BNP Paribas Real Estate’s online application form basically involves you logging onto the system and uploading a CV and a covering letter (or you can just upload your CV and paste your covering letter into a plain text box). The form’s software then scans your CV and automatically fills in most of the other fields, such as education, for you. So far, so easy – except that it isn’t. Your CV and covering letter are your first opportunities to demonstrate that you can express opinions clearly and convincingly, a key ability BNP Paribas Real Estate wants in graduates. To do this:
1. Ensure your BNP Paribas Real Estate covering letter and CV have a logical structure
Your covering letter has to come across as focused – as a general rule of thumb, one sentence should convey one idea and one argument should be conveyed per paragraph. Follow the TARGETjobs Property's covering letter structure to ensure you keep to the point. Sticking to a clear structure will make it easier for the recruiters to follow your thoughts and therefore be persuaded by your reasoning.
Similarly, your CV should have clear headings that help the recruiters at the company identify the information they’re looking for: your contact information, details of your education, work experience and part-time job history, and your extracurricular activities, achievements and/or interests. You can use whichever headings best showcase your achievements but, as BNP Paribas Real Estate wants to see a ‘strong track record of academic and personal achievement’, headings such as ‘Positions of responsibility’ or ‘Leadership roles’ might help your cause. Whichever headings you choose, make sure that they are formatted consistently – ie that the main headings are all the same size and font and are written with the same punctuation marks. See our annotated template graduate CV for more ideas on how to structure your CV.
2. Provide BNP Paribas Real Estate with evidence of your abilities and achievements
BNP Paribas Real Estate won’t be persuaded by unsupported, unsubstantiated claims in your covering letter. It’s not enough to write ‘I am able to take the initiative’, for instance – you need to provide an example of when you took the initiative, how you did so and what it helped you to achieve.
When writing about your skills and abilities, focus first on the skills and attributes BNP Paribas Real Estate actively seeks:
- interpersonal and confident communication skills
- strong academic achievement and evidence of determination to succeed
- analytical and problem-solving skills
- the motivation to work as a surveyor
- competence in all Microsoft Office packages – make this clear in your CV (a skills-based CV layout may be the best way to include this)
Bear in mind, too, that BNP Paribas Real Estate values responsibility and innovation so show examples of these attributes too.
Next, write about other skills that would be useful for a surveyor at BNP Paribas Real Estate, which can be gleaned from the job advert and from the experience of current and previous graduates. Graduates at BNP Paribas Real Estate have previously emphasised:
- that they work with clients – graduates at BNP Paribas Real Estate will need to have good customer service skills, listening, communication and relationship-building skills
- that they might work on a number of deals or transactions at the same time – graduates will need good time management and organisational skills
- the ‘collegiate’ atmosphere in the company and that they might work with offices in other regions and countries – graduates will need good team-working skills, and knowledge of other languages might be advantageous.
Take examples from all areas of your life; examples don’t have to come from a property internship or your course to be impressive. If you are part of a student society committee, have you changed how you communicate society meetings to members and has that had a positive effect on turn out? If so, that’s a great example of you being innovative and an effective communicator.
You do need to emphasise what you’ve achieved on both your CV and covering letter – remember the company seeks a track record of ‘academic and personal achievement’.
- Quantify your results wherever possible: if you raised money for charity, say how much; if you updated a database on a property internship, say how many entries you updated; if you worked in a fast-food chain’s drive-through, say how many customers you’d serve on average in a shift. This will help BNP Paribas’ recruiters see your efforts in a context.
- Talk about the impacts of what you’ve done: what happened as a result of your involvement in a project? Have you been praised for your good work in a part-time job? Did you win or get honourably mentioned in a competition?
While BNP Paribas Real Estate want to see a track record of academic achievement, you do not have to list your modules or your GCSEs by result; it’s enough to summarise the grades.
3. Demonstrate that you know what differentiates BNP Paribas Real Estate
When writing about why you want to work for the company, you need to show that you have made a considered choice to work for it based on what you’ve found out about it. You could, for example, give specific details about how it differentiates itself from its competitors, the values it upholds, its business strategy or the nature of the clients and work. Then you need to say why what you’ve found out makes you want to work for them.
BNP Paribas Real Estate is quite kind in telling you openly about some of its differentiators – for example, unlike many other property employers, it is owned and backed by the French bank BNP Paribas. If you write about this, say why that makes you want to work for them. Would BNP Paribas Real Estate’s surveyors benefit from calling upon the finance expertise of its colleagues in the banking world, for example? Demonstrating that you know about the company and how the organisation would benefit your career will make recruiters want to meet you.
4. Spell BNP Paribas Real Estate correctly
Don’t undo all of your good work with a spelling mistake: BNP Paribas Real Estate’s recruiters have told us that misspelling the name is surprisingly common and that those candidates who do rarely (if ever) make it to interview.
5. Do practice psychometric tests
‘We have implemented psychometric testing this year, which includes numerical, verbal and diagrammatic assessments, as well as a job fit questionnaire,’ advises Harriet Dale, graduate recruitment officer at BNP Paribas Real Estate. Harriet elaborates on the reasons for the addition of these online assessments: ‘It’s to find out whether applicants have the underlying skills to success on the graduate programme and ultimately be successful on the graduate programme and at BNP Paribas Real Estate.’
How are psychometric tests assessed?
These assessments are designed to test whether you have some of the skills a property surveyor would need. Harriet explains: ‘Our current graduates and stakeholders within the business selected what were the top skills that a graduate would need in order to be successful on our graduate programmes.’
As the names suggest, the numerical and verbal assessments are designed to test your numerical and verbal reasoning skills. These are fairly self-explanatory, but if you are concerned about either of these, you can brush up by buying a GCSE maths text book to get yourself back up to speed. Harriet elaborates on what is involved in the diagrammatic assessment, ‘It’s basically spatial reasoning. You’re shown images and have to recognise patterns and understand what comes next in a sequence. So you’re being assessed on your thought process and whether you can think ahead, follow patterns and make meaningful conclusions based on the information in front of you.’
How should you prepare for psychometric tests
‘It’s nothing that applicants should overthink – if you overthink it, you will probably undersell yourself ,’ explains Harriet. As such, it’s advisable not to try and pre-empt the test and overly prepare for particular questions that may or may not come up. You can, however, make sure you’re accustomed with the format of psychometric tests by doing practice tests, so you know what to expect on the day.
- You can try your hand at free practice psychometric tests here, supplied by our commercial partner AssessmentDay.
How is your application assessed at BNP Paribas Real Estate?
Kim Brumley, director at BNP Paribas Real Estate says that she takes the whole of your application into account when reviewing your CV and covering letter: ‘A key thing is the passion candidates have for the industry, and previous work experience also comes into it. But it really does depend on the completeness of the application. In the assessment centre, if somebody isn’t very good on the group exercise, you don’t just write them off; you look at them throughout the whole day. And it’s the same at the application stage.’