APPRENTICE FEEDBACK – Tips for job applications and interviews

This post is direct and honest, tough love I guess you might call it. Please take it on board in that context. We’re trying to help you learn and improve, which requires us to tell it to you straight. A significant percentage of those of you who applied made school boy errors in your application process. We hope this straight talking feedback will help you address those and therefore be successful at your next job/ apprentice appplication.

PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE – In the music and media industries it’s particularly hard to jump straight to a paid job, you normally need to do work experience first (this applies to any job that you would consider ‘fun’, which intrinsically leads to there being a lot of competition). In some situations this is an unfair chicken and egg scenario, but not with Nusic. Nusic has had an open door work experience policy (for over 18s) for five years, yes we have a waiting list but we do not turn people down. If you applied for the Nusic Apprenticeship (and were over 18) but had never applied for Nusic work experience we had to ask the question, ‘Why now? Is it just about the money?’ Clearly we’re looking for somone who’s massively passionate about the local music scene, not just after a ‘job’. This applies even more to older applicants. If you are 22 and saying you’re massively passionate about helping musicians and yet your CV shows no sign of this, it looks odd. If you’re 18 or under you’re more likely to be cut some slack in this area.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST – When applying for a job be wary of any conflicts of interest and pre emptively counter them in your cover letter and interview (should you get one). With Nusic this boiled down mainly to applicants who were actually musicians themselves. We asked all musician applicants who made the interview stage how they would cope if their band/ group/ collective (etc) were unable to enter The Future Sound of Nottingham due to them working for Nusic? This is a tough question but it’s a predictable one, and therefore the sort you need to prepare for. The key take away lesson is prep for an interview by considering potential issues (and the associated questions) in advance, enabling you to prepare thoughtful impressive answers.

SHOW YOUR ENTHUSIASM PRE-INTERVIEW – Giving a good representation of yourself in an interview is great, but in a competitive situation you may need to start making an impression even before an interview. Are you following the organisation you seek to work for on social media? Have you applied for work and/ or work experience before? It’s a bit contradictory to say you’re massively passionate about something and yet this be your first interaction with the organisation. Equally your fellow up post interview/ application is important. Do you get in contact afterwards? Say thank you for the interview? Offer to help in anyway you can regardless of whether you get the job? The later is particularly relevant to voluntary/ charity orgs like Nusic. The applicant who follows up saying regardless of whether they get the job they’d love to help out in future, stands out and in doing so increases the chance of securing the initial position. The one advantage of this process proving so long-winded has been we got to see how candidates reacted to the delay. Did you volunteer to help out? Did you get engaged with our social media and spread the love on any of our various projects and initiatives? Did you get aggressive moaning about how long things were taking? Well passion is good but getting aggressive with your potential future employer is at best a high risk strategy!

TIPS WITHIN THE INTERVIEW – Show the interviewer you’re the real deal, prove this isn’t a ‘job application one night stand’. Show your passion for the organisation and its subject area by name checking/ referencing previous activites. For example with Nusic name checking an artist you had heard on the podcast two months ago would show you were regularly engaged with Nusic, asking us if we’d ever heard an artist who we play regularly would show you’re applying for a job you know little about because you haven’t even done something as basic as listening to our main output. Would you apply for a job at a website without reading it? Would you walk into a Topshop for an interview wearing H&M? Think about all the ways above your words that you are (consciously and/ or subconsciously) communicating to your potential future employer.

TWEAK YOUR CV SPECIFICALLY FOR THE ROLE – We know school teach you to make a generic CV that works for all situations. In a competitive situation that just isn’t going to cut it, you need to tweak you CV specifically to the organisation that you are applying for. The CV that gets you an interview for a music position is different to the one that gets you an interview at NASA to fly a spacerocket. By all means have a core CV but remix it specifically for each application emphasising the things you have done that are most relevant, if you haven’t got much to say refer to our earlier point re the importance of work experience.

MISCELLANEOUS POINTS (Things that effected our choices but you couldn’t do anything about):

AGE – The amount of independence required (and insurance issues associated with this) meant it turned out the Apprentice needed to be at least 18. We encourage of all you under 18 to stay in touch and apply for work experience once you turn 18 (we’re looking in to the logistics of opening up our work exp to 16 and 17 year olds).

GEOGRAPHY – We felt it was hard to be a passionate advocate of Nottingham music if you did not live in either the city or county.

UNIVERSITY STUDENTS WERE NOT ALLOWED – We were not told this and so did not mention it in our advertising of the Apprenticeship, we apologise to those of you at University who wasted their time applying for an Apprenticeship it turns out you could never actually achieve.

We hope that’s useful and will help you with your next application for a job, apprenticeship or university place.

You can find out more about our work experiences and volunteering opportunities HERE.

Yours in Love of New Music (& learning)

STL

@MarkDel1L

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