To give yourself the best chance of finding a job, you'll need to be organised.
This means not just things like having a good CV or resume, or knowing how to write an application letter, but also knowing your skills and abilities.
One of the most important things you must do before seeking work or looking at your work alternatives is to consider what skills and abilities you can bring to the workforce. Your skills and abilities are your most valuable assets!
And it's not just the technical or job related skills — like knowing how to build a wall, drive a forklift or work a computer — it's also your employability skills that employers will be looking for.
Identifying your skills and abilities
Identifying, listing and describing your skills and abilities requires a little time and patience. However, you should plan to invest the time needed because you'll be organised and prepared when it comes time to talk to a potential employer about what you can offer — think about all the skills and abilities that you have acquired through your lifetime, from a range of sources including your hobbies, sporting activities, school and other training, work, and interests!
Information and resources that can help
The Recognising your skills and abilities fact sheet offers detailed information about how to recognise your skills and abilities, and examples of how to do this for yourself.
Employability skills, (sometimes called transferable or soft skills) cover a broad range of personal attributes and transferable skills that are very important to employers. They include communication, digital literacy, critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving and presentation skills. Employers may also place emphasis on attributes such as reliability, motivation, hard work, good personal presentation, and good communication and organisational skills.
Employability skills can be useful for transferring from one job to another or one career to another.
Being able to demonstrate these skills to employers says to them that you can adapt to the changing demands of the workplace.
In the future world of work, employability skills — how you function and operate as an employee — will become even more valuable and important.Take a look at the Employability skills fact sheet in the Information and resources section of our website
Get your documents organised
Now that you are clear about your skills – you're ready to go out there and make it happen, so now's a good time to check that you have everything you need. Read through the information in the slideshow to find out about some of the documents and other information you might need during your job hunt – use the buttons to move between the slides.
Curriculum Vitae (CV)
CV stands for Curriculum Vitae which is Latin for ‘course of my life’. It’s basically a description of everything you’ve done in your life so far that an employer might want to know about – like your education, awards, hobbies and employment history. A CV might be several pages long and is usually written in chronological order, starting with the most recent time and working back from there.
A resumé is similar to a CV but shorter. It is usually only one or two pages long and focuses on your most recent or relevant experiences. Your CV or resumé can be simple, or you can use colour and fancy layouts to make it look more interesting – the most important thing is that it tells a story about you, and what you can offer an employer.
CV or resumé?
In Australia these two terms – CV and resumé – are often thought to mean the same thing.
Whatever you call it, your CV or resumé is a really important part of your job hunting kit, because it's like a word portrait of who you are and what you can offer an employer.
If you're not confident about writing a CV/resumé yourself, talk to your local Jobs and Skills Centre – they would be happy to help you develop a great one that you can use for your job applications.
A portfolio is like an album that visually demonstrates your work or learning experiences, and gives a potential employer physical proof of your skills and abilities. They are often used when you apply for a job where the employer wants to be able to see what you can do – for example, art and design, photography, music or artwork (like the example pictured here, for a graphic designer/photographer)
Your portfolio could be in electronic format if this shows your work better. For example, if you're into software applications or website development, then being able to show those things via a website or somewhere online would be a great way to showcase your portfolio.
You need to be able to provide proof of anything you say in your CV and/or resumé, such as school results, certificates, qualifications, licences or awards. Make copies of these to include with your job applications – never send the originals, as you may not get them back, but potential employers may ask to see the originals at some point so make sure you know where they are.
You may also have to provide proof of identity like a drivers' licence or passport, but other documents may be accepted.
Referees and references
Referees are people who can describe your skills and experience to a potential employer. It's good to list two referees – ideally one should be your current or most recent employer or manager, someone who can talk about your work related skills. The other can be anyone who would be able to give a positive account of you, such as a teacher, colleague or coach, but try to avoid using family members or mates. Sometimes referees might provide this information in a written document – this is called a reference.
If you're going to use someone as a referee, always ask them first — you want to be sure they're ok with doing it. You should also check what they would say about you, for example; if someone asked them about your communication skills what would they say? Are they able to speak about you in a positive way that is likely to help you get the job? If not, ask someone else!
Email address and/or phone number
Your resumé should include at least two ways that employers can contact you; an email address and phone number are the best ones to provide.
Make sure your email address sounds professional and is appropriate to send to potential employers – if it isn't, use a free email service such as Gmail to set up a new email account specifically for job applications.
Also check that your voicemail message is appropriate for potential employers to hear – if not, record a new one!
Keep a contact list that includes the name, organisation, position details and contact details for any jobs you apply for. You never know when you might need them.
You could also add to this list any contacts, including people or organisations, that you might want to get in touch with during your job hunt. This could include agencies who help jobseekers, mentors or individuals who you can turn to for support, as well as people in charge of hiring in areas where you’d like to work.
Always keep your local Jobs and Skills Centre on your contact list!
You’ll need to save or store all these documents so they’re safe and easy to find when you need them. If you have access to a computer, you might be able to save them in electronic format to a thumb drive. Otherwise you’ll need a filing system, or at least a box or folder to keep paper copies of them all.
It’s also a good idea to save copies of any job applications you submit, as these can be used as starting points for later applications. With just a bit of editing, you might be able to use them again. If you're registered with the Aboriginal services jobs board, you can keep all of your important job documents online for free!
How we can help
If you would like some help to get yourself organised for your job search, your local Jobs and Skills Centre can help. Whether your CV needs updating, or you need some advice about putting a portfolio together, or just need some general advice on getting organised, the team at your JSC is the place to go.