If it hasn't already, your dream graduate schemes will close soon – here's how you can beat the deadline.

You may spend weeks and months looking for your dream graduate career, but it might only cross your path at the last minute. What are you supposed to do when you find the perfect graduate scheme and it closes that day? Don't panic – we've got the quick fix solutions to help you make the best of a bad situation.

Step one: Make a timetable

Graduate schemes and graduate jobs will have a close date and some might be more specific and indicate a time of day. If no time is specified, you can presume they close at midnight that day.

With this in mind you need to plan your time. It might seem obvious to work to the deadline, but remember many of these application forms can be arduous and extremely long. Budget lots of time to complete online application forms. If they only require a CV and covering letter, designate plenty of time to tailoring and tightening.

Step two: Be succinct

When time is not on your side there is no opportunity for long winded and elaborate covering letters and personal statements. Give the employer the information they ask for and what they might like to see, but don't rush to cram everything in and attempt to cover all bases – be smart and considered with your responses.

As a rule, submitting anything rather than nothing is not considered the best job hunting technique. Just because your horse is in the race, doesn't mean it is best prepared to win. Quality is so much more important than submitting a rushed CV and covering letter.

Step three: Pick the right tone

For many graduate scheme applications, you fill out an online form. They are often long due to the large amount of personal data they require (GCSE and A level results, education history, equal opportunity information, experience, etc.) A positive about online forms is, although they are long, you can just get your head down and work through them (hopefully before the application window closes).

As for traditional CV and covering letter applications, you need to make sure both parts are appropriate. You CV shouldn't take too much doctoring to emphasise your relevant experience, but your covering letter should focus entirely on matching you to the role. Pour over the job description and find out exactly when the employer wants. This task should take up the most time to ensure success.

Step four: Proof

Poorly proofed submissions can result in an instant rejection. The occasional mistake is barely acceptable and employers won't stand for more than a couple - they want to see you've put care into your application, but just because you have rushed to get your application in on time, doesn't mean the employer has to know.

There are two ways to ensure you are picking up the majority of typos and grammatical errors. Firstly, type your answers into your Word (or whatever word processor you use) and copy the "clean" copy into the answer boxes online. If time is too tight, make sure you have a spelling and grammar checker installed on your browser. (Here's some awesome few Browser Hacks while we're at it.)

After the deadline – Try anyway?

Deadlines serve little other purpose than an employer's recruitment calendar. They need time to review applications, process and interview, and send out offers to individuals. Some candidates, although the deadline has passed, will choose to pursue the role by alternative means. If the role is application-form-based it's extremely unlikely the faceless software will let you submit an application.

However, with CV and covering letters that are emailed to recruitment departments, candidates could find email addresses and enquire to whether they would accept a late application. This kind of approach isn't totally cool with most employers, but you could catch them on a good day. Alternatively, if it is your dream opportunity, it's worth asking when applications for that graduate scheme may open again.

When the timer ticks down it is really difficult to make your application awesome. Sign up to graduatejobs.com to receive the best opportunities direct to your inbox so you're not against the clock and check out our closing soon opportunities.

Image Credit: Brandi Redd