When I first came over to Perth and I was looking for a job, I went directly for what I knew—hospitality. I got a job in a café with good hours, close to where I was living. It was convenient, easy and fun. No complaints here!
However, when I realized that I would probably be staying in Perth a little bit longer than intended—with an end date that is still constantly being pushed back—I decided that it was time to find something that would push me a little bit harder. I wanted a new challenge that would add to my resume and prepare me for whenever I decided to re-enter the real world.
On a Working Holiday Visa in Australia, you can only work for a company for a maximum of six months. Although I had been considering looking for a new job for a while and had been sending out the odd resume here and there, it all hit home when my employer came to me two weeks out from my six-month deadline.
“I’m sorry Gillian, I wanted to keep you on longer but my accountant has informed me that wouldn’t be a good idea. We can make an agreement that you start looking for a new job and I’ll start looking for a replacement for you.”
Within a couple of hours he had arranged for a new girl to start training with me. Ouch—just when I had thought myself irreplaceable!
I was now at the point where I had to get serious about my job hunt. I knew I wanted to do something different but what? I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism, which has proven to be worth very little compared to actual experience. Every ad for every position required a few years of on-the-job experience. I was silently screaming the age-old question; how can I get experience if no one will give me a job?
I decided that a good place to start was in admin. As much as I would have loved to jump into a communications or marketing position, my resume was looking weak compared to all the skills these roles required. I had some sales experience that included light admin so with a little tweaking I came across as an admin pro!
So I started spending my afternoons in cafes, milking a cup of tea while I made use of their free WiFi for hours on end. I re-formatted my resume, had it proofread by friends and then sent it to every single admin job on Gumtree and SEEK. Then I sat back and waited.
I wish I could say the offers poured in. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Email after email came back with the heartbreaking generic message informing me that unfortunately on this occasion I had not been successful in my application for the role.
But I persisted. I wasn’t going to settle for any job this time—I wanted an admin job. It was time for me to stop falling back on hospitality and strive for something different.
Luckily I had some savings and an amazing boyfriend who helped me get through the month and a half I went without a job. Every single day I sent email after email, tweaked my resume and cover letter dozens of times to suit each role. By the end I didn’t even know what I was applying for anymore!
Then finally, after a few weeks, the calls started to come in. I had a few unsuccessful interviews—either the role wasn’t what I had hoped or I guess in some cases I didn’t suit the role. But then finally, one day, I got a call from the company I work for now. The role sounded better than I could have hoped for and I knew I needed to get this job. I spent time researching the company, searching bus routes, went in and nailed the interview.
Over a year later I am still with that company and have recently been promoted to a sales position—with a company car and everything! I am also now on a Long Stay Business Visa, which allows me to work with the same company until the end of my visa in August 2017.
The job hunt was extremely painful and I don’t envy anyone going through that right now. But on the positive side, I learned a lot while going through that process; about selling myself and my abilities, about standing out in an interview and about standing my ground when I wasn’t offered enough or the role wasn’t as advertised. (I also learned a lot of new recipes and trained to run a 12km race with all my free time, but that’s beside the point.)
Even though unemployment was tough and the job hunt pushed me to the limit, I have absolutely no regrets. I am now working for an amazing company, with an amazing team, in a role that challenges me every day. It doesn’t get much better than that!Add this article to your reading list