Applying for an apprenticeship needn't be an all-singing, all-dancing, X Factor-worthy audition. Neither should it be a text to the first contact number you find saying 'hire me plz xx'.
So how do I apply?
Most employers will tell you what steps you need to take on the apprenticeship vacancy posting. There may be a link to an application form, but if they only provide an email, you can presume that they expect you to send in a cover letter and CV. Check if the application has a closing date!
This is the first round of applications. If they like what they see, they’ll usually invite you an interview: this could be face-to-face, by telephone or skype, or be integrated into an assessment day.
Alternatively, they might ask you to complete some online tests. The application process varies from company to company.
For some apprenticeships, you’ll simply be required to send in your cover letter and CV and then attend an interview. Other companies, however, will want you to navigate a slalom of online applications, group interviews and assessment days.
Whatever the process, this is your chance to make a first impression - so make sure your application is top of the range!
One of the most common ways to apply for an apprenticeship is by filling out an application form. For most of the apprenticeship vacancies on this website, the companies will ask you to complete an online application form.
The trick with these is to be super careful: there’s something about application forms that can make people a bit careless. You should take as much care with the style and wording as you would when writing and updating your CV, and go for a similar tone. It may be a good idea to type out your responses in a seperate offline document, then copy and paste them into the application form.
Pay close attention to any specific instructions and start the application at least a week before the deadline.
Traditional CV & covering letter
Some employers like to keep it old school, asking candidates to send in an apprenticeship CV and cover letter. If you’re emailing them, make sure your cover letter is in the body of the email and your CV is attached.
Try and find out the name of the person who will be reading your cover letter so you can personally address it to them; calling the company to ask is the best way to find out this information.
Make sure your CV and cover letter are tailored to the company and the specific apprenticeship you are applying for.
It’s also important to make sure you’ve covered all the criteria they mention in the job advert. You can always follow up with a phone call to check that they’ve received your application, but don’t hassle them!
A speculative application is when you contact the company using your own initiative and enquire about any potential apprenticeship opportunities.
It’s about making the company aware that you are looking for a position and selling your skills and qualities to them.
Not every company offers apprenticeships, and some may not have even considered doing so, so you’ll have to be targeted in your approach if you want to go down the speculative application road.
It might be best to focus on companies that have offered apprenticeships in the past or companies that have announced they will be taking on apprentices. You can usually find out about this by searching on the internet, looking in local newspapers and reading industry publications.
You might also want to target local businesses that you are interested in working for, using business directories to find out more about them.
If you’re planning on making a speculative application, you’ll need to dust off and rejig that apprenticeship CV and apprenticeship cover letter.
The general practice for speculative applications is to call up the company and ask for the name and contact details of their hiring manager. You can then send them your speculative letter and CV via email, clearly stating the area of the company and the kind of roles that you are interested in.
Follow up your email a week later with a phone call checking that they’ve received it. Some people send the hiring manager a hard copy of their speculative application too.
Bear in mind, that the hiring manager will usually be pretty busy, so won’t appreciate constantly being hassled. You might have to send off dozens of speculative applications to different companies before you receive a favourable reply.
Of course, application forms, CVs and covering letters are only the first step in the application process. If they like what you see in your initial application, you might get invited to an interview or assessment centre - in which case, it's time to dust off those interview skills!