Top 10 tips for making excellent vac scheme applications

Isla Grant - Top 10 tips for making excellent vac scheme applications

As the biggest vac scheme deadline of the year looms – 31 January – advice on how to pass this stage with flying colours is everywhere. In 2016 the Guardian ran an article on the seven skills that will help you to secure a vacation scheme – essential reading for anyone currently filling out applications. Our take on applications is that regardless of whether they’re online or on paper, you should approach them all in the same way – take your time, carefully prepare your responses and pay attention to detail.

Here are 10 top tips:

  1. Read through the entire application form before you start, keeping a close eye on all instructions.
  2. Plan where all your main boasts will be made. It would be a shame to work a slightly tangential skill or experience into one answer when you turn out to be questioned directly on the issue on the next page.
  3. Don't complete the form with your caps lock on – it looks as if you’re SHOUTING. Equally, don’t go entirely lower-case, as you will give the impression of someone without care or regard for correct grammar usage.
  4. Take care with the layout of your application. Consider writing the longer sections in Word and then copying the text over, checking that the formatting (eg, bullet points) have transferred properly.
  5. Don’t succumb to ‘copy and paste’ fatigue. This opens the door wide to calling the firm by the wrong name – recruiters’ most-hated mistake. If you can substitute the name for any other firm into your application, you haven’t made it specific enough.
  6. Do use the spellcheck, although not the US version, which will let annoying Americanisms through.
  7. Don’t be tempted to use email or text talk (eg, ‘It wld be wkd to work 4 u’). Write in full sentences and do not abbreviate words. Equally, do not include emojis; sadly, this is more common than you might think!
  8. Make sure that there is some way of keeping a record of your application, and if you are lucky enough to be invited back for interview, ensure that you have reread it and are familiar with what you said!
  9. Read through your completed application at least three times before you submit it. Boasting of your 'excellen eye for deetail' will not get you the vac scheme place. It’s always a good idea to get someone else to read it, as they’re more likely to spot mistakes or omissions.
  10. Use a sensible email address that you will be able to access throughout the recruitment period.

Be sure to look at our comprehensive list of the 46 firm deadlines which fall on 31 January to make sure that you don’t miss the boat. But also be aware that many firms have deadlines in advance of and after 31 January, so check out which firms want what and when. Good luck!

For additional application advice, read our “Application master class” and “Guide to formal application writing” articles.

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