Tips and tricks on finding the perfect job

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After three years living and working abroad, Laura Crowden (a former c-worder) has returned to Melbourne and shares her insight and advice on finding the perfect job in Melbourne’s communications sector.

Since leaving Australia in mid-2009 to backpack around Europe and work in London, all feedback on Australia’s economy was “it’s boom time”. A rapidly climbing Australian dollar, rising salaries, low unemployment and a minerals boom made the decision to head to London in the midst of a recession seem somewhat misguided. Luckily, I managed to stay employed, well paid and travelled almost every corner of Europe. But upon packing up my bags and returning home for Christmas, I was somewhat dismayed to discover I might have missed the boom altogether.

Widespread job losses in the financial and manufacturing industries are constantly in the headlines, and unemployment is predicted to rise. While the strong Australia dollar may make shopping trips to the US cheap, on the flip side it’s causing too many jobs to move offshore.

So, since arriving back on our sunny shores, how have I found the job market? Well, not too bad to be honest and salaries definitely exceed the UK for communications roles. January was understandably sluggish but the general consensus is that job vacancies in most sectors will begin to increase in the coming months as offices get back into gear.

Resume polished, referees contacted and a kick-ass cover letter drafted, I could procrastinate no longer and had to get stuck into re-entering the Melbourne market. With over six years of media relations & PR experience in Melbourne and London, I was looking to move away from the public sector and into a different field. The current recruitment freeze across the Victorian Government made it the perfect time to look elsewhere.

First step was quite obviously Seek and other job sites. I scoured every job ad in Marketing & Communications, saving those of interest. Reviewing each advertisement carefully, I then applied for those of interest and relevance. I wasn’t too choosy and cast a wide net, at times applying for roles more junior or more senior to get a better understanding of the market. After all, any interview is good experience.

In addition to applying for ads on Seek, I got in contact with old colleagues and bosses. Networking may be an overused word in communications, but it does work. Over coffees, lunches and dinners, I gained further insight into the market and sought out possible jobs. I dramatically overhauled my LinkedIn profile and achieved ‘100% profile complete’.

Recruiters were the next obvious step. I sought recommendations, introductions and contact details from friends who had recently been job hunting in Melbourne. From email introductions to general cold calling, I found persistence was the key to setting up meetings and getting registered. I sought out the most highly recommended recruitment agencies, but balanced quality with quantity. Finding a job, either through recruiters or via Seek, is to a certain extent a numbers game.

Job hunting is definitely easier if it’s your full time job. You have time to submit thorough applications, follow up all leads and recommendations, and foster relationships with simple actions like thank you emails. As mentally draining as it is to talk about yourself all day, and repeat the same answers to different recruiters, you begin to get into a groove. You quickly learn to devise standard responses or the best way to phrase a particular job or responsibility.

Interviews with recruiters are a fabulous trial run for interviews with perspective employers. And all interviews should be pursued, even if you aren’t sure about the job. After all, you’re interviewing them as an employer as much as they’re interviewing you. And sometimes a seemingly mediocre job becomes a perfect fit after meeting the team, and sometimes you realise a job that looked fantastic on paper may not live up to your expectations.

I struggled with balancing the need for an income with the desire to take a step up in my career and seek out the perfect role. Most of the time, the 100% perfect role doesn’t exist. What you can hope for, and what I found, is a role that will hopefully tick most of the boxes and offers me room for personal and professional growth.

So how did I find a job? A combination of being in the right place at the right time, putting myself out there and working damn hard. Job hunting may just be the most challenging job of all…..

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