Fri 05 Jun 2015

Tips for your traineeship application

For more information about our traineeships, visit our dedicated page.

Preparation, preparation, preparation

I imagine (although don't quote me on it!) that lack of preparation is the number one reason people are unsuccessful in securing a traineeship interview. It's really important that you devote enough time to the application and don't leave it to the last minute. Morton Fraser are accepting applications right up until 5pm on 17th September so it doesn't say much for your time management if you submit your application at 4:58pm!

Starting the application well before the deadline allows you to devote enough time to it. Application forms always take longer to complete than you think they will and the worst thing you can do is rush through and submit an application you're not happy with. Remember that in 5 years time you'll be glad you stopped binge-watching box sets and started applying for traineeships.

Think about what you want to say

I would suggest that before you start completing any application forms you really think about what your key skills, achievement and experiences are. Make a list of these and keep referring back to it whilst you're completing your applications.

Treat each question like a mini essay and think about the structure of it. It's a good idea to use the STAR method of answering questions. By doing that you'll make sure you back up every statement with an example (it's not enough just to say you're good at something you have to prove it!).

Do your homework

There are a huge variety of law firms in Scotland and they're all looking for different things from their trainees. The only way to work out what a firm is looking for is to read their website and any other information you can get your hands on. Reading the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners directories is a good way to get an unbiased look at which areas firms are strongest in.

Be honest

One of the worst things you can do is try and work out who a firm is looking for and then blindly market yourself as that person. Although it might seem tempting at the time in the long run it's much better for you to be a trainee in the right firm rather than just any firm.

If you lie about your skills and interests on an application and don't get an interview you'll always wonder whether you would have been successful if you had told the truth.

Don't be afraid to big yourself up

I don't mean that your application should be a three page essay on how fabulous you are but you need to make sure that you tell the firm what your strengths are. If you really struggle with talking yourself up then ask a friend or family member who you know will be honest with you for help. It's always easier to identify other people's strengths than your own.

If you don't have confidence in your ability to do the job then how can you expect the firm to? So shrug off the innate British aversion to bragging and tell the firm what you're good at!

Check your application before you submit it, then check it again

Spelling and grammar mistakes look awful on application forms and are a sure-fire way to ensure you don't get an interview. It's really tough to separate candidates from each other so filtering out those who haven't bothered to proof read their application is an easy place to start.

All these tips are fairly obvious but easy to forget. I know from experience that when you're faced with a pile of application forms, even getting an interview (never mind a traineeship) seems an impossible task, but if you put in the hard work at this stage you're giving yourself the best chance.   If you're the type of person that Morton Fraser is looking for;  confident, straight talking and open - then you're half way there!

May the odds be ever in your favour.

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