The ultimate guide to applying for graduate jobs
February 6, 2020
It's a big jump to go from university to full-time work, so we thought we would share with you our guide to Accenture's grad application process. Graduate Recruitment Lead, Laura Scully, breaks down the hardest part about beginning your career – getting the job!
Finding your first job can be overwhelming. For graduates today, there are so many great organisations offering world-class graduate programs and roles, and more Australians than ever are pursuing higher education, meaning the job market is super competitive.
If you’re as ambitious as the grads we see applying to Accenture every year, chances are you want to work at a top-tier company, which means you need a stellar application. Having worked at Accenture for almost 14 years, I’ve conducted my fair share of interviews and met plenty of new grads as they join Accenture and settle into their new roles. Here are my top tips for how to land your dream job, and what to expect along the way.
Stage 1: Application
For most organisations, the first stage is usually to complete a simple application online. Submit your name, contact details and a copy of your CV. Some companies require a detailed cover letter, but at Accenture we just need your resume (easy as!).
Research the company you’re applying for
You can also jump on Whirlpool, Glassdoor and the Accenture website which has a wealth of information as well as blogs by current graduates and employees from across the business. Make sure you get to know the company and see if they are a good fit what you’re looking for.
Pay attention to your application
I’ve seen candidates who customise their CV for one organisation (e.g. PWC) and forget to update it for the next (e.g. Accenture). This shows a lack of attention to detail (a vital skill most organisations are looking for in their grads!) and is a very easy error to prevent. If you’re applying for so many graduate roles that you can’t get the name of the organisation you’re applying to right, consider whether you’re applying for too many roles! Think about the value of lodging fewer, quality applications instead of as many as you can churn out in a given time and focus on the organisations you have researched well and are confident will be a good fit for what you’re looking for. This includes the type of work, the company culture and a strong alignment with your values.
Stage 2 and 3: Review and HR touchpoint
Once you’ve got to the next stage with Accenture, we review your CV before calling you for a phone screen. This is a general HR interview, and nothing to worry about – it’s pretty casual. Our fantastic team of recruiters are highly skilled in making you feel at ease. We want to have a chat with you about your interest in Accenture, why you applied and what area you're passionate about. It’s important for us to get to know you as a person. We’re not only interested in your skills and experience – it’s also important that you are a good fit for Accenture’s culture, if you are, we will invite you to the next stage - an assessment event at our office.
Ask questions, be curious
Ask about our culture, clients, your role, even something you read on the company website. This is where you can even start the discussion about remuneration. Don’t just focus on just that though, show us that you are really interested in working at Accenture and why.
Don’t just say what you think we want to hear. We are looking for individuals who are comfortable in themselves. We want people to bring their best authentic self to work, so be open, be curious and be 100% yourself.
Stage 4: Assessment event
Assessment centres are pretty common across the industry. At Accenture, this is where students come into the office and have the opportunity to meet us in person. Depending on the area of the business we think you would be most suited for, we either invite you to Accenture Adventure which is a one-day event or a two-day bootcamp called Tech Quest. Both include interactive sessions, group activities, a closing interview and a networking event. You also have a one-on-one interview with an Accenture leader.
Here are some things we look for from candidates on the day:
Passion and enthusiasm - We are interested in people. We want to know who you are, what you believe in and what you’re interested in outside of your studies and university degree. For some tips on how to talk about this, check out Nivi’s blog on the power of storytelling at job interviews.
Flexibility and openness - At Accenture, our employees work on different projects, clients and roles throughout their career, and we want people who are open and enthusiastic about learning and trying different things.
Problem solving, teamwork and communication - We’re looking for strategic thinkers, but we also keep an eye out for how you work with the different people you come into contact with, including your teammates and people from Accenture.
Come prepared. Prepare an elevator pitch - We send students a preparation pack beforehand with tips on creating an elevator pitch. This will help you clearly articulate your strengths without feeling “put on the spot” on the day. The more prepared you are the more likely you will be able to deliver this confidently.
Research, research, research - I can’t emphasise this enough. Do your research, understand the type of work Accenture does, who our clients are, and think about how your experiences and strengths can play into that. There’s no such thing as too much research! Those who have followed this advice really stand out to us vs. their peers who are “winging it” at as many organisations as they were able to apply to.
Use the STAR technique - The closing interview is a really great opportunity to state your case and leave a lasting impression. To avoid going blank on the day, have examples prepared. Use the STAR technique to format your answers. Describe the Situation, specific Task, the Action you took, and the Result that was achieved to illustrate your experience and skills.
Don’t rush - Talking to a leader can be daunting but remember, they are just as human as you, and they want to get to know you as a person. They will also want to make you feel at ease to give you the opportunity to put forward your best self. You could ask them what they enjoy about working for Accenture or about a career challenge they have faced and overcome. Questions like these show an interest in the leader whilst also eliciting useful information and providing an insight into the company.
On the day, remember to take a couple of deep breaths and relax. We’ve designed our assessment event to be enjoyable. As much as we want to learn about you, we hope that every candidate who comes in learns just as much about us!
Stage 5: Offer
Some companies will include another round of interviews after the assessment centre. At Accenture, we know pretty quickly whether you’re a good fit. This is where we make a verbal and written offer. Congrats, you’re in!
Avoid accepting offers you don’t intend to keep – it’s a bad look for your personal brand, especially if you end up coming into contact with that organisation later down the track. Things change, we get it. All we ask is for you to be transparent and let us know as soon as possible if your circumstances change.
Applying for one of our Graduate Roles is your first step to the rest of your journey at Accenture, so come into the process with an open mind and enjoy it. And don’t forget to be yourself – the 100% you.