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Applying for an apprenticeship - five top tips for a successful application

Engineer Showing Apprentice How To Use CNC Tool Making Machine
National Careers Week 2021

Applying for an apprenticeship can be a daunting task - but with these top tips from the National Careers Service you can maximise your chances of landing an opportunity. 


1. Understand your own skills, interests and personal strengths to find the right kind of apprenticeship for you.

Firstly, since your apprenticeship will hopefully lead you to a career, it’s important to choose a path that fits you. Think about what subjects you enjoy at school/college. How do you learn things – are you logical and methodical, or more creative and experimental? Do you enjoy spending time with lots of new people, or do you prefer working independently?

If you’re not sure where to start, take 10 minutes to explore the Discover your skills and careers tool. You can always chat to a National Careers Service adviser about the results if you need more advice.

Don’t feel pressured into choosing an apprenticeship that others think is best – if it doesn’t feel right for you, there’s a high chance you won’t enjoy it. Try to choose something that will make you excited to get out of bed in the morning!

That being said, if you’re unsure about what kinds of things you’re good at, speaking to family, friends, teachers or colleagues about what they think your skills are could also be useful in determining which path to take. 


2.Research what’s available and which employers are offering apprenticeships.

Next, start by looking at the find an apprenticeship service, or through your local service to find opportunities near you. You’ll want to consider where they’re based and how easily you can travel there. Some roles might involve working shift patterns or weekends, so make sure to check this and that you’re happy with the hours. Of course, you’ll also want to find out how much the apprenticeship pays – this can vary depending on your age.

You should apply for a few apprenticeships to give you the best chance of success, so it’s a good idea to save the ones you like so you can come back to them later. You might want to write down or make some notes in your phone about each one so that you can compare them.   


3. Take time to write your application carefully.

This is your chance to show the employer why you’re the right person for the role, so it’s worth spending some time to get it right. Draft your answers on paper or in a Word document first before you enter them into the online form so they’re easy to edit, and ask someone to proofread them before submitting.

The application form will ask you to outline what you think your main strengths are and provide examples of times when you’ve demonstrated these. These can be skills or personal attributes that you’ve developed at school/college or in any previous work experience you have, as well as things that you’ve done at home. Try to match them to the kinds of strengths the employer is looking for – they should give an indication of this in the apprenticeship advert.

There may also be other questions that relate more specifically to the apprenticeship, such as your reasons for applying and whether you have any related experience in the particular field. Try to give as much detail here as possible and show that you’re passionate about the job. Utilise the STAR technique when writing your responses – you can find out more about this here.


4. If you get invited to interview - prepare, prepare, prepare!

Depending on what restrictions are in place and the nature of the apprenticeship, this could be via telephone, video call or face to face. You should treat this like a real job interview – meaning you should prepare as much as possible.

Again, reflect back on the apprenticeship advert to think of examples of when you demonstrated the skills and attributes they’re looking for. Make short notes to use as prompts during the interview, and dress smartly to show that you’re serious about the opportunity.

You can find more tips about phone and video interviews here.


5. Be persistent!

Finally, if you aren’t successful, don’t be disheartened – it’s normal and happens to everyone. It can take a few applications before you find the one that’s right for you. If you’d like some advice on where you can improve your applications, you can speak to a National Careers Service adviser.

We’re available 8am-8pm Monday-Friday, and 10am-5pm on Saturdays – call 0800 100 900.