Posted: Wednesday 13 June 2012
By Elspeth Dalgleish, HR Director
Graduate recruitment has commenced at Morton Fraser for our 2014 traineeships. The application form can be found here, and the closing date is set for 5pm on 27 September. We’ll then be holding an assessment centre on 8 October for those who make it to the next stage.
But how do you make it to the assessment centre? Many graduates are aware that securing a traineeship is tough, but perhaps not exactly how tough. To put it in figures, last year we received over 350 applications for 8 legal trainee places. This number of applications is a reflection of the reducing number of traineeships in Scotland over the last four years – from 629 to 488. In 2011 over 650 students commenced the Diploma.
It’s not difficult to do the arithmetic, and when you factor in the applications from graduates who failed to secure traineeships last year or the year before, the competition looks even fiercer. An increasing number of graduates are chasing fewer and fewer traineeships, and all firms are bracing themselves for an increased number of applications.
While securing a traineeship in this sector in the wider economic climate is undeniably tough, they’re out there for the graduates good enough to secure them. Firms are still recruiting, and continue to devote a lot of time and energy to their graduate recruitment as traditionally it’s been treated as the entry point to the talent pipeline. Like many firms we like to “grow our own” and invest in the training and development of our trainees. The assessment centre is an opportunity to prove to us that you’ve potentially got what it takes to be one of our stars of the future.
While the assessment centre is an opportunity to really showcase your abilities and prove that you’ve got what it takes, there’s a necessary limit on how much time any firm can devote to short-listing applicants for it, and you need to do everything possible to make your application stand out from the crowd. At MF we aim to notify candidates within three days of the closing date if they’ve been selected for the assessment day – that’s a lot of applications to read in not very much time!
The applications are starting to trickle in but the majority will arrive during the final 24 hours. What does that tell me about students? Good at managing deadlines, or lacking in planning and organising skills? If you’re serious about obtaining a traineeship, please don’t leave it to the night before to complete the application form. Why not use a little time during your summer holidays to really work on your applications? Impress us by delivering a top-quality application well ahead of the crowd: the application form is itself a test, and one which you can score highly on with a bit of effort. It’s also a good idea to complete your application, then leave it for a day or two and read it again with a fresh pair of eyes – something you won’t have the opportunity to do if you’re still working at it come 4.55pm on 27 September! Additionally, leaving your application to the last minute means no leeway for IT glitches: a formatting error or crashed computer which could easily be worked around in normal circumstances could be disastrous if you’ve no time to resolve it – and we don’t grant extensions.
The increased number of applications results in a tougher approach at the initial stage and applications often fall at the first hurdle for these reasons:
The majority of candidates will have (or anticipate gaining) a 2:1 degree. So how do you get the edge? You need to think outside of your academic life and draw examples from your other interests or vacation work – the more recent the experience or achievement the better.
School-based activities which you have continued to develop at university are also useful – they tell us about your “stickability” factor and your drive to develop yourself. It doesn’t matter whether it’s sports, volunteering, or a creative hobby like writing or music – showing us your commitment and drive to improve your skills is what matters.
If you’ve had an opportunity to get work experience, whether in a legal firm or elsewhere, then tell us what you got out of it. A list of work experience plus dates will not, in itself, add to your evaluation score. Think about the attributes MF is seeking from trainees when completing the form (Hint: look at our careers section for legal trainees on our website). We’re looking for a variety of skills above and beyond a good academic performance, and you should use the application form to demonstrate that you have this broad skill set.
All it takes is a little bit of planning and organising over the holidays to ensure you can take the time to complete an application which will stand out from the crowd and take you through to the assessment day – and potentially the opportunity to join us in 2014.