The majority of apprenticeship applications are good; there may be some rough edges to smooth out, or some support needs that we can meet, but major mistakes are avoided. That’s not always the case, however. Based on the application to the college and the assessments candidates undertake, the next step in securing an Apprenticeship is attending an interview with an employer. We want to provide our employers with the quality of candidate they are looking for, but we also have an obligation to the applicants to make sure we don’t set them up to fail. So, in this blog, we want to try and highlight some of the miscues and oversights that we have been faced with over the last year or so.
PHONE / EMAIL / POSTAL COMMUNICATIONS
Your email address (and its sender display name) also need to be professional. It might have been an email you set up when you were twelve or something you did to amuse your friends but leave it behind and go with something more professional and appropriate. Keep it Short - make it easy for people to remember or even write down. Avoid e-mail addresses with the letters L, I, and O and the numbers 1 and 0, because these digits and letters are easily confused. Avoid Underscores – when typing in e-mail addresses, it’s easy to "miss" the underscore.
Employers and The College communicate via email so you need to check it regularly. An employer or The College will email you using formal language, so you need to respond accordingly. Don’t use familiar language such as “Hi” or “Cheers” and keep some formality in your email. Likewise, if you submit your CV (prior to an Interview and Testing session, for example) please pay the recipient the courtesy of introducing the CV. We receive a lot of emails with a Word document or PDF attached and no other communication. When you submit your CV, describing it (or, worse, NAMING it) using phrases such as “pure dope” or “CV shizz” is a big turn off for recruiters. Why not try saving the document as >your name<, CV? It’s easy, makes a better impression and is helpful to the recipient.
Secondly, once your search for your next step begins, your phone becomes a valuable resource. That means you need to ANSWER YOUR TELEPHONE! A prospective employer is not going to keep trying your number – they will move onto the next person on the list and you don’t want to be missing out on interviews. While voice mail can be a lot of fun, if you’re looking for a job, you need to keep a professional image. Make it clear, brief and to the point so the employer knows it’s the correct number. The funny, personal greetings that your friends and family might love may put off a potential employer. We recommend the following: “Hello, this is (your name). I'm not available to take your call, but if you leave your name, number and a short message, I will get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you.”
We have experience of applicants that will approach both college staff and employers by addressing them informally e.g. “mate”, “mush”, “blud”, “sweetheart”, “darlin’, “love”, etc. Even if recruiters seem down to earth, don’t assume anything - things that you say or do will almost certainly be a factor in an assessment. Keep things on a professional level. This also applies to the derivative patois that seems to creep into the speech patterns of some candidates, e.g. “Ting”, “nutten”, “big up”, etc. It simply isn’t appropriate and won’t impress anyone.
It’s okay to be too smart but never underdressed. That means that you shouldn’t really show up in those well-worn joggers and trainers. As a general rule opt for dark trousers or skirt, dark shoes and a plain, smart shirt or blouse. Even if your clothing is a bit more casual, you should still wear an outfit that is free from with stains or rips (even if the rips form part of the design). Too much perfume or too little deodorant can both be big turnoffs, as can cigarette smells. Aim to smell good, but neutral. Clean fingernails, polished shoes, and a firm handshake may seem like small or unnecessary details but overlooking these things can be interpreted as a lack of interest or commitment. Finally, a word about your USB drive – an “amusing” or “novelty” shaped USB also counts towards first impressions. USB drives do not need suggestive or allegedly “amusing” names either – keep it simple.
A short and simple "thank you" makes an impact. It matters. Taking the time to do this can really cement your candidacy and clearly communicates "professionalism and appreciation".