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For the past two decades, searching for jobs has almost always revolved around trawling job boards like Seek to see what’s on offer. If you’re ready to share your talents with the world, it’s important to know that job hunting is no longer a passive affair. There are a multitude of ways to find employment, and understanding some of the different strategies will broaden your exposure to opportunities.
Gavin Walker is the manager of the Graduate Employment Division at Deakin. He says that the idea of the ‘hidden job market,’ a term coined over a decade ago, still holds strong. ‘A vast proportion of jobs don’t go to advert,’ Walker explains. ‘Organisations might know they need somebody and be in the process of trying to get the relevant documentation together to advertise, but it’s that lag time between deciding they need certain skills on their team and actually taking the step to hire someone.’
Companies might fill these gaps with a short term contract or employing someone they have found through their networks. If that person works out well they might be kept on in an ongoing capacity. So how can you become someone that employers will consider when a position comes up?
Walker says job boards now tend to operate like recruitment agents by enabling people to upload their CVs to their job site so employers can review them. Employers who don’t want to pay a recruitment agency can easily jump on board and do a keyword search and search directly for student and graduate resumes.
‘These types of tools are very much geared towards a generalist resume,’ Walker says. ‘You can’t tailor your resume and you can only have one resume active in the system at any given point. For example, if you’ve studied commerce but have done electives that would allow you to go into an accounting, consulting, marketing, administration or junior management role, you are not going to be able to tailor your resume to each of the different areas so it becomes a little harder to get noticed.’
According to Walker, this employer search method can work well for people who have niche or specific skillsets, i.e. a videographer. Those with particular software systems experience may also find it easy to connect with employers this way.
LinkedIn is another way to put yourself out there. ‘A lot of people think LinkedIn is almost like a Facebook for business, but there are licences at the back-end, which recruiters pay to access,’ Walker says. ‘This allows them to search for candidates with the skills that they require and reach out directly. It’s therefore essential to keep your profile accurate and up-to-date.’
Walker says LinkedIn is your living breathing resume: ‘It should give a real overview of your soft skills, what you’re trying to achieve and where you’ve come from. It should give the snapshot or elevator pitch of what you can bring to the table.’
According to Walker, organisations that are hiring often don’t have time to go through the full recruitment process, particularly for entry level and graduate positions. That’s where recruitment companies come in. ‘If you can find a recruiter that you are comfortable with – someone who really shows an interest in your skills and what you can bring to an organisation – then they are worth working with,’ Walker explains.
'(LinkedIn) should give a real overview of your soft skills, what you’re trying to achieve and where you’ve come from. It should give the snapshot or elevator pitch of what you can bring to the table.'
Graduate Employment Division, Deakin University
Walker says another option is looking at the websites of companies that really interest you and reaching out. ‘Once you understand what value you would add to the company and locate the right contact, you can approach them directly.’
According to Walker it’s important to be really open and enthusiastic in your approach. ‘You could say something like “I am really interested in working for your organisation and these are the types of roles I’m interested in. If something comes up in these areas I’d be more than happy to come in and have a conversation with you,”’ Walker suggests. ‘A lot of employers that I’ve spoken to anecdotally are really impressed when someone reaches out and demonstrates their value alignment.’
We hear a lot about the potential negatives of your digital footprint when it comes to employment but the right type of online presence may actually help your career prospects. ‘If you are a writer or someone in a creative space demonstrating the ability to blog, write with confidence and show a change in style is viewed really positively,’ Walker says. ‘If you’re in the design space, showing an element of your portfolio online is a good idea.’ This said, you need to be cautious about leaving yourself open for people to take your ideas free of charge.
In the IT space, GitHub open source software development network allows companies who are having an issue with a particular piece of code to find somebody to help resolve it. Walker says, ‘This can be a way to show your work and show potential future employers examples of how you’ve helped a company solve a problem with your ability to code. This demonstrates the technical skills you can bring to an organisation.’
Walker says there are now multiple pathways into organisations and recruitment opportunities occasionally come about through things like online competitions. ‘KPMG launched a competition last year that was almost like a virtual internship. They gave out multiple problems and the people who performed well within that online test were offered a chance to come and interview for their graduate program.’
This said, only a small percentage of graduates will actually get positions with the companies that recruit employees through some of the shinier means. Walker cautions, ‘Statistically the bulk of our graduates will end up finding their first role with SME (small-to-medium enterprise) organisations. We’re not talking start-ups with one to five people; we’re talking companies with anything from 50 to 500 employees.’
Walker says it’s less about finding a dream job and more about recognising that you never know where each opportunity may lead you. ‘Take the opportunities as they come to you and keep an open and resilient frame of mind. It may not be this one but what you learn from this experience might be vital to your next application and career step.’
Need someone to look over your resume to ensure you’re on track? Head to DeakinTALENT to have your resume reviewed.
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