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What employers look for in an apprentice

Authored on 15 Jan 2016

Apprenticeships are a great way to experience the world of work and gain valuable knowledge. It’s also an opportunity for you to be independent and start earning your own money whilst gaining qualifications.

If you’re a school leaver and don’t have a wealth of work experience for their CV, here we note what employers really look for in an apprentice:

  • BE ENTHUSIASTIC: They will be looking for someone who is eager to learn. Employers understand that young people don’t come as pre-made packages with all the right skills in all the right places. For this reason, they focus on potential and who really wants to learn.
  • SHOWING POTENTIAL IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN QUALIFICATIONS: Most companies aren’t overly concerned about qualifications as they aren’t always relevant for the job and often the skills that they require for the vacancy are ones that they can teach themselves. It’s all about finding someone who they can grow to fit the company and its specific needs. However, there is a minimum level, be aware that for a job like Business Admin you would need a GCSE in English and sometimes Maths.
  • DEMONSTRATE GOOD SOCIAL SKILLS: A lot of employers like to know that the candidate has outside interests. For example, it’s positive for them to know you play for a football team because it shows you have social skills and are able to work in a group. If you’ve done voluntary work, it shows that you are prepared to work for nothing in order to increase your experiences. They want someone who is active and is good at communicating.
  • CHARACTER – NOT A FULL CV: Most businesses want an apprentice that is a blank canvas, someone who they can teach every aspect of their business to.  Therefore, someone who is friendly, eager and positive with little experience is much more likely to be successful in an interview than someone with an impressive CV but no passion or enthusiasm. In the first instance, the most important thing is your cover letter (a letter accompanying your CV to suggest why you think you are suitable for the job) because it will make you stand out from all the other applicants.
  • MAKE SURE THIS IS THE RIGHT JOB FOR YOU: It’s important that you do your research and see if the job is really what you want and that it interests you. Employers will be able to see if you aren’t really bothered. If you aren’t passionate about the industry then perhaps it’s time to explore other sectors and find a more suitable job for you. After all, apprenticeships usually last from 12-18months and around 86% of apprentices stay with the company after completion, so make sure it’s something you enjoy with a company you want to work for. 

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