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Applying to your first full-time job can be intimidating, especially if it’s because you don’t know exactly what is involved in getting an apprenticeship. There are 5 key qualities that you should get to grips with if you want to show potential employers that you mean business. Keep these in mind throughout your career – it’ll improve your chances of progressing in the workplace.
1. Passion and enthusiasm for the company, role and subject
You’re going to be spending about 35 hours (or more) each week learning and working in your apprenticeship, so you need to enjoy it! If you don’t enjoy it then you’re going to struggle doing the best job you can, and you want to go the extra mile so you’re more likely to be rewarded! Also, it’s better for you, you want to look forward to going to work, not dislike it. You can show employers that you enjoy an industry on your GetMyFirstJob profile by indicating it as a high interest area (click this link to do it now) and include it on your CV.
Before you have an interview, research the company and training provider that you could get an apprenticeship with. If you can show the interviewer that you know about a recent product or bit of news about their company, you’ll really impress them. It’s important to research the training provider because you could be asked “how do you work best” and if you say with other people but the training provider is a distance learning programme you probably aren’t the best fit.
We’ve even had candidates apply to an apprenticeship without knowing what it is! Remember, you’re not just applying to the job, you’re applying to the training provider or college where you will be spending 20% of your time learning.
2. Willingness to learn and develop
Every apprenticeship has a training element, which is to help you develop the skills you use day to day and to progress in your role. Whether you’re going to college, studying online or going to university, employers want to see that you’re dedicated to studying. They’re giving you the time off as well as paying you while you’re there, so you need to make sure you are showing them that you’re putting time and effort into your studying.
If they think you’re doing an apprenticeship as an easy option or aren’t really bothered by the training part of your apprenticeship they’ll be less likely to hire you. It’s also important to tell your employer where you see yourself in the future. If you want to start in administration and move onto project management or manage people at some point in your career, or you want to learn something specific, like pressing or building websites, let them know so they can put you on additional training courses or shadow other members of staff.
This is particularly important if you’re interested in engineering or manufacturing. If you want to work in a certain area of the factory, your employer should know so they can help you get there.
Be confident - but not too confident!
When it comes to interviews everyone gets nervous, which is fine! It tends to show that you just care about the role. However, employers want to see that you are confident and can come across in a personable way. Use examples of things in the past that you’ve done where you’ve shown confidence, gone outside your comfort zone or done something unexpected. They want to know you’re the best person for the job and have no second thoughts.
Employers often say young people don’t sell themselves or their achievements. You need to leave the interviewer with no doubt that you’re the most suitable candidate for the role. But be cautious, confidence can come off as arrogant, if you’re too arrogant they may not want you to join the team. A large part of an interview is how you come across. It’s a two-way conversation and interactions should be easy, and you shouldn’t battle with the interviewer.
At the end of the interview, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions which you can use to show off how good you are. Unsure of what to ask?
Questions to ask at an interview
4. Teamwork and initiative to work alone
In the working world, it is just as important to work alone as it is to work as part of a team. Your employer knows you’re new to a full-time role and should offer you support, whether this is more regular 1:1s or assigning you a mentor to help you out when you need it. Ask both your manager and your mentor lots of questions, no question is a silly one!
It doesn’t matter where you work, both of the above is really important and so you’re probably going to be asked in an interview what you prefer or what you don’t like. Be honest but reflect on what you can improve on and what you enjoy. The best thing to say is that you enjoy doing working as a team but also like finding your own things to do.
5. Communication skills
When you start your new role, you will be working with a variety of people. All will come with different experiences and will be at different stages of their careers. You should learn how to communicate well with everyone by thinking about how you communicate using your body language, tone as well as what you say.
You need to be able to listen to other people’s ideas, reflect on them using their feedback constructively and be able to express your own ideas confidently and clearly. Don't expect to be perfect in each area from the start, most you will build on but unless you begin with enthusiasm and willingness to learn you will find progress slow and difficult.
Everyone is in their role for a reason, so trust what they say!
If this has helped you and you’re ready to make your first step, then register & apply to vacancies!