I made several vacation scheme applications last year and failed to secure a single interview. I’m planning to make another round of applications this Autumn and would like advice on how I can boost my chances of converting these into interviews and/or assessment centres.
I’m glad you are pausing to reflect on what potential tweaks you should be making to future vacation scheme applications. After all, if you repeat what you did during the last recruitment round chances are you’ll get the same outcome.
From my perspective, there are several simple reasons why vacation scheme and / or training contract applications don’t make the cut.
Firstly, is whether you’ve got sufficient eye-catching content to include in applications? For instance, what recent achievements can you reference to support competency-based questions? If you’re struggling to pull something together I recommend having a think about what activities you can get involved in that will help you to close any skills deficit that you identify. Take it from me, you can continue editing an application form until the cows come home but without meaningful content it will always fall short of what employers in the legal sector are after.
Secondly, are you targeting the right firms? This can be achieved by thoroughly researching employers to ensure they are a good match for you. As well as basic information such as the size of a firm’s trainee intake, do some digging around their key practice areas / sectors, trophy clients and recent matters.
Thirdly, review your writing style. Are you answers a bit dry or too waffly? Or conversely, perhaps they are too short and you haven’t taken full advantage of the prescribed word count or indeed failed to include what the employer was after. And what about the spelling and grammar? I’m all in favour of copy and pasting because there’s no point in re-inventing the wheel. But such steps much be taken judiciously.