Newly qualified? How to Land your First Contract after finishing College

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If you’re nearing the end of a course of study at college, it’s easy to start bubbling with excitement about the wide array of possibilities that could be awaiting you. Some time ago, you probably decided, “I want to become a tradesperson”, and now that dream is edging closer to realisation.

However, you could also feel daunted. Whether you have decided to become an electrician, plumber, painter or any other trade occupation, you could wonder whether the industry is really as awash with opportunities as you had initially expected.

Rest assured that, by adhering to the following advice, you can increase your chances of securing that contract for your first job in the given trade.

Are you really ready to leave study behind yet?

Through undertaking an apprenticeship, you can benefit from hands-on industry experience while reserving some time for studying theory in a college setting. However, apprenticeships come in many different forms, and you don’t have to fear being too old to take on a new apprenticeship.

That’s because apprenticeships for applicants aged over 25 have become more common, says the Money Advice Service. There are three tiers of apprenticeship – including, on either side of the standard offering, a foundation apprenticeship and a higher apprenticeship.

As each tier has its own requirements when it comes to qualifications, make sure you research those stipulations before applying. However, why would you want to apply? Well, because your earning power could be significantly strengthened as a result.

Research shows that, on average, higher apprentices can net £150,000 more in lifetime earnings compared to apprentices holding level 3 vocational qualifications. The respective average boosts in earnings for people achieving level 2 and level 3 apprenticeships are 11% and 16%.

Furthermore, 97% of apprentices have reported being able to improve the way they work as a result of following an apprenticeship – a statistic that would certainly bode well for you in the long run.

Thoroughly research the available opportunities

Here’s some good news: you’ve probably underestimated the breadth of opportunities available to you, given how absorbed you’ve probably been in your apprenticeship when undertaking that. Take heart that the practical skills and experience you’ve gained won’t go unnoticed by employers.

There are many different ways of researching job opportunities. Paying a visit to your local job centre is one option, as is making an appointment with your college’s careers advisor. However, your initial idea might be to check whether you could stay at the firm with which you were an apprentice.

If you do go down that route, ask the company whether they are seeking to recruit anyone permanently or, if they aren’t, whether they would remain willing to keep hold of you regardless, as the website An Apprenticeship advises.

In any case, you shouldn’t expect the company to simply keep you on as a matter of course, which is why you must advertise your credentials to them. Cite solid examples of your usefulness to the company – they could see what they would be missing out on if they let you go.

Bulk out your CV

If you are still technically doing your apprenticeship, it might not be too late for you to act on valuable opportunities to add to your skills base. In refining your skills in this way, you can strengthen a CV that could already impress due to the listed training and qualifications.

During your time as an apprenticeship, you could spot opportunities to earn an extra qualification or improve your skills and experience. We particularly like this piece of advice from the website An Apprenticeship: enter yourself for an award and make the most of it, if this chance arises.

After all, if you do win that award, it would look impressive on your CV and, in the eyes of employers, could help you to stand out from the crowd of other job applicants.

Of course, even after you have already qualified and left the college where you trained as a tradesperson, you could still re-enter the world of study, if you see fit. You might also find that you can still use careers services at your old college during a particular period of time after leaving it.

Therefore, you probably shouldn’t pass up the opportunity for that college’s careers advisor to help you in sprucing up the layout of your CV… if, indeed, the CV’s layouts, rather than your own history in education and work, is the problem. While on the subject of that careers advisor…

Seek some career advice if you feel you need it

Sometimes, trying to make some headway in the world of work can require a lot more than simply a carefully tailored CV. You might have deeper problems; for example, you might be indecisive about what step you ought to take next, such as what vacancies to which you should apply.

You might even have started having second thoughts about the trade you had previously chosen. Might you need to return to college to tweak your career path? Rest assured that careers advice is abundant across various settings – including the college and your local job centre.

There are also plenty of specialist careers advice services into which you could dip. Still, however your situation is currently shaping up, aim to learn as much relevant information as you can to ensure that the decision you eventually make about your career is informed.

It bears emphasis that your ideal trade job, whether or not you currently know exactly what it is, could be out of your grasp for a while yet. It can be useful to consider your career development a long-term process, rather than something you are capable of achieving within a specific period.

You could eventually even ascend to running your own business – and, in preparation for that, it would be important for you to make sure you hold the right trade insurance. Our website allows you to time-effectively compare various policies for tradesman insurance, including public liability, employer’s liability and professional indemnity covers.

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