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Top Tips for Graduates

22nd September 2015

Paul Clark provides some sound advice for graduates...

I’ve been interviewing graduates for property roles for over ten years now – for big and small companies, large and small intakes. In advance of this year’s rounds, I felt it might be helpful to list my top ten tips for aspiring graduate surveyors.

  • Your covering letter/personal statement is important. I can always tell if you are cutting and pasting and just changing the name of the company. Commit the time to make sure each letter or application is bespoke. Be clear about why you are applying to that firm.
  • Don’t gloss over gaps in your CV. We’ll be looking for them so full disclosure is the only way.
  • If you are invited to interview, find out who you’ll be meeting. Then look them up on LinkedIn. They should be there and this will give you some good insight and somewhere to start your research. If they aren’t there, try to find someone in their team.
  • You will be asked why you have applied to join this firm. Be prepared for this and give good reasons why. A “good training programme” and “wanting to pass your APC here” is not enough. I want to know why you want to join this company. I want to hear about what deals we have done and why you think they are interesting. Which of our clients do you find most interesting and why? What makes us different from our competitors?
  • As soon as you walk in to the room, your interviewer will be weighing up where you will fit in their business. In the property profession there is a traditional distinction is between ‘client side’ and ‘consultancy’ and then ‘transactional’ and ‘professional’. Do you understand the differences? Where, indeed, might you fit?
  • When you are asked about your weaknesses, please resist the temptation to tell me you’re a perfectionist.
  • If an experience has not met your expectations or didn’t work out as you’d hoped for I want to know. These are good learning experiences; don’t be afraid to be honest.
  • If you have work experience I want to know how you came about it and what you got out of it. If you have failed to secure relevant work experience, I will want to know why.
  • When you get the chance to ask questions, take it. If you have done your research properly, you should have plenty. I’m suspicious of anyone that isn’t really curious about the place they’re intending to spend most of their waking hours.
  • A modern one – get your social media profile and security settings sorted. Make sure your CV is accurately reflected on LinkedIn and that strangers can’t see anything you might want to keep private elsewhere.

Finally (a bonus one if you like), if you are lucky enough to receive more than one job offer be open and honest about who they are from and do talk it through with each party. Don’t feel like you have anything to lose by explaining the choice you need to make and your train of thought. By doing this you give each company the chance to sell themselves and I guarantee it will make it easier for you.


Paul Clark is development director in Capita property and infrastructure’s real estate division.


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