Tips to improve your professional job search and avoid common mistakes

To help you get a job more quickly, here are some tips to help you avoid some common mistakes when you’re looking for work:

  1. Only apply for jobs you really want – there’s really no point in wasting time on applications and interviews if you’re not going to be happy in 3 months time after you’re offered the job.
  2. Don’t send out the same cover letter and CV for different jobs – each application should be tailored to the position description. You may apply for less jobs in total, but you’ll have a better chance of success if you spend time writing cover letters and CVs that relate to the specific position description.
  3. Make sure to write a professional cover letter – you don’t want it to sound too casual or too formal. Also, when possible, try to find out the name of the person who is the Recruiting Manager and make sure to spell their name correctly on your cover letter.
  4. Make sure that you use an appropriate email address which presents you as a professional.
  5. Before you send your CV to a recruiter, try calling the recruiter to introduce yourself. When you call, always ask if it is a good time for them to talk to you. Making contact by phone helps you to build a relationship with them directly. You can ask them a question about the role or the culture of the company.
  6. Remember that recruiters or prospective employers are human and may not want to talk to you first thing on Monday morning or late on Friday afternoon. The best times to call are usually between 10-11 am and 3-4 pm.
  7. Make sure that your CV is ready to send before you call the recruiter. Once you’ve had a brief conversation with them and told them that you will send your CV, you want to send it quickly so they still remember you.  
  8. Write a short cover letter, no longer than 1 page, that highlights how your background, skills and previous experience make you a suitable candidate for the position advertised.
  9. Your professional CV should be 2-3 pages maximum and should provide enough detail about your professional experience to make the recruiter want to invite you to attend an interview. It must not tell your life story! Remember, in Australia it’s different to in other countries so, less is more! The risk is that if you tell the recruiter everything about yourself and everything about your previous experience then you won’t have much more to tell them when you go to an interview.
  10. Your CV should include both your Responsibilities and Achievements – most people who read your CV are more interested in finding out what you achieved in each role rather than just what you did in your job. As someone looking for a job, you need to show your abilities, not just your credentials.
  11. Don’t be afraid of including local work experience that is not related to your professional career – most recruiters and employers prefer to know that you have some work experience in the Australian workplace and transferable skills. You may not want to list your unrelated work experience in your Professional Experience section, but you can include it as part of a Career Summary on the first page of your CV.
  12. Make sure that your cover letter and CV are focused on what the recruiter/company want, not just on what you want – it’s important that your Profile section in your CV makes it easy for the reader to quickly find out about your background, skills and experience.
  13. Take time to check each part of every application you send including your cover letter, CV, LinkedIn profile and key selection criteria –  you should always ask a friend or a professional to review your application and make sure the English is always accurate.
  14. Once you send off your CV you need to be prepared for a phone and face to face interview. Make sure to be prepared for each type.
  15. Keep track of each application you send and each recruiter/company you contact. You may want to include – the person’s name, title, company, contact details, date of first contact, position advertised, comments from phone conversation, date when application sent, next steps, outcome.

Good luck!