What do Employers Look for in School Leavers?

Posted by: Mia Lewis Post Date: 15th September 2016

If you’re fresh out of school, you may not be feeling entirely confident about getting your first role. Due to your inexperience that’s understandable, however, there are ways to impress employers in your applications to show that you’re full of potential. When applying for an apprenticeship or similar role, you may want to demonstrate these following skills and qualities:

An appetite to learn

If you’re being taken on in a traineeship or apprenticeship position, employers will know that you aren’t the finished product just yet! They will understand that this may be your first taste of work, with the hope that they can teach you new and important skills needed in the workplace.

That means that your enthusiasm and motivation to learn everything you can about the role will be the biggest factor when they consider taking you on. You can teach a person how to use software and give them the knowledge needed to succeed, but you can’t teach them genuine interest in the role. There are ways of demonstrating these qualities in your CV, take a look at our guide on writing a winning CV – even if you have limited experience.

Communication skills

Even in most independent of roles, good communication skills are vital to any business. They show that you can speak and write clearly and professionally both within a team, and with customers and clients.

It’s very important to be careful of spelling mistakes in your application process, and at the interview you should be able to show that you can explain yourself effectively instead of drowning them in ‘um’ and ‘like’. You should be able to accurately explain why you want the apprenticeship (apart from getting paid, of course), and why you feel it will develop your career. If employers can see that not only your writing, speaking, but also your listening skills are top drawer, they may spot someone with a great learning potential.

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Business awareness

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need 3 years of experience at an accounting firm. What employers are looking for is that you can get to grips with simple business terms, so that you can understand how your role at the business can make an impact. This foundation of knowledge will of course be built on throughout your training and qualification, making you a valuable business asset after an apprenticeship.


Employers will want someone who won’t flap and panic at the first challenge. Instead, they will want someone who can solve issues calmly and confidently, or at least try to be as helpful as possible, taking their share of the responsibility.

Many aspects of problem-solving can also be demonstrated in how you work within a team, meaning those years in your school football team or dance classes could be valuable in showing that you can work well alongside people, using your communication skills to thrive.


Employers will want you to be responsible and turn up to work on time, and respond to tasks in an efficient manner. That means you should have some organisational skills, and ways to keep track of everything to make sure nothing gets missed. Employers will be interested in how you keep your life in order, and it may be one of the topics that comes up in your apprenticeship interview.


To be clear, you don’t need GCSE’s in order to start an apprenticeship. However, some employers set grades A-C in maths and English GCSE as a requirement. However, if you don’t have these grades, you may be given the chance to upskill yourself and gain level 2 Functional Skills qualifications on the apprenticeship.

If you are completely lacking in qualifications, fear not – there are traineeship programmes available which will give you workplace experience of up to 16 weeks, and will also bring your English and maths up to a high standard for employers. You will also be assigned a tutor who will teach you useful life skills, such as CV writing and interview technique, to get your foot in the door at a business. You can check out some of the traineeships we have on offer here.

Looking to kick start your career after leaving school? Ask us about our opportunities.

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01332 613 688

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