Your browser is no longer supported. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Help applying for jobs and apprenticeships 

Information to help ensure that you feel more prepared to approach applications and interviews, so that employers get to see the best version of you.

Applying for jobs and apprenticeships can feel daunting, especially if you haven’t been through the process before, or if you’ve applied for things and haven’t heard back or have experienced rejection. This information will help ensure that you feel more prepared to approach applications and interviews, so that employers get to see the best version of you from start to finish. If after reading this guidance, you feel you’d like some 1:1 support from Clancy: sign up here.

CV stands for ‘Curriculum Vitae’, which is Latin for ‘little course of life. It is a record of your skills, education and work experience and is usually required to apply for a job (although not always). Creating a CV is a great opportunity for you to reflect on your skills and experiences and how you’d apply them to a specific job. It’s also the first opportunity for you to sell yourself to an employer. 

Top tips for creating a great CV

  1. If possible, call the hiring manager beforehand – if they’ve shared their contact information in the job advert, give them a call to ask more about the role (make sure you’ve read the job description properly and have prepared some good questions beforehand). This shows the employer how interested you are before you’ve even applied and might mean that they remember your name positively when they are shortlisting people to interview for the role. 
  2. Don’t include a picture of yourself, your date of birth or your full home address – many employers now ask that you submit your CV anonymously (without any identifying information) to make sure that they don’t apply a bias based on any of this information. A picture also uses up valuable space on your CV. You can include your contact number, email address and the first part of your postcode (e.g. TQ9) or the borough you live in. 
  3. Make sure the email address you provide sounds professional not [email protected]‘ or [email protected]‘, for example. You can create another email address specifically for your professional emails, ideally including your full name, for example: first name + middle initial + last name, e.g. [email protected] 
  4. Make sure the text sizes and fonts are consistent across the CV – using a CV template can help you achieve this. Google Docs has several free ‘Resume’ templates, which you can use to create your CV and download PDF copies to share with employers.  
  5. Keep it to 1 – 2 A4 pages maximum – the average time a hiring manager spends looking at a CV is 7 seconds, so it’s important you keep the information as concise and easy to read as possible. Your CV holds the key facts about you, the cover letter is where you can talk more in depth about your skills and experience in relation to the job description. 
  6. Order your experience and education in reverse chronological order – start with your most recent professional experience and achievements and work backwards. Remember, you don’t have to include everything you’ve ever done on your CV, just information about you that is relevant to the job you’re applying for or that demonstrates ‘transferable skills’ (see more below). 
  7. The job description is your best friend! – read it through carefully, identify the skills that the employer is looking for and weave them into your CV and cover letter, bringing in examples from your personal, educational and professional experiences as evidence. This will help you ensure that you’re tailoring your application to the specific opportunity. 
  8. Use doing words e.g. ‘I created, I assisted, I managed, I achieved, I completed’ – CVs aren’t very long, so it’s important to make every word count! Use strong verbs (doing words) and try not to repeat the same verbs and instead use attention-grabbing action words. 
  9. Don’t over-exaggerate your skills – you’ll have to justify them in the interview! It might feel tempting to include qualifications or experience that you don’t have on your CV, especially if you don’t have a lot of work experience, but it’s always better to be honest so that you can speak confidently in a job interview without getting caught by something you’ve written that isn’t true. 
  10. Check for grammar and spelling mistakes – It can be difficult to notice typos when you’ve been working on something for a long time, so ask a trusted friend or adult to review and edit it before you submit it. 
  11. Include ‘transferable skills’.

Transferable skills

Transferable skills are soft skills that can be applied across different industries and roles. They’re usually picked up over time, and can be gained from work experience, volunteering, taking a course, caring responsibilities, hobbies, or even just at home. For example, if you’ve experienced a lot of change in your life and have maybe had to move home multiple times and start fresh in school or college repeatedly, you’re likely to become adaptable, resilient and good at building relationships – all transferable skills which are incredibly valuable in any workplace. 

Some examples of transferable skills include: 

  • Organization 
  • Critical thinking 
  • Problem-solving 
  • Attention to detail 
  • Good communication 
  • Teamwork 
  • Creativity 
  • Relationship-building 
  • Active listening 
  • Writing 
  • Computer skills 
  • Leadership 

Work experience (including internships)

Undertaking work experience helps you gain an understanding of a specific work environment and what employers expect of their workers. Work experience is often organised as part of vocational training during Level 1 and Level 2 qualifications in school or college, but you can choose to do unpaid work experience at any point in your career, as it is useful for exploring possible career options and testing different potential careers. You’re likely to learn new transferable skills and gain practical knowledge that you’ll be able to discuss in both job and university applications and interviews. 

Doing work experience gives you the opportunity to build connections with new people, who may even offer you a permanent job if you perform well during your placement. Even if work experience doesn’t lead you directly to a new role, it will help you develop and become more mature, independent, confident and motivated. It will also help you realise whether a certain job or career suits you and your interests, even if the realisation is that you never want to do that job again, you’ve still learned something valuable for planning your next steps.  

Check out our page for help finding work experience opportunities.

Internships are another form of work experience, which can be paid or unpaid and last for a fixed length of time anywhere between a week and 12 months. They are usually advertised like a job, but some have specific eligibility criteria, for example, internships sometimes form part of a university degree and are designed specifically for students to undertake at a certain point in their undergraduate course. Employers use internships to assess a student or graduate’s capability and often recruit from their interns, rather than advertise their vacancies externally, so apply for an internship that you have a real interest in progressing through. 

Talking about your care-experience in a job application

Lots of employers are looking to diversify their workforce (this means employing people from different backgrounds so that the organization reflects the variety of people in our society). Some applications will have a box you can tick to share that you’re care-experienced. Sharing that you’re care-experienced in a job application is completely your decision, there is no obligation to tell anyone. However, there can be advantages to sharing your care experience to employers (who should keep the information confidential): 

  • There may be additional support and funding for you to access, for example, the Care Leaver Bursary for apprentices 
  • Some employers and local authorities ringfence opportunities for care-experienced young people or guarantee an interview, this will be clear on the job advert 
  • You can frame your care background as a positive attribute to support your application, for example: “As someone with lived experience of the care system, I am very independent, resilient and empathetic and can quickly adapt to new and changing circumstances; qualities which I know are essential for all professional roles but will be especially valuable in this position.” 

Now what?

So, you’ve tailored your CV to the job or apprenticeship you want, you’ve written your cover letter or personal statement, you’ve submitted your application making sure to tick the box if they ask if you’re care-experienced (if you feel comfortable doing so). You’re invited to an online or in-person interview. Now what? 

Common interview challenges

  1. Arriving late or flustered.
  2. Having wifi/ technical issues.
  3. Forgetting to bring essential documents with you (for example ID or evidence of your qualifications).
  4. Talking too quickly.
  5. Not presenting positive body language.
  6. Telling great stories but not evidencing the skills you’re being judged against or not answering the specific question you’ve been asked.
  7. Being unprepared for questions like ‘what is your greatest weakness?’.


  1. Leave 30 minutes earlier than you think it will take to travel there – it’s better to be waiting where you need to be, with time to collect your thoughts rather than rushing because the traffic was bad.
  2. Check the zoom/teams/google link works before the interview and make sure the app is up to date on your device. If you’ve been asked to prepare a presentation, ensure you know how to share your screen.
  3. Make a checklist of everything you need to bring with you and set it out the night before with your interview clothes.
  4. Take steady breaths, try and relax and remember that they want you to do well. If you don’t know how to answer a question, you can ask the interviewer to repeat or rephrase it. Interviewers understand that you might be nervous, take your time. 
  5. Practice presenting positive body language before the interview with a trusted friend or supporting adult e.g. sitting confidently, making regular eye contact with the interviewer, avoiding distraction or fidgeting. If you’re neurodivergent and find doing these things difficult or impossible, you may want to share this with the interviewer ahead of time, so they know not to expect it from you.
  6. Use the STAR technique to keep your answers concise (describe the situation, task, action you took, and the result). Do a mock interview beforehand to practice and find areas to work on. 
  7. Frame your ‘weakness’ in a positive way, for example, “I have trouble asking for help sometimes” could become: “Because I am independent and enjoy working quickly, it has sometimes been difficult for me to ask for help. I have learned that it is more beneficial both for me and the organization, to reach out when I do not understand something or feel burned out with my workload. I also understand that there are many experts around me who have specific knowledge and skills that can make my work better. While I am still working on it, I have been able to produce more high-quality work by getting help from other colleagues.” 

Top tips for a great interview:

  • Remember a job interview is a two-way dynamic! Yes, they are interviewing you, but you are also interviewing them, to find out if their organisation seems supportive and is somewhere you’d like to work.
  • Perfect your ‘elevator pitch’ beforehand – prepare a short intro to you so that if the interviewer says: “so, tell us a bit about yourself”, you can give a clear, well-prepared answer without waffling.
  • Many employers send out the interview questions ahead of time, to try and be more inclusive. It’s great to have time to think about your answers and make notes but don’t be tempted to over-prepare – you don’t want it to sound like you’re reading from a script.
  • Pick out skills from the job description to include in your answers, when relevant to the question asked.
  • Research the company beforehand and identify things that interest you about them – you can use this information to help you answer their questions and form questions you’d like to ask them at the end of the interview.
  • Choose three things that you MUST include in your interview at some point (e.g. experience and career ambitions) – this will help you stay focused, even if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
  • Dress how people would dress at that job. You can look for inspiration on the organisation’s website or social media, where they might have pictures of their staff. If in doubt, wear something clean and smart that you feel comfortable in.
  • Be nice and polite to everyone you encounter, not just in the interview.
  • Have some questions prepared at the end that show you care about the job. Here are some examples for inspiration: What would a successful candidate look like in 6 months’ time? What is your favourite thing about working for this company? What do you think is the most challenging aspect of the job? What are the biggest challenges the company is facing right now? What do you think are the most important qualities for the person in this role to possess? What might an average day/week look like in this role? 
  • Join Become The Movement! Get involved with Become’s participation network to access paid participation opportunities, including interviewing candidates for our internal job roles as part of a ‘Youth Panel’. Youth Panellists often tell us that they feel more confident preparing for a positive interview themselves, after sitting on a panel, as they get to see what a good and less good interview looks like in practice and become more familiar with the process. You can also use your experience working with Become on your CV and we can provide a reference for you.

Final tip!

Don’t forget to share your plans with your teachers, social workers, personal advisers and carers.

They know you well and can offer advice and guidance on your options. You should include the plans you have for your education or career in your pathway plan. Pathway plans begin no later than 3 months after your 16th birthday and are continually reviewed for as long as the local authority is offering support. If you are planning to stay in education or do an apprenticeship, this must be written into your plan because it forms an agreement between you and your local authority about what kind of support they’ll provide you, for example, financial support, books or equipment. Having this written in the pathway plan is evidence of the support the local authority has agreed to provide.