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University Graduate Positions: Apply NOW!

April 11 2015

University graduate positions in both government and private companies have some advantages over other positions that require degrees and are worth trying for. These positions offer a range of experiences and training in various section of the agency, or business, before you finally select the best area for your interests and ability.

Now is the time they are being advertised for those who will graduate mid 2015 and some applications close mid April, so you need to move quickly.

Now is the time  graduate positions are being advertised for those who will graduate mid 2015 and some applications close mid April, so you need to move quickly.

The usual application requirements are:

  1. A letter in which you respond to some selection criteria
  2. A résumé
  3. Your academic transcript. (They are looking for high achievers)

The main challenge is to respond to the selection criteria in a short letter. You are commonly restricted to two or three pages in which to respond to five or six criteria with examples of how you have applied the required skills in some past situation. They do not expect you to have workplace experience so your examples could come from:

  • Your university experience including practicums, group assignments etc.
  • Sporting experience
  • Hobby groups
  • Voluntary service
  • Community organisation, or
  • Part-time jobs

Read the instructions carefully

One Graduate position application will not fit all applications, as each government or private firm has different application rules and requirements. Read the instructions carefully.

For example the Dept of Premier and Cabinet in WA asks for six responses in two pages, and instructs you to focus on the duties of the position, which are carefully listed, in your example. The six are:

  1. Demonstrated analytical and research skills;
  2. An ability to prioritise work and meet deadlines;
  3. A good level of initiative and problem-solving skills;
  4. Demonstrated writing and presentation skills;
  5. Sound communication skills (written, verbal and interpersonal); and
  6. An ability to work as a member of a team.

When writing your one-third of a page example try to show you used the relevant skills you would use in the duties listed in the duty statement.

Don’t waste space giving background detail in your story; get straight into how you used the skills, e.g. research or time management. Always finish with a positive outcome.

On the other hand, the Dept of Finance WA lists six skills they will be looking for, but they don’t want you to address them individually. What they want is for you to respond to their values. There are five of them to respond to in three pages.

  1. Listening and caring
  2. Commitment
  3. Leadership
  4. Accountability
  5. People matter.

In the Guidelines they explain what the values are and give an example of the sort of story you might write.

The challenge is to write your example showing you have (some of) the relevant skills – research, written communication, initiative, conceptual and analytical, oral communication and interpersonal and teamwork – and the value you hold. It is a combination of demonstrating the skill and the value; tricky but doable.

Again, forget the background of the story and use the space to describe how you used the skill, e.g. teamwork, with the value, such as “commitment” or “leadership”.

Your résumé must be targeted on each different target position.

A full description on how to prepare a targeted résumé and more information about applying for Graduate positions is given in” Write a Winning Job Application” 6th ed., available in hard cover or as an eBook.

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By Lloyd White