How to Fill in a Milkround Application
In the milkround, the first stage of the application process will be an online application via the firms’ graduate recruitment websites. It’ll be time-consuming for you, but this approach is logical from the firms’ perspective as it creates a standardised application form to review and allows them to sift through thousands of applications.
It’s important that you don’t underestimate the time required to complete each application, particularly if you’re applying to several firms (which you’re likely to do). Give each application the time and care it deserves as it’s crucial to remember that this application, and it alone, is the only thing the firms have to judge your suitability for interview.
Dos and don’ts
While filling out an online application might not be new to you, there are a number of key dos and don’ts you need to be aware of. Many of these tips may seem obvious but you’d be amazed how the simple things are overlooked when you have five of six applications ongoing simultaneously while also juggling upcoming assignments in your final year.
- Decide at the outset which firms you’re applying for and save all usernames and passwords in a safe location;
- Understand the deadline for each firm and estimate the time required to complete the form;
- Be smart with applications and seek to reuse answers across various applications as many questions are very similar. However, make sure you tailor as required; and
- Spell-check outside the online system (using Microsoft Word).
- Leave it until the last minute – these applications are time-consuming and it’s obvious when things are rushed (as I’m sure your lecturer would agree);
- Copy and paste answers across applications without tailoring to the specific questions being asked;
- Apply for certain firms/areas just because your friends are; and
- Choose firms/areas on a whim – do some prior research.
The online application processes for each of the accounting firms have a very similar format with many common sections which should provide you with some opportunity to reduce your workload. While a lot will overlap with your CV details, there will also be some broader questions about your skills, interests, and achievements etc. that provide further scope to differentiate your application.
Below, we look at some of the core sections in most online applications and the key things to watch out for.
1. Personal details
- Basic details – name, address, email, phone
(Tip! Use an email address and phone number you check regularly – there are regular stories of emails being missed about interviews etc. as they weren’t being looked at frequently.)
2. Career choice
- Typically ask for your choice of specilaism (e.g. audit, tax advisory) and which office you would like to work in;
- Some firms may give different options depending on firm structure, or may give no choice at all if you apply directly for a specific position on the system; and
- You may also be asked for the reasoning behind your choice and to justify your suitability for such a role.
(Tip! Double check to ensure you have opened an application in the right job opportunity – some firms have one single link you click for all graduate roles whereas others have specific links depending on what area/location you are applying for.)
- Details of school, timeline, Leaving Certificate points and results by subject;
- Some firms require minimum results in certain subjects (e.g. maths and English)?; and
- Details of undergraduate and postgraduate (if relevant) courses including results by year and also predicted results – many firms require a 2.1 minimum.
(Tip! Some firms require minimum grades in certain subjects (e.g. maths and English) and in terms of third level grades to date. Read all guidance given by each firm before making an application. If you feel there are extenuating circumstances, then the application form may provide a comment box for this or it may be wise to talk to someone on the graduate recruitment team to get their advice.)
4. Work experience
- Chronological order of your work experience – similar to a CV;
- Dates, title/role, responsibilities and duties; and
- Some firms may ask you for the learning outcomes you took from your experience in the role.
(Tip! Focus on the transferable skills and ensure you have ALL relevant work experience included – many students forget to include relevant experience either because they don’t feel it’s relevant (e.g. if you work on a farm during the summer) or it’s unpaid (e.g. treasurer of a local club). Any experience that improves your skillset (e.g. discipline, responsibility, organisational skills) is relevant and you need to “sell” this as a transferable skill set you’ve developed. Read more about how important this this stuff is here on Cruncher.)
- Firms typically ask for one academic and one work-related referee.
(Tip! Ask/inform your referees before you put their names down. Usually your course chair (or personal tutor if you have one) is the best person to approach for an academic reference.)
- Opportunity to distinguish yourself and express your interest and skills;
- Details of personal interests/achievements/extracurricular activities;
- Some firms also ask probing questions – these vary between firms but might include:
- Why have you chosen Firm X? Why are you suited to work here?
- Why have you chosen to apply for this role? and
- Identify a business you admire and explain why.
(Tip! Try to be original in providing your responses to the probing questions (e.g. your favourite company and why). Think of the number of applications that’ll be read during the process, the majority will give safe but uninspiring answers.)
Filling out applications can be laborious, repetitive and not much fun. That said, it’s probably the most important thing you’ll do in your last two years of college (exams aside) so give it the time and the attention it deserves. Some firms will include video interviews as part of their application process over the coming years, but they won’t replace the standard application process any time soon.