Without realising it, students are groomed from a young age towards a future of adult responsibilities. Much of this revolves around the skills and knowledge to enter a lifetime in the workforce. Whether that engagement is productive and satisfying depends on circumstance, values, goals and ambitions, and on the opportunities that are available or that students make for themselves. This module helps in the preparation towards a meaningful and satisfying engagement in the workforce, and towards the understanding that the pathway may take many turns.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module students should:

  • Define work and what it means in the context of their life and future
  • Understand the motivations behind paid and unpaid work
  • Explain the benefits of work (financial, social, emotional)
  • Recognise that job satisfaction can depend on the different circumstances of a person’s life situation or time of life
  • Appreciate that positive and negative work experiences are often influenced by personal attitude
  • Acknowledge the many factors that influence ‘success’ or otherwise, and the need to adjust expectations to circumstance
  • Understand types of employment and work options
  • Make better informed career choices and decisions
  • Know where to get advice about jobs
  • Explore the various avenues to finding employment
  • Become more familiar with recruitment procedures
  • Understand and evaluate job advertisements
  • Manage their expectations with rejection
  • Appreciate the road will not always be easy and that the search can take different and unexpected paths

As defined in most dictionaries, work is an activity involving some kind of effort (physical or mental) to achieve a purpose. Another definition is ‘tasks undertaken’, and yet another ‘to function properly or effectively’.

Most people have several reasons for working:

  • Financial independence and control
  • To meet and mix with other people
  • To contribute to the community
  • To use skills and abilities
  • For enjoyment
  • To afford or move towards the next stage of life/holiday/ further career/retirement
  • To avoid boredom
  • For new challenges

Unpaid work takes up a large proportion of life and includes:

  • Volunteer or community work
  • Housework
  • Caring for children, family and the elderly
  • Involvement in leisure activities

There are benefits involved in unpaid work. Much of it is a necessity but much of it also aligns with our values – the things that bring meaning to our lives. If students understand the values they place on the work they do, they will better be able to identify:

  • Their overall ambitions
  • What they want to achieve through work
  • Jobs or a career that will satisfy their emotional as well as financial needs


First time employment is an exciting time in any young adult’s life. The first step towards financial independence is satisfying in itself, but financial independence is not the only requisite for job satisfaction. With more waking hours of the day spent at work with colleagues than at home with family and friends, it also helps to be doing something you enjoy. But there are several other a spects that ensure long-term job satisfaction.

Career advisors are an excellent source of information and advice on study paths and job and career opportunities. However, students own approach to work will influence their experience either positively or negatively. To be work-ready, they need to be flexible and be aware of the following points.

  • We are all different Job satisfaction means different things to different people. Not everybody wants to change the world or climb the corporate ladder. If job satisfaction revolves around the security of a steady income and the companionship of work colleagues, some people are happy in a job that offers little chance of career progression or that others might find boring and repetitive.
  • You can’t always get what you want Some may not have the talent, the drive or the education to get the job they want. Distance, downsizing, availability and demand also play a part in whether or not a particular job is available or practical.
  • A means to an end Sometimes a job is a means to an end, and as such should be approached with confidence and purpose. Seasonal work can be done during study break to earn cash for the next semester. Part-time night filling at a supermarket can help pay off a debt or save for a holiday.
  • Time of life The work we participate in quite often depends on our time of life. A job that necessitates a lot of socialising and travel could be great early on in life before the complications of other responsibilities. Casual work in hospitality is often (but not always) the domain of students. Movement towards managerial positions is more likely to take place mid-career. Shift work often fits conveniently around family commitments.
  • Adjust Sometimes we have to adjust job expectations to life needs and circumstances. This doesn’t mean that a treasured job or career goal should be abandoned. It means that students need to be flexible in the understanding that it will not always be smooth sailing.
  • Experience A job that is monotonous, a hard physical slog or poorly paid need not be forever. No matter what the job, it is providing valuable life skills. This is not only good for the character (developing the tenacity to roll up your sleeves and get it done), but it also provides evidence of skills and experience for the CV.
  • Opportunity The work journey can take many different paths and unexpected turns. Some of the turns will look nothing like the original goal but will open the door to new, exciting and unexpected opportunities. Look out for those opportunities and make the most of them as they arise.


  • Ongoing on a permanent basis
  • Average 38 hours a week
  • Usually covered by an agreement or award
  • Leave entitlements apply
  • Must give or receive reasonable notice of cessation of employment

Who does this suit?

Full-time work suits those who prefer job and income security as well as the benefits of leave entitlements.


  • Ongoing on a permanent basis
  • Less than 38 hours a week
  • Usually covered by an award or agreement
  • Prorata (proportional) leave entitlements apply
  • Must give or receive reasonable notice of cessation of employment

Who does this suit?

Part-time employment is suitable for those who want the b enefits of job and income security, and the freedom of time to pursue other interests, commitments or job opportunities.


  • Irregular hours, not guaranteed
  • Higher hourly rate (casual loading)
  • No leave entitlements
  • Can end with little or no notice depending on agreement or contract

Who does this suit?

Many hospitality jobs are casual as well as an increasing number of traditionally mainstream jobs. Casual work is great for those seeking flexibility, although not all casual employees can choose their own hours.

Shift work

  • Shifts of different irregular hours(afternoon/night/weekend/public holiday)
  • Higher penalty rates apply for shift hours

Who does this suit?

Nursing, factory and some industry has traditionally been shift work. Shift work suits those who don’t mind tailoring their lives around working unsociable hours.

Online work

  • Mostly freelance
  • Proceed with caution and investigate carefully
  • Can be irregular
  • Can offer a steady income but not guaranteed

Who does this suit?

Online work suits computer-literate, self-disciplined people. Suitable online work is good for those who require extra income and enjoy the flexibility of working from home.

Daily hire or weekly hire

  • Work is for a fixed period (finite)
  • Part-time or full-time
  • Specific job loadings depending on the trade or contract

Who does this suit?

This type of work is common in the building, construction and t rade industry. It can be part-time, full-time or casual, but ends when the job is complete. Workers or contractors move from job to job. This suits tradespersons who like flexibility and variety.


  • New employees to assess their suitability
  • Probation is for a limited period
  • Award rates apply
  • Entitled to notice and accumulated leave hours

Who does this suit?

A probationary period provides the opportunity for new employees and employers to assess a suitable match.


  • Commonly work from home
  • Minimum entitlements set by industry or National Employment S tandards
  • Relevant award rate or minimum wage
  • Keep careful records of work received and completed

Who does this suit?

Common in the footwear, textile and clothing industry, outworks uits the skills of expert machinists who like the flexibility of working from home. Some industry also outsources piecework for less skilled labour.

Freelance self-employment

  • Opportunity depends on skills and demand
  • Flexible hours
  • Negotiable rates
  • Self-managed tax and superannuation

Who does this suit?

Freelancing is for people who have a particular skill or talent to offer, and who want the flexibility to work the hours they choose and with the people they choose. Freelancers need to be highly motivated and focused to be successful.

Small business owner

This is not for the faint-hearted. However, for those with a great idea and the desire to develop an enterprise that may bring security and success, starting a small business could be an attractive opportunity.

This would suit somebody who:

  • Has a plan
  • Thrives under pressure
  • Has excellent organisational skills
  • Is focused and willing to work long hours
  • Is creative
  • Thinks outside the square
  • Builds teams
  • Is willing to seek advice and mentorship

For information and advice on workplace rights and obligations, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website:

Think about the advantages and disadvantages of each of the different types of work.

Think about your own work experiences and whether or not their work type offers the flexibility that fits with their lifestyle at this point in time.

Think about what type of work or combination of work will be most suitable to t heir future plans and why?

Where their grandparents or parents walked out of school and onto a stable career pathway, a young adult starting their work life today could be employed in as many as 17 different jobs, spanning five careers in their lifetime.

The world of work is changing rapidly, with familiar jobs disappearing to be replaced by new technologies and emerging industries. The career pathway can take many twists and unexpected turns but there are no dead-ends. Each experience is a stepping stone towards the next.

Some students are unsure of the first step to take on their career pathway. Helping them to identify their direction will ensure they are better prepared for the journey. With such a variety of jobs, opportunities and different directions, a little self-reflection is useful in making these important decisions.


Interests – people usually excel at what interests them. Get students to explore their hobbies or passions, their activities in the community, their favourite subjects or what they enjoy about their part-time job. They can then investigate and list jobs or careers that align with their interests.

Skills and qualities – everybody has particular skills and qualities that naturally align with certain jobs or positions. Students should consider these. Do they perform well under pressure? Are they able to make quick decisions? Do they work well in a team or best on their own? Identifying these qualities will help them to make more informed choices.

Influences – there are a number of influences that can impact job and career decisions. These range from preferred location, work environment, required hours, health considerations, values and expectations. Students should consider these when investigating work and career options.

Priorities – everyone has different priorities in their career. What do students find important? A high salary, travel opportunities, being outdoors, working for a cause or higher purpose, a good work/life balance? Match priorities to jobs.

There are many influences that can affect the decisions we make about our career pathways. These activities have students investigating the conditions and requirements of different jobs, as well as the influences that affect their career decisions.
When considering a career, students need to consider the conditions and requirements of different types of work. This activity encourages them to explore their own job fit.
  • Visit the careers advisor
  • Read job descriptions
  • Ask friends and family about their own jobs and work experiences
  • Attend jobs and career expos
  • Google search
  • Visit industry and recruitment websites
  • Investigate short courses
  • Explore work experience options

Moving out of the comfort zone of school and into the workplace can be daunting. It’s not unusual for students to have doubts when starting a new job. There are strategies that can be put into place so that these doubts don’t take over the journey.

Not sure about the decision – even after careful consideration, starting a new job can take a leap of faith. Everything we do counts for experience, and sometimes we don’t know until we try. Even if the decision to take the job turns out to have been the wrong one, it can open the door to further opportunity.

Nervous – being nervous about commencing a new job is perfectly natural. Nerves can take a while to settle as the unfamiliar becomes more familiar. If the nervousness continues, talk through anxieties with a trusted friend or colleague to find out if there is an underlying cause.

Afraid of the risk – careful research should give a realistic indication of what the job or organisation has to offer. Sometimes you just don’t know until you try.

No confidence – sometimes a lack of confidence will prevent a student applying for or accepting a job. Confidence-boosting strategies like listing positive qualities and achievements and looking over the CV at skills and attributes is a reminder of what a they have to offer. Talking things through with family or a trusted friend often helps, as does seeking reassurance about the job if in doubt. Perhaps the lack of confidence is just new job nerves.The right job to start a career – a career has to start somewhere. The first job is the introduction into the work culture and a place to test and refine job skills. This first experience is a learning curve and the foothold into the future.

Don’t know enough – it is a good idea to research any job before applying. Jump onto the company website and ask questions of employees or people who are doing something similar. When commencing a new job, very few people are expected to hit the ground running. It takes a while to get to know the ins and outs.

Remind students that a career is a journey. As with the most exciting of journeys, it is filled with a variety of jobs, experiences and side roads. Some of those side roads may present setbacks, but each setback provides valuable experience and knowledge. Other side roads offer unexpected opportunities.

Tips along the way:

  • Continue learning – improve your skills, take short courses and personal development opportunities
  • Find a mentor
  • Be proactive – don’t just coast along but seek out opportunities
  • Keep an open mind
  • Don’t be despondent if things go wrong
  • Prepare for challenges and boredom alike
  • Make plans but adapt and adjust to change
  • Take calculated risks
  • Keep up with change and try new things
  • Understand that it won’t always be easy
  • Remain enthusiastic

Some of your students will have a good idea of the career pathway they wish to follow. That is great, but if they are stuck in their thoughts they could be limiting themselves and missing out on other options that might also suit their skills and interests.

Other students might be a little vague or have no idea what they want to do. That’s okay as well. This activity will start them thinking about how their skills and the interests and hobbies they pursue might match a range of jobs or careers. This activity will get them thinking outside the square.

There is more than one direction into the workforce and into a career. An option is a choice, and where there are choices there are always alternatives.

So often we concentrate on the education pathway that leads directly from school and into a Vocational Educational Training (VET) or university course. This is well and good for students who suit this direction, but there are myriad alternatives into work and study that can be taken depending on circumstance, skills, interests and industry requirements. It is worth exploring these alternatives with students, especially those who are looking for other ways to pursue their future.


Talk to the school careers advisor about suitable VET or university courses, attend open days or jump onto the relevant VET and university websites for information.

University bridging courses and transfers

Universities offer a range of bridging courses designed to help prepare for studying at university. These can be accessed with a low ATAR score or as ‘adult entry’ without an ATAR score. For information on these courses, contact the relevant universities or training institutions in your state or territory.

Vocational Education And Training VET)

VET courses are run at some secondary institutions combining class and practical learning. They offer qualifications in areas such as:

  • Environmental management
  • Mechanics
  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Natural resources
  • Tourism
  • Hospitality
  • Retail

Speak to the school careers advisor or VET coordinator for information on VET in schools.

Registered Training Organisations(RTOS)

RTOs are educational institutions that offer courses in a wide range of industries.

  • Hair and beauty
  • Hospitality
  • Electronics
  • Marketing
  • Electronics
  • Pilot training

The courses are practical and hands-on. Entry requirements vary and there is usually an entry method to suit most circumstances.


Apprenticeships provide a mixture of classroom or workshop training and practical workforce experience, all while being paid. Apprenticeships provide nationally recognised qualifications for different trades including:

  • Plumbing
  • Carpentry
  • Hairdressing
  • Refrigeration
  • Electrical

Apprenticeships are available to those at school as well as people who have left school. They can be taken part-time or full-time and are of four-year duration.


Traineeships are similar to apprenticeships. They provide on-the- job training in non-trade vocational areas such as:

  • Office administration
  • IT
  • Events management

Traineeships last 12 months to 2 years. They can be taken full- time, part-time and can be school-based

The Australian Government Department of Education and Training website provides details of training providers, industry and professional associations, community based adult education, privately operated employment services, schools, universities TAFE and online training opportunities. Information can be found on the government website:

Defence Force

Soldier Training – Recruit

Recruit training is an intense 80-day physical training course to prepare physically and mentally for a career in the Defence Force and involves learning skills.

  • First aid
  • Teamwork
  • Combat skills
  • Weapon handling and shooting
  • Drill and field craft

Soldier Training – Employment

Employment training follows on from recruit training. Soldiers can learn the skills of a profession and earn the qualifications of a trade, such as:

  • Building
  • Electrical
  • IT
  • Plumbing
  • Avionics
  • Security
  • Business administration
  • Mechanics
  • Health

Apprenticeships are available to those at school as well as people who have left school. They can be taken part-time or full-time and are of four-year duration.

Officer Training

The Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) is a partnership between the Defence Force and the University of NSW. ADFA students undertake military and leadership training while they study for a degree in one of the following areas.

  • Arts
  • Business Management
  • Engineering
  • Technology
  • Science

Defence Force personnel are given continuous training and ongoing educational opportunities throughout their career. Information on requirements for entry into the Defence Force and the Reserves can be found on the Defence Force website:

Government Jobs

Local, State, Territory and the Federal governments employ a large workforce with jobs to suit many. Entry level ranges from school leaver, adult entry, undergraduate and graduate, depending on the requirements of the position. These jobs are in a diverse range of areas.

  • Office administration
  • Accounts
  • Marketing
  • IT
  • Technical
  • Health
  • Publishing
  • Research
  • Law
  • Defence
  • Planning

Information on government jobs can be found on the relevant websites and positions are adverstised online. Search the government careers website in your state or territory or the Australian Government website:


Working Overseas

Working overseas is a great way to travel, meet people and experience different cultures up close. There are a variety of jobs that can be taken to fund further travel:

  • Summer camps
  • Hospitality
  • Teaching
  • Ski fields
  • Temporary office work
  • Medical

Apart from valuable life and work experience, one of the benefits of working overseas is that it shows initiative and drive, which looks good on the CV.

Information on overseas work opportunities can be found on the Australian Federal Government website:

Retail Options

Retail Options (Sales, administration, support, warehousing) Information on careers, career paths, benefits and job opportunities in retail with some of the larger organisations is food for thought and also for research!

Target Australia



Kmart Australia

Harvey Norman Australia

Hungry Jacks



IGA Australia

Green Options

Harvest Trail (on the Australian Government website) Links job seekers with seasonal work throughout Australia. Travel, work, gain experience and meet people from all over the world.

Green Army (on the Australian Government website) Paid practical training and experience for young people between the ages of 17 and 24. These placements are for young people interested in working in the environment with community and natural resource management organisations, environmental groups, local councils and Indigenous organisations.

Students should now have some idea of a job or career that interests them.

With this in mind they can investigate the different pathways into that job or career.

This is a practical exercise that will open their eyes to alternative pathways into the workforce.

With so many places to look and so many methods of searching, seeking employment can be daunting, exhilarating and frustrating. Without a doubt, students will experience all these emotions throughout the job search process. Being well prepared and taking the time to plan their approach will provide the structure and balance that ensures it runs smoothly.


The time and effort invested in finding employment can feel like a job in itself. This is a good way for students to approach their search – as a job. Arming them with the following tips will make this part of their lives as stress-free as possible.


  • Define your job goal. What are you looking for?
  • Prepare or update your CV and have it available in hard copy or online at a moment’s notice
  • Target jobs to suit your skills and career plans
  • Identify and investigate information on prospective employers or companies. You will impress them with your knowledge and enthusiasm
  • Know where to search to avoid unnecessary wasting of time and effort
  • Plan a job-search routine to keep your search well structured. You probably have school, work, family and other commitments, so prioritising your time will help to keep your life in some kind of order and also give you time to yourself

For those who have put in the preparation, armed with a plan, a well-prepared CV and a positive attitude, finding employment will not present too many unexpected challenges. The challenge is more likely to be finding the most appropriate job search method.

Finding the best job opportunities is most likely to involve a combination of these methods:


Job search websites

These websites are perhaps the easiest and most popular of search tools for job seekers, and one of the most popular places for employers to advertise current vacancies. With a vast number of positions advertised, it is a good idea to refine the search by specifying preferred locality, salary and job type.


  • Widen the search to include several different sites
  • Utilise the job alert for timely alerts to your email or mobile
  • Use a range of terms in the search engine (check out the words used in the ads or descriptions of jobs you like – who knows what will turn up!)
  • Increase your chances by applying ASAP

Create a jobseeker profile

Rather than advertising positions, some employers search job search websites and professional networking sites for potential employees. Take advantage of this by creating a job seeker profile and uploading your CV on several different sites. Having your profile there 24 hours a day will increase your chances of coming to the attention of an employer.

TIP – ensure your CV is professional and up-to-date Linkedin

Upload your jobseeker or professional profile to Linkedin. This networking site allows the user to browse jobs by title as well as by company. It provides the opportunity to make connections and share information with professionals from all over Australia. It also gives updates on the latest industry news and innovation as well as providing insights and advice on employment seeking strategies.

Tip – be proactive. Participate in discussion groups and connect with potential employers

Recruitment agency websites

Recruitment agencies, find and shortlist job applicants for employers. They also provide vacancy lists for job seekers in search of positions. Job seekers are able to upload their CV to create a profile on these sites. Some agencies specialise in particular areas such as health or engineering, so choose the right agency to suit your requirements.

TIP – If a position has been placed on a job search website by a recruitment agency, take down the name of the agency and explore more job options on their website.

Company websites

Target company websites! They are a great source of information on both ‘types of jobs’ and employment opportunities. Some companies don’t use job search or recruitment agency websites. They only advertise positions on their own website, where they have online application submission facilities.


  • Check company websites regularly for vacancies
  • Upload your personal profile and CV if possible
  • Search for the names of valuable contacts
  • Learn about the company culture by exploring their website or blog

Government job sites

State, Territory and the Federal Government have their own careers websites. Local councils often advertise job vacancies somewhere on their website. It is worthwhile exploring these for a variety of positions. Upload your profile and CV to these sites if you can.

Personal website or blog

Entice prospective employers to your talents with your own website, blog or online CV. Keep it up-to-date, interesting and make sure you explore search engine options.

Social network

Reach out to your social network. People are usually willing to share their knowledge and offer advice and suggestions. Putting the word out about your job search will be beneficial.


  • Devote a post to your Facebook wall outlining your search
  • Join a trusted Facebook community group and put links to your CV and experiences
  • Jump on to Twitter and create your job search hashtag
  • Browse Twitter hashtags that relate to the job you want

140-character CV on Twitter

Try condensing your skills and accomplishments onto a 140-character CV and tweet it to the world. Look out for employment or industry forums or conversations. Join in and put yourself out there.

Job Recruitment Agency

Job and recruitment agencies offer online as well as personal service. They cater to people looking for temporary or permanent work. Reputable agencies interview job seekers so they can match their skills, experience, interests and qualifications with appropriate positions and employers. They keep clients up-to-date on opportunities and progress. Most offer services to help jobseekers put together a professional CV. Students needn’t be concerned about their lack of work or professional experience because agencies specialise in many areas (unskilled, skilled and professional) such as childcare, cleaning and house-keeping, health, education, engineering, IT and hospitality.


Before the birth of the internet (in the deep dark past), newspapers were the main source of employment advertising. National and local newspapers still advertise with an employment lift-out one day a week in some of the larger papers.


The life of a job seeker would be so much easier if all job vacancies were advertised, however it is estimated that up to 75% of them are not. Limiting their search to job search websites will limit students’ options. Unfortunately (or fortunately for those in the know), many jobs are found by word-of-mouth, or just by actively putting yourself out there.


How many times have you heard the expression, ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know?’ How often have you marvelled at the job opportunities that seem to fall into other people’s laps? We are all a part of a network that radiates in many and surprising directions. Once word is out to a network of friends, family, work colleagues, school mates, sports and community groups, it is surprising just how many opportunities surface. It is easier to get a job when you know somebody who works at an organisation. A personal recommendation or introduction can open doors; and there is always somebody who knows of somebody, who is looking for somebody...


  • Don’t hesitate to put the word out
  • Carry your CV or business card with you. You never know who you will meet
  • Join a professional organisation to make connections
  • Attend networking events and happy hours
  • Volunteer
  • For further information, take a look at networking in the ‘Personal Development’ module.

Utilise your school

If you are still studying, utilise the resources at the careers centre. Seek advice from the careers guidance counsellor and ask somebody to help you with your CV. Connect with your alma mater whose network is a great resource of people, knowledge and opportunity.

Think about the contacts in your network who might be able to assist you in your job search.

Write down their network contacts and the ways in which each contact might be able to assist you.

Suggest contacts or share information from your own network to help others.

The direct approach is also known as cold calling. This involves contacting a business or employer to ask about current or future job vacancies. The direct approach can be daunting, but is worth the effort if it leads to a foot in the door. There are several methods, so encourage students to try a combination of these.

Personal contact

Deliver your CV directly to the company or employer. There is the chance it will fall directly into the hands of the right person. Your CV will often be kept so that you can be contacted should a suitable position become available. Developing relationships with the receptionist or administrative staff can yield information about the best contacts, future job opportunities or even other places that might be hiring


Some companies encourage employment queries by email. If you are going to do so, send your CV with a polite question about job opportunities. This method can be risky because emails are easily ignored. It is always a good idea to send a follow up email, phone call or both.

Phone call

Speaking to somebody directly about job opportunities will give you the answers to any questions and set you on the path to the next step.

Tips for the direct approach

  • List the contact details of each employer you are going to call. Get names if you can
  • Script and practise what you are going to say so you are clear and confident
  • Find out the best time to call. (People will not have time for you at rush hour)
  • Carry your CV
  • Dress neatly and appropriately
  • Introduce yourself, be polite and thank the person you are speaking to for their time
  • Take notes. It is easy to forget details if you are nervous or visiting several places
  • Get friendly with front of house staff. They are allies with inside information!
  • Follow up. Your persistence will eventually pay off


A script to follow when making direct enquiries about employment opportunities will make the process a lot easier. Encourage students to use this template to write their own scripts.

Television news

Keeping abreast of the news will often give insight to factors that affect employment. Sometimes a story will appear about company expansion or new opportunities in industry. Get in early and investigate any potential opportunities.

Seasonal or Christmas work

Some companies or industries take on temporary workers during peak times. This is worth enquiring about. Quite often temporary work will lead to more permanent employment. If not, it fills the gaps on a CV and provides valuable skills and experience.

Existing opportunities

If students are currently working in a part-time or casual job, perhaps there are existing opportunities with their current employer. We sometimes seek work externally without exploring the possibilities of change or promotion where we are. It can’t hurt to have a word with the line manager or boss.

The job search log will help your students keep track of the companies they have contacted and the positions they have applied for. They may wish to design their own template instead.

Encourage your students to begin making a list of the places they wish to contact, along with their contact details.

An advertisement is a notice or a paid announcement placed in the public forum promoting a product, a service or an event. In the case of job vacancy advertisements it is promoting or publicising a job vacancy.

The public forum can be on a job search or other website, in a newspaper, an industry magazine, on social media, radio, or even an a community notice board in a public place.

Job vacancy advertisements are just one step in a careful and deliberate process by the employer to find the best possible person for the position. They are also the easiest and most obvious way for young adults to find out what is available to them on the job market.

Understanding job vacancy advertisements

Students step onto the career path prepared with CV, a list of target jobs, a wide field of search, and a positive attitude. They should also step onto the path with an understanding of how to read, decipher and demystify job vacancy advertisements to see whether or not a position is suitable to their needs, skills and career vision.

Break it down

The very best job vacancy advertisements are carefully crafted to attract the best and most suitable candidate. They should also provide enough information so the candidate understands the requirements of the job and whether or not the position is right for them.


Define the job

  • What it is
  • What it involves
  • Where it is located

Ask yourself: What is the main purpose of this job and what are the main tasks?

Describe the job

  • Full-time, part-time, casual
  • Skills and qualifications required
  • Work experience required
  • Type of company or organisation

Is this the kind of organisation I would like to work for?

What can I offer to the position if I was employed?

Determine the application criteria

  • How to apply
  • Where to apply
  • Who to contact for further information
  • Closing date for applications

Ask yourself: Is any further information necessary or key selection criteria to be addressed?

By breaking down the job vacancy advertisement in this way, and asking (and answering) the questions, students will be able to assess just what it is that the employer wants. They will then be able to tailor their cover letter and CV, highlight their relevant skills and experience, and craft a strong job application.

Sometimes (but not always) an employer’s requirements are more specifically stated in what is known as Key Selection Criteria. Key selection criteria are statements that describe the qualifications , knowledge , experience and skills that are required for an advertised position. Employers add this so they can evaluate each application against the other before shortlisting applicants.

Students should look carefully at the job vacancy advertisement to see if there is a link to this criteria. For the best possible chance of being shortlisted, it is a good idea to access the link and carefully address each step. This takes time and effort, but could possibly be the first step to an exciting job future.


  • Refer to your CV when addressing the criteria
  • Use bullet points and short sentences in your responses (recruiters don’t have a lot of time)
  • Explain specific, concrete examples of your skills and experience (STAR Method)
  • Ask somebody to check what you have written

Jargon is the term for expressions or special words used by a particular group or profession that are difficult for others to understand.

Entering the world of job searching can be like entering another world. The words used in job vacancy advertisements can seem like another language. Employers try to attract prospective employees to advertised positions by using such words as ‘dynamic’, ‘exciting’ and ‘cutting-edge’. Unfortunately some of the jargon can be confusing.

Students need to be able to cut through the jargon to know exactly what an employer is looking for. Once they understand what these ads are really saying, they will be surprised at just how well they can meet the criteria.

Job Search jargon Relating To You

Ability to communicate at all levels This person gets along with people from all walks of life. They can relate to everybody, from cleaners to corporate executives.

Attention to detail This person takes great care in everything they do. They check their work and do not make silly mistakes.

Challenging/fast-paced/demanding environment In a busy and high-pressure environment, this person is capable of performing well and meeting deadlines.

Customer-focused This person provides excellent service and is committed to meeting customer or client needs.

Dynamic This person has energy and enthusiasm and isn’t afraid to take on new projects.

Excellent communication skills – Great importance is placed on the ability to receive and convey information clearly and effectively. This person is a good listener and an effective speaker. They understand instructions, ask questions, and take their cue from others.

Fast learner The employer may not have a lot of time to spend training this person. They must have the ability to learn quickly and develop their skills on the job.

Flexible This person will happily take on different tasks at short notice. They are also committed to travel and to working over- time and odd hours.

Happy to pitch in Even if a task is monotonous or difficult, this person helps out without complaint.

Proactive Like a self-starter (see below), this person takes positive action and works towards their goals and those of the company.

Proven track record Employers want somebody with experience. They want to see evidence of this person’s accomplishments.

Self-starter This person keeps busy. They see what needs to be done and get on with it.

Team player This person works comfortably and positively with others to get the job done.


Commitment to equal opportunities – everybody is treated equally and given the same opportunities in this organisation. Employees will be expected to be sensitive to the needs of their colleagues or clients, no matter their background.

Competitive pay – the pay is similar to that of other employees, or that of similar jobs or positions in other organisations.

Core competencies – these are the main skills of the job. Focus on them as you progress through the recruitment process.

Pro rata – this refers to pay or leave entitlements and means proportional to full-time.

PW – per week or each week

Job Search Jargon Relating To The Process

Background check – the employer will verify your information and credentials.

Employment gap – prospective employers may be curious about any gaps in your CV that indicate periods of unemployment. Make sure you have a reasonable explanation to account for these, for example, you may have been travelling overseas or been the primary carer for an elderly relative. The explanations for these gaps could go in your favour – They are evidence of experience and character.

Internal hire – sometimes an individual is chosen for a position from within the company.

Interview attire – wear a suit.

Panel interview – you will be interviewed by a number of people at once. You should be warned about this beforehand.


CDL – current drivers licence

DOE – dependent on experience

FC or FTC – fixed contract or fixed term contract means the job runs or the position is available for a particular length of time or until the work is complete.

OTE – on target earnings are performance related and often depend on you meeting specific targets or results.

PA – per annum (is yearly). This usually refers to pay.

Pro rata – this refers to pay or leave entitlements and means proportional to full-time.

PW – per week or each week


Making sense of the weird. If this jargon comes up in an ad or interview, at least you will be prepared.

Blue sky thinking – this describes coming up with unusual ideas or unexpected ways of doing things.

Boiling the ocean – describes unnecessarily spending an excessive amount of time and energy on a small task.

Imagineering – is turning your imagination into reality, or putting the ideas of ‘blue sky thinking’ into action.

Low hanging fruit – these are the easy tasks.

The recruitment process brings together people who are looking for work with people who are employing. The process follows very definite stages and is designed to find the best possible candidate for a position.
Even with the best of efforts, sometimes jobs are still hard to come by. If their search remains unsuccessful, get students to think outside the square.

Look at alternatives

Go for alternatives to the job you really want. These alternatives could see you move sideways into your desired position, or enjoying something you had never even thought about. For example:

No luck in winning a job in administration? Try something in hospitality. Bar work or waiting sometimes involves such things as ordering stock and assigning rosters. Your enthusiasm and competence may get you into further administrative work.

Go straight to the top

Instead of approaching human resources or leaving your CV with front office staff, do a little investigation and go straight to the top. Find the boss’s phone number or approach her in the car park. This might be a little cheeky, but talking politely to the boss, letting her know what you have to offer and handing over your CV will certainly get you known.

Ask the question

If you have ever been shortlisted or interviewed but not made the cut, ask for feedback. Most people are only too happy to offer suggestions. Take these suggestions on board to improve your chances next time.

Apply again

Unless you are requested not to, it’s okay to apply for the same position more than once. Carefully check your cover letter and make sure your skills really do match the job requirements.


Have somebody proofread your CV to make sure it is up-to- date. Check that the layout is clean, crisp and clear and that there are no spelling or grammatical errors.

Up skill

Take short courses to improve your skills or learn new skills. These are available online or through the council or educational institutions. Many of these courses are inexpensive or even free.

Offer your services

Do a letterbox drop offering your gardening or ironing services or IT skills.

Beware of dodgy operators

Unfortunately there are a few dodgy operators who try to scam vulnerable job hunters with bogus companies and deceptive practices. Making students aware of the warning signs will help them avoid being burnt. Beware of:

  • Pyramid schemes (illegal and risky)
  • Limited information on a company (a Google search should provide the most basic information)
  • Business opportunities that are too good to be true (they usually are)
  • Mystery shopper jobs (even if they are advertised in reputable places)
  • Advertisements or emails offering guaranteed income or high earnings using your own computer
  • Up-front fees

Detailed information on job and employment scams is available on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website:


Run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, this site provides information to consumers and small businesses about how to recognise, avoid and report scams.

When to think twice about accepting a job

No matter how much in need of a job you are, the time spent in a miserable employment situation can be disheartening and demoralising. Look out for the warning signs:

  • Your experience and qualifications are not checked
  • There is no opportunity for career progression
  • The position has been advertised for a long time
  • The interviewer makes unpleasant remarks about the company or other staff
  • Other employees warn you about the job or company
  • Other employees look bored or miserable
  • You are asked to pay for upfront costs

Exploring other people’s career stories will give students an idea of the different paths and possibilities the work journey can take. It may even inspire new ideas.

Because searching for employment can be stressful and unemployment can weigh heavily, young adults need to put in place the strategies to care for their emotional wellbeing to help them remain positive.

  • Manage your expectations. Understand that searching for employment can take time and you may have disappointments along the way
  • Prepare for rejection and don’t take it personally. Remember there can be many applicants for one position and some positions are already filled by the time they are advertised. Know that each rejection is a step closer to your positive outcome
  • Focus on what you can control and not what is out of your control. Worrying will only cause unhealthy stress
  • Seek the support of friends and family
  • Plan a routine and stick to it. Keep busy. Meet up with friends, play sport or join a community group
  • Volunteer. You will widen your social circle and increase your skills as well as your work opportunities
  • Ask for help if you need it
Assessment Task