You’ve thought long and hard about your options.
You’ve thought about your aspirations.
You’ve reflected on what your preferences are and what you think you will enjoy in the workplace.
You’re aware of your strengths and your weaknesses.
You have identified the kind of occupation you want to get into and the kind of employer you think you would like to work for.
You have decided you want to get into your career with an apprenticeship.
Congratulations – it’s a great choice. You can earn while you learn, you’re getting a headstart in your career and you’re avoiding the debt associated with going to uni. And if you get the right sort of employer (most of them) and the right sort of training provider (ditto), you will be supported and helped all the way.
So how do you go about getting an apprenticeship you want?
One of the main questions I hear on this is “how many apprenticeships should I apply for?”.
I hear heartbreaking stories about young people upset that, despite the fact that they have applied for dozens of apprenticeships they have not been successful. My first response is to question whether they haven’t been successful because they have applied for so many!
Let me explain…
When you are applying for an apprenticeship, you are applying first and foremost for a job. That means the employer has to choose you (and often they have lots of people to chose from). They want to know that you really want the apprenticeship, that you have the right attitude and skills and that you will fit into their organisation.
Demonstrating this takes preparation and time. You need to figure out your ‘story’ for each and every apprenticeship you apply for: what about the role excites and motivates you? What do you know about the employer that makes you think you will flourish there? What can you say about yourself that will show them what a good choice you would be?
Only when you’ve done this are you in a position to write a great covering letter, complete the application questions well and tailor your CV so it ‘sings’ to that employer.
Doing this for one employer alone is likely to take an hour, perhaps a bit more – though as you do more and more you will get better and better at doing this.
So my advice is to start by applying for just 5-10 apprenticeships. If you are not successful with this first ‘batch’, do not despair or even be despondent. It is a natural part of the process. Thereafter, apply for apprenticeships in small batches of 3-5. It’s always good to have more than one application in process, to give you the confidence that you have multiple options and, of course, to manage the risk that you are unlikely to be successful in every application.
I would say ‘good luck’ but if you have done all of the above – you won’t need luck.
Written by Ben Rowland, author of Understanding Apprenticeships: A Student’s Guide, published by Trotman in September 2023