Graduate Scheme Guide: How to Find and Secure Your Ideal Position

Posted on Sunday, February 25, 2024 by Christopher EvansNo comments

Navigating the transition from university to the professional world is a pivotal moment for many. In the UK, graduate schemes offer a structured entry point into various industries, providing invaluable experience, training, and development opportunities. Whether you're drawn to finance, technology, marketing, or any other sector, understanding how to find and secure your ideal position on a graduate scheme is crucial.

Here’s your comprehensive guide to embarking on this exciting journey.

Understanding Graduate Schemes

Graduate schemes are structured training programs run by employers to develop future leaders of their organisations. Typically lasting between one and three years, these schemes offer rotations through different departments, mentorship, and professional qualifications. They're highly competitive, offering a fast-track into prestigious roles with attractive starting salaries.

Finding Graduate Schemes

Research Early

Start your search early in your final year of university or even at the end of your penultimate year. Many schemes have application deadlines in the autumn term for positions starting the following year. Use resources like, TargetJobs, and specific company websites to research available schemes.

Utilise University Resources

Career services at your university can provide personalized advice, access to exclusive job boards, and details of employer presentations on campus. They can also help you prepare your CV and cover letters and offer practice interview sessions.


Attend career fairs, industry conferences, and networking events to meet employers and learn about their graduate schemes. LinkedIn can also be a powerful tool for connecting with company recruiters and alumni who have successfully entered graduate schemes.

Securing Your Position

Tailor Your Application

Customise your CV and cover letter for each application. Highlight relevant coursework, projects, extracurricular activities, and work experience that align with the company’s values and the role’s requirements. Employers want to see evidence of your skills, motivation, and understanding of their business.

Prepare for Assessments

Graduate scheme applications often involve multiple stages, including online applications, psychometric tests, assessment centres, and interviews. Practice psychometric tests online, familiarise yourself with the company’s assessment process, and prepare examples that demonstrate your skills and experiences relevant to the competencies they are assessing.

Shine at Assessment Centres

Assessment centres may include group exercises, presentations, further tests, and interviews. Show your ability to work collaboratively, communicate effectively, and solve problems. Be yourself, but also be mindful of how you're contributing to the group and interacting with others.

Ace the Interview

Interviews for graduate schemes can be competency-based, technical, or a combination of both. Prepare by researching the company thoroughly and rehearsing your answers to common interview questions. Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure answers to competency questions, focusing on what you did, how you did it, and what the outcome was.

Follow Up

After your interview or assessment centre, send a thank-you email to express your appreciation for the opportunity and reaffirm your interest in the position. This can help you stand out in the selection process.

Landing a place on a graduate scheme can set the foundation for a successful career, offering structured development, diverse experiences, and the opportunity to build a network within your chosen industry. By starting your search early, preparing thoroughly for each stage of the application process, and demonstrating your passion and suitability for the role, you can increase your chances of securing your ideal position. Remember, persistence is key; even if you don’t succeed on your first attempt, each application and interview is an opportunity to learn and improve for the next one.

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