Job Application Tips

As some companies are already starting to advertise for vacaction work I thought I'll just share some tips about how to strengthen your application and your chances on getting that ideal job.

1) Do your Homework!

- Research all the companies you can. See what they do - for example if you're looking at mine operators like BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, etc know what commodities they mine and where their mines are. If you're applying for a contractor such as Thiess or HWE Mining, know which companies and operations they have contracts with. If you're applying to engineering companies like Ausenco or Bechtel, know what services they offer different industries and know what some of their recent or current projects are.

- Doing your homework on potential employers will help you decide which companies you would like to work for. Furthermore it is important to have a good knowledge of the company you're applying for when applying and interviewing for jobs. Often one the first questions interviewers will ask is, "What do you know about us?". So have a good knowledge of the company can set the standard for the entire interview. My boss at BHP said he was once interviewing someone for a position and asked a very similar question to that and the the interviewee responed with something like, "Well Cannington, is about 800km east of townsville"  i.e. smack bang in the middle of the pacific ocean... 


2) Work Experience and Extracurricular Activities

- When you're applying for a particular position, say as a Vacation Work Civil Engineer, a significant differentiator between applicants will be their work experience and extracurricular activities as most applicants will be studying similar degrees and have similar technical abilities.

- Having relevant work experience (basically other vac work) is an absolute bonus! Best advice here is to apply for vac work as soon as possible (1st or 2nd year of uni) to get your 'foot in the door'. In the absense of relevent work experience, you can usually talk about situations in any other job where you required certain qualities such as problem solving, safety, working individually, working as part of a team, etc.

- Get involved in a club or society at uni. Apart from the networking aspects, being an office holder with a university club or society can be very beneficial when applying for jobs. Firstly it shows leadership amongst your peers at uni, and secondly, it is like another job and you can use it to demonstrate various qualities.

- Extracurricular activities, such as sport or music, are also very important. Aside from being able to fulfill the technical requirements of the position, you must also demonstrate that you are someone that will fit into the workplaces culture and that people will be happy working with you. Having interests outside of work is a great way to show this. On a slightly less serious but relevent sidenote, last year I attended a networking event held by Rio Tinto and their HR rep said that if were applying for a job in Weipa and you listed pig hunting as your favourite activity, you would basically have the job (because this is what a lot of people do for fun in Weipa). Furthermore, extracurriculars can demonstrate the ability to work well in a team and manage multiple tasks (i.e. studying and playing sport).


3) Good Grades

- You would definitely have heard that good grades aren't everything. This is definitely true - the other things I've spoke about are all important however good grades at school and uni definitely help! I have found that having great marks helped me score vac work at an early stage. Also some companies will prefer to take people with say a credit average. This is more typical in engineering design companies especially, so keep this in mind.

- Another point on grades - work hard early! Some people have the mindset that they've finished high school and done the hard part (getting into their desired degree) and they can then take things easy, scrape by, and work hard later in their degree when things start getting serious. This is not a good approach because firstly, university learning is cumulative, and secondly, employers look at your current GPA. For example, I'm in 3rd year now, so when I apply for jobs this year I will list my GPA for the first half of my degree. Come graduate applications you will list your GPA for the first 3 years - therefore your GPA in the last year doesn't even really matter to employers (as long as you pass).




Author thumbnail Peter Stephan Hi, I'm Peter and I'm studying my 3rd year of civil engineering at UQ. I grew up in a country town near Brissy and enjoying the campus life immensely!