Career planning and job search

Most entrepreneurs do not begin their careers by starting their own ventures (though there are some notable exceptions). The majority have had at least a small career first so that they can take the Read more

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Prue LaurenceDirector at Psylutions

Career planning and job search

Most entrepreneurs do not begin their careers by starting their own ventures (though there are some notable exceptions). The majority have had at least a small career first so that they can take the skills and knowledge they have learned and apply it to their own ventures. While some job-seekers are happy to take anything they can get, ambitious job-seekers understand that like anything else a career has to be selected and planned diligently. Career planning consists of looking for a position that you desire and determining which roles you need to perform first to qualify for it.

Determining lifestyle needs

The first mistake many job-seekers make is that they do not consider the sort of lifestyle that satisfies their needs, leading to dissatisfaction in their work lives. When it comes to choosing a career, the following considerations are important:

  • Willingness to travel
  • Preference of indoor or outdoor work
  • Preference of solo or team work
  • Work hours required
  • Educational requirements
  • Type of contract
  • Flexibility of the role
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Content of the work
  • Opportunities for advancement

Preparation

Once you have determined the field that is right for you, you need to prepare to apply. Generally this will require:

  • Resume
  • Referees
  • Written references and recommendations
  • School certificates
  • Skill certificates, degrees and awards

It’s important to find roles which you match the minimum standards of and to be able to provide documentation to prove it.

Building a fantastic resume

A resume is typically the first point of contact in a job search. Professional resumes are well written, neatly formatted and only include relevant content. The most successful applicants typically tailor their resume for each position they are applying for, emphasising the skills that are most important for that role and highlighting past experience. A good resume includes:

  • Name
  • Contact details
  • Short bio
  • Past employment (including responsibilities and achievements in those roles)
  • Education (including any special awards and achievements)
  • Skills and proficiencies
  • Photo (optional)

Apply to every job that’s right for you

If you’re searching for a job and applying to a lot of positions, it is easy to quickly lose track of the various applications, responses and contacts. Getting organised and keeping a job search folder on your computer, which contains all of your job search efforts, your contacts and your responses, will stop you from getting overwhelmed or confused.

There are a few tips that we have collected that will help you in your search:

  • Keep a spreadsheet of where you have applied and when
  • Follow up every application after 2 weeks (unless they have asked you not to)
  • Keep records of all phone conversations with key points noted
  • Respond promptly to all interview offers
  • Ensure you are groomed and dressed neatly for any interviews

What to do if you struggle to find a position

If you are struggling to find work, you have two main options - seeking work experience or commencing further education.

Work experience can be a valuable way to gain hands on, practical knowledge about your industry. It is an opportunity to:

  • Develop your skills
  • Build a relationship with a potential employer
  • Test the role to see if you enjoy it
  • Gain new references

Further education is one of the most surefire ways to access new opportunities. Consider what tafe courses or certifications may be valuable in the industry you want to work in. It is useful to find specific positions you want and seek out the necessary certifications to apply. If you are looking to join a professional career, you will probably need a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject area. Some careers may even require a Master's degree or more. If you are taking on substantial tertiary studies like these, it is wise to ensure that the degree is marketable and will produce a solid return so that you can pay off any student debt.