One third of Australians are seeking new jobs. These tips will help

Job seekers should maximise their social networks when looking for a job.

Job seekers should maximise their social networks when looking for a job. Photo: TND

One in three Australians plans to actively look for a new job this year, according to a new survey by social networking site LinkedIn.

The latest data from Treasury shows that 85 per cent of people who lost jobs or were stood down to zero hours during the crisis have already returned to work.

But that still leaves more than 942,000 people without jobs and a further 1.3 million working fewer hours than they would like.

LinkedIn’s head of brand marketing for Australia and New Zealand, Shiva Kumar, said it’s therefore unsurprising that so many Australians are actively searching for jobs in 2021.

But in a worrying sign that job seekers lack the confidence to find new employment, the same LinkedIn survey found that almost two in three said job seeking affected their mental health, and 36 per cent believed competition for jobs would worsen in 2021.

So, what can job seekers – or people seeking a career change after reflecting during lockdowns – do to increase their chances of landing decent jobs?

Work out your skills and interests

Dr Eva Kyndt, an associate professor at Swinburne University’s Centre for the New Workforce, said job seekers should start their search by auditing their skills and interests, as this will make it easier for them to find a job that matches their skill-set.

She recommended trying:

  • The National Careers Institute’s Your Career website, which has quizzes and other free resources to help you reflect on your skills
  • StrengthsFinder – a talent-assessment tool run by analytics and advisory group Gallup
  • My Career Companion – a career-orientation company and learning platform that Dr Kyndt works for.

Noting that LinkedIn has a similar tool called Career Explorer, Mr Kumar said revisiting your past jobs and experiences will help you identify transferable skills that could help you switch careers.

Lean on your network

It’s widely accepted that our connections can play a huge role in helping us find work, but Dr Kyndt says we often look for help in the wrong places.

Our natural instinct is to seek advice from our close friends and family, as it’s easier for us to ask favours of our inner circle.

But the main problem with this strategy is that our friends and family often move in similar circles, and are therefore unlikely to offer new connections or information.

Dr Kyndt therefore recommended the following exercise, based on the work of Nan Lin from America’s Duke University:

  • On a piece of paper, draw three circles around a dot, each one larger than the next
  • You are the dot and the three rings around it represent your social network. The first ring refers to your ‘strong binding ties’ and is where your close friends and family live. Dr Kyndt says the connections in this group feel obligated to help one another, but are not the best people to help you find new opportunities
  • Dr Kyndt says the second circle represents people that are in your social circle. The ring of connections is known as the ‘bonding’ circle and includes friends and acquaintances. Dr Kyndt says “they can tell you much more diverse information [about job opportunities], because your inner circle is filled with people who are very similar to who you are”
  • The third ring is known as your ‘belongingness’ circle. Dr Kyndt says connections in this circle include people with whom you have little interaction but share an identity or membership. They might include people who go to the same gym or sports club as you, or who studied a similar course at university. Dr Kyndt says if you’re looking to break into a completely new field, then this is where to look for new information and connections.

Mr Kumar offered similar advice, saying “you’d be surprised by how many people would be happy to help”.

Consider learning new skills

Talking to people within your social network should give you a clearer sense of which companies are hiring and the types of skills they are looking for.

If you know you can demonstrate these skills, then you can submit applications with added confidence. But if you can’t demonstrate them, it’s worth enrolling in a course to bridge the gap.

Dr Kyndt says some companies look more favourably on university degrees whereas others prefer more practical short courses.

“If I was to go into stereotypes, the public service and larger organisations would probably value more official degrees while smaller, more flexible startups are more interested in [whether] you can actually do [the job] and might not care about where you learned that,” she said.

“I would refer back to your network. If you know people who work for that employer, ask them what they value.”

Get your application in early

Mr Kumar says research by LinkedIn shows job seekers are four times more likely to succeed if they are the first to apply.

This is why he recommends setting up alerts on your phone – whether through LinkedIn Jobs or another portal such as Seek or Indeed – so that you are notified as soon as an employer lists a suitable job online.

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