How do I get my first job?

So, you know the kind of field you want to work in, what do you need to do know to get started?

How do you win that first apprentice role? How do you get your first foothold in the world of work?

Even though an apprenticeship involves a lot of training, you still need to apply for it as you would any other job, and we have a few tips here to try and make the process easier to navigate.

Vacancies might pop up at any time of year with deadlines to apply and start dates, but do not wait too long as some employers will pull the vacancy once they have enough suitable applications and you don’t want to miss out.

Application form

  1. Research, research, research! Knowing as much about the job as possible about the role will help you make sure you tick all the boxes that the employers have in mind. Don’t be afraid to contact someone to have an informal chat about the role – it will help you prepare and also show how proactive you are.
  2. List all your achievements, experiences, hobbies and interests and then think about what they say about your qualities as a worker. If you’re keen on sports, for example, you can emphasise your ability to lead or work effectively in a team as well as being energetic and ambitious. Refer to the list when you are writing your application.
  3. Make sure what you’re writing ties in with what they are asking for. If it’s an engineering role, talk about any relevant projects you’ve done. This will also help you prepare for interviews, if you have one.
  4. If you get stuck while writing about how great you are, ask friends, family and teachers for three qualities they would describe you with to inspire you.
  5. Remember to supply examples to back up any claims your make about your skills or experience. If you’re a good communicator, tell them about your experiences with presentations, etc.
  6. Ask someone with good writing skills (or better yet, experience in the field) to take a look at your application to check it for grammar errors and maybe suggest some points you could add.

The next stage

Larger companies often have additional assessment stages before you get a face-to-face interview, so be ready for either some functional skills tests in maths and English, online aptitude tests, online or telephone interviews, or an assessment day with a larger group of other applicants performing tasks and activities.

Smaller employers may just go straight to the face-to-face interview or a more informal version of the larger company assessments.

Training providers and colleges often have interviews too.  Providers want to see if you are suitable for the chosen apprenticeship.

See unionlearns’s case study.