Apprentices in HR

What would you say are the most important qualities to look out for when recruiting for an apprentice? What would you be looking for in their applications for the ideal candidate to stand out? We tend to be focussing in on the standard of their CV and cover letter, their involvement in sports and other extra curricular activities and a good education level (3x A-C GCSE's)

We are looking to recruit an apprentice into our current team of 3 but find it can be difficult attracting candidates into our field as HR is not something that is commonly understood at school / college age leavers (although we are of course not restricting to this age group - this is based on applications to date) and we are also competing for the same pool of candidates with very good and large scale local colleges and universities.

Interested to hear what peers consider important qualities in apprentice candidates.

  • Am fascinated by the "involvement in sports" requirement?!
  • In reply to Annabel:

    By no means a requirement! Many of our applicants are 18 and under with very little work experience to prove their personal skills. To us applications that include involvement in sports as an example, demonstrates many transferable qualities such as dedication, hard work, team work experience etc
    It is just an example of something we take into account from applications where work experience is lacking due to age.
  • In reply to Sarah Allsop:

    In my (considerable) experience of recruiting and selecting all manner of apprentices, I think 'core skills' such as level 3+ literacy and numeracy and social skills are incredibly more important than whether or not they like team games. So too (depending on their general frame of reference and reliability) are school references and recommendations but unless you ask the school pertinent questions you'll probably not get very much guidance from them and bear in mind that many teachers giving references have little or no understanding of the world of work outside school and that many hold the notion that apprenticeships are only vocational routes for those without the intellectual capacity to go to university.

    Any applicants that held down a Saturday job or paper round or similar or did social care type voluntary work or were on the committee etc of any active voluntary etc organisations tended potentially to go to the front of the running, other things being equal.

    And the killer interview question to them all involves asking them why they want to go into HR and what do they think they'd be doing if they did so
  • Hi Sarah,
    You say that you find it difficult to attract people into HR, could you not go down the Business Administration route when advertising? I only say this because I was an HR Apprentice at the start of my career and it does begin as a mainly administrative role with the HR understanding building with experience, and might help you attract more applicants who may have found an interest in Business Studies at school.
    Having also recruited Apprentices I would agree with David's comments.
    Hope it goes well :)
  • As Ellie mentioned our company went down the apprenticeship business administration route with my current HR Administrator (Since promoted to this role).

    We advertised with our local schools / colleges and had a good response. Starting as an apprentice Administrator they learned more about the business being involved with other departments admin duties including HR. It was then that they had decided that HR was the route they wished to pursue. I suppose there is an element of selling the job to them.

    Depending on the apprenticeship there is a certain level that they need to be at before they can carry this out, however your training provider would be able to provide you with more details. Within the Business Administration apprenticeship there are modules that relate to HR, if I can remember it was recruitment /selection and HR administration at level two and three, this was more on the job training and they had to provide evidence to the assigned assessor where they had been involved in carrying out certain tasks. There are also more general note taking, booking meetings within this too, which helps.

    For us when we were recruiting for this role it was more down to the attitude of the individual, looking at their potential. We found that the candidates that had complete part time jobs in their spare time had better social skills, whether this was a paper job or working in a shop.

    Good Luck with your search.
  • We recruit four or five apprentices into accountancy every year. Like HR, they may have heard of it, but do not always have a clear picture of what is involved. We use their academic record to help us decide if they have the potential to cope with the studies they will take on, however equally as important is that they are able to demonstrate to us that they have the motivation to succeed. This is demonstrated by the amount of prior research they have done before applying and before the interview, the questions they choose to ask and the extra curricular activities they have undertaken. The strongest candidates are able to identify the transferable skills gained in their part time jobs or voluntary roles. These can be as diverse as gardening jobs, sports coaching, pub work or retail!