Last-minute grad scheme applications and what to do if you’ve missed them

Jim RealiAdvice, Applications, Graduates, Jim Reali, Postgraduate

We’re almost at the end of term – the leaves have fallen off the trees and the Christmas Market is back on New Street; it’s only going to be a few weeks until we reach the shortest day of the year and then the days start getting longer and we’ll be heading towards summer. Yay!

However, if you know anything about graduate recruitment, you’ll be aware that lots of larger employers focus their recruitment on the autumn period. That’s why we have so many careers fairs and so many employers are on campus at this time. If you’ve looked on Aston Futures, or spoken with employers, you might well be aware that there are quite a lot of application deadlines before the end of December.

So, what should you do if you haven’t started making applications yet?


WRONG! Please do not do this – it won’t help at all and, actually, you may be surprised to learn that over 99% of all employers in the UK are SMEs (Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) and that, often, they don’t adhere to a strict recruitment window. Instead, they tend to recruit when there is a business need. Furthermore, even some of the larger recruiters keep their recruitment schemes open into the new year.

So, what should I do?

Research: Let’s assume that you have an idea about what sort of career you’d like e.g. job titles, or industry sector (if you haven’t got any definite ideas, then please refer back to one of my previous blog posts: No Career Ideas? No problem!) So, start finding out when schemes close. The following might help:

  • Save The Student – Graduate Scheme Deadlines – 2020 – A really useful list of when a lot of major UK graduate schemes close.
  • Look at job sites for your industry sector – if you go to our Advice By Career Area pages, you will find tailored handouts and links to sites such as Gradcracker, where you can continue to find graduate roles being advertised.
  • Aston Futures – yes, I know that I keep mentioning our Careers and Placements resources in virtually every blog post that I write, but it’s because they are GOOD! Employers post new graduate opportunities on Aston Futures every day. You can search them by industry sector and closing date, so you can plan what you want to apply for next.
  • LinkedIn – If you haven’t already got a profile, use our guide to create one and then look for people who work in some of the companies of interest to you. Contact them and ask them when they are recruiting. You’ll also see jobs advertised on LinkedIn as well.

Approach SMEs: I mentioned that over 99% of recruiters are SMEs. Often they won’t advertise roles and will expect to be contacted by people with a speculative application. Take a look on the Prospects website to find out how to write a speculative letter and tailor your CV.

Make your applications count: Draft your application and book an appointment with a Careers and Placements staff member to review it. You can book an appointment through Aston Futures (remember that if you can’t attend an appointment in person, we are happy to speak to you over the phone or via Skype). Taking that extra time to perfect your application can make all the difference.

Keep a record of your applications: You need to be well-organised – note down the date of each application, the name of the organisation to which you’ve applied, the contact name there, the closing date, details of any feedback and what you’re going to do next if you don’t hear from them (e.g. a reminder to yourself to call them after two weeks, to speak with the named contact).

These are just some initial suggestions. However, please do remember that if you are concerned, we really would like to talk to you and help. Please take the time to make contact with us.