This article was written in collaboration with Natalie Peart of Jobspeak Academy.
As the countdown to 2024 begins, international students across Australia are starting to think about their job search next year. As a career and communication coach at Jobspeak Academy, I help international professionals secure their dream jobs and build their communication skills for work. Recently, I was lucky enough to interview Leah Baylis, an experienced recruiter from Champagne Recruitment, and ask her about the best steps international students can take to professionally prepare for next year.
Here are some of Leah’s top insights and how they can help you take your employment journey to the next level in 2024.
The importance of networking
According to Leah, one of the keys to success is networking, which is the process of building professional relationships.
“If you’ve got certain experience in industries, find those networking groups affiliated with your field and get in front of people,” says Leah, adding that personal connections are often more important than your resume.
“A resume is important, but until you get in front of somebody’s face and they make that connection with you, that’s when you can really stand out,” she explains.
Not sure where to begin your networking journey? In our chat, Leah and I discussed the importance of attending in-person and online events and leveraging online platforms like LinkedIn to the fullest.
For example, I always recommend that my clients speak to a hiring manager during their job application processes. A hiring manager gets so many resumes and to avoid being another name, do what you can to call them and connect with them.
“Making a connection [on LinkedIn] can be one small element that shows you’re genuinely interested. It’s not just a resume flick. It’s actually saying, ‘I really want to work for you. Here’s why. I’ve submitted my application. Do you have some time to chat further?’’” says Leah.
Australian employers highly value local experience – and as Leah tells us, this is expected to continue into 2024.
“The issue is that we are in such a labour shortage; businesses are stretched and time-poor. They don’t have the luxury to train someone up,” Leah explains.
With that in mind, it’s important to do everything you can to get local experience, particularly if you’re graduating soon.
For those finishing their courses, Leah’s advice is clear: “Start early, assess your skills, and identify areas for improvement. The sooner you begin, the better positioned you’ll be.”
Whether it’s volunteering, an internship, or a part-time or casual role, there are ample opportunities for you to gain practical experience in Australia. A great place to start is by looking for roles on platforms such as SEEK, Indeed, LinkedIn or Workforce Australia. Immersing yourself in the Australian workplace will allow you to not only develop your skills and boost your CV but also to better understand local procedures and policies.
In our chat, Leah also touched on the importance of proactivity (i.e. taking initiative and seeking out opportunities rather than waiting for them to come to you).
“[When you apply for a job,] even if you don’t get an immediate response, it’s not a bad sign. Sometimes, it’s about being time-poor or having busy workplaces. Follow up with a phone call or email. Show that continued interest. That can make a real difference in a competitive job market,” she shares.
What industries are booming in 2024?
According to Champagne Recruitments insights, industries like healthcare and education are experiencing significant skills shortages, particularly in roles ranging from nurses and doctors to teachers and educators.
Other in-demand industries include engineering, construction and information technology (IT).
To bridge these skills gaps, the Australian Government is even launching fee-free TAFE courses in 2024. If you are hoping to upskill, you may want to consider enrolling in some of these courses. This will allow you to align your qualifications with the specific demands of the Australian job market and to position yourself as a proactive and adaptable candidate.
What can you do now to prepare for 2024?
As we ramp up for 2024, there are a few key steps you can take to prepare for this new professional chapter.
My suggestion is to refine your LinkedIn profile in preparation for a new year of networking. Ensure that you have the key skills from your industry listed in your headline, summary and experience section; this is important so potential employers and recruiters can see the skills you have. Plus, these act as keywords on such platforms, which can help people find your profile in a search.
Another way to optimise your LinkedIn profile is to focus on your achievements and provide examples of your skills rather than simply listing duties. After all, employers want to know your value.
Another way to prepare for 2024 is to review (and potentially rewrite) your base resume, highlighting any new achievements you may have gained and tailoring it to specific jobs and/or industries you may be interested in.
By prioritising these strategies and remaining persistent, you’ll be sure to set yourself apart in the competitive job market of 2024 and beyond.