Your qualifications gained at school will be a good indication of your abilities, and give you a good grounding in Maths, English and IT. But there are still some areas that they won’t prepare you for when it comes to the world of work, such as interview techniques and CV writing.
Your CV is effectively an advert for your experience and qualifications. At the very least it should include your:
Your CV should be clear, concise and well laid-out - stick to no more than two pages of A4. The most important part – and where the recruiter’s eyes will naturally fall – is the upper-middle area of the first page, so make sure you include your most important information there.
In the future, when you’re an experienced IT manager on a six-figure salary, you can have just one CV. However, when you're starting out, it’s a good idea to match your CV to the role that you're applying for. Pick-out the important parts of the job role, and try and match your work and educational experience to them.
These are the 'must-haves' for your CV:
Your CV should be created on a recent version of Word, or as an Adobe PDF file. Many employers will also require you to write a covering letter to go with the CV. This should include: your basic contact details, reference to the details of the job you are applying for, the reasons why you feel you are the right person for the job, and your availability.
Make sure you know how to get to your interview location, and what bus or train you will take and where the nearest car park is. Allow plenty of time and take into account unforeseen circumstances such as traffic. Ideally, try to get there 30-45 minutes before your interview, that way you will have some time in hand should anything go wrong.
Make sure your shoes are clean and polished – do not wear trainers – and choose an outfit that co-ordinates and is ironed.
Show that you have done your homework, and learn about the business before you visit. Look at what they do, and if possible find what makes them different from other businesses - it’s known as their unique selling point (USP). Think about the business's brand, and where it fits in the market – are they a leader locally or nationally? – and look at how IT and your role will support the business.
Study the job description and see how your current skills and experience will benefit the business. Try and anticipate what questions the interviewer is likely to ask you about your experience and qualifications. Think about what you want to achieve in your career, and try and apply that to the apprenticeship and the training you will receive.
Find a family member or a friend and practice answering questions about the job you have applied for. Likely questions that an employer will ask are:
Plus, think of some questions to ask the interviewer about the business and the job role, and practice those.
Your interviewer will probably look you up on Facebook and Twitter, so make sure that they get the right impression of you.
If for any reason you are running late - or think you will be late - for the interview, ring and let the interviewer know.
The impression you make in the first few seconds is all-important. Be confident, shake hands, speak clearly and smile. Remember to take some examples of any work that you’ve done, and have copies of your GCSE and other certificates available. During your interview, relax and sit naturally, but don't slouch in your chair or lean on the interviewer's desk. Make eye contact, acknowledge the interviewer, look interested and ask questions.
Turn off your phone and concentrate carefully on the questions you are asked. Think about the answers you give, but also don’t pause for too long before answering. If you don’t hear a question, or you’re not sure about something, then ask them to repeat the question.
Ask the interviewer about the next stage of the process: “When are you hoping to make a decision by?”, or “If I’m successful when will I hear?” Ask them if there’s anything that you would need to learn before taking on the job: “If I was successful, is there any preparation or studying I could do before starting?"