The M&S graduate application form explained
There are two stages to the Marks & Spencer graduate application process:
- online application (which includes uploading a CV) and aptitude tests
- assessment centre
Filling in Marks & Spencer's application form
Marks & Spencer's online application form is fairly straightforward. You will need to fill out some basic personal information and details of your secondary and university education.
This is followed by a section on your work experience. You will need to outline your responsibilities for that role and answer the question, 'What did you learn from this experience? If this influenced your choice of career, please explain how.' (more help on this below).
You will then need to upload a CV. When writing your CV, think about what you would like to tell Marks & Spencer's recruiters that the online form didn't ask you for. For example, the university education section doesn't ask for any details of relevant modules or projects. You might decide that you want to mention a few relevant modules in your CV. The online form also doesn't ask for any details of your extracurricular activities so you might decide to include a section on this in your CV.
Use the work experience section and CV to show that you have the skills Marks & Spencer’s wants
Marks & Spencer outlines certain skills it is looking for in its graduate candidates, which can be found on the individual graduate scheme descriptions. Marks & Spencer also told TARGETjobs’ sister publication, The Guardian UK 300, that some of the core skills it looks for include: the ability to work under pressure, commercial awareness, motivation, teamwork and problem-solving skills.
The work experience section of the application form and your CV are your opportunities to demonstrate that you have these skills. Marks & Spencer's recruiters will be impressed if what you’ve learned tallies with the skills and knowledge required for the role you are applying for. Even seemingly unrelated work experience can help demonstrate relevant skills. If you temped as a receptionist, for example, this will have helped you to develop the crystal-clear communication skills that Marks & Spencer is looking for, while working as a part-time sales assistant in a busy store will have helped improve your ability to work well under pressure.
Writing about how your work experience has influenced your career choice
Marks & Spencer recruiters want to know how self-aware and analytical you are. When you write about how your experience has influenced your choice of career, don’t just think about the nature of the work itself. Also consider factors such as:
- the type of working environment, eg office-based
- whether you worked individually or in a team
- any training you received
- whether you worked in a client-facing role.
What you enjoyed and didn’t enjoy – and what you found easy and challenging – about these factors is likely to have influenced your career choice. So, for example, if you really enjoyed working closely with clients during your part-time retail job, did this influence your decision to apply to the retail management scheme?
Things to remember when writing your Marks & Spencer graduate CV
- Marks & Spencer emphasises a commitment to being a sustainable retailer in its ‘Plan A’ initiative (which is worth reading). Including any examples you have of being involved in voluntary work, charity or environmental work on your CV will indicate to M&S recruiters that you share the retailer’s values
- As you are not asked to write a covering letter, you could include a short personal statement/career aim at the top, explaining the type of role you are interested in, the career path you want to take (eg eventually become a buyer) and why you want to work for M&S. If you choose to do this, ensure it is very focused on the role at M&S. Read our article on whether to include a personal profile.
- You can find tips about writing a great graduate retail CV here.
Marks & Spencer's aptitude tests
Once you've completed Marks & Spencer's online application form, you will need to complete some aptitude tests. This will involve a personality questionnaire and a situational judgement tests, as well as verbal, numerical and inductive reasoning tests. You can practise some tests online at Job Test Prep.