Student shares tips on securing job offers in Australia

By Doan Hung   March 5, 2024 | 07:59 pm PT
Student shares tips on securing job offers in Australia
Representatives of the Australian National University (R) talk to students at an information fair in Hanoi, Aug. 6, 2023. Photo courtesy of the Australian National University
A Vietnamese student in Australia said the key for securing job offers is early application preparation, as well as showing tangible numbers and results in interviews.

Bui Nhu Hoang Ha, 27, graduated from Deakin University and is currently working as a business data analyst at Bunnings Group, a major retail corporation for interior design in Australia and New Zealand with over 53,000 employees.

Previously, she had applied for 100 jobs and secured offers at several of them.

Ha said there are two main waves of recruitment in Australia, with the first wave from January to March, and the second from June to September. Applicants would typically send in their CV, take online tests, do video interviews and finally a face-to-face interview.

She went on job-seeking platforms like LinkedIn, Seek, GradConnection and Glassdoor, as well as taking notes of application deadlines, creating emails for job applications, and monitoring updates to avoid missing out on any open position.

Ha uses the CV templates and tools that her school provides for her. She also participated in job fairs to learn more about the job application process.

Ha said a CV should be contained within one page only to make it reader-friendly, with font sizes at around 10-11. One should also use active verbs and showcase their leadership skills. She paid special attention to how data is showcased to highlight the scale of her job and her productivity, which is an opportunity to showcase her experience and capabilities.

"When I applied for the data analysis position, I wrote ‘processing 1.5 million Yelp data to build a model with 84% accuracy using Python’ instead of ‘using Python to process and visualize data from Yelp’," Ha said. Applicants without prior experience can write about academic projects and relevant experiences, she added.

Portfolios and personal profiles can be a plus for job applicants. Ha said she uses the Tableau application to describe a project she carried out. For the technology or design sector, applicants can display what they did using Github or Behance. Or a candidate can simply use LinkedIn to post updates about their achievements, certificates and relevant experiences.

Before sending off her CVs, Ha would often double-check them to filter out unnecessary words. Ha said it can take businesses up to a month to reply to one’s application, so people should stay calm and keep their phones on hand in case a call for an interview comes.

For online tests, Ha looked up certain frequently asked questions through search engines. Such questions may ask about personality, how to deal with work conflicts and how to work in a team.

Ha said certain major tech companies like IBM, Auspost and Westpac use the Revelian test during their recruitment process. Canva and Thoughtworks meanwhile use specialized tests, which require applicants to possess relevant knowledge and skills.

The video interviews would require applicants to answer questions about specific scenarios and showcase their knowledge of company culture. Each question has a preparation time of two minutes and must be answered within four minutes. Ha prepares for these questions by looking up the most frequently asked ones, then modifying the answers by inserting in her own academic and job experiences.

Ha also looked up details about the companies she applies in, including its mission, vision and culture. When answering the questions, Ha applies the STAR method (situation, task, action, result).

The final interview often happens in two ways: an individual and group interview, or an individual interview combined with case study resolution.

In the first way, applicants will be a part of a 6 to 10-person group to discuss a scenario. Interviewers would watch how the applicants interact in a group and how they solve problems. Ha would share her honest opinions and ask questions without fear.

"There is no correct answer here, they just want to see how you interact with everyone in the group," Ha said. After that, applicants will get a one-on-one interview with a high-ranking employee. The questions would be similar to the online interviews, and Ha would try to highlight her personal experiences more, rather than just giving generic answers.

For the second way, the HR team would give applicants a problem to solve within 2-3 hours, before making them present the solution. It is then followed by a one-on-one interview.

Ha was interviewed this way at the Bunnings Group. She was asked to prepare a presentation for customers on how to build a website on organic food. Ha created a template website, calculating the time and money required, as well as what the website intends to achieve.

"The key to securing a job in Australia is building up your profile while you’re in school, through your scores and your projects. Additionally, applicants would also need to make connections, apply to places and improve their communication skills for the interview," she said.

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