So you want to be an apprentice?

For someone just out of school, making a career decision is hard these days.  Knowing what you want to do for the rest of your life is daunting but hopefully, this blog will make it easier for you.  Firstly, you shouldn’t think about what you want to do for the rest of your life but rather, in the case of an apprentice, what you would like to do for the next four years.  That is how long an apprenticeship normally goes for and employers are judging you mainly on your commitment to the role.

How do we measure this commitment?  There are several ways.  Firstly we look for candidates who know what area of work they want to get into.  Too often we see candidates applying for many different trades and this sends a message to the employer that the candidate does not really know what they want to do.  There is no problem in having a backup trade, but try to make that back up similar to your number one choice.

Too many times candidates make the mistake of assuming that an employer will teach them all they need to know about their chosen trade and they can just step into the job without knowing anything.  After all, they are only a first-year apprentice so what would they be expected to know.  Well, the answer is plenty!

The knowledge you have of your chosen trade is another measure of your commitment to the role.  If you are vague or unsure about the work you are going to do, then you may not be prepared for that type of work and decide it is not for you after 3 months.  Employers do not have the time or money to keep hiring and re-hiring over and over again to get the right person.  They have to get the right person from the start.

As a candidate for a first-year apprenticeship, you will be expected to give detailed information on what tasks and duties you would do as a fully qualified person in that trade and also what tasks and duties you would do as a first-year apprentice.  There is no way around this.  Whether you come through 1300apprentice or another organisation, this information will be required and there are many ways you can research this.  You can look at the TAFE website and study the modules you will be taught as part of your TAFE course.  If you know someone in the trade, you can sit down with them and discuss what they do and what they would ask an apprentice to do.  Use the internet, this is a great resource that has plenty of information about all the trades that are available.

Once you have chosen your trade and researched it, the next step is the application process.  Most companies will advertise their jobs online and some do it in newspaper print.  Whichever way they advertise, your approach should always be the same.  Ensure you have a resume; ensure it is up to date with the correct information and the dates of your previous employment.  Exact dates are not required but certainly the month and year you started and completed a job should be included.  If you have not worked before in any capacity, use volunteer work or any other unpaid work you have done.

Most companies also do require a cover letter.  A cover letter should summarise why you are applying for the job, why you are the best person for the job and what experience you have.  It should not go on for several pages – an employer will usually lose interest if it goes on for too long.  Remember, a resume is a tool you are using to get yourself in front of an employer so you need to make it as attractive as possible to be noticed.  Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors will also make a resume unappealing; ensure you have someone proofread your resume before sending it to an employer.

The interview itself is one of the most nerve-racking experiences you can go through.  Some people would prefer to jump out of an aeroplane or talk in front of hundreds of people then go through an interview.  First impressions are important; usually, you will only have 15 to 20 minutes to impress an employer.  Make sure you are well prepared with thorough research on the job you are applying for.

Also, ensure you are well dressed and well groomed for the interview.  Even if the role is one where you will wear casual clothes or get your hands dirty, you need to dress well to show how serious you are. Turning up to an interview in t-shirts, shorts, torn and ripped jeans, joggers, baseball caps, multiple piercings and tattoos will greatly diminish your chances of getting the job.

When you are answering questions speak clearly and concisely, do not ramble on and speak on irrelevant topics.  Look the interviewer in the eye and maintain good body posture by sitting straight in your chair and not fidget or lean on the desk.  Be confident and friendly and ensure you always have relevant questions to ask at the end of the interview.

And there we have it.  The secrets to successfully landing that dream job. Simple isn’t it?  If you follow these steps, I guarantee that you will have more success than failure.

By Chad Smith, Senior Recruitment Officer 1300apprentice.

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