I’m going to add a strong caveat to this post by stating – quite clearly – that graduate schemes are only one option to consider. For some students they are tailor made, for others it’s a case of square peg/round hole. So, when I tell you that some graduate schemes are already open for applications, it’s not intended trigger alarm….consider it more of a public service announcement! If you’re not interested in the highly competitive graduate schemes, it doesn’t matter anyway and if you are, well it’s better to know and plan accordingly.
Why do they open so early?
Well for a start, it’s not all. We sent a quick email to some of our graduate recruiters to get to the bottom of rumours about early applications and the response has been mixed. There’s insufficient evidence of an general shift towards mid-summer openings. I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that most 2014 grad schemes will open for business from September – or even October – onwards. But, there are exceptions and it’s good to know who they are and why they feel it’s worth starting the recruitment process ahead of the game.
- Some companies/firms have very high application volume and it gives their recruitment team(s) the opportunity to start reviewing (and yes, ‘selecting’) suitable candidates early on. Despite some some comments and blogs I’ve read to the contrary, many of the big players still manually process applications. Don’t assume all of them use applicant tracking software.
- It can allow for swift and efficient selection, with one or two firms taking candidates from application to interview in 4 weeks. For the really keen and super organised candidate, the prospect of starting their final year with an offer in hand must seem pretty tempting.
- Some schemes fill very quickly, and you may pay the penalty if you decide to wait. If you’re thinking of applying to Teach First as a humanities or primary participant, the sooner the better. Applications for Teach First opened on 14th June and Ollie Longworth, our Senior Officer for Graduate Recruitment at Teach First had this to say:
Teach First recruits on a rolling basis and we close applications when we find candidates who meet our subject and competency requirements. Because of this, early applications are advisable and we encourage candidates to speak to a member of the Graduate Recruitment team for advice and guidance before submitting an application.
Should I apply now?
Yes….and no. Ok, that may not seem terribly helpful but I think the honest answer is “it depends”. If you’re clear about your career direction, have thoroughly researched – and I do mean thoroughly – both sector and company, have sufficient evidence to ace the competency questions and the time to invest in a really polished application, then yes. After all, you won’t gain anything from deferring for a few months and if you’re a strong applicant, you’ve everything to play for.
On the other hand, you might have some really exciting things lined up for this summer that will help you evidence your skills and suitability for graduate roles (or internships). Waiting a month or two could make all the difference to the quality of your application and it’s unlikely that you’ll miss the boat by submitting your application in October, not July!
Research is critical to your success – you can’t afford to “wing it”. As Darren Page, Regional Campus Manager for Deloitte notes:
Good research before completing your application is the timely part of any application process – do this properly. If you have contacts who’ve experienced working at the firm, get in touch with them and ask them what it’s really like! View materials on websites, attend events if they’re on offer, so you’re 100% confident that you’re making the right career choice for you
And the scores on the doors….
This is the bit you’re really interested in: who’s open for business? Well, not many at the moment as you can see from the list. That said, a good number are opening their grad schemes from September so don’t get too complacent. Use any downtime you might have over the summer to think about what you can offer and how you’ll evidence this. Start drafting examples for those dreaded competency questions. You’ll be glad you did when term starts!
- Teach First – open now
- KPMG – 1st July
- Deloitte – 1st July
- Accenture – recruiting all year round
- JP Morgan – last week August/1st week September
- UBS – 5th August
- Goldman Sachs – early/mid August
- Morgan Stanley – late August
- ATASS – early September
- John Lewis – September
- Deutsche Bank – 1st September
- HSBC – 1st September
- ICAP – 1st September
- Standard Chartered – 1st September
- Marks & Spencer – October
- BDO – September & December
- Moelis – tbc
* The above refers to graduate schemes only. Check company websites for internship dates.
In a nutshell: don’t panic. Use this information to guide and inform your application strategy, don’t click ‘send’ before you’re ready. Apply in haste, repent at leisure.