The keys to a successful application for an apprenticeship are a good CV and cover letter.
A CV and cover letter will tell potential employers important facts about you. They’re your opportunity to show them that you have the skills and experience that make you suitable for the apprenticeship you’re applying for.
Here are a few pointers on how to create them.
How to produce a good CV for your apprenticeship application
Presentation: Type up your CV using a clear, uncomplicated font (Times New Roman or Arial tend to work best). Make sure to keep the same size font throughout (12 is standard) and avoid trying to do clever visual things. Clean and tidy are far more important to the prospective employer.
One page: Try to keep your CV to one page. Managers and other professionals focused on hiring will be busy and have many applications to consider. Plus, keeping to a single page will force you to be concise and stick to the important points.
Organise: Categorise your skills, experience and achievements under the following headings: work experience, education and extracurricular activities. Ensure that you showcase your key skills close to the top of the page.
Part-time jobs go under work, secondary school under education and anything you’ve done in your own time should go under extracurricular activities. List them in chronological order, with the most recent first. Restrict the information you include to dates, locations and, most importantly, key achievements. Employers want to see what you’ve accomplished.
Customise: Tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for. Use the job description to match the skills you include with the ones the employer is looking for. Consider creating a master CV with everything on it and then filter the content for individual applications.
Check it: Make sure your CV is free of mistakes, including spelling, grammar and consistency. Read it over several times and then ask someone else to check it. Show it to a careers adviser who is trained to help you do this kind of thing. Then check it again.
How to produce a good cover letter for your apprenticeship application
Why you want the job: Lead with what attracted you to the job in the first place, keeping it to two or three sentences. You might be attracted to the company, the position may offer certain benefits, or the career area is something for which you have a passion. Let them know why you’re interested.
Key person specifications: Almost every job advert will list the key qualities that a person must have in order to get the job. These will range from previous experience in the particular field, to demonstrable skills such as teamwork and organisation. Depending on the job you’re after, they may include more specialist requirements, such as experience in certain software packages, or familiarity with certain methodologies and regulations. Match your own experiences and achievements with as many as you can in your cover letter, outlining what you meet and how you’ve met it, as succinctly as possible.
Anything else you bring to the table: An avid reader? Keen on sports? Add some personal details to close, to give the employer an insight into you as a person.
Other points to remember
References: You’ll need at least two references when applying for a job. These are usually sought once you’ve been offered the position. They’ll be former employers, teachers, or anyone who knows you well, although relatives and friends are out of bounds.
Format: Every employer will accept CVs and cover letters in different formats, but as a rule, expect to submit both as Word documents or PDFs, via email. There may be application forms to fill out instead of submitting a CV and cover letter, or even application systems to navigate online. Rest assured, these almost always follow the path of a CV, so you’ll be able to transfer the information from one to the other with relative ease.
Accompanying evidence or information: Certain jobs, such as graphic design or journalism, will require a portfolio of work, to demonstrate previous experience. This requirement will be made explicit, but it’s worth remembering that it may come up, so you can take the time to build one.