Editor’s weekly: Staying focused

My countdown to Christmas typically starts when I turn the radio on and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” starts blaring out. That’s exactly what happened earlier this week.

I know the candle inside my Halloween pumpkin has barely gone out and my ears are still ringing from the loud bangs at my local fireworks display but with a three-week break to look forward and not to mention the pressies it’s easy to lose focus.

But staying focused is exactly what you need to do if you want a vacation scheme or two to look forward to next summer. Though the deadline for submitting vac scheme applications is typically the end of January the preparation you do over the next few weeks will play a crucial role in helping you secure a place on the much sought after placements.

So before you switch to full-time Xmas party mode I suggest you spend as much time as possible planning applications including identifying any holes in your CV and how to fill them. Indeed, I recommend creating an excel spreadsheet listing the firms you plan to apply to, contact details for their graduate recruitment teams, relevant deadlines and a few bullet points about why they are on your short-list.

I know what I’m suggesting sounds a bit over the top but unless you inject military precision into applications then chances are that you’ll miss deadlines or email the wrong firm (obvious mistakes I know but believe me they still happen).

Also, do not underestimate the amount of time each application is likely to take – that’s if you want to do them properly of course. Indeed, I think the best applications can take an entire afternoon, if not longer.

Indeed, ask any recruiter what’s more important – quantity or quality? And the universal response will be quality. What’s more if you ask the same people what’s the most common mistake candidates make their answers are most likely to be poor spelling and grammar in application forms.