Career

A Modern Day Guide To Nailing Your Job Search

Vivienne Egan is a writer and editor who used to work at a recruitment agency. She learnt a thing or two about job searching and has some inside information for you.

In the pre-internet, pre-GFC world in which Millennials grew up, the adults in our lives –parents, teachers, the cast of Friends – typically had jobs that they’d found in the newspaper, or through good, old-fashioned nepotism.

Combine this with the fact that many a Boomer has stayed in a single company (or at least industry) for the majority of their careers, and you get a lot of people who have very, very different ideas about how to go job hunting. Just ask Old Economy Steve:

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Go to hell, Old Economy Steve.

Boomer-bashing aside, this highlights the very real difference in how the job hunt goes these days, compared with what Gen Y were led to expect. We’re still getting to grips with what a modern job search looks like, as though playing by ‘the rules’ well enough will net you a stable career. And sometimes it does: notably in the public service, where hiring processes are far more transparent and regulated than in most private companies.

So what do you need to know about job seeking that’s changed since the olden days of 30 years ago?

#1 A lot of jobs never hit the listings

Advertising a job is time-consuming and expensive, and where possible, a company will try and find a candidate to approach before turning the job open to the under-qualified masses.

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Even more dishearteningly, sometimes an ad will be placed just for show – like when the company already has an internal candidate they like but need to tick some boxes. Some reckon up to 80% of jobs don’t actually get advertised.

#2 The database is your friend

Large job sites like SEEK aren’t just for listing open jobs. A big part of their business is selling database access to recruiters or HR managers – where they can create a private job ad and send it directly to the candidates they like, based on those candidates’ resumes. Lesson? Make sure your CV is up-to-date and listed.

#3 Your CV needs to pull its weight

Pull out your CV. Imagine you’re on the receiving end of hundreds just like it, for one job. You’re spending about 30 seconds, max, scanning each. What stands out?

It’s essential that you break your CV down into small chunks as much as possible, using bullet points and standout keywords. Use strong verbs to describe your accomplishments in previous roles (‘Managed social media, ‘Increased sales revenue by X%’, ‘streamlined processes’). Even if those previous roles are in retail, intern or volunteer positions, describe how the company benefited from your skills.

No job for you.

The function of a CV is always, always to get you an interview – so it pays to go the extra mile and make it look and read as good as you can (that includes asking your best word nerd mate to make sure it has no typos).

#4 LinkedIn is also your friend

Yeah, it’s boring, but it’s where professional jobs get filled – either through a traditional advert or by someone who’s looking to fill a role. As with your CV, your LinkedIn profile should be easy on the eye and feature keywords that, if you were a company looking to fill a role, you would search for. Here’s our boss guide to LinkedIn.

Make sure you pop a relevant job title in your ‘Professional Headline’ – it’s the bit that appears right below your name. That way, when people search ‘Account Manager Melbourne’ you’ll show up in the list.

#5 Think relationships

As much as having friends in high places helps, not everyone has them. That said, you never know what might come of keeping track of old colleagues or school friends. One of the best ways to build (or rebuild) a relationship is to help people out. If you’ve got skills or knowledge, figure out what you can do to help people – you never know what might come of it.

You don’t get hired because you’re an amazing marketer or engineer or accountant, but because you’ll solve a problem that a business has. Zillionaire entrepreneur Peter Shankman is known as business’ Mr. Nice Guy, and has built his success on finding out what other people need and giving it to them for nothing. It works on a small scale, too.

Building a relationship with a company can be as easy as following them on social media (including LinkedIn – recruiters will sometimes look within the followers of the company they’re working with for candidates) and interacting with them. Knowing a bunch about a business is a very good idea for walking into an interview.

#6 Build your personal brand

Sound icky? Doesn’t have to be. It’s as simple as getting a good LinkedIn headshot, being passionate in public about your area/s of interest and engaging with others in your industry. Posting industry-relevant articles or ideas to your LinkedIn once in a while also helps to show you’re engaged and up-to-date.

If this looks daunting, the bright side is that each of these things is an investment in your career. And you’ll also be putting building blocks in place to help you gain jobs down the track.


Vivienne is a travelling freelance writer/editor, feminist, Harry Potter nerd and co-founder of Taylor Hermione & Co, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes safe relationships, consent and gender issues to teenagers in Australia. Find her on Twitter @VivEgan41 and Instagram @vivalogue