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Job hunting tips

The more ways you try to find a job, the greater chance you have of succeeding. Besides looking at advertised vacancies, you can get friends and acquaintances to help you out, or try contacting employers directly.

Make a plan and set goals

A man standing at the kitchen table reading a newspaper.
It's a good idea to take a methodical approach to job hunting

It's a good idea to approach job hunting as though it is a job itself. You know your ultimate goal, now plan out the steps you are going to take to get there.

Write a to-do list for the week ahead and have a defined goal for each day. For instance, Monday morning's goal could be to go through the weekend's newspapers and apply for three advertised positions. Tuesday's goal could be to register with four labour-hire companies.

Be realistic, but challenge yourself. When you set a schedule, make sure it is one that can be achieved. This will help you feel a sense of control and accomplishment.

How to find job vacancies

Job vacancies are advertised in many ways. Make sure you check for vacancies in several places, as some may be advertised in only one spot.

Use the internet

Most job vacancies are listed online. 

  • There are many different job vacancy websites. Some list vacancies for a variety of jobs, while others have job in specific industries, such as IT.
  • Many recruitment agencies use job vacancy websites, but also have job listings on their own websites.
  • Many industry organisations, such as professional bodies or industry training organisations, will have job listings.
  • If you are interested in working at a certain business or a particular employer, keep an eye on their website. Most organisations will list vacancies on their own website.

Check daily and local newspapers

Major daily newspapers usually have one issue a week that features most of the job adverts. Papers with a weekend edition will generally have a large employment section too.

Recruitment agencies

Recruitment agencies often advertise vacancies in newspapers or on their own websites on behalf of employers. You will normally need to register with an agency before you can apply for the vacancy, but registration should be free, as recruitment companies get paid by employers.

Recruitment agencies will often contact you about other jobs they think will suit you, which can be an effective way to access jobs that are not publicly advertised.

Other places where jobs are advertised

  • Professional and industry journals – you can buy these journals, or see if they are available in your library or on the internet.
  • Career expos –  recruitment agencies, universities and industries hold job expos, where employers provide information about job opportunities at their companies, and list vacancies. You can often apply for the positions at the expo, so take a few copies of your CV and be prepared for impromptu interviews.

Contact employers directly

Contacting employers directly (sometimes called "cold-calling") allows you to tap into the large number of jobs that are not advertised.

Approaching an employer directly can not only help you find out more about a job or industry that interests you, but may lead to a job opportunity.

Preparing to contact employers

Before contacting an employer, you want to know a little about the organisation. For larger organisations, the best place to start is usually their website. You might also want to check advertising brochures, industry publications or, depending on the organisation, visit the business to get an idea of the type of employee they are looking for.

Contacting employers

  • Speaking to someone in person is the best way to get your foot in the door with an employer.
  • If the organisation is large, call and ask for the human resources/recruiting division of the organisation (if they have one). Otherwise, ask for the name of the person you should talk to.
  • Try to get a 15 to 20-minute appointment – or informational interview. This is where you can ask for information about the organisation, and get a feel for what they are like.
  • Even if there isn't a vacancy at the time, the employer will remember your name when jobs do come up.
  • If you can't talk to someone in person, send a cover letter with your CV, and tell them what type of work you'd be interested in, and how you are qualified to fill those roles. You can also ask for an opportunity to meet with the employer, or visit their organisation.

Informational interviews

If you do get to meet an employer, you have a great opportunity to ask a range of questions, and show your interest in what they do.

You can also find out information that would help you in a future application – such as about what skills you'd need to get a job – but you can also find out more about the work itself, to make sure it's right for you.

Use your networks to help you find vacancies

Two men walking down the street, chatting.
Friends, family, former colleagues – you never know who will have a job lead

One of the best ways of getting a job is through word of mouth, so talk to everyone you know, including people such as:

  • family and friends
  • previous employers and colleagues
  • local businesspeople.

Think of these people as your network of job hunters – between them they will have access to a far wider range of people and potential job leads than you could possibly access yourself. 

Tips for graduates

Moving from tertiary study into work can be tough, as though you have the skills, employers may still prefer someone with experience.

When starting out in a career, you may need to be more flexible in what you're willing to take on. 

  • Look at people you know who have the same or similar degrees. What work are they doing?
  • Talk to people doing the job you're interested in. They can tell you more about the job, and ways to get into it.
  • Visit the career department at your tertiary provider. They may be able to give you tips or advice.
  • Be realistic about what kind of job you will get. For example, you may not be a research scientist immediately, so look at entry-level positions in your desired field. Pay may not initially be great, but often rises considerably after a year or two.