“How many application forms should I complete when looking for a training contract or vacation scheme?”

There’s no prescribed number, so it’s ultimately your decision. And, in case you’re wondering, I made ten and secured five interviews and two training contract offers. I’d recommend starting off with a long-list of potential target firms and then whittling that down to a more manageable number by thoroughly researching each one. This will help you determine firms that most closely match your interests / requirements and not to mention have a realistic chance of breaking into. Next rank the short-listed firms according to your preferences. This should give you a clearer picture of where to start focusing your efforts. Begin by taking your top five firms and review their application forms. Each form is likely to take a good few hours to complete, so you’ll need to set aside a considerable amount of time. This will be in addition to your studies or part-time jobs, so don’t under-estimate how long the process will take in its entirety. That’s why it’s best to start with a smaller number of applications and really focus on each question, structuring your answers and ensuring your forms are free from errors. Submit these as far away from the deadline as possible – that way you can see what the feedback might be from your applications and, if rejected, you have sufficient time to tweak your answers accordingly. If your initial applications are unsuccessful, you may wish to start working your way down the short-list, completing more application forms in line with your preferences and the time you have available. It’s far better to submit fewer forms of better quality than to apply for more and not spend as much time on each one. After all, as the saying goes it is quality and NOT quantity.

Husnara Begum, editor and career coach