Written on: 14 September 2022
Written by: Frances Hardcastle
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An apprenticeship is an amazing way to start your career, combining technical training with real work experience. You get a recognised qualification, a network of industry contacts, and access to cutting-edge expertise – all while earning a wage.
It’s no surprise that competition is strong for the best apprenticeships. To succeed, you’ll need a game plan.
In this article, we’ll guide you through how to successfully apply for apprenticeships in the digital and tech sector. We’ll cover finding the right opportunities, honing your CV, nailing the interview, how to respond to rejections, and how to accept the right apprenticeship offer for you.
There’s a wide variety of apprenticeships out there, with something to suit almost everyone – no matter what your interests or career goals are! If you’re still looking to narrow down your options into a particular industry or job role, the National Careers Service can be a great place to start exploring. The Institute for Apprenticeships also have a tool to search for apprenticeship programmes, so you can get an idea of what’s out there for you.
Once you’ve decided on the type of apprenticeship you want to do, you’ll need to find an employer and a training opportunity. You can approach this in a few different ways including searching for apprenticeships near you on Indeed, TotalJobs, and other job sites; researching apprenticeship schemes with specific companies you’d like to work for, or looking at apprenticeship training providers like Baltic, who can connect you with local employers.
Some great sites that specialise in apprenticeship vacancies include The National Apprenticeship Service, Not Going to Uni, Baltic Apprenticeships Vacancy Search, and Get My First Job.
At this point, you’ll probably have a range of search results for different apprenticeships in your area. Which ones should you apply for?
This stage of your journey is a bit of a balancing act. On the one hand, you’ll want to maximise your opportunities and not rule out any roles or employers that could help you meet your career goals. On the other hand, apprenticeship applications are competitive, and you’ll want to make sure you can tailor each application to present your skills and passion in the best way.
To decide whether a vacancy could be a good opportunity for you, ask yourself the following questions:
If the answer is yes – put in an application. It’s useful to apply to a good opportunity as soon as you can, rather than waiting to curate a definitive shortlist. Many apprenticeship vacancies don’t have a closing date and can be filled as soon as a great candidate comes along. Get your application in early, and it could be you!
On to the apprenticeship application itself! The application process will vary depending on the employer and training provider, but most will ask you for a CV or a run-down of your previous experience, interests and skills.
Your CV is your chance to shine, and showcase what you can bring to the apprenticeship. It’s a good idea to spend some time editing your CV to suit the specific vacancy you’re applying for, focusing on the ways you meet the criteria.
Check out our Guide to Writing an Apprenticeship CV for detailed advice and inspiration.
When applying for an apprenticeship, a cover letter is often needed to accompany your CV. It’s usually the first thing your potential employer will see in your application, and is a great opportunity to get across why you’d be a great fit for the apprenticeship.
There’s no fixed structure for an apprenticeship cover letter, but most follow a simple template:
After sending in a few applications for apprenticeships, you’ll start to get some responses.
Some training providers – including the team at Baltic – like to have an informal chat over the phone before putting your application forward to employers, but you’re likely to speak to an employer for the first time in a more formal interview setting.
It’s important to prepare for an interview so you can make a strong impression as a capable candidate with enthusiasm for the role.
As a minimum, you should try to do the following things before each apprenticeship interview:
To read more about preparing for an apprenticeship interview, including detailed advice on the points listed above, check out our apprenticeship interview guide.
Think an interview is just about answering questions? Think again. Ask around and people will tell you that their best interview felt more like a conversation than an interrogation. After all, an interview is just as much about making sure the role is right for you as it is about impressing your potential employer.
At the end of most interviews, you’ll be asked whether you have any questions. It’s a good idea to have a couple up your sleeve to kickstart a conversation.
Avoid asking questions that could be easily answered through your own research or are already on the job advert – like “what does the company do” and “what are the working hours.”
Instead, focus on what it’s like to work there. Ask about the team, current tasks and priorities, whether they have other apprentices in the organisation, or what your interviewer likes most about working with the company.
At some stage in your apprenticeship search, you might not get the answer you were hoping for in response to your application. Sometimes, you might not have made the interview shortlist. For others, you might have interviewed really well, but another candidate was a better fit for the role.
Although it can be disappointing and disheartening, rejection is an important part of any successful job search, helping you build resilience and hone your application technique.
It’s important to be kind to yourself throughout any rejection and try not to take it personally. Build in some time to do things you enjoy, make sure you’re taking care of yourself, and then – when you’re feeling better – get back in the game.
If you get feedback on your application, CV, or interview, take the most constructive points and use them to create a checklist of things to work on next time. You could also run your application by a friend or family member to check whether you’re missing anything.
Remember though, apprenticeships can be competitive – sometimes your application can be incredible, but another candidate had the edge. Just as they’ve found the right opportunity, you’ll also find the right fit in time.
If you’re looking for simple ways to give your CV the edge in your apprenticeship applications, it can be helpful to look for free short courses in your target sector to boost your skills and show your commitment to employers.
For example, if you’re looking for a digital marketing apprenticeship, you can stand out from the crowd with a Google Digital Garage or HubSpot Marketing certification. These are free, quick, and can give you a taster of what you’ll be studying on your apprenticeship.
Check out some more ideas on our skills development hub.
Armed with the advice above, a bit of hard work, and a little bit of good luck, you’ll soon have an offer of an apprenticeship opportunity.
At this stage, you’ll have a written offer of an apprenticeship, a target start date, and a copy of your contract to read over. If there’s anything you’re unsure of, ask your employer or your apprenticeship training provider for more information.
If you’re happy with the opportunity, you’ll need to formally accept this – usually through an email or by returning your signed contract.
Now’s the time to celebrate, unsubscribe from your job alerts, and get excited for the rest of your career!