Are you thinking about applying for grad schemes but aren’t too sure what they are all about? Well we’re on hand to help and by the end of this blog you will be an expert in applying and ready for the many, many, applications to come.

What is a grad scheme?

A grad scheme is a training programme run by an employer to develop future leaders within their organisation. They typically last between one and two years and are often available in various different specialisms i.e. Marketing, Finance or Buying. By joining a grad scheme, you’ll benefit from hands-on experience and will develop a wide understanding of your chosen specialism.

With nine of the UK’s best known grad recruiters offering their grads £45,000 per year to be a part of their team, it’s definitely a transition from the scrimping and scraping of being an undergraduate student. However, in return for this fantastic pay packet that a majority of businesses offer, grads are expected to meet the needs of the employer and put what they have learnt into practice from day one. In addition to this, with the attractiveness of the wages on offer, these schemes have become extremely competitive and are usually oversubscribed every year, meaning that it’s vital your application is set apart from the rest.

GOOD TO KNOW: a degree of flexibility can often be required, as you may have to work in different locations, work in different teams and work across numerous business functions.

When do they open for applications?

Well, there’s no specific date when grad schemes are released, it really just depends on when each business releases them. Usually most grad schemes have their deadlines during November to January, so make sure you are proactively looking before this so you know which ones to apply for.

man wearing white top using MacBook
Photo by Tim Gouw / Unsplash

How to apply

Grad scheme applications tend to be an extremely lengthy process, as employers need to use a funnel type system to find the ideal candidate for the role. The first step of applying for a grad scheme is completing an online application. In this application you will have to answer general questions i.e date of birth, higher educational experience i.e. what college/university you went to, and work experience i.e. anything part-time, full-time, work experience or voluntary job you may have had in the past. In some cases you may have to upload a CV and/or Cover Letter, so make sure yours is up to scratch! There may be a number of questions that a majority of applications ask i.e. why do you want to work for this business? This is to get an understanding of you as a person so make sure you show off all of your skills, experience and knowledge about the company.

The next stage tends to either be an online test or digital interview. Online tests are a way of finding out how good your numerical skills are, if your understanding and comprehension skills are of a high standard, how you would approach different situations in the workplace and your logical reasoning ability. It’s important to note that not every application has these tests, and some may have different ways of assessing your strengths and weaknesses i.e. online games.

After this, you may be invited for a digital interview where you can answer a list of questions set by the business at any time before the set closing date. Digital interviews can be tricky. But don’t panic there’s lots of advice online. Just remember to keep calm and be confident in the fact that you’ve got to this stage, they must think you could potentially be suitable for the role.

Then, if you have succeeded in the interview, on most occasions you’ll be invited to an assessment day. The assessment day usually consists of group work, interviews, tests and information sessions. Remember it’s about demonstrating your skills and competencies!

Hopefully after the assessment centre you’ll be hearing some good news, that you’re on the scheme. If not, don’t panic! There’s lots of grad schemes that you can apply for, just make sure you receive feedback from the business so you know where to improve in your next application.

Where can I find these applications?

Brainstorm. This is the best way to identify which companies you’d like to work for. Think of brands you use everyday, this is a good start. Also use websites such as Save The Student, Prospects and Milkround, plus many more.