So you think the only way to apply for a job is online?

Think again!

Last night as I was getting my nails done, I was speaking to the new beauty therapist about how she came to be working at this salon. And her story was an interesting one!

Did she apply online? No.

Did she wait for an ad to go up in the paper? No.

She decided she wanted to make the move to Geelong, so she showed some initiative and started calling some salons. When she phoned this particular salon, the owner mentioned she’d just had a position become vacant and that she was actually looking for someone.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time! She started work the next week and is a perfect fit for the salon. By putting herself out there, she managed to secure a job opportunity in the perfect salon for her.

When I asked her how many places she had called, I was expecting her to say she had made lots of phone calls. However, she received this job offer on only her third phone call. She completed some research and specifically targeted salons that she was interested in and that she knew would fit well with her personality and her experience.

I was so impressed with what she had done, but wondered if this is something that I would do myself if I was in this situation. I’m not sure that I would. But this shows that it can definitely pay off.

So, as you go about your job search, consider if you should be putting yourself out there a bit more (it’s hard I know!) and cold calling some companies or businesses that you are interested in. I think it’s important to do some research into who they are and think about what you have to offer them, rather than just picking up the phone book and calling randomly.

If you can skip a lengthy online application process and substitute it for a phone call, I think it’s worth a shot!

Written by our social media guru, Tracey Jeffery. To perfect your cold calling script, make an appointment with Tracey or book in to her ‘Becoming a Standout Application’ workshop.

What the Dating Game Can Teach You About Job Searching

As a single 30-something I’ve read and been given quite a bit of dating advice over the years. Some advice has been smart (such as trying new activities and hobbies to expand my social group and meet like-minded people), some rather confusing (I’ve been told countless times to “get out there” without being given any information on exactly where “there” is), and some have been downright stupid (including not letting a guy see me eat a proper meal until at least the fourth date – um sorry no, I want that steak now!)

In the end it was my sister who gave me the best piece of advice. Knowing that my job involves helping people work out strategies for finding employment she told me to follow my own advice and treat the dating game just like a job search. Not only was she right, she got me wondering if the opposite was true – could dating advice apply equally to someone looking for their dream job? After some thought the answer is a resounding yes!

Hit up your friends and family

One of the most common ways people find a partner is through their friends and family. Maybe your boyfriend went to high school with your cousin or your wife used to work with your best friend. The same is true for your job search. The number of people who find work through their network is increasing, and with up to 80% of vacancies not being advertised those who are not utilising their contacts are cutting out a large chunk of opportunities.

Networking is a bit of a buzz-word at the moment and the idea of it can be off-putting to people who don’t have much spare time or dislike the idea of schmoosing with a bunch of strangers. The good news is that there are many different ways to network, with the easiest being simply to make sure family members, friends and acquaintances are aware that you are actively looking for work. Case in point, a friend of an ex-colleague obtained a job as a medical receptionist after casually mentioning that she was looking for administrative work during a doctor’s appointment.

Get on-board the on-line express

Given society’s current obsession with using social media to record every aspect of our daily lives it’s no surprise that the search for love has moved on-line. There are an increasing number of dating websites and apps catering to pretty much any niche audience you could imagine.

Translating this to your job search, it is important to accept that the vast majority of advertised job vacancies will be listed and need to be applied for on-line. This can be through both specific employer websites (e.g. Barwon Health or Deakin) and general job search websites (e.g. Seek, Geelong Careers or Jora). For the more tech-savvy job seeker it is worth maintaining a LinkedIn profile as well, recruiters are known to use it to search for and target suitable potential employees within their geographical area.

Try before you buy

If you have been single for a while the idea of jumping back in to the dating scene can be quite scary. Sometimes you just want to see what’s out there before you commit to anything (or decide to retreat to your incredibly comfortable couch, book and glass of wine in hand). This is where speed dating can come in handy, in one sitting you get an introduction to a variety of people and can start identifying what you are and (more importantly) aren’t looking for in a mate.

For those who are looking to ease their way back in to the workforce or need money coming in now and don’t care what they do to get it, a great option is to take on casual or contract work through private recruitment agencies or labour hire firms. This way you are earning money, getting current experience and are making connections with employers that may result in offers of on-going employment in the future. If you are looking to change industries and you are not in desperate need of being paid, then volunteering is a fantastic way of getting experience and making contacts which can also sometimes lead to casual or on-going employment.

Being in the right place at the right time

Most of us know someone who met their partner in the most accidental and unexpected way. For example, one New Year’s Eve my cousin was celebrating with friends in a pub in Ireland. She was originally meant to be in a completely different town but circumstances called for a last minute change of plans. In walked a random Frenchman, their eyes locked and they have been together ever since. Had she not been in that pub, in that town on that night who knows if they would have otherwise met?

The same is true with job opportunities, sometimes you can simply be in the right place at the right time. Whilst some may disagree, I believe there is still a place for the old resume drop-off in your job search, particularly in regional areas. Several of our participants have been offered jobs after canvassing businesses just when the employer was thinking about whether or not to advertise a sudden vacancy. A formal recruitment process tends to be both expensive and time consuming, so if a suitable candidate suddenly appears and meets all of the requirements the vast majority of employers will welcome them with open arms.

The moral of the story

So, what advice should you take away from this article? Just as when you’re looking for love you should never put all of your eggs in the one basket, neither should you rely on only one method of finding a job. Trying a combination of the above methods will give you the best chance of landing the perfect role. And who knows, if you’re single you might also find love along the way!

Written by our resident resume queen, Christina Matthews. Subscribe to our blog to receive regular resume tips & tricks from Christina. 

Mind your own business!!

Maybe its time to grow your own enterprise!

Have you ever had a vision… or an idea that like an earthworm continues to gnaw into your ear like an ever present 80’s hit on the radio?

Have you wondered what is at the end of that yellow brick road? Could your wonderful concept or idea could really become a reality? Maybe its time to tune into your thoughts and feelings and listen to what your subconscious is telling you.

If you are struggling to make a career change or finding doors shutting before you at every step of your job search, maybe its time to consider creating your own business.

Creating your own business is not for everyone. It’s true, if you don’t have a passion, determination or drive to see it through, perhaps it’s not for you. But if your vision is strong, and you are motivated and hardworking then you are almost half way there.

It might feel like jumping off a cliff into an unknown abyss without a harness, but if you only do what you have always done then you will only get what you have always got, and that is where change comes in. Being nervous to take on such a venture and take a new risk can be scary. Being risk averse can be a good thing, but it can also limit your potential and opportunities… any career transition or job change takes courage and conviction, and we never have any rock solid guarantees or outcomes either way.

When I first started my sole trader business in my mid-twenties I thought all these things;

Will people take me seriously?

Can I really write a business plan?

Can I really convince people that I am the product they want?

I contemplated all these questions before and while I started my small business. I was crippled by fear and doubt, and wondered if I was making the right choices. I was creating a theatre show in an arts business, based on a difficult experience I encountered in my own life, hoping that by sharing this piece of personal theatre, I would transform others lives. It could have failed dismally, but it didn’t.

It was a huge risk, but in a short time schools, institutions and health professionals were paying me and recommending me to perform and speak publicly to many audiences. Eventually it was enough to sustain a basic wage and collate a marvelous swag of accolades along the way. It had a shelf life, it wasn’t hugely profitable, but it actually gave me considerable credibility, personal satisfaction and a pathway to another career that I hadn’t before considered.

However this was my business and we’re talking about YOUR business, so lets get back to that idea, Minding your own business. Developing, nurturing and growing your business and ideas, creating possibilities and contacts.

Currently in Geelong there is a marvelous opportunity for you to follow your path to small business through a start up program by the Federal government, RMIT and NETGAIN.

The program is run over 12 months and you will achieve a national qualification in small business, Certificate IV in Small Business Management, in addition to gaining personal mentorship, guidance, consistent feedback and support.

You will learn about financial planning, relevant business taxation and legislation and about marketing and promotion.

It’s a unique opportunity and may only be offered in 2016. So take your ideas, your self belief and a positive attitude and make the first step to a new enterprise. It worked for me, maybe it could work for you too.

The greatest journey starts with just one step.

Geelong Advertiser

Written by Erika, our Workshop Wizard. Make an appointment with any of our advisors to talk about your options if you are thinking about starting your own business.

Don’t take it personally!

During the years that I have worked with jobseekers, the number 1 grievance is “I never hear back from anyone about my job application”. It is the common experience for most people. Being left in limbo is the norm.

Gone are the days when you would receive the standard “thanks but no thanks” letter in the mail. These days, the best you can expect is an automatically computer generated email advising that your application has been received and if you haven’t heard anything within 2 weeks then consider your application unsuccessful. You may also see the occasional ad in the employment section of the newspaper thanking applicants and advising that the position has now been filled. The personal approach is long gone. But why? Let’s look at some stats.

When we look at the business data for the Geelong Region you can see that there are 16,489 businesses registered (June 2015 – Australian Bureau of Statistics). So when we cancel out the businesses that are non-employing (9,857 (59.77%) – usually sole traders/home businesses) that leaves us with 6,632 businesses. Of these remaining businesses, 4,600 (27.89%) employ 1-4 people, 1,627 (9.86%) employ 5-19 people, 384 (2.32%) employ 20-199 people and 21 (0.12%) employ 200+ people. So what does this all mean?

Of the 6,632 businesses in the Geelong Region that may have possible job opportunities, over 93% of them are small businesses employing less than 20 people.

Small businesses usually do not have a dedicated HR department to handle their job applications which leaves the entire hiring process in the hands of managers and owners who are typically very busy people. Time is money and money is tight and the cold hard facts are that they do not have the time or the money to respond individually to each applicant. It’s not personal…it’s business… Small business!

 So, please don’t be disheartened. You’re not alone in limbo.

Enterprise Geelong

Written by our local expert, Jodie. For more information about job applications or business  in Geelong, speak to Jodie or any of our Skills and Jobs Centre advisors.




Where are the jobs in Geelong?

Written by our valiant captain, Tanya Derrett. For more information about current labour market trends in Geelong, speak to Tanya or any of our Skills and Jobs Centre advisors.

So you have an interview.. HELP!!

So, you’re wondering what you need to do to prepare you for an interview?

question mark man

Firstly, Don’t panic!

Follow these fail safe tips to kill it at the interview and land yourself that job!

1. Research, research and more research!

The company’s website

Who they are, what they do,
how long have they been doing it

Find the ‘About Us’ Button or ‘What we Do’
What are you looking for?
The Aims, Mission Statement &/or Values

Under History, Strategic Plan or ‘Who We Are’
Look for annual reports or other company publications

To show knowledge of the company
To show you are a suitable fit

2. Check out rival companies

What are the points of difference
Why do they think they are different

3. Re-check the position description

To expand on your application information

4. Prepare examples

Use a range of experiences (work, clubs, voluntary) to show how you have gained the specific skills, experience or qualities the job requires

5. Re-read the job advertisement and your resume

Think about what makes you a good choice for this employer
Specifically, which of your skills, experiences and knowledge make you a valuable asset to the company

Written by our resident interview champion, Robyn Gray. Subscribe to our blog to receive all of Robyn’s amazing interview tips straight to your inbox.

photo credit: Marco Bellucci via photopin cc


What would you say if you were in an elevator with your CEO?


You’ve probably all heard of the elevator pitch, but have you ever thought about what you would really say if you were in the elevator with your CEO? Would you be too nervous and look at your feet? Would you make polite chit-chat? Or would you say something that would make an impact?

A university colleague of mine was working in administration at a company and was interested in moving up into a Finance role. One morning he was faced with the opportunity to speak to his CEO when they entered the elevator together. He wished him good morning and then proceeded to introduce himself and explain what he did at the company (‘I work for you in accounts’) and his aspirations for progression in the company.

What do you know? He now works in Finance!!

We can often be scared of hierarchy. I don’t know if I would have the guts to say something like that to my CEO. When I asked him what made him do that, he said ‘Why not?’ What a great question. Why not? If we aren’t promoting ourselves, no-one else will!

So, what is an elevator pitch?

A short statement that can be used to sell yourself to people, including potential employers.

And, why should you have one?

To differentiate yourself! It’s great when networking and gives you a statement you can use to let someone know about you and what you can offer. You never know what opportunities they may have coming up, or who else they might know!

Features of an elevator pitch

  • 30 seconds or less
  • Clear and easy to understand
  • Authentic & real
  • Your passions
  • Your strengths
  • Your values
  • What’s different about you
  • What you can offer

So, start thinking about what your elevator pitch would be and what you will say next time you’re in the elevator with your CEO or at a networking event with a potential employer. Why? Why not?!

Written by our social media guru, Tracey Jeffery. Make an appointment with Tracey for more information, or book in to one of our workshops.


Key Selection Criteria – what on earth is it and why should I care about it?

christinas blog no1

In the exhausting, stressful and sometimes downright depressing process that is applying for jobs, one of the most groan-inducing aspects would surely have to be responding to key selection criteria (sometimes referred to as KSC).

I’ve yet to come across someone who jumps up and down with glee at the prospect of spending hours of their precious time crafting responses to these seemingly never ending criteria and, quite frankly, I would worry about them if they did!

Whilst there has been some talk of a recent shift away from key selection criteria, a large number of positions, particularly in the education, government and healthcare sectors, do still require applicants to submit responses along with their cover letter and resume.

So how do you put together coherent, concise responses that give employers the exact information they are looking for without pulling your hair out? Relax, we’ve got you covered – prepare to embrace the STAR model! 

What is KSC?

Given not everyone will have previously come across key selection criteria let’s rewind for a second and talk about what it actually is – and why it’s important.

Key selection criteria identifies the personal qualities, skills, abilities, knowledge and/or qualifications that a person needs in order to perform a role effectively. These criteria will be listed on the position description (PD) that goes along with the role.

The number of key selection criteria a role will have can vary anywhere from 3 to 12 (yes, I have actually seen a PD with 12 key selection criteria on it). The good news is that not all roles have a PD and, for those roles that don’t, key selection criteria responses aren’t needed. Huzzah!

For those roles that do have a PD, and related key selection criteria, applicants will be assessed against these criteria during the shortlisting process. To show employers that you are the right person for this job it is not enough to simply state that you meet the criteria, you need to provide specific examples that prove your suitability for the job.

Do I really have to respond to KSC?

Employers include key selection criteria for a reason. They want as much information as possible on which to base their decision. Whilst creating an additional document responding to this criteria on top of your cover letter and resume may seem like a hassle, simply ignoring it will get you a one-way ticket to “thanks but no thanks” town.

What exactly is the STAR Model?

Similar to the CAR (Context, Action, Result) model, the STAR model provides a straightforward blueprint for how to structure your key selection criteria responses:

STAR model

You need to respond to each individual criteria with the length of your responses varying depending on the example you are using and how many components that specific criteria contains.

For example, “Experience in providing exceptional customer service” would require a 1-2 paragraph response as it contains only one component – experience in customer service.

Experience in managing office processes in a high-pressure environment and providing administrative and coordination support to senior members of an organisation” on the other hand would require a response of anywhere between 2-4 paragraphs.

This is due to the need to address experience in managing office processes (1), working in a high-pressure environment (2), providing administrative and coordination support (3) and supporting senior staff (4).

The key is to make sure you are not rambling – read the response back to make sure you have only included relevant information. Better yet, get a friend or family member to read it. They’ll soon tell you if your response has gone from winning to snooze-worthy!

Finished Product

Sometimes all the explanations and models in the world can’t beat seeing a theory in action. So just for you I’ve put together an example key selection criteria and response, highlighting the different components. Enjoy!

Example selection criterai.jpg

Written by our resident resume queen, Christina Matthews. Subscribe to our blog to receive regular resume tips & tricks from Christina. Or consider coming along to one of her fantastic workshops.

Welcome to The Gordon Skills and Jobs Centre blog!

Peoples faces for blog

We have six friendly and knowledgeable advisors who will work together on our blog to provide you with up to date and relevant career information, with an element of fun.

Aimed at anyone embarking on a career transition, from career change, job search and re-training, or anyone who has an interest in our local employment market.

From job application advice, including resume tips and interview skills, to labour market information and social media advice, follow us to get all the resources you need while being entertained at the same time.

Please comment and let us know your thoughts on your career change experiences and what we may be able to assist with.

Our Centre offers a careers service to the Geelong and Wyndham regions. Contact us to find out more about the services we provide.