How to nail a vac scheme application this festive period

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By Eloise Skinner on

‘Tis the season to be jolly tackle dreaded online forms

It’s (pretty much) Christmas! The season of mulled wine, mince pies, and your favourite gift of all — spring and summer vacation scheme applications.

For those of you who’ll be keeping one eye on Santa and the other on those fast-approaching deadlines, here are three top tips on how to craft the perfect application…

1. Do your research

You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating: copy and paste will not be your friend in the application process. The most successful applications come from those who really understand what it is they’re applying for, and why they’re applying for it. Have you done your research on the firm? Do you understand what kind of work they do; what kind of clients they have; what kind of market they operate in? Do you know who their competitors are and what their strategy is? Can you spell the name of the firm correctly? (You’d think that last one would go without saying, but no.)

If you’re planning your time, start by figuring out how many applications you’ll be making. Then divide the number of hours you’ll be spending on applications by the number of firms you’ll be applying to, giving yourself a rough estimate of how long you can spend on each application. Out of that time, you could spend half of it doing research and working to understand the individual firm, and half of it crafting a tailored, specific application. You’d be surprised at how fast the process of drafting is once you actually understand the business you’re applying to.

2. Treat it like one of your university modules

Yes, more work! But you’re applying to be a lawyer, so you can handle it. Treat your applications as you would do your revision for an upcoming exam — track your progress; seek feedback wherever you can; put the time in to get the result you want. If you have a Christmas revision timetable (very impressive, well done you), schedule in your applications as part of the time you need to spend working. A couple of properly thought-through, carefully drafted applications will go way further than 300 applications that you fired off while watching Elf.

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3. Think about yourself in relation to everyone else

Ok, we all know that comparison isn’t usually helpful — but when it comes to application season, you want to give a bit of thought to how your application looks against everyone else’s. Imagine yourself in the position of the graduate recruitment team, sifting through piles of applications. What makes yours stand out? Why you, over anyone else? What is it about your background, your experiences and your interests that make you uniquely qualified to land a place on a vacation scheme? Once you’ve identified these points, consistently drive them home throughout your application form and cover letter.

Finally, think of yourself in relation to the position you’re actually applying for (i.e., a training contract). What would make you a great trainee solicitor? How can you show the recruitment team that you’re qualified for the job you’ll eventually be applying for?

Eloise is a qualified solicitor at a US law firm in London. She studied law at Cambridge University, graduating with a first class degree.

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Stay on top of vac scheme applications and check out our Key Deadlines Calendar which contains all the major law firms’ graduate recruitment deadlines.

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