How to make yourself more employable (and stand out from the crowd)

Most people have, at some stage in their careers, been passed over for a job or promotion because the other candidate had that little something extra. There are times when this is unavoidable, but there are also plenty of things that you can do along the way to make sure you are the one who stands out next time an opportunity comes along.

1. Do your research

Have a look at position descriptions for roles or promotions that you might be interested in down the track. Ask yourself honestly which of the boxes you don't tick, or which areas you could become more competent in. You should also take any available opportunities to speak with current, or past direct reports and ask them what areas they think you could work on to move forward in your chosen field.

2. Brush Up Your Skills

If you are currently employed, this is the perfect time to start preparing for your next role. If you think your knowledge in a particular area is below average take some tutorials, do some research or speak to someone who knows more than you. Ask your employer if there is a way you can incorporate this skill into your daily tasks to help you to practise and learn more. If you aren't currently employed these options are still available to you, instead of using the skill at work find other ways to use it on a daily basis. Every extra skill looks great on your resume, and being able to talk about it confidently in an interview can only help your chances.

3. Further Study

Not everyone can take the time out of their career to go back to school and earn another degree, but this doesn't mean you can't add extra qualifications to your CV along the way. There are plenty of TAFEs and online providers who offer short courses which you can fit in around an existing role. Many employers encourage professional development, and may even have a budget to help you out financially. Workshops and training courses offered by your workplace should also be taken advantage of and listed on your resume when relevant. Make sure you remember that all of these little things add up when presenting the best you possible.

4. Perfect Your Resume

You might be perfect for the role, but if your resume isn't up to scratch then you won't even make it to interview stages for many roles. Make sure it looks professional, and contains all details of all relevant skills, experience and education. If you aren't sure how to do this, download our free resume template now or call The Institute of Careers for more advice.

5. Look The Part

Make sure you have at least one nice suit, a crisp white shirt and polished shoes. Practise answering interview questions in front of a mirror. Back up your skills with confidence and good presentation to sell yourself as the complete package and be the most employable you that you can be!

Interview, Job Search, Resume

How to Research a Role

One of the most common questions you will find yourself asked in an interview is “What do you know about our company?”. It can sometimes feel awkward telling the interview panel what they already know, but this demonstrates that you are well prepared, and also genuinely interested in the position.

The Position Description

Read the Position Description thoroughly. This is your first insight into the position and has all of the most important information that you need to know. If there are any terms you don't understand make the effort to look each of them up so that you won't be caught off guard in the interview. If you have any questions, make note of them so that you can ask when the opportunity arises. Make sure that you check to see if there is a more detailed Position Description or any other additional information attached to the advertisement.

Human Resources

Many job advertisements will list a phone number for enquiries about the role, and some will even encourage you to call them for a chat before applying. Talking with a real person can help you to understand the workplace culture and how the role fits into the organisation. If you make a good impression this conversation may also help you to stand out from the crowd when shortlisting occurs.

Company website

This is your most valuable resource for understanding the identity that the company wants to present to the public. Read About Us and History sections to find out how the company has evolved. Have a look at Team pages to understand the corporate structure, and possibly research the interview panel. Read any News or Blog pages for ideas on conversation points and questions to bring up during your interview. Values and Mission Statements will also allow you to decide how you would like to present yourself in the interview, you can play up certain elements of your personality and skills that this particular organisation considers desirable, while downplaying others which may be at odds with their culture.


This social media and networking tool is playing an increasingly large role in bridging the gap between employers and job seekers. Many companies will have a LinkedIn profile for the organisation itself, as well as many of the key players in management and people who may end up being part of your team. You can also see news, profiles and links that the company has posted, which will sometimes be different to their more formal website content, providing a different insight into the public persona of the organisation.

Google Search

It can often be handy to use Google to look into a prospective workplace. The company may have online reviews, be listed in connection with recent news stories, or have a wide range of information detailed on their Wikipedia page. Just remember, if it wasn't posted by an official source it may not necessarily be accurate!

Interview, Job Search

Finding work in the hidden job market

Have you heard of the hidden job market?

An estimated 80 per cent of jobs aren’t advertised, which begs the question – where are they and how do I get one?

In the burgeoning aged and child care industries, for example, you won’t find many jobs advertised because employees are required to have a Certificate III in their respective industries, and complete a certain amount of hours on work placement. As a consequence, there’s a lot of potential employees doing placements in the aged and child care sectors that will automatically get the job.

But that’s the bad news.

The good news is there’s plenty of scope to find out about these and other hidden jobs through the power of networking – both on and offline.

Networking is advantageous for all jobseekers, whether you are unemployed and looking for work or have a job but want to take the next step in your career. It’s a great way to meet key industry insiders, and find out about new opportunities through word-of-mouth and face-to-face contact.

Online, the best way to network is without a doubt through the business-focussed social network LinkedIn, so if you don’t have an account – get on it! LinkedIn is the biggest and best professional network to find a job, develop your career and connect with likeminded professionals in your area of expertise. Make sure your LinkedIn profile reads like a resume – keep it crisp, clean and concise.

For those of you who are already in the workforce, immerse yourself in your industry and take a genuine interest in what you’re doing. Further to that, actively attend professional development opportunities including events and after-hours functions. Be confident but not pushy when approaching people you don’t know – the last thing you want them to think is that you’re trying to get something out of them.

As a final tip, we at the Institute of Careers recommend you become a collector of business cards. Get yourself a little black book and store every single business card in it – you never know when that contact will come in handy!


Job Search

How to get the job you want

Landing your dream job could be as easy as 1,2,3 – you just have to follow our simple three-step plan.

Step 1: Make a list of 10 organisations you want to work for. Remember to pick places that are close to home, or relatively easy to get to. The key is to choose organisations that you would genuinely love to work for. It’s not uncommon for employers to ask job candidates ‘how bad do you want it?’ By showing enthusiasm and passion, it will be a lot easier to convince the employer to hire you.

Step 2: Ring every organisation on your list and say you are writing a letter to the manager about potential positions within their organisation, and would like the manager’s full name. Then write a letter explaining why you have specific interest in working for their company. Don’t forget to outline how you have the ability to perform, and excel, in the role.

Step 3: Visit each business dressed in black pants and a smart shirt. Ask for the manager by name – you already know this from Step 2. Look the manager in the eye and explain why you have a specific interest in working for their company. Ask if you could possibly do a day’s work experience to prove you are more than capable of doing the job.

While the organisations you visit might not be hiring, you’ll still stand out from the pile of resumes when recruitment does occur because the employer knows who you are. Once you have done some work experience, you have your foot in the door and can leverage that into a job.

Case study:

A job-seeker named Paul had a career goal to work in the mines. Until he got his wish, he was applying for jobs in warehousing and would apply for at least five jobs a day – but to no avail. What was the problem?

Paul’s resume and cover letter literally said: “I’m looking for warehousing work while I pursue my goal to work in the mines.”

This is a big problem – any employer will look at the opening line, the most important line in any resume, and will immediately know the applicant doesn’t actually want to work for them.

After following our three-step strategy for building a career, Paul ended up finding a job in less than two weeks. Where was the job? In a warehouse, not the mines. Nevertheless, Paul is now a closer to building his career, and can now use the same strategy to pursue work in the mines.

Job Search

Visiting potential employers unannounced

The main reason job-seekers should consider visiting potential employers unannounced isn’t to score a job immediately – it’s about establishing a rapport, showing your tenacity and getting your foot in the door.

When speaking with someone face-to-face, keep in mind you are dealing with a human being, and human beings usually share the following traits:

• They will be probably be more afraid of you than you are of them. This is why they sometimes try to bluff you away with nastiness – don’t be afraid!

• They will only deal with someone they like and trust. If you are open, honest and tell them your strengths and weaknesses from the outset they will trust you more.

• They will always avoid making a decision if you let them, therefore you need to ask them to make the decision.

• Their number one priority is always themselves. Being charitable is nice, but noone will hire you because you have no money and need a job. You need to explain what value you will specifically bring to their business.

• They will only take action to avoid a pain or make a gain. This means you need to stimulate two emotions – greed and fear of loss. If you tell your potential employer you’d love to spend one day per week on work experience with their company, they will be gaining an extra employee for free and might not have to sift through dozens of resumes when the time comes to making a new appointment. If you tell the potential employer that you are a serious contender for other jobs but would still love the opportunity to work for their organisation, or at least do work experience, they might be more inclined to say yes if they fear they could lose out to the competition.

Job Search

Applying sales tips to your job search

In sales there is a series of impulse factors that are used to motivate the potential buyer to take action immediately. When it comes to job-hunting, the kinds of impulse actions you want an employer to take include;

• Opening your email – use impulse factors in the subject line;

• Reading your resume – use impulse factors in your cover letter/career objective;

• Taking action from your resume, i.e. calling you for an interview;

• Offering you work experience and;

• Offering you a job.

To remember the impulse factors, use the acronym G.I.F.T.S

G is for Greed

People are greedy – employers want more money, better staff etc. If you can explain how you can deliver more value to their company, how you can bring in more money, operational efficiencies or just be a really easy staff member to manage, you will be appealing to an employer.

I is for Indifferent

People don’t like to be sold something, they want to make their own decisions. While you can’t go begging them for a job, you do need to lay out the benefits of what you can bring to the company and let them make the smart decision.

F is for Fear of Loss

People are more compelled to make a decision if they think they’ll miss out. If you explain that you are quite progressed with applications with other companies, but you specifically want to work for them, this could be the impulse they need to make a decision to hire you.

T is for The Jones Theory

If the Joneses are doing it, then everyone wants to do it. It’s called keeping up with the Joneses. If you make it sound like no other employer is interested in you, the employer might think there’s something wrong with you and won’t be interested either. On the other hand, if you make it clear that you are highly sought after and have lots of employers chasing you, then you will be more appealing. This includes having lots of LinkedIn contacts.

S is for Sense of Urgency

Impulse can be encouraged by creating a sense of urgency. This particular factor could be applied to interstate jobs, for example. So if you lived in Adelaide but the job you wanted was in Melbourne, you could tell the organisation that you will be in Melbourne for two days and would love to see them briefly, thus creating an impulse and sense of urgency.

The final take home tip from all this is any time you have an interaction with a potential employer, make sure you give them a gift!

Job Search

The golden formula for job-hunting

Apart from selling yourself, what the heck has sales got to do with the job-hunting process?

In sales, there’s something called a golden formula where activity x skill = result.

In the job search context, activity means the amount of effort you put into your job-hunting, namely the number of jobs you apply for, while skill is the quality of your job-hunting efforts.

As an example, you could have the perfect resume (high in skill) but not apply for any jobs. With no activity, even if you multiply it by a high skill, you will still won’t get a result.

On the other hand, you could apply for 100 jobs (high activity) but have a terrible resume (no skill) and you’ll also find there’s no outcome.

If you’re halfway, so you have an OK resume and apply for one or two jobs per week, you’ll start to see a result but chances are it won’t be a big one.

If you need a job fast, then you have to step into overdrive and focus hard on both activity and skill. This means you need not only a high-quality resume but an effective job-hunting strategy so that when you apply for a large number of jobs, the golden formula dictates that you’ll get a result.

So what exactly does high activity mean?

Activity is more than just the number of job you apply for; in fact to get an exceptionally high activity rating you must engage in a full range of job-hunting techniques. This includes looking beyond Seek to find jobs – so doing your own research, networking and getting your name known at the top places you’d like to work, regardless of whether they’re currently hiring.

What do we mean by high skill?

A fantastic resume is only one part of skill – and keep in mind you can’t have a “perfect resume” that does not change. The perfect application is a package that includes a targeted resume explaining exactly why you have a specific interest in working for the company you’re applying for, and then presenting yourself, preferably face-to-face, to the company after you have researched the management.

Job Search