Create a great apprenticeship covering letter

teenager writing apprenticeship cover letter
Need to write an application letter for an apprenticeship? Here's what to say and how to format it.

A covering letter (also known as a cover letter) is a letter that accompanies your CV when you apply for a vacancy. They’re used for lots of different types of jobs and work experience, not just apprenticeships, so learning how to write a good covering letter is a skill that will help you throughout your working life.

Why do I need a covering letter as well as a CV?

Employers want to feel special. They don’t like receiving applications from people who sound as if they just want any job or apprenticeship – they want candidates to show that this specific vacancy is right for them, and that they are the right person for the employer.

Your CV can usually be adapted a bit depending on which employer you are applying to. For example, if you’ve worked part time in a supermarket and done a work experience placement at a solicitors’ firm, you’d give more space to the supermarket job if you were applying for a retail apprenticeship, and give more space to your work placement if applying for a legal apprenticeship. However, with a covering letter you can go much further and spell out to the employer why your background, interests, motivations and skills make you a great match for the vacancy on offer.

How long should a covering letter be?

Your covering letter should be one A4 page long. Make sure everything – including your name at the end – fits onto that page.

Should I include a photo of myself?

No – in the UK, covering letters and CVs don’t include photos.

What font should I use?

Your choice of font is up to you, but choose something sensible and professional-looking. Sans-serif fonts are a good bet – these are the ones such as Calibri, Verdana and Helvetica that don’t have the fancy extra strokes at the ends of letters, unlike serif fonts such as Times New Roman.

How to format your apprenticeship cover letter and what to say

At the top of the letter

  • Put your postal address at the top of the letter, justified to the right, followed by the date.
  • Put the name and postal address of the recruiter you’re applying to beneath this but justified to the left.

How to start the letter

Start your letter ‘Dear’, followed by the recruiter’s title (eg Dr, Mrs, Miss, Mr, Ms) and their last name. If you don’t know any of this (eg you’re not sure about their title), make contact and ask – don’t guess and get it wrong.

Your first paragraph

Your first paragraph should briefly say who you are and make it clear which apprenticeship you are applying for – there may be several different ones on offer.

Example: ‘I’m writing to apply for the mechanical engineering degree apprenticeship at Bloggs Technology, as advertised on TARGETcareers. I’m currently in Year 13 at Didcot High School, studying A levels in maths, physics and chemistry, and am keen to pursue a career in mechanical engineering. I enclose my CV for your consideration.’

Your second paragraph

Say why you’d be a good person for the apprenticeship. To help you do so, read the job advert or job description carefully and give concrete examples of how you have the skills, experience or personal qualities that are required. For example, if the advert says you have to be good at teamworking and have some experience in an engineering environment, you might write as follows.

Example: ‘I've had experience in an engineering environment through my Year 10 work experience placement at Bio Med and through a six-week summer job at Trackside Engineering before starting Year 13. Bio Med designs and manufactures medical and surgical devices; I spent a week shadowing the engineering team at its manufacturing plant. Trackside Engineering specialises in rail engineering; I was employed in the signalling team to provide administrative support to mechanical and electronic engineers working on a new signalling system. Both of these placements involved teamwork – for example, at Trackside Engineering I was one of three admin assistants and we needed to work closely together to ensure all tasks were completed on time. I've also had experience of teamwork through playing hockey for my school, which involves being supportive of my teammates both on and off the pitch.’

Your third paragraph

Say why you want the apprenticeship. Be as specific as possible, so it's clear why you want this apprenticeship rather than just any apprenticeship you can get. You could choose to mention:

  • why you want to work in the industry in question
  • why you want to work for the employer in question
  • why you want the type of job that the apprenticeship would train you up for
  • why you want the training and qualifications that the apprenticeship would give you.

Back up your claims by mentioning relevant experiences or aspects of your life that relate to the above, to show that you're not just making things up.

Example: ‘I'm keen to join Bloggs Technology as my summer job at Trackside Engineering confirmed to me that I want to work in rail engineering. I'm applying for the mechanical engineering degree apprenticeship as my time at Trackside and Bio Med allowed me to observe the work of mechanical, electronic and manufacturing engineers and I realised that mechanical is what most interests me. I'm also very attracted to the opportunity to take a degree apprenticeship as I enjoy academic learning and am keen to continue on and gain higher qualifications once I've finished my A levels.’

Your final paragraph

Your final paragraph is an opportunity to address any practical matters and give a positive ending.

  • If you would need to move away from home to take up the apprenticeship, make it clear that you are willing to relocate. If you don't address this, recruiters may worry that you haven't realised where the apprenticeship is based, have unrealistic ideas about commuting or aren't a serious applicant.
  • Briefly mention your availability for interview – if there's a specific interview date mentioned on the advert, confirm that you are free; if not, give a general indication of your availability but don't go into detail.

Example: ‘I am familiar with the Bristol area and am very happy to relocate there for the apprenticeship. I'm available for interview any time after 15 June, when I have my last exam. I look forward to hearing from you and learning more about the role.’

How to end the letter

Assuming you wrote the recruiter's name at the top of the letter, sign off 'Yours sincerely'. If you didn't, and had to resort to 'Dear Sir or Madam', sign off 'Yours faithfully'. Then type your name on the line below.

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