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How To Apply For An AAT Apprenticeship – Common Mistakes: Part 2

So here is Part 2 of “How to apply for an AAT Apprenticeship – the 9 most common mistakes!”

Following on from our BLOG at the beginning of this week (to coincide with National Apprenticeship week), here are the remaining 4 common mistakes made when applying for an AAT Apprenticeship:

6. Don’t be too self-assured

It’s important to demonstrate your strengths, but just take a little care with your wording. Ideally, get someone else to read your application and ask them how you come across.


 “I can do mental maths sums in head without needing a calculator. Always topped my class from Year 1 to Year 11 and used to help out everyone else in my class with their sums.”

This applicant sounds very able, but also a touch arrogant – an interviewer might be tempted to give him a mental maths test to prove his claims!

“I’m always trying new foods and often eat more than the average size 8 female; I love the look on waiters faces when I’ve cleared my plate of a big meal!”

This is a rather unusual thing to write in a job application, even under the hobbies and interests section! Trying to use humour in your application can backfire (it might not be a ‘good fit’ with an existing team). In this instance, what the applicant has said also bears absolutely no relevancy to a career in accounting.

7. Don’t make assumptions about the job you are applying for

We received this response under the section “what are your skills and hobbies?”

“I played football for 10 years before I had to stop as I got a job that required me to work Saturdays, unfortunately meaning I could not play anymore. However I would like to start playing again and hopefully this will happen when I can stop working weekends in this job.”

The application was otherwise excellent, but this comment implies that the applicant would not be flexible about working during a weekend and this could be very important to some employers.

8. Demonstrate your interest, eagerness and commitment!

You have the perfect academic grades and a well formatted CV, but why are you still not getting interviews?
Well, what are your responses to questions likes this….?

  • QUESTION: “Why do you want to become an Accountant?”

“I enjoy working with numbers and have always had an ability to manage money well”
“To progress in a field, that has good career prospects, and a competitive salary”

  • QUESTION: “Why do you want an Apprenticeship in Accounting?”

“I am looking to gain experience with the accounting field, i feel that an apprenticeship would be an ideal way of doing this”
(There’s that small ‘i’ again!)
Whilst accountancy may well be the perfect career for you, the comments above lack conviction – there’s nothing there to convince me that you would excel in accountancy. An employer needs to see that you are serious, committed and have potential – after all, they will be spending several years and several thousands of pounds training you up!

Application questions or covering letters offer a really important opportunity for you to show off your talents and convince an employer that they should hire you – providing a credible reason for your interest in accountancy is a MUST.

It may seem obvious to you, and maybe your family and friends, but we have no idea who you are or what you are like – are you are genuinely interested in an accountancy career? Or are you just applying for all the jobs on the website because you don’t want to go to university?

Regardless of the application format, there will be a section where you have the opportunity to express yourself freely, so really think carefully about this section – if there are weaknesses in other parts of your application, what you write here can make all the difference between your application being forwarded to an employer – or… thrown in the bin!

RESEARCH! Find out what accountancy actually is! We get lots of applications that mention “being good with numbers” but accountancy includes a multitude of facets and specialisms. Your “trustworthy cash handling skills” in respect of your retail experience, will be largely irrelevant.

9. Write all your emails as if they are a letter, not a text!

Before, or during your application, you may have the need to contact employers or recruiters.

In all instances, you MUST ensure that you write emails in an appropriately professional manner.

Generally, the first email someone sends is quite polite, but once an email string has started, enquirers seem to think they are on a Facebook thread and start getting lazy. It takes very little effort to construct a proper email each time (don’t rely on your phone’s autocorrect!)


Based on a real email string, ‘Lisa’ here sounded like a plausible candidate to start with…
Good morning, I am interested in Accountancy Apprenticeships and was wondering if you know of any vacancies in the Exeter area. I am taking my A levels this summer and so would be looking to find a job that starts after my exams. I appreciate any help. Kind regards, Lisa.
Hi Lisa
Thanks for your email. We do currently know of one employer in Exeter who is looking for an A Level school leaver. I have attached the job vacancy to this email.
Would you be able to send me your CV?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards
Hi Emily. My CV is attach. Thanks.
Hi Lisa
Many thanks for your CV, I have forwarded this to the firm. If they are interested in your application they will contact you directly.
Many thanks
Do you know if there are any other jobs i can apply too plz?

Remember, everyone you interact with during job applications can have an effect on the outcome, so treat everyone as if they were the hiring and firing manager, (they most certainly will be reporting back to them)!

So, spending the time on your application, proof reading, making sure you meet the criteria, and most importantly, providing good reasons as to why you are interested in accountancy, should give you a good chance of getting called in for that interview!

If you are interested in an AAT Apprenticeship and live in Devon, Cornwall or Somerset, you might be eligible to join our Apprenticeship Talent Programme – you can read more about it HERE:

We hope that these study tips have helped you! Whilst we are not able to respond to any specific questions you might have about our posts, do please let us know if there are any further topics you would like us to write about. If, however, you are one of our tutor supported students, please get in touch with your personal tutor who will be more than happy to help you.