Published October 20, 2017, by Kristina Møller Andersen
The recruitment process in stages
The recruitment process for the F15 Programme runs roughly from early January to late March every year, with the application platform open from 15th November 2017 to 7th of January 2018. Once the deadline for submission has passed, the Talent Acquisition team goes through all the applications, starting by reading the CV and, second, the cover letter of each candidate. Approximately half of the applicants are invited to the second round, which includes completing a personality review and a cognitive test, measuring your numerical, verbal and abstract skills. The third round is comprised by an extensive video interview. Finally, 60 candidates are invited to the daylong assessment centre in Viby, where the next team of F15 candidates is found!
A large number of qualified graduates (and graduates to be) apply every year. As the number has reached approx. 1500 for successive years, it is obviously crucial to stand out positively from the very onset and, hence, to invest some time in researching the do's and don’ts of writing the cover letter/CV and in the writing process itself. Not only as the applications provide the threshold for whom will succeed to the second round, but also as the recruitment team will revert to the cover letter and cv repeatedly throughout the entire application process.
Structure, structure, structure...
Before you start typing, I would encourage you all to consider what truly motivates you about working for Arla Foods and being part of the F15 programme. Having done some research about Arla Foods, and the structure and objectives of the graduate programme might prove helpful at this stage, and remember, there is no "right answer" as to what should motivate you, as long as it is relevant for the purpose. As a source of inspiration, you can drop by Tsvetina's blog post on what motivated her to apply. Knowing what motivates you, will make it easier to write the first paragraph of the cover letter, where you describe with a few, concise sentences why you are fit for the position as a F15. Again keeping in mind the number of applicants, your selling points should stand out clear to the reader.
I recommend structuring the bulk of the cover letter in a few paragraphs, where each paragraphs focuses on a specific strength or character trait of yours relevant to the programme and the job advert. Ask yourself, what is relevant for the position and how do you match that specific requirement. E.g. "do I have an international mindset", "am I a leader" etc. A good advice, is not to answer the questions plainly and line-up all your accomplishments, but instead force yourself to reflect on the takeaways of a given project/job etc. and on your learnings from that specific period. Thus, demonstrate one argument, give one example and make a parallel to the programme for each paragraph. Besides avoiding referring to general characteristics (without showcasing, such as "I am good at x, y, z."), please also avoid using clichés.
The final part of the cover letter can serve as a summary, where you shortly state the main reasons as to why you would be the perfect F15 candidate. Bullet points can here be used, but consider whether it fits your content.
A brief take on the CV...
Moving on to the CV, structure and pragmatism are (also here) key: information on your academic background, professional experiences, extra-curriculum activities are required content, which can easily be presented by a headline and subordinated bullet points. A short paragraph on your personality and interests can also be inserted, but again, please consider how it supports your message as the perfect candidate for the F15 programme. When it comes to layout, colours, symbols and fonts are often a matter of personal taste. Nevertheless, please ensure that the layout helps the recruiter reading your cv rather than it being a distracting force.
Wrapping up this blog posts, I only have one last advice. Be true to yourself. Let your application reflect your personality and remain genuine in the ensuing tests and interviews. Arla Foods is truly interested in knowing who you are and your motivations for joining one of the world's largest dairy cooperatives. And in the end, both you and Arla Foods will only prosper if the fit is right for both.
For now, there is only one thing left to write: good luck!