Babcock International Group’s online application asks you to upload a CV and covering letter. You’ll then be asked for some more information about your work experience and non-academic achievements, as well as two motivational questions:
- What attracts you to this role?
- Why do you want to work for Babcock?
Decide what you want to write about for each question
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking these two questions are the same – if they were, Babcock wouldn’t be asking you both of them.
Take a step back to organise your thoughts and decide what you want to write about for each question. One way to do this is to get a piece of paper and split it into two sides – one side for ‘What attracts you to this role?’ and the other side for ‘Why do you want to work for Babcock?’ List all the reasons you can think of as to why you applied and decide which side each reason should go on.
You might find that some of your reasons could easily be used to answer both questions. For example, wanting to work on large-scale projects could be why you applied for a certain role or it could be why you want to work for Babcock. There is no right or wrong reason so choose which one you think is the best fit. Just make sure your explanation clearly links back to either ‘why the role?’ or ‘why Babcock?’
What to research about Babcock
Before you decide what to put where though, you’ll need to know what you want to write. You might be able to think of a few reasons off the top of your head but you’ll also need to do some thorough research into Babcock to be able to give the best possible answers to these questions.
Investigate the following and note down anything that catches your attention:
Investigate the different sectors Babcock works in, some of its recent and biggest projects (eg the aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales), its business strategy and its clients – both relevant industries (eg energy and defence) and specific clients (eg EDF Energy and the Ministry of Defence).
What about Babcock’s work with the community or environment? Its STEM Ambassador programme, for instance, promotes technical subjects throughout the UK. Is this a mission you would like to get involved with?
Babcock's employer profile and its graduate website are both good places to start. Look at the ‘a career at Babcock’ section in particular. Don’t forget to browse its corporate website too; the more research you do, the stronger your reasons for wanting to work at Babcock will be.
Refer to the job description and watch Babcock’s graduate videos on its website for clues about what the role involves. You could look at the tasks you might be given, the projects you might be involved in and the nature of your work – will you be office based or will you spend a lot of time at client sites in different locations?
Babcock’s website states that it is a ‘global engineering services organisation' and describes itself as 'a trusted partner who understands the critical role that our customers' assets and infrastructure play in delivering their business'. This implies a close working relationship with clients; is this something you would enjoy and do you have any experience of customer service?
- If your chosen role is very obvious given your degree (eg you’re a civil engineering graduate applying for the civil and structural engineering graduate scheme), what is it that drew you to the civil and structural engineering scheme at Babcock over other civil engineering schemes?
- If your choice of scheme is fairly different to your degree, what appealed to you about the scheme? For example, if you have an engineering degree but have applied for Babcock’s procurement and supply chain management scheme, what prompted you to apply for a more commercial and less technical role?
- If you’re applying to one of the business management or project management programmes, it would also be a good idea to think about why you’re applying for a commercial role in the engineering industry rather than, say, a bank.
The business area you’ve applied to
When you apply to a particular role with Babcock, you’ll also be applying to a specific area of the business: aviation, land, marine or Cavendish Nuclear (a subsidiary of Babcock International Group). The number of areas for you to choose between will depend on the role you're applying for.
Look into your chosen area and think about what differentiates it from Babcock’s other business areas. For example, maybe you’re particularly interested in nuclear submarines so you were drawn to the marine division in Clyde. Or, if you're applying to one of its 'group' graduate programmes, which includes placements in several different areas, why does this appeal to you?
Look at how the programme is structured and how you will develop as time goes on.
Think about your career goals and how the programme might help you achieve them. For example:
- Does Babcock offer support towards a professional qualification you wish to obtain?
- What other opportunities are there for development? Babcock’s graduate careers website places an emphasis on mentoring, personal development and leadership potential and it offers an MBA programme to high potential employees.
- Babcock’s graduate schemes often consist of several placements, rather than doing one thing for the duration of the scheme – does this appeal?
Think about the skills Babcock is looking for – and sprinkle these in your answers
Both questions are asking for your reasons for applying but a well thought-through answer will also tell Babcock’s recruiters why you’re a good match for Babcock. One way to do this is to highlight that you have the skills Babcock wants.
If you’re applying for the role because it will make the best use of your skills, say so. Pick out a couple of skills needed for the role and refer to them in your answer. Babcock’s programme descriptions don’t provide you with a handy list of skills so you’ll need to read between the lines. For instance, Babcock's project management programme description states that 'watching our finances is as important as watching the clock when delivering a project'. You can deduce that your application should highlight your excellent time and finance management skills.
In your answer to ‘Why do you want to work for Babcock?’ focus on the skills and qualities you have that Babcock seeks in all its employees. To get you started, its graduate website mentions qualities such as teamwork, drive, curiosity and creativity, and the ability to thrive on pressure. You can also view Babcock's advertisement in this year's UK 300, which includes a list of core skills. Pay particular attention to the ones in bold as Babcock has identified these as especially important.
Always give evidence and link back to ‘why Babcock?’ or ‘why this role?’
It’s not enough to say ‘I am resilient and thrive under pressure’ – you need to give evidence of when you’ve exhibited this skill and explain how it makes you well-suited to a career with Babcock or to the role you’ve applied for.
A typical sentence in a good answer might read something like: ‘I was attracted to the software engineering scheme at Babcock because I understand that it involves working in a multidisciplinary team. I enjoy collaborating with different people and I developed effective communication and teamwork skills during my part-time retail job (go on to expand on how you used these skills). This will help me hit the ground running at Babcock and work effectively with colleagues from different engineering backgrounds.’
A final word of warning: don’t copy and paste the paragraph above into your answer or you’ll risk submitting a very similar application to any other candidate who has the same idea!