Job hunting tips

Soon I'll be running this city

Are you struggling with job hunting? Perhaps you’re returning to the workforce after parental leave, or simply searching for that dream job that suits you? Satisfying the skills and experience needed for the job, building that stand-out resume, and nailing your interview can feel like an impossible mountain hike. We provide 10 applicable tips on successful job hunting!

1. Be clear about what type of work/ job you are looking for

To begin your job search you need to know what type of employment you are looking for. Brainstorm and consider your ideal job (the responsibilities, working arrangements, skills you would like to use etc). Determine all the possible job options that you find interesting, consider and explore these further. Create a short-list of the best options.

For example, is it an option to return to a previous employer you have worked for with alternative working arrangements? If you are looking for a new job/employer, what type of work would you like to do and how could it positively meet the needs of you and your family?

Make a list of all the positives and negatives. Think about what you’re willing to compromise on – after all it’s important to be realistic. 

2. Ensure you have the necessary skills and experience required

It stands to reason that you are more likely to be successful at securing a job that you have the relevant skills and experience for. Therefore, if you would like to ‘break into’ a new job field you need to research what additional skills or qualifications you might need. Make a list of all your skills and all your experience, compare this to the job requirements of other jobs you might like to pursue and identify any gaps in knowledge. Visit the Job Outlook site  that can provide you detail of what skills and qualifications are required for all different types of job.

Consider contacting the following groups to find out more on career advice and short courses.

  • Professional or industry associations
  • TAFE – for example, look up basic refresher courses for computer skills
  • Private collages, online education companies, universities
  • If you are registered with Centrelink, you can be referred to a Job Network Agency that specialises in assisting women to return to the workplace
3. Job hunting takes time

Be aware that it can take time to job search, apply, be interviewed and start a new job (often 3 months or more). Don’t be disheartened if it takes longer, the reality is that you will receive more rejections than job offers but most job seekers are in the same boat, regardless if they have children or not. Make sure your resume is up to date and that you re-evaluate your job requirements as you go. Don’t forget to gain feedback from interviews.

4. Update your resume

Refresh your resume by giving it a makeover. Make sure it’s in a reader-friendly format; that it outlines your skills and experience clearly on the first page; that it explains your parental leave absence (if relevant) and is tailored for the job you are applying for. Your resume can include experience, skills, achievements, education and qualifications. There are plenty of simple resume templates in Microsoft Word or online, which can be useful.

5. Contact your past employers and proactively contact employers who you would like to work for

Rather than waiting for the right job to land in your lap, contact your previous employers and colleagues to ask what vacancies they may know of. Let them know you’re searching for a job or returning to work, and what type of work you are ideally looking for. Ask for any tips they may have to offer you during your job search.

6. Follow up applications

Many applicants never bother to call an employer directly, so stand out of the crowd and pick up the phone. Often employers have many applicants for the one position so they may not have read yours, therefore follow up. Contact the employer to make sure they received your resume within 2-3 days if you haven’t received a response. Ask the employer about the short-listing process. Take the opportunity to ask if the employer has 2 minutes to discuss the position with you and briefly explain your skills and experience.

7. Network with other parents who have returned to work

If you are returning to work after parental leave, ask other parents for any tips and advice they have to offer. How did they do it? Let your friends know you are looking at going back to work and get them to keep you in mind for any jobs they may hear of that would suit you.

8. Prepare for interviews 

Brush up on your interview skills by preparing how you will respond to common interview questions such as “tell me about yourself” or “why are you looking for a new position”, so you don’t feel ‘put on the spot’. If you are particularly nervous at interviews, being prepared will help you to stay calm. Being upfront with the interviewer about your nerves can help; “this is my first interview in some time, I just wanted to let you know upfront that I’m feeling a little nervous”. Spend some time researching the company, as your knowledge is likely to be noticed in the interview and will show you are proactive and hardworking. 

9. Be prepared to negotiate with employers

In an ideal world we would love the find the perfect job; however ask yourself what you are prepared to trade-off in return for other benefits. For example, are you prepared to lessen your responsibilities in return for working reduced hours? Discuss realistic working arrangements with your employer – think about both of your needs and how it could work to your mutual advantage. Ask your employer to ‘trial’ a flexible working arrangement for a period of time to see how things go; revise as required.

10. Keep refining your job search

Keep refining your job search to ensure you remain focused on searching for what you want, and decide what you are willing to trade off for other benefits.

Good luck with your job search!