Daunted about writing an apprenticeship CV? Never fear, AllAboutCareers is here. We present our guide to writing a world-beating apprenticeship CV.
By the time you've finished reading this article, you'll be ready to start applying to the apprenticeships on our other website for aspiring apprentices, AllAboutSchoolLeavers.co.uk
An apprenticeship CV doesn’t have to be as long as a normal CV. The person reading it isn’t expecting you to have heaps of experience. A single page CV is fine. It shouldn’t be longer than two pages anyway!
You should create a basic CV and then tailor it to for every job application. That means picking out the skills, abilities, qualifications and experience that you think will most interest them and are most relevant to the apprenticeship to which you are applying. It certainly isn’t a case of one size fits all. It’s all about showing them why you would make a great addition to their team.
A word of warning: no one 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. Yes, your CV might look a bit on the skinny side, but short and sweet is better than long and irrelevant.
When it comes to picking a font, don’t go smaller than point size 11. Don’t go wacky, but maybe try something other than Arial and Times Roman. 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!
Layout is incredibly important. A clear, well laid out CV will impress. 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 way forward.
What you should put in it…
At the very top of your CV should be your name. You might want to put your name in a larger font, in bold and centre it. Underneath should be your address, telephone number and email address.
Below that, you could write a brief personal profile detailing what your career aspirations are, why you want to work in this particular sector (i.e. if you are applying for an engineering apprenticeship, what attracts you to engineering), and any personal 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.
After your personal profile, comes your education. Put in a header ‘Education’ and then underneath it, list your education. You can list it in chronological order, with the last school you attended at the top. You should only list your education from the age of 11, so don’t mention your primary school. For example, you can choose to list your education like so:
2010-present: All About Careers High School
GSCEs: Sociology (A), Food Technology (A), English Literature (D), Geography (D), Maths (B), Dual Science Award (C) (C).
2006-2010 Sacred Heart School for Girls
Play around with how you present it, but just make sure it’s readable and you’ve got all the right information. All your qualifications should be listed along with the grade you achieved. Remember to specify what the qualification is, e.g. GCSE, BTEC etc. and don’t include any subjects that you have failed. You might want to add in any other academic achievements too; for example, if you got a scholarship or achieved a gold award in the ‘Maths Challenge’.
Below your education, you should put in any work experience you’ve got. This could include any jobs you’ve done and any work experience placements. It’s a good idea to put this in reverse chronological order. Put the dates you worked there (e.g. August 2009 to January 2010), the name of the company you worked for and your role (e.g. Part-time Sales Assistant at The Hairy Chipmunk Shop). Underneath, you should detail what your duties were and the skills that you developed whilst working there. For example:
“My duties involved: assisting customers, selling, 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.”
The main thing, in this section, is to demonstrate the kind of skills the employer is 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 to which you are applying. But don’t worry if you don’t have much work experience, they won’t be expecting you to have too much.
Interests & extracurricular activities…
Underneath work experience, you might want to detail your interests. Talk about interests that are relevant to the apprenticeship you want to apply to 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.
Depending on what apprenticeship you are applying for, you might want to mention language skills 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 have got.
If you are applying for an office based apprenticeship, this is the place to discuss 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!
You’ll only need to provide a few references. 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)…
Please, please, please scour every inch of your CV for mistakes. We mean spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and wrong contact details etc. Get someone else to check it through as well. There is nothing, and we mean nothing, worse than a CV riddled with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.