Is There A First-come, First-served Principle In Graduate Schemes?

Graduate jobs

May 03, 2021

Students applying to graduate trainee schemes often wonder whether there is a first-come, first-served principle at play in recruitment cycles. Many students who have successfully obtained a graduate job have shared this singular piece of advice with us: start applying early! Does this mean that your chances of obtaining a job after graduation are greater if you apply sooner? 

 

Why apply early?

Many reasons, including:
1) Students have suggested that when you apply early, you have more opportunities and choices for a graduate role. 
2) Often jobs are given on a rolling basis, and some roles may be filled prior to the deadline which could lead to applications being closed earlier. 
3) There also tend to be many steps and stages to the application processes. The whole application process is lengthy, and can take place over a number of months. Starting early can avoid unnecessary stress which may occur further down the line. 
4) Candidates may not find out about whether they’ve got the job for many months after they’ve applied. 
5) Firms and employers may also feel less urgency to hire candidates later on, as they may already have hired a good number of graduates. 
 
Which companies are keen on first-come, first-serve? 
Some companies, you’ll notice, accept applicants on a rolling basis, which means that available spaces for certain divisions and locations may be filled prior to the application deadline. This is because the firms receive a massive amount of applications, and if candidates apply later rather than earlier, other applicants may beat them to the job. This is especially true of the most sought-after divisions such as investment banking, sales, and trading. 
 
Consultancy firms Capgemini and Accenture, along with PwC also review applications on a first-come, first-served basis, and they recommend that applicants submit their applications as soon as possible. These are just some examples of firms that hire on a first-come, first-served basis, and there are undoubtedly more as many firms will hire on a rolling basis until all of their positions are filled. This means that there is no fixed deadline to apply, and candidates can continue to apply until all of these places are filled. 
 
Rolling recruitment may not always mean that positions are closed by the time the deadline arrives, but it could still mean that hiring managers become stricter with the candidates they choose for the last few seats available. 

If you apply early, you also gain more experience and practice with the application process, and you may be able to make mistakes without massive consequences, which you can learn from. Most firms will offer feedback to unsuccessful candidates who have been interviewed or completed assessment centres. The lessons learned from this feedback are invaluable for improving candidates’ chances of securing a graduate role with another firm as they can find out where they went wrong and make adequate adjustments for the next application. 
 
What does this mean for applicants?
The first-come, first served principle isn’t a formal barrier to obtaining a job, but once positions have been filled, employers will be choosier for the final slots available. Competition for these roles is very high, and applying early gives graduates the best possible chance to secure a role and to apply to as many as they can. 
 
While it is still possible to secure a graduate role even if you apply late, this isn’t recommended as it is riskier. Applications typically open up to a year ahead of the start dates, so applicants have plenty of time to apply well in advance of this. It is better to apply early to avoid any potential disappointment from roles being filled.
 
To get started on your career journey, begin by attending networking events and insight days, going to career fairs, and applying for spring weeks and summer internships. All of these will help your chances of securing a role after graduation, and will allow you to gain as much experience and exposure as possible.


Written by Anu Jain. Anu is a freelance writer and a final year student at the London School of Economics and Political Science

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

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