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This advice on applying for jobs was kindly made available by Frank Ingruber. Frank is a retired Australian Ambassador living in The Netherlands and is a coach and mentor to talented young people. A sharp critic of common assumptions about the job application process and the poor quality of most CVs and Motivation Letters, Frank has been a long-standing supporter of WIL and has helped a number of WIL members achieve enormous success. He is hosting a workshop for our members on Friday, October 15 on “Getting a Job Post-COVID."


The challenge you face is to choose a job and career that aligns with your core values, has meaning and value for you, that you are good at, and that makes you happy.

Being happy in your work is particularly important because work takes up at least a third of your life; is often how you define yourself; and affects many other areas of your life (including health, relationships and family life). Unfortunately, surveys show that over 70% of people are unhappy with their career choices.

The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.

Should you apply for that job?

Be careful about applying for too much. It's tempting to do so, but it's a mistake because you'll likely spread yourself too thin and end up chasing your own tail. Far better to concentrate on the 4-5 jobs that you really want and where you stand a good chance of being selected. There is actually no shortage of job vacancies. What is in short supply are great jobs, in great teams, in great companies.

Strike from your list any jobs that you're not really interested in - retaining them is simply confusing and distracting and makes a final choice(s) much harder. Work out what are your best chances for which jobs, because they are the ones to focus on. At the same time be ambitious, rather than playing it safe and easy. Choose traineeships/internships that are prestigious, high profile, and relevant for multiple careers, i.e. don't cut off your future career options.

While you have nothing to lose by applying for jobs (apart from time and effort), don't apply simply because there is a vacancy; don't apply unless you have a strong chance; and don't apply if you are unsure or if you may ultimately turn the job down, because the latter causes great annoyance to Selection Panels, is a waste of everyone’s time, and damages your reputation.

You just have to ensure is that you meet most (i.e. 70-80 percent) of the Selection Criteria, and certainly all of the key ones. There is no point in applying if the Selection Criteria say that you must have certain academic qualifications or 5 years experience in a particular industry or type of work, if you don’t have it. For the rest, you have to offer something commensurate or offsetting. When you don't have a particular - although not a critical – skill, experience or expertise, e.g. if it says ‘familiar with’ or ‘knowledge of...would be an advantage’, immediately get on the internet, talk to the relevant people and become an instant expert. That’s particularly important because the difference between getting or not getting a job is generally around 5-7 percent. Not more. So every advantage, every additional point you can get, is crucial.

When considering applying for a job, ask yourself:

· Do you want the job and why? ( Don’t change or intellectualise your answer, but listen to your internal voice because it is rarely wrong).

· Is the job important and interesting?

· Does it have meaning to you?

· Do you have the necessary skills, experience and educational requirements?

· Are you ready for the job?

· Will you be happy to wake up and go to work every day?

· Will you be proud to do this job?

· Is this a place where you can begin building a future, or is it a temporary step?

· Is this a company you believe in?

· Will it use and further develop your skills and experience?

· Is the primary attraction employment or the salary?

· Do your personality, values and approach mesh well with the company’s culture?

· Are the hours what you are looking for?

· How is success measured?

· Who gets promoted and why?

· Do you like and respect these people?

· Will you be part of a high performing team?

· Will you likely be challenged, fulfiilled and grow in the position?

· Is employee morale high?

· What are staff stress levels like?

· How does the company treat its employees?

· Does management respect the staff and communicate openly and frequently with them?

· Will you have a measure of autonomy, i.e. the freedom to make decisions and be held accountable for them?

· Is this the type of workplace environment that bring out the best in you?

· Are there opportunities for training, promotion and coaching?

· Why is this position available?

· Is there a high turnover in the company, or in that specific position?

· Does it represent a logical progression in your career?

· Do you meet the selection criteria and have a good chance of actually getting the job?

· Is the job too different or too senior for you?

· Are the salary, benefits and working conditions attractive?

· Is it practical for you and your family?

· Does your partner support you in applying for this job?

· Does it involve relocation or a long daily commute?

· Does it offer a reasonable work/life balance?

· Will it provide useful new skills, experiences, and industry contacts?

· Does it offer intellectual and creative stimulation?

· Will you be visible or largely unseen?

· Will you likely get credit for your work/achievements?

· Will you be challenged?

· Will you like working for this manager?

· Will you have room to grow?

· Wll it expose you to the latest thinking/tools in the industry?

· Are you likely to get bored/frustrated fairly quickly?

· What is the company’s onboarding process?

· What types of rewards and recognition does the company offer?

· How do promotions occur?

· What kind of philanthropy does the company support or participate in?

· What are the most important elements of this job?

· How does the company communicate important information?

· How do you communicate with your manager and how often?

· How genuine and transparent is the communication from senior management?

· How do departments communicate with one another?

· What is the company’s outlook on work/life balance (paid time off, leave, remote work etc.)

· What is the dress code?

· Is the company growing?

· Does the industry have a promising future?

Criteria to Consider:

The Company

  • Number of employees

  • Financial status

  • Leadership style

  • Policies, processes and procedures that establish how it functions

  • How it holds true to its mission, vision and overall integrity

The Job

  • Job duties and how much you would enjoy them

  • How you would spend your day

  • How many meetings or events would you be expected to attend

  • The reporting relationships in the job

  • How your boss measures success

Working Hours and Flexibility

  • What are the real hours your potential colleagues work, versus the published start and end times?

  • Would you be required to be on call or work overtime?

  • Does the company allow employees to work remotely or offer flexibility in the work schedule?

Total Compensation

  • How competitive is the compensation and benefits package?

  • Is pay tied to performance?

  • Quality and cost of health insurance

  • Number of days for vacation and sick leave

  • Availability of retirement plans

  • Life and disability insurance

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