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December 08, 2016
Beating the Recruitment Computer!
By: Thomas Edwards

When applying for graduate programmes in the consulting world, most graduate (or undergraduate) applicants will always dart straight for the respective firm’s London office. It’s a big, prosperous city where most consulting UK HQs are. I must admit that when I initially applied to one of Accenture’s graduate schemes back in 2014 during my second year of university, I did exactly the same. Needless to say, I joined a queue of tens of thousands of applicants and did not get past the online stage that helps their recruiters sort into a ‘yes’ and ‘no’ pile for the next stage. Whether this was because I did not fulfil the required criteria to proceed, I don’t know. However, that didn’t stop me believing that I had been cheated by the recruitment computer!

Although I will be posting more articles about life as an Accenture graduate (alas, the computer was wrong), the purpose of this first post is to try to encourage people who are interested in applying to Accenture to keep their options open in terms of choosing on an office location. I was so dead set on jumping on the ‘fresh out of uni’ bandwagon down to London after I graduated (I’m from York), that I didn’t even consider applying anywhere else until a good friend of mine suggested I applied to the Newcastle office – after all, I was at University in Newcastle and still held a love of the city. Although Accenture gets a huge number of applications for grad positions in all of their offices, London gets by far the most. This fact led me down the thought path of making more of a strategic decision in applying for graduate programmes… let me explain.

First, if there are less applications for a limited number of vacancies, then this immediately increases the probability of getting through to the next stage of applications. Second, if I break out of my tunnel vision and consider locations other than London, I might be able to take advantage of this increase in probability. Third, once you’re an employee of a consulting firm, you have a great opportunity to move around and work in different locations anyway. So, my initial thoughts of – “I HAVE to get a consulting grad job and it HAS to be in London” all of a sudden, changed.

I found the prospect of moving back to Newcastle very exciting and having researched a bit about the Accenture Newcastle office, I was aware of how quickly it was growing, thriving and creating a lot of noise for the firm. Furthermore, if I got my foot in the door with Accenture, I had the ability in future to move around and potentially end up in London anyway. This was a small compromise to make considering all of the factors above gave me a better probability of getting through the recruitment process…

Now given that I am writing this post from the perspective of an Accenture graduate, it’s quite clear that the strategy worked. Therefore, I think it’s really important for graduates to open up their minds a bit more to where they are applying location-wise, but also to apply to the firms that will support you in your ability to move around and build your desired career path. Accenture is a perfect example of a firm that supports you in everything you wish to do in your career. Overall, I feel that the whole ‘grad scheme applications’ thing is all very comparable to when you were selecting which Universities to apply to… I’m assuming you didn’t decide on a city in the UK that you liked and just apply to all the good Universities in that city? You moved for the specific University that you wanted to apply to… and in this case I’m suggesting you do just that – most importantly, apply to the firm that best suits you, but then you could increase your chances of getting through the recruitment stages if you consider applying to an office location other than London.

Just a thought.

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