Starting the Job Hunt. Part five of Job Hunting: Our Ultimate Five-Part Guide
Written by Stefani Janson (Director, Navigator)
Kelsey Sabine (Navigator Advisory Board Member & Legal Recruiter)
You’ve done the hard yards with your preparation and now you have reached the final stage: job hunting and applications. Sometimes the last step in the process can feel incredibly overwhelming as there are many unknowns. Where should you start? This article provides clear guidance on how to find your dream role, submit your application and follow it up like a pro.
1. Become familiar with application platforms
Long gone are the days of reading the classifieds on a Saturday morning. Job hunting is now very complex: there are many platforms you can use to find roles, and in addition, you should tap into your personal network to seek out opportunities. Your key tools in the hunt ahead are:
(ii) LinkedIn Jobs;
(iii) Your personal network; and
Seek has been around for many years and continues to be the premium online platform to find a role. When searching for positions on Seek, ensure you use the full functionality of the search bar, where you can search based on the fine details you are looking for (think remuneration, location, industry, part-time/full-time). This will help one down your search and actually help you to find what you are truly after.
Things generally move very fast in the Seek world and it is best to only apply to roles that are less than one week old. Worried you can’t keep up with the plethora of roles popping up? Seek has the ability to create alerts for different role searches where you will then receive daily updates to your inbox. You can create your alerts here. Job hunting just got a hell of a lot easier!
Pro tip: remember the spreadsheet we mentioned in Part One of this series? If you’re applying directly to an advertised role, note in your spreadsheet the HR contact person’s name, their position and the organisation’s address, as you will require it for (a) your cover letter and (b) for following up your application within one week (via phone!).
ii. LinkedIn Jobs
Job hunting is a whole new world with LinkedIn Jobs. Many companies are taking advantage of this platform to recruit and it makes it much easier to reach out to the HR personnel posting the ads. Furthermore, you can easily see those connections of yours who work at the organisation of interest. This is a huge benefit, as being able to get an inside perspective of a prospective employer is hugely advantageous. First, you can gauge what the company culture is like (is the culture collegiate, are there mentoring structures in place, or are the hours grueling with a lack of pathways and support?). Second, you can obtain insights on the organisation and what makes it tick, which you can then include in your cover letter to help you stand out from the pack (for example, the company may have a huge focus on corporate social responsibility in reducing their carbon imprint or giving their resources voluntarily to other organisations, which would be difficult information to pull from a company website). Last, if you’re interested in applying, you can ask about the recruitment process and whether you can name drop in your cover letter and/or interview. LinkedIn Jobs is more personable and more dynamic than Seek, so take full advantage of it. After all, your LinkedIn should be in top notch shape after following our guide in Part Four of this series. Similar to Seek, you can also create alerts for LinkedIn Jobs.
When using Seek or LinkedIn, learn to identify the difference between a recruitment agency ad and a company advertisement. If the advertisement is with a recruiter, we suggest picking up the phone and calling the recruiter to ask considered questions about the role. Why call? You’re far more likely going to get your application seen if you have the confidence to speak to your skills and interests and you will immediately find out whether the job is a good fit. If it is not suitable, a recruiter may have another job available. In turn, make sure you’re prepared for the recruiter to ask you questions regarding your background, experience and interests. They may even request a copy of your CV before they mention the name of their client: this is common practice to protect the briefed recruiter so they are not ‘cut out’ by direct applications to organisations.
Recruiters too vary in terms of their quality. Ask around and do your research before contacting a particular recruiter as the best recruiters will have access to nearly all roles in their geographic area, will have a strong knowledge of the given market and be pleasant to having dealings with. The best recruiters bill well by delivering for their clients, which means having access to the best candidates in the market. To do that, they need to engage with candidates through a large number of opportunities they are working on, by relying on their excellent market knowledge and by being highly personable. If you find the recruiter you are working with does not exhibit these traits, it is best to look elsewhere!
If you are a fresh graduate, a recruiter is very limited in how they can help you in the early years. It is not that they don’t want to help, it is more they simply are not in a position to do so: companies will not pay recruitment agency fees for junior positions as the market is saturated with applicants at this level. As such, recruiters are a great option for those with at least two to three years’ experience in a given industry.
iv. Personal network
Using your personal network is a very advantageous way to find a role, given that Australian statistics estimate one third of jobs are not formally advertised. This can be daunting - reaching out to others can bring a flurry of emotions such as embarrassment and fear. Let us assure you - with time and practice, these feelings fade away and reaching out becomes second nature. At the end of the day - the worst that can happen is that you do not receive a reply, and generally that is more reflective on the other person than yourself. So get out there and start connecting!
How should you reach out? Via a phone call is always preferable, however, professionals can be hard to catch so email or LinkedIn messenger are usually easier mediums. When reaching out, frame the conversation from a place of interest and curiosity rather than a position of desperation. If your chosen medium is by email or message, ensure you mention how you came across their details, the reason for contact and a sentence about yourself to add colour to the reason for making contact.
See the following example message as to how to craft the perfect correspondence:
It is great to see you progressing so well in your career!
[Insert how you have come across their details]… E.g By way of introduction, my name is Kelsey Sabine - you may remember me from the networking event OR a former colleague of yours and friend of mine, Joanne Peters, has suggested I reach out to you as I am interested in learning more about your career path.
[Insert your reason for making contact. This is not I want a job! This is you showing a genuine interest in their career path, current position and day-to-day responsibilities.] E.g. I am nearing the completion of my Masters Degree in “X area”, I am now eager to learn more about the opportunities that are in this space. In understand that you have also completed these studies and are currently working for “Y company”. I would be keen to meet with you and gain a better understanding of what it is you do, what you enjoy most about the sector and where you see the market going in the future. If you have availability to speak in the next fortnight I would very much appreciate your time.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
In this way, you’re showing your interest in the person and their work. People generally like to share their experiences and help others where they can, so framing your first correspondence in this way, with a time period of when you would like to chat, can work wonders.
Don’t have an extensive personal network? It is never too late to start networking. Networking in the job search process is about building relationships with people to then leverage these relationships for new career prospects. If you are at the start of your networking journey, or looking to finesse your skills, here are some tips:
- Be prepared to talk about yourself in an engaging and relevant manner. Have an elevator pitch ready. Ensure you don’t forget that networking is reciprocal and as much as you want to display your value, you also want to mention what you can do for others.
- Building rapport takes time and effort. To be effective, do your research into your target industry, prepare relevant discussion topics and build the relationship by asking meaningful personal questions.
- Always follow up with a thank you message and consider sharing an article of interest that could benefit the other person to create value in the relationship.
2. Applying for a role: short answer, submission and follow-up
So you’ve found the ultimate job and you’re ready to apply. Short answer questions and key selection criteria often accompany applications and you need to be prepared to put your best foot forward. Having already crafted your CV and cover letter template, you have time to prepare these answers thoughtfully and free of errors. With these answers, take the time to answer the questions carefully and show your experience where needed. The STAR method is often a great way to use to demonstrate your aptitude. This gives you a leg up on the competition who often rush this process at the last minute. Once you have proofread a hard copy of each application, you’re ready to submit! Hooray!
However, submission is not the end of the process. Keep in mind some organisations may invite you to compete psychometric and/or aptitude testing which often has a completion deadline. Make sure you note these deadlines and give yourself plenty of time to complete them in a comfortable setting in advance. Further, we highly recommend you follow-up your application after one week via direct phone call to the relevant HR person. It is crucial to follow up your application: employers on Seek and LinkedIn Jobs are bombarded with hundreds, if not thousands of applications. This also allows you to create rapport with the HR person who may provide you with feedback if you’re unsuccessful, or keep you in mind for other opportunities.
Last, remember rejections are not personal. You need to be resilient in the hunt and think creatively about finding your next role. Don’t let it get you down—the job hunt is a numbers game and you will find something with perseverance.
3. Should I make it rain with my CV?
Remember, your CV is your intellectual property, so treat it with care! As tempting as it can be to jump at every opportunity, we strongly advise against this: it is important not to send your CV in to every single role that remotely fits what you’re after. Rather, think strategically about the positions and companies which are likely to be a good fit. The more you match your skills and experience fit to a particular job, as well as engaging with a solid follow-up process as detailed in this article, the more likely your chances are with obtaining the position.
Wishing you all the best with your job hunt!