10 essential CV and cover letter tips to secure an apprenticeship

Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 by Andrew Fennell founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CVNo comments

Writing a CV and cover letter before applying for your apprenticeship can be a daunting task, but this guide will help you to showcase your skills and land the apprenticeship you really want.

Apprenticeship CV

An apprenticeship CV doesn’t have to be as long as a normal CV. Potential recruiters are not expecting you to have lots of experience, so keep the CV to a single page — two at the most. You can then support your application by adding a cover letter to help you stand out from the crowd.

The best approach to the task is to create a basic CV and then tailor it to every job application. This means identifying and highlighting the skills, abilities, qualifications and experience that you think will be of interest to the prospective recruiter and then tweaking your CV to suit.

Here are 10 essential tips to help you secure your dream apprenticeship: 

Research the apprenticeship 

Before you begin, make sure you look over the job description and research the company you are applying to. This way, you’ll be able to get a feel for their company culture and what they are looking for when it comes to recruiting their employees.

Remember that the apprenticeship you are applying for is a lasting commitment, so it has to suit what you are looking for in an employer too.

Tailor your CV to the role 

Once you have conducted your research, you should tailor your CV to make it relevant to the specific apprenticeship you are applying for.

Read through the advertisement and pull out all of the relevant skills and qualifications that the recruiter is looking for. These are what you should focus on in your CV.

It’s easy to panic and focus on the skills you don’t have, but try to pinpoint the skills you have acquired through your education, hobbies and interests and part-time roles instead.

This may include things like attention to detail, customer service experience, team work or time management.

Work to a simple structure 

Many candidates try to create an overly complicated CV, but the key to a big impact and to get you noticed by recruiters is to keep it simple.

The key elements of an apprenticeship CV are:

  • Contact details
  • Personal statement
  • Skills list
  • Education
  • Work experience
  • Hobbies & interests

Impress with your personal statement 

Your personal statement is the first thing a recruiter will read on your CV, so it needs to make an impact. Spend time writing 8-15 lines about yourself, your skills and why the role is suited to your interests and experience.

Keep it short and sweet. You may not have work experience, but you can still show off your personality.

Focus on formatting 

This may seem like a small detail, but using an inappropriate font is a big no-no for recruiters, so before thinking Comic Sans is a great idea, stop!

When it comes to picking a font, it is advisable not to go any smaller that size 11. Keep the font modern but professional. Calibri and Verdana are smart are clear fonts that you can use if you fancy something different from the traditional Arial.

Layout is equally important. By presenting a clear, tidy and well laid out CV, you’ll be doing busy recruiters a favour. Use headings to split your CV into sections so the reader can easily find 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 best way forward.

Showcase your transferable skills 

The key thing to remember when writing your CV with little to no relevant work experience is to recognise your transferable skills and highlight them on your CV.

Not all skills come from the work environment. Skills and experience can come from a whole host of other sources, such as your education, volunteer work, part-time jobs and hobbies.

This can bring out examples of skills where you have supported on a project, demonstrated excellent communication skills, worked as a team, polished your writing skills or had to juggle priorities.

Highlight your qualifications 

It’s tempting to simply list your qualifications with a title and grade achieved, but there is an opportunity to add so much more value to your CV with this information. The main thing to highlight in this section is kind of skills and knowledge the employer is specifically looking for.

For example, perhaps you’re applying for an apprenticeship in IT and have completed a GCSE in ICT. Instead of merely listing your grade, you could also discuss the different programmes and tools you learnt to use during your studies, as well as what type of coursework you completed.

Include your hobbies 

Extracurricular activities can be a great way of showing the skills needed for the sector you are applying to work in.

For example, if you are part of a sports team, this can demonstrate the ability to work as part of a team and demonstrate strong communication skills. Or perhaps you like taking photos in your spare time and are applying for a creative apprenticeship? Well, that would show employers that you’ve got a genuine interest in the field and possess a creative eye.

When listing your hobbies on your CV, try to focus on showcasing the soft skills you’ve gained by doing them. You could format this in a short, bullet-pointed list.

Show your passion in your cover letter

Enthusiasm counts for so much for employers. They know that apprentices won’t have much work experience, but they do want to hire someone who’s genuinely motivated to learn and can’t wait to get stuck into the job.

The best place to highlight your drive to learn and join their team is within your cover letter.  By outlining your career goals and aligning this with the apprenticeship, this can help your application stand out from the crowd and pinpoint you as a motivated and driven applicant.

Finish with a spell check 

It’s important that your CV and cover letter looks clean, presentable and professional so don’t just send it and hope for the best — make sure that you do a full grammar and spelling check first.

It may sound obvious, but you would be surprised at how many recruiters reject applications due to poor spelling. It doesn’t make for a good first impression and might lead them to think that you won’t take the job seriously.

If you are unsure, you can ask your parents, friends or teachers to proofread it, or you could use handy software such as Grammarly.

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