IBM apprenticeship application tips

Five Tips for Completing Apprenticeship Application Forms

Written by: Charlotte Fisher-Morecroft (Early Professionals Manager & Degree Apprenticeship Lead)

As a manager of the Early Professionals programme at IBM, I work in the team which selects from the applicants to IBM’s apprenticeships and degree apprenticeship schemes.

I realise that applying for an apprenticeship can be a daunting task, especially if it’s your first time, so here are my top five tips to completing application forms.

1) Plan ahead and get your application in early

Set aside time to work on your application, so it’s the best it can be.  A quick application to lots of organisations is likely to be less successful than just a handful of well-written ones.

Our IBM School Leaver website has information to help you prepare before we open for applications.  

For the most popular apprenticeships, we may only accept applications for 2 days.  To be prepared, “Register Your Interest” via the IBM School Leaver website well before National Apprenticeship Week (7th– 13th February.)  You’ll then be advised when applications open, so make sure to keep checking your email.   

2) Research the organisation you are applying to

Your application needs to say why you want to work there.  

What’s exciting, interesting, or inspirational for you about the organisation?  What do you want to learn about or experience in your apprenticeship?

Look beyond our School Leaver webpages- we don’t expect you to become an expert in AI, Blockchain or Quantum but we do want to see passion for technology.  You could start with:  

You could also try events running during National Apprenticeship Week at IBM or elsewhere

3) Consider your experience

A strong application will include extra-curricular activities, hobbies or work experience.  It will show the best you.

Referring to school or college projects or academic challenges is good but also describe other experience and achievements.  For example, you may have demonstrated good communication, coaching children to develop maths, sports, or other skills; you may have demonstrated client focus in these situations by thinking how to help them learn.  You may have been adaptable and demonstrated good teamwork in a part time job, sports activity or volunteering.

Look at IBM’s core competencies on the School Leaver website (“Application process” section and consider how you have demonstrated them.) This is not always easy to do staring in front of a screen.  You could use mind maps, think about what you’ve done in each school year, talk it through with someone else or even take the dog for a walk if that helps you think!

Application form

4) Draft your application using the maximum word count

A strong application will make full use of the word count available.

If you are short of words then consider… Have you given some examples of the things that interest and inspire you about the organisation you are applying to?  Have you given details of exactly what you did and the results of your actions in the competency based questions?

Competency based questions cover skills such as problem solving, drive and client focus.  The list of competencies IBM considers in selection is on our School Leaver website:

5) Get someone else to proof-read the form

Even if you have worked hard on your application and reviewed it, you may not notice mistakes.  A teacher, friend or family member may spot errors that you’ve missed.  What’s more, they may be able to make suggestions if you are struggling with competency-based questions.

A word of warning: applications will be rejected if they have too many spelling or grammar errors. 

Whether you are applying to join IBM or another company, I hope these simple steps will help you find your #bestjobever. Wishing you all the best and successful future.

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