explains that a good candidate is ‘somebody who has put some time and effort in and has done some good research into the background of the company, which really shows their passion for wanting to work for Danone.’ To be able to provide a genuine reason for wanting to work for Danone, you will need to do your research. Once you are clued up on the company, you will find it much easier to put into words why you find Danone interesting and why you want to work there.
Swot up on Danone’s products, consumer base, how they bring to life their mission and what differentiates them from their competitors. Start off by browsing Danone’s corporate website and doing a general Google search. You could also visit supermarkets to check out Danone’s products on the shelves.
Once you’ve done your research, use it to inform your application and make it specific to Danone. This doesn’t mean regurgitating what you’ve read; the recruiter doesn’t need reminding what Danone does so don’t just copy and paste a sentence from the company’s website into your covering letter.
Instead, you should use your research to support your reasons for wanting to work there. For example, if your reason is ‘I like the range of products that Danone works on’, mention some of its products, explain what you like about them and say why the products strengthen your desire to work for Danone.
Demonstrate that you match with Danone’s HOPE values and CODE behaviours
‘What we see from really great candidates are people who really resonate with the same values as Danone,’ says Lizzie. Danone’s four main values make up the acronym HOPE:
Danone describes its CODE behaviours as how it demonstrates and brings these values to life. CODE stands for:
Your application will be assessed against these values and behaviours. Lizzie explains that one of the main reasons an application doesn’t reach the next stage is if it doesn’t match with Danone’s CODE behaviours. Take a look at Danone’s ‘our company culture’ page on its website for more details about what these values and behaviours mean to Danone. While you’re there, familiarise yourself with Danone’s dual social and economic mission: a good place to start is with Antoine Riboud’s founding speech in Marseille, 1972.
Keep HOPE and CODE in mind when writing your CV and covering letter and try to mention these values briefly in your CV when talking about your achievements. For example, rather than saying ‘I achieved a first in all of my degree modules at university’, adapt the sentence to say ‘I demonstrated my commitment to my studies by achieving a first in all of my degree modules at university.’
Use your covering letter to expand further on why you are a good fit with Danone. Just writing ‘I’m a committed, open and driven person’ isn’t going to convince the recruiter that you share Danone’s values. Give concrete evidence of times when you have exhibited Danone’s HOPE values and CODE behaviours.
Examples could come from your academic work, hobbies, extracurricular activities, work experience or part-time jobs. Learning a foreign language off your own bat, for example, shows that you are both self-motivated and willing to try new things. You might find it helpful to make a list or mind map of everything you have done while at university and even before university and then narrow down which experiences are the best ones to include.
Show off any international experience you have. Danone is big on mobility and encourages its employees to alternate between different functions and cultures. Demonstrate that you are willing to be, and enjoy being, geographically mobile.
Lizzie says: ‘It’s always good if we can see on their CV that they’ve had some form of international experience, whether that’s spending a semester abroad, travelling or volunteering.’ Talk about the skills you developed during your experience: independence, problem solving, teamwork and so on. If you haven’t had any international experience, you can demonstrate your mobility in other ways, such as by moving away from home to go to university.
Haven’t got a 2.1? Danone will consider mitigating circumstances
While Danone does specify that you need to have at least a 2.1 degree and 300 UCAS points for its graduate programmes, ‘If you don’t have these requirements, it’s not a definite no,' says Lizzie. 'We would, on a case by case basis, take into account any mitigating circumstances.’
If you haven’t got a 2.1 but can demonstrate that you have the skills Danone wants and are committed to a career with Danone, don’t give up. Get in touch with Danone’s recruitment team and ask for their advice on how to submit an application with mitigating circumstances.