Resumes and Cover Letters

Tips and tricks to create a winning resume and cover letter to land that dream apprenticeship

Now that you’ve found some roles you want to apply for, its time to make your submission standout. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when writing or updating your application.

Be sure to check the application due date. This will let you know how long you have to prepare your application. If you do not send your application prior to this date, it will likely be disregarded by your employer. If there is no due date try to submit your application promptly, but ensure you don't rush as you don't want to make mistakes. You can always call the employer and find out when the applications close.

Woman holding up resume during an interview

The Resume

A resume, which is sometimes referred to as a CV or curriculum vitae, is a document that you use to showcase your skills, education, work experience and achievements. Resumes are essential for most job applications as they give potential employers an insight into your skills, interests, and abilities.

Your resume should include personal details such as your name and contact details, a career objectives or summary, previous education, and work experience. It can also include key skills, strengths, interests and references. If you have any licences or tickets that are relevant to the roles you are applying for (e.g. a white card or working with children check) you should also list these. Your resume can be used for multiple applications but make sure that the details are relevant to the role that you're applying for. 

If your apprenticeship is the first job you are applying for, you can list skills and experience gained through other education including school, though sports or other clubs, and through volunteer work or work experience.

“Most of the apprentices we employ are in engineering and electrical trades. If someone doesn’t have work experience there are other ways of promoting yourself. We look at whether people have relevant hobbies. If so, photos of the work they have done is very useful. We look at whether they've done volunteer work, or if they were in the Army Reserve, or the Scouts? Have they had any leadership roles, e.g. school captain, or vice-captain of the footy team? Have they worked in the family business?” Said Peter Canavan from AiGroup.

Career-changers or mature apprentices should leave out anything that’s not relevant to the apprenticeship or consider using a skills-first resume where they highlight skills first and then go into a short write-up about their work experience.

Find a Sample Resume here


Cover Letter

The cover letter may be your first chance to make an impression with a potential employer. A well-written cover letter can make or break your chances of getting through to the interview phase of the application process. The resume outlines your work and training history, but the cover letter is an opportunity to elaborate on why you have targeted this particular job with this specific company.

Your cover letter should be tailored to each job that you apply for, and is your opportunity to sell yourself to a potential employer. Even if the employer is someone you have met and didn't request one, a cover letter is a good way to polish your application.

The AiGroup which recruits large number of apprentices each year, suggests to do the the following:

  • Reinforce your commitment to the apprenticeship since employers want to be reassured of continuity for the required time period.
  • Mention when you’re available and can start.
  • Always follow-up with a phone-call after you’ve sent the application. It shows that you are really interested and have some self-confidence.

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Key Selection Criteria

Some job opportunities will ask you to address key selection criteria. If you don't have any prior work experience, there are still ways to answer these criteria. You can draw on your experience clubs and sports participation, volunteering, school work experience and even from studying.

The key selection criteria directly highlights your ability to perform the tasks required for the job, and if requested it must be addressed.

The Victorian Government Careers website suggests you address each selection criteria with a short statement. The SAO approach suggests you answer in 60-120 words addressing the:

  • Situation — where and when you did something
  • Action — what you did and how you did it
  • Outcome — what was the result of your actions

You can find some example key selection criteria response on the Victorian Government Careers website.

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Submitting your application

Once you've finished preparing your resume, cover letter, and possibly key selection criteria, it is time to submit your application. Here are some tips to help get your resume to the top of the pile.

There are a few ways you can submit your job application. Some organisations will have online portals with templates that you must complete. In this case, it’s always a good idea to complete your answer in a word document and copy and paste it into the portal. This will make sure that if any IT errors occur you do not lose all of your work.

If you are submitting your application via email make sure you attach all required documents to your email before sending. You can also have a concise and respectful note attached to your application, for example:

Subject: Application for XXXX position

Body: Hello XX,

Please find attached my application for the position of XX with XX. If you require any further information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 04XX XXX XXX.

Kind regards,


If you are submitting your application by hand, either by door knocking or responding to a job advertisement, it is always a good idea to research the company you are applying at. Some companies will not be able to accept applications in person. If you can find the managers name, upon arrival ask for the manager by name and submit your application directly to them. This also gives you an opportunity to chat to the manager and discuss why you might be the right candidate for the job.

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