"The true Aussie battler and his wife thrust doggedly onwards: starting again, failing again, implacably thrusting towards success. For success, even if it is only the success of knowing that one has tried to the utmost and never surrendered, is the target of every battler."
~ Michael Page and Robert Ingpen ~
You are nearly there. It's the final semester of Year 12, not long until you graduate from senior secondary school, and your future lies ahead of you. A likely scenario is that you want to continue on to further education to pursue your chosen field.
Perhaps you are positive about the vocational path you have selected — you've done the research, and sought information from careers events and guidance from counsellors. But, what about when you've finished your course? It may not be for several years but eventually, you'll need to start looking for employment that hopefully aligns with your chosen occupational field.
Even if you've already decided on a career path, and especially if you're still wavering, we recommend that before you go ahead and enrol in any tertiary program, you think (or rethink) about where your skills lie and what you enjoy. Why? Because you need affirmative ticks in both boxes to be truly successful in your vocation.
Maybe you're thinking about moving to a larger city, like Sydney or Melbourne, or maybe you're going to stay near your hometown. Either way, wherever you decide to live during and after tertiary study, stable employment in any industry is not a guarantee just because you're planning to complete a further education degree or another recognised course.
However, although a university degree or vocational training certificate is certainly not essential when it comes to securing employment, it is important to note that while employers all want people with skills, often the difference between winning the job and not winning it can just be that individual piece of paper.
There's a lot to think about!
You'll have heard other students and even your teachers say this, and it's all over social media too:
Eighty-five per cent of jobs that will be needed in 2030 haven't even been invented yet.
Um — no. That figure's pretty excessive, to the point of hogwash, when you drill down into the statistics. The point is, right now, you have no definitive way of knowing what careers are going to be around in the next 20, 30 or 40 years. Who knows — your dream career of the future might not even exist today.
So, how do you plan for this?
Sitting around and waiting to see what options develop in the future is not a particularly good strategy. On the other hand, we want to acknowledge that trying to sift through all the opportunities and uncertainties can be overwhelming — especially during the late teenage years where everything can be fraught with confusion and anxiety.
If this is how you're feeling, there are resources and individual and tailored support available to help Year 12 students weigh up their choices and develop a plan to best access ongoing training and employment opportunities.
This support is not just there for those about to graduate either. If you're in a dead-end job, feel stuck at your current level, or even want to start from scratch with a whole new career — there is nothing to stop you from accessing the same support resources, whether you're 18 or 58.
In this article, we'd like to introduce the Australian Government's Your Career website — a one-stop-shop with everything you need to know about how to find the right career. If you're going to graduate at the end of the year, or have been working for several years already, this site is definitely worth a look to find information about:
- career ideas
- learning and training opportunities
- job preparation (resumes and interviews)
- the job search process
- employment services
- financial support
- your rights in the workplace
- study and work opportunities for migrants.
We'll help you identify why it can be so difficult to determine your career path and find a job and will focus on how to make the best use of the Your Career service.
Find a personal and professional development tutor here.
How to Find the Right Career — Why is it so Hard?
If you're reading this as a parent or a teacher — a child or student not knowing exactly what they want to do after they graduate does not constitute a failure on your part.
If you're a student reading this — being confused about what you want to do after you graduate does not mean you are doomed forever to fail.
Right now, you (or your child) may believe you're at a crucial crossroads but thinking about careers on top of everything else may feel like being pushed over the edge.
Keeping mental health at the forefront of the mind, there are, however, several causes identified by careers specialists as key reasons why many people struggle to make a decision about their future careers.
Lack of research
If you haven't taken the opportunity to fully explore potential careers, how can you possibly make a decision? Research doesn't have to be all online, although Your Career has a brilliant search service to get you started. Try these simple strategies too:
- Talk with friends and family.
- Ask a professional about his or her career.
- Visit a Careers Expo.
- Enrol in work experience.
- Attend university open days.
Lack of work experience
Doing your homework and participating in extracurricular activities are both essential parts of your schooling. Attending social events is also crucial for mental health and wellbeing. The final important thing to add to your schedule each week is work — that casual, after-school or holiday job is not only handy for personal finance reasons but will also help you with career planning.
Yes. Students who don't engage in paid community work experience miss opportunities to:
- hone their communication skills
- acquire on-the-job professional training
- develop a contact list
- put their hand up for potential internships
- get relevant and current references for their resume.
Uninformed or hasty decisions
Are you one of those people whose heart has been set on a particular occupation since you were 8-years-old — and you just never looked at anything else? From the person who did that — don't. If you put the job-blinkers on too early, you'll not only neglect to explore other alternatives (potentially missing something amazing), you may also not fully explore exactly what your chosen occupation entails until it's too late.
It's never too late to change your mind, but the idea of starting the whole process again may well be daunting enough to warn you off.
Once you've made a firm decision, is that it?
Not quite. There are still challenges to face — numero uno being actually securing that position you'll have spent many years studying and training for.
Job Prospects — The Challenges
As we mentioned previously, gaining that university degree or vocational certificate from a reputable training course does not guarantee employment. Everyone, particularly in today's economic climate, faces challenges when it comes to securing employment.
The competition is fierce in the current market. Perhaps you might have a contact in your industry and get lucky, finding a job in a week. However, for most people it will likely take weeks, if not months, to land the position you've spent many years training for.
What are these challenges and how can I overcome them to improve my job prospects?
Knowing the problems is the first step to conquering them.
High numbers of applicants
More and more, business and industry employers are reporting huge increases in the number of applications they receive for a single position. Visualise multiple hundreds of applicants with the scope to only take a dozen or so to interview. Most people don't hear back and that can be discouraging. If you're prepared for this, it can help but, even better, work out how you can make your application stand out. Start with a professional resume and cover letter, and plan on getting some training on interview technique.
A business can afford to be picky
Hand-in-hand with the high application numbers, a business can now afford to be pickier about who they employ. Not enough in the budget to employ someone with experience — a new graduate will cost less. Not enough time or personnel to provide training support to a new employee — take an individual who has equivalent industry experience. What about part-time — it costs the business less and people simply have to cope with doing the same amount of work. Be aware of what the company wants and don't waste time applying for a job you're not going to get.
Resumes that aren't current
Not only do you need to keep your resume up-to-date but you often have to tailor it to suit different jobs. Remember, there will be hundreds of applications and employers are not going to read every single one. In fact, these days a business is probably going to use an applicant tracking system. In a nutshell, this means if your resume and cover letter are not up-to-date and online, you can kiss that job goodbye.
How do I plan for these challenges?
Start with the Your Career service — read on.
What Advice is Available through the Your Career Services?
The Your Career website is run by the National Careers Institute which was established in 2019 with a vision to be an impartial and independent source of careers information for Australians, irrespective of their ages or career stage.
Your Career services include:
- an A-Z listing of occupations with information such as salary, job prospects and key roles
- a find-your-future-career quiz, plus tools such as skills match and course options
- learning and training information
- resume and interview advice, tools and resources
- work support program
- career program development resources
- links to relevant websites, such as jobactive and job-jumpstart.
The National Careers Institute offers this platform to all Australian residents, as well as people intending to migrate to Australia. They also administer the 'My Skills' and 'Training' websites and operate a 'School Leavers' information kit and the associated online program.
The Your Career website, along with the Institute's other resources, is designed to assist every individual in every community to develop and reach their professional goals.
If you're after specific information about options and opportunities for using your degree, check out the Job Outlook website.
More About Preparing Yourself for the Job Market
Let's be honest — planning for your future career is hard. You can follow one 'career' down several alternative paths in terms of where you work and what your roles and responsibilities are. The Your Career site provides information about these differences as well as a host of services to help you get there.
Write or update your Resume or CV
The most important thing to remember is that your resume will be the first insight a potential employer will get into who you are. A resume is not a mere list of what you've done and where; it needs to be well written and be applicable to the position you're applying for. Cover letters, or statements of purpose, are also important to get right.
As with a novel, it's the first couple of lines that count. Yours is one in a pile of hundreds of applications and employers may only be reading the first paragraph to start with. If it doesn't make a positive impression, your application will not make it to the next stage.
Your Career has a useful resume checklist you can download, as well as a resume-building practice page.
Essential information to include in your resume or CV:
- contact details (name, email and phone number)
- work history and experience
- contact details for at least two referees
Make sure everything you list is relevant to the job you're applying for — and the resume is free from spelling and grammar errors.
Familiarise yourself with the relevant skills
Before you graduate, it's a good idea to sit down and make a list of your skills and areas of knowledge or passion. You might surprise yourself — but you might also be wondering how these can work for you when it comes to getting a job.
This is where the 'occupations' and 'career ideas' tabs on the Your Career website can really begin to work for you. When you search through the job listings, or for specific skills, you may realise you possess all the attributes for a role you didn't even know about.
For people who want a fresh start, using this site will open your eyes to all your transferrable skills.
Search for courses and alternatives
If you've been working for a while, you may need to consider upgrading your skills with further training. Check the Your Career site to see the types of courses or you may need to do to move towards your new occupation or role.
If you are a recent high school graduate and don't feel you have what it takes to complete a university degree, the Your Career site lists a range of alternative roles that will keep you in your preferred industry but may instead require an apprenticeship or certificate-level course.
Search for jobs and start applying
Gone are the days where you have to scan the Saturday newspaper for jobs and then traipse from place to place to deliver your resume and application. Today, although you still have to do the 'legwork', most of it can be done online.
Your Career contains useful resources and links to guide you in your job search and what to do when you find an advertised vacancy that suits you.
Remember to post your resume and cover letter online as well, using a social media platform like LinkedIn, to increase your exposure to potential employers.
Still unsure about what you want to do? Consider an academic appraisal.
A great resume and cover letter will get a recruiter's attention but what do you do if they call you for an interview?
After a quick celebratory dance, you'll probably want to think about how to present yourself in the best possible manner to your future employer. This not only includes your physical presentation but also the way in which you speak and your level of confidence and engagement.
Remember, they want to talk to you because they're interested — be yourself, be comfortable and be prepared.
Your Career has some interview technique resources but you may want to practise with a teacher, friends or family — or even engage the services of a professional career coach.
Even if you are 100 per cent sure of your goals, take the time to explore different careers as new opportunities may make themselves apparent.
If the career you've settled on requires university admission you can find out more about UAC here.
Accessing Guidance Services
Career guidance services are available in both digital and physical formats. For those wanting all the career information at their fingertips, Your Career is one of the best career resources available online in Australia.
Sometimes, however, you may need someone to talk you through your options and choices.
Finding Career Support through Superprof
Making contact and booking a few sessions with a private career tutor can be beneficial if you need guidance with:
- understanding the options available for further education
- practising and improving interview skills
- determining your skills and matching them with different career requirements.
A private career coach or counsellor's role is not only to give basic career advice but to coach you through each step until you succeed in reaching your employment goals.
The Superprof platform has professional development tutors, life coaches and career tutors who specialise in helping you achieve your goals. They tailor their sessions to your needs and operate in the same way as our academic tutors, offering three types of tutorials.
Face-to-face private tutorials
A one-on-one lesson in an agreed location with an experienced tutor is the traditional tuition style and still suits many people. At the outset, they may seem to be the most expensive, but they are also the most cost-effective as you are the focus for the entire lesson.
Online private tutorials
Still, a one-on-one lesson with your tutor, the only real difference here is that you are online — so, you will learn via Skype, Zoom, FaceTime or one of the other online platforms available. Online lessons are not always ideal when it comes to activities or practical-based lessons, but for career coaching they can be perfect. Plus, online lessons are cheaper as you do not have to factor in travel costs.
As the name suggests, you are in a group — but it's a small one, 3-4 people only, so you may still get a considerable amount of focus time. It won't all be about you though but a clever, intuitive student can always learn something from the response to another student's question. Group tutorials are the most budget-friendly as the rate is split between students.
Before selecting your tutorial style, give some thought to your learning style, budget and personal goals. This will help you decide which type of tutorial is right for you. Ultimately, it's all about you, as a school or university graduate, making informed and wise decisions about your future.