how to start looking for a job

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Once you have your resume ready, you need to explore as many job opportunities as possible.

The hidden job market

Finding work through job advertisements can be effective but limited, as only 20% of jobs are advertised. Most people find out about job opportunities by approaching and speaking to family members, friends, acquaintances, employers, recruiters and people working within the industry. There approaches include:

Networking is all about developing and using your personal contacts. Here are some ways to help grow your network so you can land a job:

Create A Spreadsheet

Start by listing all the people you currently know in all the different areas of your life: family, friends, hobby and sports clubs, community or religious organisations, and anyone else you can think of who you have some kind of relationship with.

Let People Know You're Looking

Next, let them all know you are looking for a job. Tell them the type of work you want to do, what industry or even a specific company if you have selected one. Ask them if they know anyone in these areas and if they would be prepared to introduce you. You may be pleasantly surprised when you get a call from someone whose uncle is the manager of your target company!

Search Your Online Networks

Next, think about your online social network. - Facebook, LinkedIn and so on. If you surf around in your connections at these enormous sites, you can often find they have connections that can be helpful to you. The best way of making use of these connections is to contact them directly, preferably by phone. Tell them what you’re doing, and explain you noticed they listed a certain person or company among their connections, and that you would very much appreciate an introduction.


Tips for Using Social and Other Media

Using social media is becoming more and more important as a way to find a job. Today, half of all job seekers are active on social networking sites on a daily basis, and more than a third of all employers use these sites in their hiring process.

Sites like FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+ show employers who you are outside of your résumé, cover letter, or interview—while they offer you the opportunity to learn about companies you’re interested in; and hear about job openings quickly, among other things.

But remember !!

If you use social networking sites, you’ll want to be careful.

Many employers who scan social media profiles said they have found content that has caused them not to hire the job applicant.

Some employers said they didn’t offer a job applicant the position because of inappropriate photos and information posted on his or her profile; while some said they chose not to hire someone because of evidence of drinking and/or drug use on his or her online profiles.

Other reasons they decided not to offer the job: the applicant’s profile showed poor communication skills, he or she bad mouthed previous employers, made discriminatory comments related to race, gender, or religion, or lied about qualifications.

So if you choose to share your activities publicly on social media, make sure that they show your accomplishments and qualifications in a positive way.

Cold Calling

Cold calling is the process of directly approaching employers, by visiting, phone calls, or canvassing letters, and marketing yourself to them, regardless of a job being advertised. Job advertisements in newspapers and on the internet sometimes receive hundreds of applications. A cold call, a visit in person or a canvassing letter at the right time can tap into the hidden job market before a vacancy is advertised.

Some experts estimate that the hidden job market covers up to 80% of positions. In reality, companies are ALWAYS hiring and ALWAYS looking for people to join them. Even in the worst economic conditions, there are people leaving firms to retire, to take other jobs or to do something else like go to school or start their own business. Often, these openings are filled by people already working for the firm, who get promoted. Other times, they are filled by referrals of people working for the firm. Sometimes, resumes are received at the right time.

Cold calling also helps you create contacts in the industry, so even though you may contact many businesses without generating specific job leads, it’s still worthwhile as a networking tool.

Cold calling can be a good way to find part-time work, particularly in small businesses, where employers don’t have the time to go through the full job advertising, interviewing process, but could use some help in their busy times.

Tips for Cold Calling 

Personal visits

Visiting employers can be scary, but remember if you are polite, very few people in business will respond angrily for trying. Here’s what to do:

  • Choose a geographical area in which you would like to work and visit the organisations in that area that have work that will suit you;

  • Be polite and don’t be too pushy;

  • Be well presented, neat and clean;

  • Offer to wait or come back later if they are busy;

  • Explain as clearly and briefly as possible how you, with your skills, could benefit their organisation;

  • Have a fresh, up to date copy of your resume with you to leave with them, which has all your contact details;

  • If they invite you back again, make sure you go and are on time;

  • If they don’t request another time to see you, call in again just to check if anything has come up (this also reminds them about you).

Phone calling

Cold calling by phone is not easy, but can get results. Here's what to do:

  • Make a list of the organisations you want to work with and research the kind of work they do;

  • Tailor your resume to suit each organisation;

  • Write a practice phone script, highlighting your skills and reasons why you are the perfect employee for their organisation; see below for a sample cold calling script.

  • Be polite;

  • Receptionists can provide useful information about the company, before they put you through to someone, ask them for the name of that person;

  • If you speak to the recruitment manager, ask for their full name, position title and a time to follow up the call;

  • Follow up the call when you said you would.

Download Sample Cold Calling Scripts (DOC, 265kb)


Canvassing Letters

A canvassing letter is an uninvited inquiry to an employer, recruiter or other hiring manager regarding possible job opportunities. Basically, it's the letter written to the hiring manager of a company for a job that has not been advertised and might not even be available yet.

A canvassing letter should strongly convey the impression that you've taken time to research the company you're contacting. And by doing some simple research on the company before sending a letter, you can effectively show an employer that you have the skills they need.

When you're writing a canvassing letter, it's more important than ever that you emphasise your relevant skills and talents, simply because a hiring manager won't bother to read your letter if it's full of information that is irrelevant.

Canvassing Letter Writing Tips

  • Make sure to write to a specific person. It will increase your chance of receiving a response. Do you read the junk mail you receive?

  • Open your letter in a way that catches the reader's attention. You can't write, "I am applying for the position you advertised…" Be creative! Quickly identify who you are, how you will benefit their company, and what type of position you would like.

  • Sell yourself. Tell the reader your strengths and how you could benefit their company. Make sure to include some of your accomplishments.

  • Do not mention salary or benefits in your letter.

  • Close in a manner that requests a meeting or interview.

  • Don't forget your contact details.

Download Jobseeker Canvass Letter Example (DOC, 261kb)

Keep a record of your contact history for phone, personal visit and canvassing letter cold calling. This will help you to remember the follow up actions you need to do for each contact.

Download Sample Cold Calling Action Grid (DOC, 261kb)

*Cold calling is not successful every time, be prepared for knock backs, but don't be disheartened. Being in the right place at the right time may get you that job.

The Advertised Job Market

Here, jobs are advertised publicly, using a variety of different channels including:

Job Placement Organisations

These are employment service agencies that refer jobseekers to job vacancies, and provide various kinds of other support for people looking for work.

There are many of these organisations across Australia helping people find jobs. Some give help to people with specific needs including people with a disability, people of Aboriginal or Torres Islander descent, refugees, those who are homeless, young people in need, and those who are long term unemployed.

Check out free job placement agencies in Australia via the jobactive JobSearch website.

The most popular Australian job search websites.




Many job listings Australia wide. Includes job alerts, resume tips, interview advice and training.

Defence Jobs

Navy, Army or Air Force sections. Information on what life's like in the forces and all the latest job information.


Find thousands of new jobs, careers and employment opportunities in Australia


Australian job search is a free online commonwealth government service.

LinkMe Jobs

Lets employers and recruiters find you for job opportunities.


Search employment opportunities in Australia. Careers from graduate to the executive level.


Website with many job listings.


SEEK is Australia's largest employment site, featuring over 90,000 jobs, job emails and career tools.


Australian job website listing thousands of positions, including many part-time and casual roles suited to young people seeking to enter the workforce

Some other general websites to look at include:

Other Job websites with information for jobseekers with specific requirements include:

Websites of organisations

It is becoming popular for organisations to advertise positions vacant on their own websites. If there’s a particular organisation you’re interested in working with, conduct a search for positions vacant on their website.

For links to the websites of many organisations in Australia, visit:

Manta (Companies in Australia)

Wikipedia (List of Companies of Australia)


Employment opportunities are often listed in relevant magazines and industry journals. It is a good idea to check out reputable ones related to your career interests, qualifications and skills. Visit isubscribe for a link to lots of industry publications.

You can also look in regional, national and local newspapers (including those online) for job advertisements. In some newspapers specific occupations may be advertised on particular days of the week, for example, IT jobs on a Tuesday, social care and community service on Wednesday. Find out when jobs in your industry area of interest are advertised. Visit Online Newspapers to check out newspaper websites across Australia.

Private Employment Agencies

There are four main types of private employment agencies in Australia:

  • personnel consultants,

  • labour hire contractors,

  • student employment services and

  • general employment agencies.

Personnel consultants handle mostly executive, managerial and professional positions although there’s some overlap with general employment agencies.

Labour hire contractors handle jobs for skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers and tend to be located in industrial areas rather than the main streets of major cities. Some specialise in particular fields or industries: accounting; agriculture; au pairs and nannies; banking; carers; computing; engineering and technical; hospitality; industrial and manual work; legal; medical and nursing; mining; outback jobs; resort work; sales; secretarial; and tourism. Others deal with a range of industries and professions. Visit Yellow Pages 'Labour and Contract Hire' for listings of labour hire agencies in your area.

Some agencies deal exclusively with temporary workers in a variety of occupations, including baby-sitters, chauffeurs, cleaners, cooks, gardeners, hairdressers, housekeepers, industrial workers, labourers, office staff and security guards. Care, nanny and nursing agencies are common and usually cover the whole range of nursing services. Many agencies handle both permanent and temporary positions.

Usually, private employment agencies are not allowed to charge fees to job applicants, as they receive their fees from employer clients, although in some states they may charge a registration fee (check first).

If you take a temporary job through an agency, you’re paid by the agency, usually weekly or fortnightly, which may include paid public and annual holidays after a qualifying period. Always obtain a contract and ensure that you know exactly how much you will be paid and when, and the conditions regarding the termination of a job.

Agencies must deduct income tax from gross pay and you’re required to give an agency your tax file number within a few weeks of starting work; otherwise they must deduct tax at the highest marginal tax rate. Salaries vary considerably according to the type of job, but most secretarial jobs for example pay between $14 and $20 per hour. You usually receive extra pay (loading) for weekend and night work, and there are allowances (called tropical loading or remote area allowances) for jobs in remote areas of Northern Territory and Western Australia (above the Tropic of Capricorn).

Private employment agencies earn a great deal of money from finding people jobs so, provided you have something to offer their clients, they’re keen to help you. If they cannot help you, they usually tell you immediately and won’t waste your time.

When visiting employment agencies, you should dress appropriately for the type of job you’re seeking, and take with you your bank details (if you want to get paid!), curriculum vitae (CV or resume), passport (with a visa if applicable), references and tax file number (TFN). Office staff may be given a typing or literacy test (if applicable) and some agencies have in-house training programmes. You should register with a number of agencies to maximise your chances of finding work. Keep in close contact and try to provide a telephone number where you can be reached; otherwise you should ring in every day.

There are many private employment agencies in Australia, many operating nationally with offices in all major cities, while others operate in one or two cities only. If you’re travelling around Australia and plan to work in a number of major cities, you may find it advantageous to work for an agency with offices nationwide.

To find your local agencies, look in the Yellow Pages under 'Employment Agencies’' and in local newspapers. Employment agencies are increasingly using the internet to advertise job vacancies, which speeds up the response and processing of job applications.

Job search Tips and Myths

Myth 1: If I'm the right person for the job, I'll get through the automated system.

These days more and more on-line recruitment is processed via an automated tracking system (ATS), and whenever you put in an application it's not guaranteed that you'll get through the screening process even though you may have the best qualifications and experience for the job. You need to make sure your resume and covering letters are of a high standard, really address the eligibility criteria, and are attractively presented. Then you should find out the hiring manager's email address, and send your application directly to that person. Chances are the hiring manager will be impressed with your initiative.

Myth 2: I'll get a response to every application.

Once upon a time job seekers almost always received a response to their job applications – either extending an invitation for an interview or politely explaining why they were not selected. Unfortunately, these days that doesn't happen very often. Mostly hiring managers only contact those people who are selected for interview. So the truth is, you're probably not going to get any feedback from your initial application unless you follow up with the hiring manager yourself in the right way – politely, and at the right time – around a week after the applications closing date. If there is no response, try again a week later. If still no answer, move on to your next job opportunity. You don't want to waste your time.

Myth 3: The hiring manager will be able to work out that I am the best person for the job

If your cover letter and resume don't show how your skills and experience match the selection criteria for the job, the hiring manager won't have a clue that you are the best fit for the job. You must make sure your resume is up to date, and that you explain, with examples from previous work performance, how and why you are best suited to that particular position.

Myth 4: My passion for the job will outweigh my lack of qualification.

Be realistic about your skills and experience in relation to the jobs you are applying for. Don't assume that because you have dreamed of that particular job as being perfect for you, the one you've always wanted, that you should automatically get it because of your enthusiasm. If you fall short of the minimum requirements only slightly, you could still put in an application stressing your interest, enthusiasm and willingness to learn, to make up for lack of skill or qualification or experience. However, if you are a long way off the minimum requirements for the position, you probably would never get to the interview stage. Perhaps you could submit a general application highlighting your enthusiasm, and asking to be considered for other jobs that may come up in the future.

Myth 5: If I'm meant to get it I'll get it

You can't rely on fate to get you a job. You need to put in effort and be persistent.

  • You have to research each company you apply to and put time and effort into each and every cover letter and resume you submit.

  • You need to prepare your cover letter and resume very carefully – well presented, no spelling errors, and directly answering the selection criteria.

  • In order to get your application in front of the hiring manager, you have to find out his/her contact details to send your application directly to that person.

  • You have to follow up when those people don't respond, then follow up again when they do respond, to thank them for their time.

Job hunting can be a challenging process. But if you ignore the myths, the unrealistic expectations for your search, you'll be able to focus your time using better ways to get noticed, get interviews, and get the job you've dreamed of. But it won't just happen. You have to make it happen.


Tips for getting a job without any experience


If you're applying for entry-level jobs, most people aren’t expecting you to come in with a resume filled with experience. Make sure you’re applying for positions that are appropriate for you. In a tight job market where employers are flooded with highly qualified applicants, there’s less incentive to take a chance on a marginally qualified candidate. Carefully target jobs you truly can prove you can succeed in—not just those where you think, "I could do that," but those where you can excel with the strength and skills you already have.

Think about why you believe you are the right person for the job. What experience, or what personal qualities do you have that make the job a good fit? If you understand this you will be able to explain it to a potential employer. Make a list of all the skills listed in position description for the job you’re applying for and give examples of how you have successfully used some or all these skills in your volunteering work, work experience, school, community or club activity you are involved in. Computer skills, technical skills, communication skills, research skills, problem-solving skills are all used in some ways in these activities. People who are hiring are looking for people who show commitment, are willing to work hard and want to learn.

Remember to showcase qualities like friendliness, professionalism, responsiveness, and follow-through. Highlight examples of your dedication, curiosity, and commitment to learning and growth. These positive traits are highly valued in the workplace.

Confidence is important, but it has to be balanced with humility and modesty. Show that you can do the job, but remember you are also unskilled and untrained. Show that you’re very willing to learn.

If you can’t find a job, work for free. A volunteer position can be easier to find than a paid job. Volunteer for as much relevant service as you can. You’ll not only gain valuable experience, but will also be able to build a network and get a foot in the door.

Building your personal network is a reliable path to a great job at any stage of life. Connect with everyone you know—and in turn with everyone they know—through social media, community and professional events, setting up lunch or coffee dates to stay in touch, any way you can find.

It may be that you need more education to qualify for what you really want to do—for example, if you discover an interest in law, then it may be time to apply for law studies. But even outside of formal education, find ways to keep current and expand your base of knowledge—do work experience, enrol in professional development or special training courses, or just do a lot of reading in your fields of interest.

It may take a little while for you to get a job. The more defeated you allow yourself to feel, the worse this experience will be. Every day, do something to find a job, and do it with the mind-set that it is not a waste of time, but a chance to learn and explore. Remember, you have the power to change the way you think about it. If you follow this approach, success will come sooner rather than later.

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