Job Search Strategies

How do employers recruit?

Employers use a wide range of recruitment methods to fill vacancies, so it is important to adopt a variety of job search strategies to avoid missing out on potential employment opportunities.

Research by the Department of Employment indicates that

  • more than half of all vacancies are advertised on the Internet or in a newspaper
  • around one in seven vacancies is filled using an employment agency
  • one third of vacancies are not formally advertised.

Common recruitment methods

Shows the most common recruitment methods. Internet or newspaper – over half. Informal methods only – around a third. Employment agencies around one in seven. Other methods – around 1%.

Employers who do not use media to advertise use a range of informal methods to fill their vacancies, including word of mouth, being approached directly by job seekers and placing a sign in the window of their business.

Employers’ recruitment strategies vary depending on their location and the position for which they are recruiting. In recent years, there has been a move to online advertising of many vacancies, and this is evident across much of the labour market. Some small employers, though, prefer to advertise locally and they often use newspapers and local contacts.

What are employability skills?

Employability skills are non-technical or generic skills which contribute to your ability to gain and keep a job. They are sometimes referred to as key, core, life, essential or soft skills. Unlike many technical skills, employability skills are transferable between jobs.

Employers value people who can communicate effectively; have teamwork and problem-solving skills; show initiative and enterprise; can plan and organise work; and have good capabilities in working with technology. The Department’s skill shortage research shows that if applicants do not have these attributes employers often reject them, even if they hold relevant qualifications.

While employers consider all of these to be important, particular jobs may require some employability skills more than others. Employers also seek people who have a range of personal attributes including: loyalty, commitment, honesty and integrity, enthusiasm, reliability, good personal presentation, common sense, positive self-esteem, an ability to deal with pressure, motivation and adaptability

These skills can be developed in entry-level jobs or pre-vocational courses and extracurricular activities. It is now a requirement of nationally recognised vocational education and training (VET) packages to embed employability skills into course content.

Workplace experience is valuable

One of the most difficult challenges, that even the most highly educated person can face, is breaking into the labour market with little or no workplace experience. The Department’s research has shown that at least half of all vacancies require some level of experience, but many employers would hire someone with limited experience (six months or less), so even a short-term job could help.

Students may have the chance to undertake a placement to gain workplace experience as part of their course. Those undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship benefit from a combination of training and employment.

It can be hard to get workplace experience, but there are some relatively simple steps that job seekers can take to enhance their competitiveness, such as

  • following instructions when applying for jobs
  • having a well presented application
  • demonstrating genuine interest in the job
  • indicating availability and being flexible
  • ensuring email addresses and social media content are appropriate
  • reassuring the employer that they have reliable transport
  • tailoring their personal presentation to the business
  • highlighting their employability skills (volunteering can also help develop these).

Entering the workforce or transitioning to another job

Consider a wide range of job opportunities. Be receptive to a broad range of employment opportunities and be prepared to ‘try something different’. Roles that increase exposure to potential employers, or which develop new skills, could be a stepping stone to other opportunities.

Additional training could be required. Consider broadening and diversifying your skill set. In addition to providing additional skills and qualifications, training demonstrates a commitment to a particular career direction. Training, such as undertaking a short course in computing or technology, can also be used to improve general skills.

Promote your adaptability. Having résumés that are up-to-date, comprehensive and which highlight transferable skills are essential to properly ‘sell yourself’ to employers.

Be informed. Researching the business and/or industry may help to demonstrate that you have an interest in the job, allowing you to stand apart from other applicants.

Act quickly. Anecdotal evidence suggests that by applying early, applicants can enhance their prospects as some employers take on the first applicant who meets their criteria.

Sources: ACCI and BCA, Employability Skills for the Future; Department of Employment, Survey of Employers’ Recruitment Experiences; Department of Employment, Entry level jobs – opportunities and barriers; Department of Employment, Skill Shortage Research