Hey everyone! My name is Isabelle and I am an Uptree Ambassador. I just started a Vocational Trainee Scheme as a Junior Administrator in the Investment Risk team where I will be studying towards a HND in Accounting & Finance. I’ve been through many application processes and I am going to give you my three main tips to stand out in your application!
In this blog, I'm going to look at:
Standing out with a strong and authentic CV and cover letter
Building industry knowledge and experience
Volunteering ideas to help you stand out further
Strong and authentic CV and cover letter
To stand out in the application process the first step is to ensure you have a strong CV and cover letter as this is the first impression given to the employer.
Although I am sure you have heard it before, having correct spelling and grammar is essential because this simply gives the impression that you care about the role.
Make sure you ALWAYS get someone to proof read your cover letter and CV!
When writing a cover letter the first thing I do is research the company and take as many notes as I can. This provides a strong foundation for you to build upon easily. This makes your cover letter more authentic as you are genuinely saying what you like about the company from your research and why you would be the ideal candidate.
Another reason why research is key, is because ultimately the interview stage works both ways. You are also assessing the company and deciding if this is really where you would like to work/ spend your time.
By researching the values of the firm, you can see if they align with your values and begin to get a feel for the culture there.
It can be difficult to decide what you want to be when you 'grow up' and the pressure to feel like you need to make a firm decision and stick to it. In reality, you do not have to have your career goals and pathway set in stone. Many people change roles throughout their careers and many people have degrees and don’t necessarily choose to work in that field.
It’s okay to be unsure and it’s okay to change your mind.
I would recommend going on as many Uptree work experiences days as possible because no experience is bad experience. You will build your knowledge about different industries, where you will hear of job roles that you have never heard of before.
The funny thing is that you might be surprised at what you enjoy. Exploring different industries through work experience and talking to people in different roles, is the only real way to discover what you would really enjoy.
If you are interested in applying for apprenticeships, I would recommend getting a part-time job in Year 12. This will show employers that you can balance working part-time whilst studying. By developing your time management skills, you will gain an insight into what apprenticeships are like.
There can often be the impression that apprenticeships are narrow and restrictive, however you do still have the option to train in another sector or move around within that company after gaining your higher qualifications (that the firm has paid for you to do!).
Overall, working part time and going to as many work experience days as you can will make the application process easier. This will provide you with lots to talk and write about during the interview process when faced with competency-based questions.
Ways to Volunteer
Another way to stand out on your CV is through volunteering. This is important as it will enable you to develop your skill set even further, whilst contributing to a good cause. There are many different ways that you can volunteer.
Your Sixth Form or college may run young ambassador programmes or fundraising events and there are plenty of charity volunteering roles available.
However, if your Sixth Form or college does not run any volunteering schemes – why not make a suggestion to your Head of Year! Another idea is volunteering as a pastoral mentor, an academic mentor or tutor. Additionally, you could volunteer at your local charity shop to get some work experience on your CV at the same time.
I hope these tips will help you feel more confident when applying for different roles. Always keep an open mind and remember that no experience is bad experience. Good luck!