What’s Next? Applying for Grad Positions

March 2, 2015 by Curtin CEL Team

What’s Next? Applying for Grad Positions

In contrast to structured Grad Programs, graduate positions are specific roles within a company – they can emerge at any time of the year and are likely to be ongoing. They may or may not actually be advertised as ‘graduate’ roles, but the level of experience demanded will often inform you of your suitability.

The recruitment process for a grad position can vary a lot depending on the size and nature of the organisation you’re applying to. Regardless, the core principles don’t change – here’s an overview of the key components:

Cover Letters
Your cover letter is a critical opportunity to make a good first impression. It should explain why you’re applying and highlight your relevant skills and attributes in relation to the requirements of the position. For this reason, each application demands a unique cover letter.

You need to invest time into dissecting the job advertisement and ensure that you address how your skills, experience and attributes meet the employer’s needs. When doing this, avoid being vague – specific, relevant examples will make you stand out!


Resumes
Resumes provide evidence to support the claims that you’ve made in your cover letter and statement against selection criteria. Once again, you’ll need to research the organisation, consider the specifications of the advertisement and take time to ensure that you strategically customise your resume to respond to employer needs.

Remember, your  resume will always be a work in progress – it needs to be current, so it will need to be updated as your work and life experience grows and develops. The process of completing your resume can also act as a helpful self-development tool – use it to assess your key strengths and skills and identify skill gaps that may be an obstacle to you achieving your career goals.


Selection Criteria
Addressing selection criteria is often the most difficult aspect of writing a job application. You must provide detailed evidence to demonstrate that you have the knowledge, skills and qualifications necessary to be effective in the role you are applying for. Your statements against the selection criteria will be compared with those of the other applicants to ensure that the most qualified applicants are shortlisted for interview.

Regardless of whether they are stated as ‘essential’ or ‘desirable’ – address all criteria if you can. Consider using SAO (Situation, Action and Outcome) or STAR (Situation, Task, Action and Response) to help you construct more powerful responses.


Interviews
Preparation for an interview will be the strongest single determining factor for your success. Prior to the interview, revisit your application, the job advertisement and the company’s website as a reminder of what kind of person they are looking for. Once you know what they are looking for, think about what skills and attributes you possess that will set you apart from other candidates.

This is the first time within the application process that you will be able to show off your interpersonal skills, so try to be mindful of both your verbal and non-verbal communication.


Psychometric Testing & Assessment Centres
Psychometic Testing and Assessment Centres are more commonly used within large recruits – you are likely to be made aware of whether these are a component of the job application process when you commence your application.

Psychometrics are designed to measure knowledge, abilities, attitudes, personality traits and educational history through the use of questionnaires, tests and personality assessments. Before doing a psychometric test, consider what traits you want to exhibit. However, it’s important that you still answer honestly. It will inform the employer of your fit but will also help indicate whether a position/company is right for you.

Assessment Centres involve exercises designed to simulate aspects of the work candidates will be doing if successful. Usually run before, or in conjunction with the interview stage, these exercises usually last a few hours, but some may run over several days.

Make sure you have read any material that has been given to you and are aware of the job requirements. The testing often reflects the position that you are applying for. Make sure you arrive early and read all instructions at every stage – often there will be a requirement people do not complete because they were focused on something else. Treat the assessment as if you were already working for the company and dress as if you were going to an interview.


The Curtin Careers & Employment Centre can also provide personalised advice on all aspects of the job application process for Curtin students and recent graduates, email enquiries to careers@curtin.edu.au

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