Quality not quantity
Last year I sent off over 50 training contract applications, but wasn't invited for a single interview. What am I doing wrong? How can I improve things this year?
The Oracle replies
While we don't know much about your academic background or work experience, one thing that does jump out is the sheer number of applications you have submitted - 50 is an awful lot! There seems almost no way that you could be lavishing the requisite amount of care and time on each of those applications. We tend to advise that 20 or fewer carefully targeted, properly researched, checked and rechecked applications may prove more successful than dozens of identikit applications that have been sent off in a scattergun approach!
It sounds obvious, but it really is a very competitive process. You need to be marketing yourself in the best possible light, which means making sure that your applications are the best reflection of your skills and experience. When choosing which firms to apply to, you have to make sure that you have targeted them well - ie, do they do the sort of work you are interested in? Are they located in a place you want to work/have a connection to? Are you being realistic about matching up to the sorts of criteria they apply? Make sure also that you get as much help from any careers advisory services that you can. They should be able to give you individual attention, or at least point you in the right direction.
Finally, in terms of this year's applications, we suggest that you spend approximately two days on each - researching the firm, doing a draft application, having someone else check it - all in an effort to make sure that it is perfect in every way!