How to make the most of LinkedIn when applying for apprenticeships

So, you’re looking to apply to an Apprenticeship and want to make the most of LinkedIn?

First, let’s understand what LinkedIn is...According to the company it is “the world's largest professional network on the internet.” Many people use the platform to “connect and strengthen professional relationships” in order to find the “right apprenticeship, internship or job”.

From my own experience, I was able to leverage the tools on the website to maintain relationships with professionals that I had met at work experience weeks, webinars and networking events. Here’s my first tip on making the most of LinkedIn when applying for an apprenticeship:

1. Personalise your connection request

LinkedIn is all about connecting with people that you’ve met, let’s say you attended an Insight Day at a company that you’re interested in applying to. You heard from a couple of speakers and they shared their personal experiences of what it’s like to work in the Technology/Finance/Marketing industry. While you’re listening to them make sure you pick out and write down something that stood out to you about each speaker with their first and last name - you’ll need this later....

Now, you’re back home from the day and open LinkedIn, search up at least two people that you’re interested in connecting with. You’ll see their profile and the option to ‘Connect’, but instead of simply connecting, select ‘Add a note’.

Here you can type out an initial message that they will see when they open your request to connect. The message should include a quick introduction with your name and where you met them. This way, they will have some context behind why you’re connecting with them. You also need to mention what you found interesting about what they said at the event, you can refer back to the notes you made earlier. This will allow you to have a conversation starter, as well as showing that you’re truly interested in what they said, which is why it is important to make this as specific as possible. Finally, close off your message with something similar to: “I’d love to connect and discuss this further if you have time?”

The above tip is great for when you’ve already met someone that is involved in the recruitment process or is part of the apprenticeship. However, you might not get the opportunity to go to any insight days or networking events. Let’s imagine you’ve found an opening for an apprenticeship on the .gov website but you want to hear from a current apprentice to find out what their experience has been like.

Here’s my next tip on how to enhance your application to an apprenticeship by hearing from apprentices at the company you’re applying to:

2. Find and connect with current apprentices

Before applying for an apprenticeship, it’s important to find out if it’s the right apprenticeship for you. One way to do this is by hearing from current apprentices at the company you’re thinking of applying to. Prior to applying to my apprenticeship at Salesforce, I got the chance to speak to an apprentice that was in their first year. He was happy to answer the questions I had about work-study-life balance, how he was being supported and any other insights that you might not be able to find out from the job posting.

It is common for apprentices to have the word ‘Apprentice’ in their title for LinkedIn. This is helpful when you search the term apprentice in the search bar. Next, you can choose the category, ‘People’ to show you every person on LinkedIn with the word “apprentice” associated to them. If you want to find an apprentice at a particular company, you can filter by ‘Current company’ and begin to connect with an apprentice!

Now that you’ve connected with an apprentice and found out some interesting points about that apprenticeship, you’re ready to apply, and when the question comes up regarding why you have applied for this particular apprenticeship, you can mention some of those insights that you heard. Overall, this will help you stand out from the other applicants that may not even know what the apprenticeship involves!

Apprenticeships are being advertised and talked about more than ever before, which is great for shining a light on other routes of education. However, this does mean that they are becoming even more competitive. An option to stand out from the hundreds or thousands of applicants, can be by using the tips above and also reaching out to recruiters.

My final tip for you, is to connect with the recruiter for the role you’ve seen:

3. Ask the recruiter to introduce you to the Hiring Manager

With some apprenticeships, the person that is recruiting the apprentices is unlikely to be directly managing you in their team. For example, when I was at the final stage of my apprenticeship, during my interview, it was my host team manager that was part of the interview. Once I was successfully hired, I was aligned to a team with other Solution Engineers and reported to my host team manager. This person is likely to be involved in the interviewing process as they will be taking on an apprentice in their team for the next year or so.

Therefore, if you can make use of the tips I shared above, and also connect with the person recruiting for the role, you might have the chance to stand out from other applicants. First, I’d suggest you connect with the recruiter, personalise the invite and ask if they can introduce you to one of the hiring managers. If they are happy to do so, then you can find out directly from the hiring manager what they are looking for in a team member, learn about the common responsibilities that the team might have, and also the type of culture that they foster within their team. Not only will this help you understand the type of manager you might have before joining, but it also leaves a positive impression on the hiring manager and recruiter.

These were my top 3 tips on how to make the most of LinkedIn when applying for apprenticeships. Good luck with your apprenticeship applications!

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