What makes a good vacation scheme application?

Vacation schemes are a great way to get first-hand experience of working in a law firm. Even better, if you perform well and impress your colleagues, you’ve got a very good chance of being offered a training contract at the end.  

Competition for vacation scheme places can be fierce, but with some thorough planning and research here’s how you can make your application stand out from the crowd. 

  1. Do your research 

It sounds obvious, but before you start your application you need to research the firm. This means finding out in which areas of law the firm practises, what the culture is like and how the firm markets itself. If you want to go the extra mile, you could also try finding out what the firm’s future plans are and how it intends to make them happen. Having this knowledge will help shape your answers to the questions on the application form and will help you to tailor your responses accordingly. 

2. Answer the question 

Before you start writing, read through the entire application form; this will help focus your mind on the questions to hand, as well as give you an idea of exactly how much work there is to be done! Read and re-read each individual question and think carefully about what the firm is asking of you, rather than what you would like the firm to be asking you! Precision and attention to detail are important attributes in a lawyer and so a recruiter will want to see that you have answered the question at hand. 

3. Numbers game 

Sending out hundreds of applications with the same answers copied and pasted into each form isn’t advisable. But, at the same time, applying for vacation schemes and training contracts is still a bit of a numbers game. There’s a balance to be struck between spending enough time tailoring your application to each firm and applying to enough firms to give yourself a good chance of succeeding. Think carefully about where this balance lies for you.  

4. Clear, concise and correct

Write your responses to the application form questions in simple language. At larger firms in particular, recruiters will read through hundreds, if not thousands, of applications and so you will do well to get your message across clearly. It hopefully goes without saying that there shouldn’t be any spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes in your application form. It’s a good idea to write your answers in Word first to make sure they’re correct. 

5. Check, check and check again 

Proofread your work. Once you’ve finished a draft, wait for a couple of hours, or even overnight, before you look at it again. A fresh pair of eyes is more likely to pick up on mistakes. If you prefer reading over things in hard copy, print off your application form to give yourself the best chance of spotting errors. Ask a friend or a family member to read over your work too. 

6. Timing is everything

Send in your application ahead of time. Some firms review on a rolling basis and applying earlier will mean that the recruiter will have more time to read through your application properly. What’s more, an application that has been written and researched in plenty of time is more likely to read better than one which has been thrown together at the last minute!

7. Tailor made

Be sure to tailor your application to the firm you’re applying. You can do this by mentioning something specific to the firm or linking your in each of your answers. Each application is different and each firm will be trying to elicit slightly different information from you. A recruiter will be able to spot an application form which has been copied and pasted several times over. 

Applying for vacation schemes can be a lengthy process, but by investing enough time and energy into your applications, you will reap the benefits in the long run. Good luck and don’t give up!