Put yourself in the shoes of the person receiving your CV. They’ve got a stack of them to get through, and let’s be honest – it’s not an exciting job. They all say more or less the same thing, and most of them read like the back of a shampoo bottle.
Be the person who makes their job easy. In a good way. Dodge all the usual pitfalls and you’ll at least make the maybe pile. Add a dash of personality and who knows – you might get fast-tracked for an interview.
1. Take it seriously
Luckily for you, a chunk of your competition are probably going to try and wing it. Remember to wave at them as you pass by.
- Take your time writing your CV – no spelling mistakes or formatting errors.
- Get it proofread properly before you send it out.
2. Sell yourself
As far as your CV is concerned, if you can order a takeaway over the phone, you’re a confident communicator. Sell the best version of yourself.
- Use positive language, but don’t be self-indulgent.
- Base everything on facts. Do not make things up. It's hard to hide, and even harder to remember.
- Be prepared to talk about every point.
3. Back up everything you say
For every claim you make, ask yourself: ‘So what?’ They will if you don’t. So, back up every what with a how and why the employer should care.
If you’ve never had a job, draw examples from your studies, work experience, hobbies ─ anything really.
- Back up every claim with concrete evidence.
- Show how your actions benefited your employers.
- Give facts and figures wherever possible.
4. Tailor your application to the employer
Imagine your cover letter gets lost on the way ─ could they still tell you’re applying specifically to them? Make sure what they’re looking for is front and centre.
- Hit all of the entry requirements outlined in the vacancy.
- Put the most relevant information first.
- Consider the company culture and how you’d fit into it.
- Make hobbies and interests seem as relevant as possible.
5. Don’t forget the study element
20% of your apprenticeship will be study, so dedicate the same chunk of your CV to your ability to carry it out.
Your employer will discuss whether you meet the entry requirements with the study provider.
- Include all formal qualifications.
- Show that you’re capable of meeting deadlines and being organised.
- Don't try and be funny - even If you think it's hilarious.
A good cover letter says: this is who I am, this is why I want to work for you (and not your competitors), this is what I can do for you, and here’s how to reach me.
The overall effect should be: I care about this and I’m willing to work hard for it. But don’t just tell them that, show it in the care and attention you put into crafting your application.
You may also pick out the key elements of your CV that will impress the employer – examples where you got particularly good results, showed effective leadership, or creative insight.
Before long you’ll really start to understand where your value lies, and gain a confidence that you can take forward into your interview.