The Mid-Milkround Malaise

22/10/2013 15:12 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 23:58 GMT

We are currently in the middle of the milkround. The period when graduate schemes are open and now the first flurry of applications has come and gone. The keenest and ambitious students have already drawn of their list of potential employers and sent off applications for consideration. Companies will be snowed under by the first tidal wave of applications and can now begin selecting potential candidates for what is usually a gruelling interview and assessment process.

Do not panic! The boat has not left, nor should you rush to apply to any and every company they see. From research conducted here at, we've discovered that 73% of our users like the idea of a formal graduate scheme, with 86% of people thinking that the larger companies are more prestigious to work for. But now is the time to take a step back, breathe, and consider making their applications count.

The first thing to remember is that schemes tend to be open for the next month or so at least. Most schemes do not tend to close until late December or even the start of January. However, it is known that companies, like BP for example, operate on a first come first served basis and will close their application when the places are filled.

Students that are aiming to join some of the big hitters should concentrate on individual applications. Sending off 10 applications is not going to improve your chances, while rather spending the same amount of time on a few targeted and researched applications will certainly improve your chances, perhaps tenfold.

Rather than applying to all the big schemes and hoping that at least one will accept them, students would be better advised looking at companies they genuinely want to work for. If students are just applying to schemes for the sake of what they are offering, they will be found out at some point through the interview process that this is the case. Companies have the luxury of being able to pick and choose who they employ and after many years of it, they can spot who isn't passionate about the company or role and just the comfort of a safe job after university.

By tailoring graduate scheme applications, students will have a much better chance of succeeding. Students should make sure that their CV is different for each of their applications. Things like emphasising certain skills and experiences or removing aspects of their CV that might not be relevant to the position can really improve success rates of applications.

The best thing about graduate scheme applications is that these positions are open for several months, allowing students time to really get under the skin of the company and find out what they are like to work with, what they need to work there and then use this to make them an attractive candidate. Now is the time that students should be using this.

Being able to maximise the time available to them now, before the pressure of finals ramps up and the schemes are still open, can be the best way to ensure success. Especially after the first excitable and ambitious blizzard of applications thrown at employers, students have the chance to make intelligent and targeted applications to employers.