Oct 13 2021

By Gemma Seabrook, Careers Consultant

Applying for jobs and placements can feel pretty daunting. Finding time during a busy term to search for opportunities and put together a well-researched, quality application isn’t easy and students can quickly find themselves becoming overwhelmed at the thought of juggling applications and coursework. It is also very easy to feel dispirited and start to delay making applications, especially if an application is rejected or the company doesn’t bother to respond. Here are a few of my ideas and observations that might help to make the application process run more smoothly.

It is generally more effective, to put together 20 or 30 high quality, targeted applications than send out 50 – 100 applications using the same cover letter or  poorly researched application. However, a good application can take a few hours to complete. Don’t try and do all the research and the application at once, otherwise, you could find yourself running out of steam. Instead, chunk it down into manageable stages. That way you should feel less daunted and you will still have time for socialising and coursework.

When you are looking at companies or roles to apply for, try not to narrow down your options and get fixated on one type of role or company. I sometimes talk to students who really want to work for a company they feel is more prestigious or they only want to focus on one particular job role or internship. Instead, be flexible in your thinking and explore where your skillset might lead you and explore a range of companies.

Come along to the central careers events in the autumn and spring terms. If you follow us on social media you will see what events we are running each week. It’s a great way to get an insight into different sectors and you can pick up some helpful application tips as well.

In depth research is essential to a good application. So if you are genuinely interested in an organisation or sector you should enjoy doing the research. Take time to work out what you are really finding interesting.  If you find the research boring, then perhaps you need to move on and look at an alternative sector or company to apply to.

Placement and graduate schemes can receive thousands of applications, so the earlier you apply the more chance you have of moving to the next stage. Make a note of all the deadlines for the companies you are applying for. That way you can organise your time more effectively and submit an early application.

Psychometric tests and video interviews are another stage in the application process. Once you submit an initial application you could find that this triggers the next stage and you may only have a short deadline to submit the test or video interview. Don’t get caught out by this and make sure you check your emails at least twice a day once you start submitting applications.

Rejection is a normal part of the application process, try not to take it personally and avoid comparing yourself to your peers. You will often only hear about their success and not their rejections. Avoid thinking of rejection as failure, instead change your thinking and see it as a learning curve. You should find that you are steadily improving and success will come in the end.

Keep a spreadsheet of the companies you are applying for and any you are planning to apply for. Make a note of the deadlines and the dates of your submission for each of the application stages and the outcomes. Review your spreadsheet regularly and if you find your applications are stalling at the same point each time, then change your approach. If you don’t know how to make those improvements, book a careers appointment to talk this over with a careers consultant.

Finally, use the resources available through the careers service. On the Careers Moodle page, you will find information on how to write a CV and a cover letter, practice psychometric tests for free and record and practice a video interview plus much more. If, after looking through the resources, you feel you need more feedback on a CV, cover letter or application, then you can book an appointment with one of our application advisors.  If you have an actual interview, then you can book an in person practice interview with one of our careers consultants through the Careers Portal.