Apprenticeship CV - where do I start?
Putting together an apprenticeship CV might seem like a daunting prospect, but don’t worry, we’re here to help. Your apprenticeship CV will go hand-in-hand with your cover letter - if you're not sure, familliarise yourself with what each of these documents does before you start your application!
An apprenticeship CV doesn’t have to be as long as a normal CV. The employer won’t expect you to have loads of experience, so if your CV is only a page long, that should be fine.
In any case, as a rule, most CVs shouldn’t be longer than two pages.
Tailoring an apprenticeship CV
You should equip yourself with a basic CV template and then tailor it for every apprenticeship application you make. That means identifying the skills, qualifications and experience that you think will interest them and are most relevant to the apprenticeship you are applying for.
Every CV you send out should be slightly different and you should have tailored it to the particular apprenticeship and employer.
But remember: nobody likes to see flabby bits on a CV. It should be as trim and fit as an Olympic athlete. Resist the temptation to pad your CV out with useless information and jargon terms - check out some handy buzzwords for Apprenticeship CVs here.
Yes, your CV might look a bit on the skinny side, but short and sweet is better than long and irrelevant.
How do I present my CV?
Your CV should be typed; don’t scrawl it out on the back of a cereal packet. When choosing a font, don’t go smaller than point size 11. Maybe try something other than Arial and Times New Roman, but not too wacky, mind!
Since so many CVs are sent via email or through online application systems, you might want to use a font designed to be read on screen such as Verdana or Helvetica. Never, ever use Comic Sans!
What you put in your CV is super important, but so is the layout. Use headings and sub-headings to divide your CV into sections so the reader can easily pick out what they are looking for.
Bold, italics and bullet points will help make your CV more readable, but don’t go overboard. Clear and simple is the way forward.
What should I actually put in my apprenticeship CV?
Positioned at the top of your CV should be your name. Underneath should be your contact details, i.e. address, telephone number and email address. For example:
38 School Leaver Lane, Brighton. B3 9GH
Underneath that, you could put in a brief personal profile explaining what your career aspirations are, why you want to work in this particular sector (i.e. if you are applying for a customer sales apprenticeship, what interests you about sales), and any attributes or skills that you have that’ll make them want to employ you.
Your personal profile should only be a few lines, so don’t bore them with a great long essay.
Below your personal profile comes your education. Insert a header ‘Education’ and then list it in chronological order, with the last school you attended at the top.
You should only record your education from the age of 11, so don’t mention your primary school. For example, you could list it like this:
2006-present: All About School Leavers High School
A-levels: English Language, Maths, Biology (ABB predicted)
GSCEs: English Language (A), Food Technology (A), English Literature (B), Maths (B), French (B), Dual Science Award (C) (C), History (C), IT (C), Psychology (C).
You can play around with how you present it, but make sure it’s readable and you’ve got all the right information. Remember to put down what the qualification is, e.g. GCSE, BTEC or A-level. It’s also best not to include subjects that you have failed.
You might want to include any other academic achievements too; for example, if you got a scholarship or achieved a gold award in the ‘Maths Challenge’.
Next, you should put in any work experience you’ve done. This might include any jobs you’ve had, or any work experience placements you’ve done. Like your education, it is usually better to put the most recent things first.
You should write down the dates you worked there (e.g. September 2010 to February 2010), the name of the company you worked for and your role (e.g. Saturday Sales Assistant at The Irritating Parrot Shop).
Underneath, you should list what your duties were and the skills that you developed whilst working there. For example:
“My duties involved:
- assisting customers;
- cleaning the shop;
- answering the telephone and working behind the till.
Dealing with particularly tricky customers really developed my customer service skills. I also learnt to work efficiently under pressure during busy Saturdays and developed an exemplary telephone manner.”
Really, the aim of this section is to prove to the employer that you have the skills they are looking for.
For instance, the list of duties above would be great for someone wanting to get an apprenticeship in a call centre as it shows customer services skills, telephone skills and working well under pressure.
Make sure you adapt your CV every time to reflect the kind of skills they are looking for in the apprenticeship you are applying for. Don’t worry if you don’t have much or any work experience; they won’t be expecting you to have too much.
Interests & extracurricular activities
If you don’t have much work experience, you can really play up your interests and extracurricular activities, i.e. anything you’ve been involved with inside and outside of school.
Mention interests that are relevant to the apprenticeship or things that will interest the reader (definitely not: “I like hanging out with my mates and playing on my PlayStation 3”).
You might also want to mention any other non-academic achievements, such as getting a brown belt in karate or getting a silver Duke of Edinburgh award. If you volunteer in your spare time, then definitely put that down. All of these show commitment to a specific area, which is an impressive skill!
Depending on the apprenticeship, you might want to mention language and computing skills. Tell them if you’re fluent in any languages. If you aren’t, but you can hold a conversation in a foreign language, then say that you’re an ‘intermediate’ or ‘conversational’ speaker.
If you are applying for an apprenticeship that requires practical skills, you might want to briefly outline any technical skills you’ve got.
Applying for an office based apprenticeship? Then put down your general and specialist computing skills.
Do you have a good working knowledge of Microsoft Office, Adobe Dreamweaver or Photoshop? What is your typing speed? Can you use both PCs and Macs? Whatever you can do, put it down!
Don’t worry! You won’t need a huge amount of references. Usually you’ll need about two or three. The important thing to remember is that they should not be members of your family or your friends.
You can ask your teacher or tutor for a reference and you can get references from previous employers or people you worked for during work experience placements.
Always contact your referees first to make sure they are happy to give a reference and to have their contact details shared.
Finally (turning on the loudspeaker)
There’s one way you can instantly put off an employer and that’s having spelling and grammatical mistakes in your CV. Get someone who really knows their stuff to check your CV for errors.
Double-check to make sure you’ve put down the right contact details, and read through your CV several times to check it through. There is nothing, and we mean nothing, worse than a CV riddled with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Reading your CV aloud will draw your attention to any glaring errors.
Ready to go?
Once you've got your sparkling new CV, take a look at our apprenticeship listings here.