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How to bag the best graduate jobs

Securing a place on a graduate trainee programme or a graduate role in a big company is nowadays almost as competitive a battleground as the Olympic Stadium. There simply aren’t enough roles open in the most desired companies to go around. So how can you make sure that you nudge ahead of the pack? Two words matter when it comes to bagging a top graduate job – forward planning. If you’re about to enter your final year at university, or are searching for a role after a summer job has ended, read on for our top tips to landing a top graduate role.

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GET INVOLVED: Companies like to hire well-rounded people and with competition for jobs fierce, it's often the person who fits in best with the company culture who is offered the job. Having held a position in a student organisation or been a regular participant in a group sport or activity is a good indication of your ability to get on with other people. Join up and get involved!

NETWORK: The deeper the relationships with your professional contacts run, the better your network will be. Forget superficial relationships and focus on the people who you have time for and who have time for you. Reach out to one or two relevant alumni in your desired industry and ask for their advice. Start building your network before you need it.

BE FLEXIBLE: Don’t be so determined to work for one particular company or industry that you miss out on other, possibly better opportunities that come along. If you’re determined to work for Goldman Sachs, yet have had every application returned with a reject note, it's time for a new approach. Keep your search broad and stay open-minded. Have a look on a site like Jobsite to see the range of jobs available.

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HAVE A USP: Who will notice you if you’re simply another graduate? Identify your brand before you apply for jobs. What makes you distinctive? Are you energetic and passionate? Do you have experience of growing up in different countries around the world? Let your personality come through your CV in one subtle but distinct way.

INTERN: Almost a third of jobs go to graduates who have done an internship or work experience placement in the company. It's still one of the best ways in. Graduate schemes for big companies or institutions open to applications early – sometimes up to 10 months prior to the end of term. If there is a particular company that interests you, get on their careers website today to find out the opening and closing dates for their programme.

OPEN UP: Talk to your career advisor at college or university and enrol for every career fair that is relevant and within reach. Every university has relationships with local companies and industries and often get special access to graduate jobs and placement schemes. Take advantage of this great, and free, career advice.

WORK OUT: Before the interview date, practise your interview skills with an older, experienced person. This might be a parent or relative, or could be your alumni advisor or career advisor. Ask them to grill you and put you through your paces. The experience will help to focus your thinking, make you aware of your strengths and weaknesses and dissipate any nerves you might have before the main event.