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Explore career and job options

It's important to know as much detail as you can about different careers and jobs, and about your own talents and interests so that you can match them against each other. Then you are more likely to choose the career that suits you best, and the jobs that you will enjoy the most. You can get this information through:

  • Family, Friends and Others 
  • Career and Industry Events
  • Knowing Your Interests and Talents
  • Career guidance Supports
  • Work Experience and Volunteering
    • Tips for approaching employers for work experience.

Family, Friends and Others

Family members, friends and other people we come into contact with during our daily lives can give us real insight into careers and jobs. We sometimes don’t think about these people when we’re trying to find out this information, but they are a great resource we need to take advantage of.

What about aunts and uncles, cousins, neighbours, people we mix with socially, or in the sports team we play in, or in other community or hobby groups we belong to?

They usually have a wide range of different jobs in different industries, and can give firsthand accounts about what their job involves; what training they had to do and the qualifications they needed; what the working conditions are like, the wages and career prospects; and the good and bad about the job.

They can give advice about the best way to get into that type of work. They might also have ‘insider’ information about job vacancies or placement opportunities in their workplace, and may be able to give support in getting you a job interview.

Make the most of what family, friends and others you know can tell you about their working life by asking them all about it.

Careers and Industry Events (Expos)

Going to careers and industry expos is really worthwhile. These events can give you valuable information on career paths, jobs and the qualification you need. They are usually presented by industry experts, and are a fun way to find out about jobs. It’s important to visit as many of these events as possible.

Expos run at various times throughout the year, but mainly between March and October, and usually don’t cost anything to enter. Check industry and employer websites and careers sections in the media regularly to get details of forthcoming events.

Visit SkillsOne to view an online careers expo for major industries; videos on hundreds of different occupations, and career event updates.

Visit myfuture and create an account to experience the interactive mini career explorer.

Knowing Your Interests and Talents

One of the most effective ways you can work out where to start looking for a career and for jobs that may suit you is to think about what activities or hobbies you enjoy, the subjects you were good at and liked doing at school and the jobs that you have enjoyed in the past. For example, for school leavers , if you liked English at school and got good marks for it, there are a number of jobs and careers where the use of English is very important - jobs such as journalist, script writer, administration assistant, tour guide, and teacher- to name a few.

If you enjoy cooking at home and think you are pretty good at it, your talents and interests could lead to a career in the hospitality industry, in jobs such as baker, food processing technician, chef, caterer or dietitian, or running your own restaurant.

Visit Australian Government Department of Education and Training - Document library where you can search the document library by school subjects to find what jobs they can lead to, and the qualification level required for each job.

Another way to find out is to take a career aptitude quiz. This quiz asks you questions about your likes, interests and preferences in different activities, and then gives you an idea of what jobs or career would be the best fit for you. The following websites offer career aptitude quizzes:

Career Guidance Supports

Careers Counsellors

You can get help with making decisions about your career choice by talking to a careers counsellor. Careers counsellors provide information, advice and guidance to help people make realistic choices about their education, training and work, and for those who may want a career change or need help with further training.

They help to identify options for suitable careers, build CVs, identify skills gaps, advise on where to search for jobs, help with the application process and locate relevant training courses.

Most schools and education providers have career counsellors you can speak to for free. If you're still at school, book in some time to talk to your careers teacher. If you're at university or TAFE, visit your student union to see what kind of career counselling services are on offer.

If you are not studying or at school there are always private career counsellors, though they generally charge a fee for their services. Visit Career Development Association of Australia (CDAA) to find a private career counsellor who can help you work out your best career options.

Job Descriptions

Looking at a job description can help you decide whether a job will suit you. This document contains detailed information about the various aspects of a job such as the duties, responsibilities, the goals and objectives that are expected to be accomplished, and the skills and qualifications needed to do the job successfully.

Visit myfuture to explore detailed job descriptions and for other career advice.

Visit The Good Universities Guide to access over 450 job descriptions, and investigate different career paths.

Work Experience and Volunteering

Doing work experience or volunteering can be a very effective way to find out about a job or career. The benefits of this type of activity are:

  • You can get first-hand knowledge and understanding about a job that can help you decide if it’s right for you. 
  • You can develop valuable experience and skills, and this can be added to your resume or CV.
  • You may get a good reference from your Work Experience or Volunteer placement that can help with future job applications. (Don’t forget to ask)
  • You can develop personal contacts to help you in finding other employment. 
  • You may be invited back to do part-time, casual, or full-time paid work.

You can find Work Experience and Volunteering opportunities by:-

Organisations Seeking Volunteers

The following organisations offer volunteer work opportunities. Click onto each to find out about the types of volunteer work available and how to apply for volunteer positions.

  • Landcare - Get involved in tree-planting days and other ways of looking after the land.
  • Amnesty International - Help Amnesty fight for human rights and social justice around the world.
  • Clean Up Australia - National non-profit organisation which strives to inspire and work with all Australians to clean up, fix up, and conserve our environment.
  • Oxfam Australia - Support events, campaigns, provide administrative support (must be over 18).
  • St John Ambulance - Encourages volunteers as young as eight to become St John First aiders.
  • The Smith Family - Offers a range of volunteer opportunities, from on-line tutoring to their traditional activities such as packing Christmas hampers.
  • Conservation Volunteers Australia - Provides a list of conservation projects that you can volunteer for including "Green Army".
  • Heart Foundation - Provides a range of volunteer opportunities including the annual Door Knock Appeal, event organisation and participation, and project work for students.
  • Red Cross – Provides a range of volunteering opportunities such as: making daily phone calls to older people living alone to make sure they are ok; helping out in an evacuation centre during a disaster; practicing customer service skills at Red Cross shops, and more.

For a comprehensive list of organisations seeking volunteers, volunteer opportunities near you, and other tips about getting involved in volunteering, check out the following websites:

Tips for Approaching Employers for Work Experience

Many employers are open to being approached for voluntary work experience. Here are some guidelines to help you to start the contact and to make a positive impression.

Golden Rules

  • Be professional and polite in your approach.
  • Be clear in your request.
  • Accept no if that is the answer, and thank your contact for his/her time.
  • Keep track of your conversations and arrangements.

Where to look

  • There are a number of ways you can find a placement. Targeting organisations that you have a
  • keen interest in is the best way to start.
  • Visit the organisations on the websites listed previously. 
  • Apply for a 'Work for the Dole' placement. Visit Australian Government Department of Employment - Work for the dole for more information 
  • Make a list of organisations that you would be keen to work with and contact them
  • Research your field of interest on the internet

How to approach a "cold call"

  • Calling an organisation that you have identified can be daunting, however, most of the time if your
  • approach is polite and to the point you will find that people will be happy to give you answers to your
  • questions.
  • Write yourself a "script" for what you will say – even if you don't use it, it will help you focus
  • Introduce yourself, where you are from and the reason for your call
  • Ask for the name of the HR Manager or Manager if the organisation is smaller – then ask to
  • be put through to her/him
  • Outline your interest in work experience with the organisation and ask if the organisation
  • would have any opportunities for you
  • If yes, then make a time to meet and discuss further and/or email some more information
  • Make sure you have a notepad with you for all the information you gather!

Have a personal commercial prepared

  • Expect to be asked questions about you by the people you contact. Prior preparation should help
  • you to explain in an upbeat and positive way things like:
  • What you are studying, and why.
  • What your major areas of work experience interest are, and why.
  • What you believe to be your strongest employable attributes – this might be particular skills,
  • knowledge, experience you have to offer, or aspects of your personality that are suited to the
  • type of work you want to do.
  • The type of role that you are seeking and your reasons why.
  • What is important to you in the work you do, in terms of the needs you want to meet (for
  • example a desire to help people) or, values or motivators that are behind your choice of experience and employer.