Landing a spot on a top graduate scheme, 5 ways how

Written by: Andrew Sharp
Published on: 31 Aug 2016

Getting a place on a top graduate scheme has become highly sought after and increasingly competitive for university leavers. They are a great way to take that crucial first step from university onto the career ladder. They open the door to a promising future and provide graduates with the training and support they need to succeed, as well as giving them the skills they can develop and build upon through their early careers.

Many schemes span a range of sectors, from marketing to manufacturing. Each company tends to look for something slightly different, but listed below are the key characteristics all graduates should look to display when they are applying to their chosen scheme:

1. Embrace responsibility

Graduates are usually asked to take direct responsibility for results and make decisions as required from day one. This is the number one quality I look for in a grad. It’s important for them to be able to thrive in this environment and to seek out new opportunities for their employer, their projects, and their career development.

2. Deliver through people

I always want graduates to engage fully in open and collaborative culture, and also place huge importance on building relationships. They should be as happy listening to the ideas of others as they are sharing their own, be warm and friendly in their approach, and actively seek to build great relationships with the business network in order to deliver results.

3. Results-orientated

A graduate’s reputation is built on their ability to plan and execute projects successfully, meaning strong project management skills are sought, and results-orientated individuals who use their abilities to build a high performing team around them are being looked for too.

4. Focused on personal development

Graduates are expected to have strong levels of self-awareness, and understand what their strengths are, but also what they need to improve on. When they make mistakes, recruiters ask them to apply their learnings to ensure better business outcomes in the future. It’s part of their development process.

5. Be curious 

Graduates should be able to challenge the status quo and come up with innovative and creative ideas. They need to be able to ask questions in order to learn and grow with their business.