APPLYING TO THE E.ON GRADUATE SCHEME? YOU DON’T NEED AN ENGINEERING DEGREE – IT’S OPEN TO ALL
* QUICK! E.ON’S IT AND BUSINESS CHANGE GRADUATE SCHEME CLOSES 31 JANUARY 2017! *
You’ve probably heard of E.ON – but they’re not just one of the UK’s leading power and gas companies, supplying energy for millions of customers. They’re also at the forefront of energy innovation, delivering better energy solutions to make the world of energy cleaner and more efficient, every day. They’re pursuing ambitious goals, and striving for sustainable solutions and innovations that make a real difference to how people live their lives.
It takes people with a variety of different skills to achieve this. So they need engineers, technologists, contact centre advisors and everyone in between. That’s why they offer eight graduate programmes, each zoning in on a different aspect of their business, such as Marketing, Finance or Customer Operations.
And it’s not just about selling energy – E.ON generates it too. From wind farms half the size of New York City, to developments in marine energy. And with teams looking at Combined Heat and Power, Climate & Renewables and Energy Solutions, they offer graduates an incredible range of work to push and challenge you as your career progresses.
So, what does it take to be accepted on to one of their graduate schemes? And how can you make your application stand out? Graduate Fog asked Jodie Hartigan, Graduate Coordinator at E.ON UK, for her top tips and advice for applicants to the E.ON graduate programme…
Graduate Fog: E.ON is an energy company – does that mean you only want to hear from graduates with engineering degrees?
Jodie Hartigan, E.ON: “That’s a common misconception – but no! We run two types of graduate schemes: Engineering Schemes and Commercial Schemes. While the Engineering Schemes are aimed at graduates with a technical (science or engineering) background, our Commercial Schemes are open to everyone. They cover Customer Operations, Finance, IT & Business Change, Human Resources and Marketing.”
What sort of graduates are you most eager to hear from?
“We see graduates as our leaders in the making – so we look for people who show emotional intelligence, and have great people skills, empathy, passion, drive and social awareness. We aim to become our customers’ trusted energy partner, by helping them use their energy more efficiently and achieving market-leading customer satisfaction. It’s also about building a much more efficient, effective and agile business so we can grow sustainable earnings and increase share of profit from our non-residential businesses. To achieve all of this, we need talented people who want to be in involved in challenging work and delivering the unexpected for customers. If that sounds like you, get in touch.”
What other qualities do you like graduate applicants to have?
“It depends which scheme you’ve applied for. For example, for our Customer Operations Leadership programme, you’ll need to be a true people person, and passionate about customer service. Then you’ll also have a talent for problem solving and will know how to lead teams. Management ambition is very important. For instance, there’s every possibility you could be running a 60-strong team in one of our contact centres after this scheme. As for degree qualifications, we’re looking for at least a 2:1 (or equivalent) in any subject.
“For our marketing scheme, you’ll need to be bright and inquisitive, and passionate about customers and what makes them tick. You’ll also need strong commercial acumen and good analytical skills. And you’ll be on track to receive at least a 2:1 (or equivalent) in a Marketing degree, or a business-related degree with marketing modules. But if you want to specialise in Analytical Marketing, you’ll need a numerically-based degree.”
What can graduates expect from one of your programmes?
“From the word go, you’ll have the chance to innovate. It’s an exciting, diverse environment where we’ll inspire you to shine. You’ll have the chance to run high-profile projects, supported by leaders who focus on your development. So we’ll encourage you to push limits, develop new ideas and advance yourself by taking accountability and making bold, responsible decisions. We’ll give you the room to grow personally and professionally, so you’re constantly developing your skills to stay ahead of the energy revolution.”
What more can you tell us about E.ON’s commercial schemes?
“Commercial actually isn’t one area, but many. And each of them is vital to the smooth running of our operation, so our people have a wide range of talents. All our Commercial programmes last 24 months. Whichever one you join, we’ll take your development very seriously. From the outset, a line manager and a mentor will work with you to create a personal development plan to identify your strengths and the areas you need to develop. This is the roadmap for your professional journey at E.ON. And it continues to evolve with you. There are plenty of opportunities for training too. As well as on-the-job coaching, you can choose from a range of training workshops. Depending on your skills and aspirations, you could learn about the energy markets, intercultural communication or project management – the topics, like our business, are many and varied. Just as important, you’ll have the time and funding to gain a professional qualification, such as CIPD, CIMA or another accreditation, depending on your scheme. And some of our programmes even offer the chance for an international placement.”
And what about your Engineering Scheme?
“Our Engineering scheme lasts for 24 months and is designed to develop and build your scientific or engineering expertise. You’ll work across the UK and beyond to really understand our engineering business and the strategic importance. Wherever you’re working, you can be sure of some unique experiences. As well as learning new technical skills, you’ll have the time, funding and support to earn chartered status. You’ll need a Masters in engineering, science, technology or maths with a 2:1 Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent). Put simply, this part of the business is essential to our future – so you will be, too. The same as on our Commercial programmes, we’ll take your development seriously, with a personal development plan that you’ll build with a line manager and a mentor. This will identify your areas for development and will map your professional journey through the company. This means it continuously evolves with you.”
What salary do you offer your graduates?
“The starting salary for all our graduate programmes is around £29,000 per year. We also offer a generous pension plan, free life insurance and a flexible benefits package that gives you the option to buy and sell holidays, insurance and dental cover. We’ll also fund your professional qualifications such as CIP, CIM and CIMA. And you can also look forward to 26 days’ holiday a year, as well as Bank Holidays.”
Where can someone on one of your graduate programmes expect to be based?
“It all depends on your scheme. You’ll get experience in a number of different teams that could be based anywhere around the UK. Most of our programmes also have an international placement. So during the programme and beyond, you’ll need to be prepared to travel internationally.”
So E.ON’s graduates get the chance to work abroad?
“Many of our programmes offer the opportunity for an international placement – and we have sites on every major continent. If you complete an international placement, our internal mobility team will support you. They’ll put you in touch with reputable housing agents that we’ve used before. And we’ll help you to prepare with things like language lessons, advice on tax and setting up bank accounts. We’ll even put you in touch with other E.ON graduates working in the same region, so you can meet up while you’re out there. Even if your graduate scheme doesn’t include the option to work internationally, you’ll have the chance to gain overseas experience over the long term. We’re an international business that regularly promotes our people from within.”
What if someone is interested in working at E.ON but doesn’t feel ready to commit to a two-year graduate programme?
“Our 48-week Year in Industry programme gives you the chance to contribute to our business as part of your degree. You’ll learn a huge amount about our business and sector. And you’ll gain valuable experience, skills and connections to give you the edge when you’re job-hunting after uni. Or, on our 10-week Summer Placements, graduates and undergraduates can find out what life’s like at E.ON. You’ll gain new skills, meet new people and build great experience for your CV – and you’ll get paid. What’s more, if you impress us, you could be fast-tracked onto one of our graduate schemes. Both of these programmes offer a salary equivalent to £17,500 per year (pro rata).”
When and how should graduates apply to your graduate schemes?
“We open the application process in September and close at the end of November. But, to avoid disappointment, the best idea is to apply early. We have a lot of people interested in our schemes and we begin assessment centres in November. This means we may have to close a scheme early if all the places are filled.”
And when does the programme actually start?
“Our graduate schemes start every year in early September. Before you begin your first placement you’ll get the opportunity to attend a one-week induction based in the Midlands with the whole graduate intake. This is a great opportunity to get to know everybody, and find out more about the support and development you’ll get on the scheme. Once the scheme starts, you’ll have lots of support. As well as your placement manager, we’ll assign you with a buddy who’s one of our current graduates. You’ll also have a senior leader as a mentor and you’ll already know the scheme leader from your welcome days before joining.”
What does the application process for E.ON’s graduate schemes involve?
“We’ve made our application and selection process as intuitive as possible and have been awarded a Candidate Experience Award three years in a row for our efforts. There are six basic stages:
1) Online application As part of the online application you’ll be asked a series of situational judgement questions. We’ll want to know how you work in a team, why our customers will think you’re great, and why you’d like to take that next step with us.
2) Online ability tests If we like what we see in your application, we’ll send you a link to two 20-minute ability tests. These will test your numerical and verbal reasoning, and there’s also an abstract reasoning test.
3) Telephone interview If you’ve impressed us in the tests, we’ll call you for a telephone interview, so we can get to know you better.
4) Assessment centre Get ready to be put through your paces at your one day assessment centre. It’ll give you a feel for what life’s like working with us.
5) Offer If you’re successful and it’s the last selection event for your scheme, we’ll make an offer within a week of your selection event.
6) Feedback Everyone who attends the selection event is offered the opportunity to get feedback. It’s only fair after all the hard work you’ve put in. We give you constructive observations on how you performed and areas to focus on.”
Are there any minimum requirements for graduates wishing to apply?
“We ask for a 2:1 in a degree that’s relevant to the scheme you’re applying for. To find out the requirements for the scheme you’re interested in, please go to the relevant pages of our website. For our Engineering Schemes, you’ll need a Masters in engineering, science, technology or maths with a 2:1 Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent).”
Any tips for standing out at application stage?
“Research E.ON as a company and have a great understanding of the energy industry. There’s so much information online, so read as much as you can and show us you’re genuinely interested in our industry.”
What makes a CV or application go into the Yes pile?
“First and foremost, we look at the relevance of your degree. Then we will look at the drive to work for E.ON in particular, and the enthusiasm for the particular scheme you’ve chosen to apply for. If you tick all those boxes and we’re impressed with your application as a whole, it’s likely we’ll want you to progress to the next stage.”
What wows you in a graduate interview?
“We love to see people with a genuine passion for the energy sector and E.ON as a company. We also expect you to have done extensive background research and preparation for your interview before turning up. If you have personal impact and social skills you’re also likely to do well, because we’re such a customer-focused business. We also appreciate good listening skills and the ability to maintain a natural two-way dialogue.”
And finally, a few quick-fire questions… Is there anything special or unusual about E.ON’s application process that graduates should be ready for?
“Our assessment centres are mostly digital rather than paper-based.”
What’s more important – knowing the right answers or handling the questions well?
“Both equally. Also, nobody expects you to have all the answers – just be honest and be yourself.”
Any tips for impressing at assessment centres?
“We like to see graduates who make a personal impact, and who are sociable.”
What is the most common mistake graduates make when applying for a job at E.ON?
“Failing to adapt their CV and covering letter for the job they are applying for. It sounds obvious but you’d be amazed how many graduates don’t bother to tailor their application.”
What is a great question for graduates to ask at the end of their interview?
“‘What does my career look like after the graduate programme?’ is always a good one. It shows you’re thinking about a long-term career with us.”
GRADUATE CASE STUDY: “I GOT CALLED AT SHORT NOTICE – SO I JUST WENT FOR IT!”
Name George Gissing
Degree course Human Resource Management
University Chichester University
Started at E.ON 2014
Job title at E.ON HR Consultant
Office Nottingham / Coventry
What does your day-to-day role involve?
“Currently, I’m working as an HR Consultant alongside our business partners and leaders, in the Residential Sales and Service business, including our contact centres, talent pipelines and recruitment. Here, we’re making sure that our colleagues have the training and support they need to provide our customers with great customer service.”
What do you like most about working at E.ON?
“The amount of change happening in our organisation; there is always something new to learn. I regularly discover some activity or corner of the business I didn’t know existed! I also like the fact that you aren’t treated like ‘just a grad’, you are considered a key part of the team. This means that you get responsibility from day one and you drive your projects.”
What is the next step of your career likely to be?
“My next step is to continue the work I started in my final placement of the graduate scheme. After this I will be gaining experience outside HR for a short time and then I will move into a permanent position.”
When and why did you apply to E.ON? What particularly appealed to you about the firm?
“I applied whilst I was doing a temp role in the US. I knew that that E.ON offered the chance to gain exposure to all areas of HR. What also attracted me was the opportunity to experience international HR and to study for my CIPD qualification, one day a week.”
How did you find the selection process?
“The process was pretty standard and comparative to other graduate schemes that I applied for. Originally, I didn’t make the assessment centre but fortunately somebody dropped out two days before – and I was offered a place. I didn’t have much time to prepare, so I just went for it!”
What advice would you give to graduates considering applying?
“Consider the goals and challenges of the organisation and how you feel the department you’d be working in fits into this. Also, nobody expects you to have all the answers – just be honest, be yourself and be confident. What have you got to lose?”
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