Making the transition form study to a professional career presents a range of fresh challenges. Professionals Australia exists to support you with advice and tools that help you build solid foundations for career flexibility and growth.

Our guide to Getting the right job steps you through the fundamental steps to a successful job hunting campaign.
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Did you know?

Many people don’t realise how vitally important informal methods are for finding work. More than 50% of people find work through networking.

Job Search steps

Job Search is a process and will involve anything that will assist you to find employment. Some of the activities involved in a job search can include, but are not limited to:

job search










Take a long, hard look at yourself

There are some important issues to consider in preparation for your job search. Taking the time to establish your areas of greatest interest, as well as making an honest assessment of your own capabilities will bring you closer to identifying the kinds of positions you should be seeking. Assessing your interests and capabilities

Ask yourself

What employers want from you

Any student or recent graduate looking for employment should be asking the question: What are employers looking for in graduates?’

Recent research suggests that there are a number of core competencies that employers consistently assess in regards to employing graduates. These competencies are listed below and addressing them will help you present yourself in the best possible light to prospective employers.

Can you tick all of these boxes?

You need to do the groundwork

It’s a good idea to seek out as much industrial/vacation/work experience as you can, particularly while you are still studying. If you are taking a break after finishing university or if you experience an extended period of job seeking, it can also be a good idea to organise work experience during this time.

This gives you valuable experience and content for your resume. You will be able to build up a list of contacts for graduate employment opportunities.

Refer to the Online Guide to Vacation Work, which provides tips and advice to obtaining work experience in your chosen profession.

For Graduate Positions:

Large organisations begin their recruiting early in the year in order to find the most talented graduating students, you should be checking job boards and classifieds from the beginning of your final year. Keep your eye on job advertisements even if you aren’t yet ready to begin applying for roles, become familiar with the opportunities available.

Professionals Australia jobs updates

Our members receive a weekly Graduate & Young Professional Job Update. In this we list graduate, student and vacation employment opportunities from across Australia, many from obscure sources.

Search employer websites for graduate programs

  • Note important dates
  • Research positions and employers

Approaches to job seeking – gaining a competitive edge!

Thousands of graduates seek positions every year – how do they all get jobs?

You will face a highly competitive employment market. Expect a buyers’ market for jobs offering the best opportunities.You need to exploit all of the options available to you.

Plan a combination of reactive and pro-active approaches to your job search. Reactive job seeking includes applying for advertised positions. A pro-active approach requires you to find opportunities. For example making contact with potential employers, networking, and contacting employment agencies are all pro-active approaches.

Tips for both reactive and pro-active job seeking are outlined below.

Reading the papers, including the business sections, can tell you which companies are winning tenders for contracts and expanding. Looking at employment advertisements for more senior positions in your field may mean new opportunities for graduates also. Call the company and find out if they intend hiring new graduates.

Employment agencies & professional bodies

Know how they work to gain an advantage.

Employment agencies work on the basis that the employer pays a commission to the agency for finding them a short list of suitable potential employees. There is no charge to the job seeker.

Generally an agency will ask you to register your details, university results, a detailed resume, and it is likely that this will be followed by a direct interview. This alone may not result in a job prospect, but it all forms part of your networking plan. Ensure that the details you register with the agency are clear and concise.

Our recruitment arm, Bayside Group, offer recruitment services to professionals in many fields. For more information check out the Bayside Group website. Take the time to research agencies that have particular experience finding placements in your field. Google search recruitment agencies in your local area and troll their websites.

Job boards such as My career and Seek have useful information on recruitment trends and job markets, and you can check or subscribe to these or other similar sources to keep yourself informed.

Joining a relevant professional association (like Professionals Australia) is another way to find out more about your potential employment market, and access the hidden job market through networking.

Careers Fairs, On Campus/Company Presentations and Workshops

Employers actively recruit on campus. Get in contact with your university career services and make sure you are aware of these programs and take advantage of relevant opportunities.

An on-campus fair or company presentation could be your first point of contact with a prospective employer. Be prepared and dress appropriately. Learn about the company and get a contact name and title for future reference. Make the effort to introduce yourself, ask questions and show an interest. Take multiple copies of your resume just in case you have the opportunity of making personal contact.

Careers Service

Does your careers service at University have a close relationship with employers? Can you register to have information on graduate positions sent out to you?


Many jobs are never even advertised. Utilise your existing contacts in your search for employment and remember, most jobs are found through networking!

It’s common for employers to seek recommendations from colleagues for non-advertised roles. Don’t feel self-conscious about making use of any existing contacts in your search for employment – ask friends, relatives or acquaintances to help you find opportunities. These contacts may recommend you for an interview, or pass on your interest to a potential employer.

Make a point of contacting your industrial/vacation work experience employers. Generally employers feel more comfortable about employing people known to them, and who have performed well in the past.

Involvement in professional associations provide structured and informal networking opportunities, joining and becoming involved with relevant associations can increase.

Basic networking skills

Sending an email or phoning to introduce the contact to the idea that you are looking for work. It gives them time to think about any contacts that may help, and possibly to clarify whether there is work at their organisation.

Make an appointment to speak with your contact for a set period of time (15-20 minutes). Your interview can be by telephone or in person.

Let your contact know that you do not expect them to know of any job vacancies themselves, but only a point in the right direction. They will be more open to helping you.

Write down a list of questions to ask your contact

  • Never over-step your time allowance.
  • Take notes on the interview and on what you learnt from your contact.
  • Write a letter to thank them for their time. Showing courtesy in such a way will help you reinforce your current network – you never know when you may need to call on these people again.
  • Follow up any leads.

Finding information on prospective employers

There are many ways of finding relevant information for your job application and/or interview.

  • Read as much about a company as you can. Sources may include newspapers, employer profiles on employment websites (some examples below), business magazines, information from industry associations, the websites and annual reports of the organisations themselves.
  • Public libraries, your university library and your university careers centre should hold or have access to these useful databases and references:

What to do when researching employers and businesses

  • Contacting the company (or the employment agency if relevant) is one of the best ways to find out information.
  • Contact the Human Resources and the Marketing departments, or the people responsible for those functions. Explain that you are applying for a job at their organisation and are seeking any recruitment literature and general marketing information that they can provide. You may also ask for more detail on the nature of the position, possible career paths, some background on the organisation, and more information on what the employer is seeking.
  • If you are researching a small business, arm yourself with a series of questions that will cover the information you require, in case they do not have any suitable material to send to you.
  • Ask friends and colleagues what they know of the particular organisation.
  • Graduates offered employment in areas that have traditionally been public sector are typically not free to negotiate on salary.
  • What does the company do? What are its products and services?
  • What is the company’s position in the marketplace?
  • Where is the company located? Does it have offices in one city, across Australia or across the world?
  • What does the company’s financial position look like? What are its areas of growth and decline?
  • What is the company’s ‘vision’ for the future? What are its managers particularly focused on over the next year?
  • Has the company been featured in the media recently?
  • What is the structure of the organisation like? What opportunities for promotion will be open to you?


Your resume is the first impression you make on an employer. It needs to sell you as the best person for the role and is intended to get you the opportunity of an interview.

Refer to our guide Writing A Good Resume for a detailed overview about creating a resume that sells you effectively. Check here to view Resume Checklist.

Covering Letter

A Covering Letter is extremely important for introducing yourself and stating the type of position you are seeking. It can orient the reader to the strongest parts of your application and prime the employer to read the resume in a positive light.

The following steps provide a structure for developing your Covering Letter:

  • Start with your name and contact details.
  • Next put name and address of intended recipient and name of the company (the advertisement usually specifies name of individual taking care of applications, use exact wording provided in the advertisement. If the advertisement doesn’t contain contact name, phone or e-mail the company and ask for contact name).Date the letter.
  • Start letter with greeting such as Dear Sir or Dear Mr Smith (if ad gives this) or Dear Sir/ madam/ To Whom It May Concern (if don’t know contact person).Put name and description of the job you are applying for, and reference numbers mentioned in the advertisement and where you saw the job advertised.
  • A few snappy statements emphasising why you are the best fit for the position. The first sentence or sentences should demonstrate your knowledge of the company, while following sentences should impress the reader including your credentials for the role and/ or degree of knowledge relevant to the company.Add a sentence explaining that you are keen to be interviewed for the position.
  • Sign off line such as ‘yours sincerely’ or ‘yours faithfully’.
  • Write in your signature/ type your name below the signature.
  • Sample Covering Letter

Addressing selection criteria

Some organisations often issue a list of selection criteria, which include the knowledge, skills, attitudes, abilities and education that they would prefer the candidate possess.

Failure to address selection criteria explicitly is one of the biggest reasons why people get rejected when applying for a job.

Selection criteria for some positions are available from HR departments, web sites or from recruitment companies handling positions. In some cases the selection criteria will be summarised in the job ad or there will be a number on the website.

If you are not clear about some aspect of the job it is a good idea to clarify selection criteria by obtaining the information package (including a position description) or speaking to the contact person. Addressing selection criteria is like compiling competency statements – you have to write succinct statements that clearly demonstrate your knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes.

Evidence for selection criteria

  • Understand the key phrases and address these in your application. E.g. ‘Experience in project management ‘ means you have actually worked as a Project Manager, whereas ‘knowledge of project management’ means you know what project managers do. You need to understand the statement as well as the subtle differences in meanings.
  • Understand the role and functions described. The roles of managing, leading, supervising or administering are different, but are often confused with one another.
  • Demonstrate skills and abilities sought and provide concrete examples and descriptions of these skills and abilities e.g. Examples of contributing to a work group, interacting with people or managing your own performance.
  • Avoid making unsupported claims or sales pitches about your skills based on your own personal opinion.

Preparation is the key to presenting well in a job interview. Interviews are a major part of your job search, and they should be viewed as a positive step towards achieving employment with an organisation of interest. Candidates must show superior presentation abilities and need to market themselves in a relaxed and natural manner. It is important to have the right attitude, realising that your task is to convince the interviewers that you are the right person for the job. Remember an interview is not an examination. It is not about finding what you know or do not know.

6 interview encounter

Possible interview questions

Possible interview questionsThinking through likely questions and preparing answers will imporve your preformance at an interview. You will feel and appear more confident, sound and certain and articulate, and give the most appropriate answer. To make the process easier Professionals Australia has provided a brief checklist to questions you may be asked.Questions you should ask

  • a detailed description of the position
  • reason the position is available
  • anticipated induction and training program
  • how your work will be supervised and appraised
  • what sort of people have done well
  • potential for progression and development
  • company growth plans
  • best selling products or services
  • Interview process and position starting date

The Dos and Don’ts of job interviewsClosing the interviewIf you are interested in the position ask what their next steps will beIf you are offered the job on the spot, are happy with the terms and conditions and you want it, accept it. If you wish it think it over, be courteous and tactful in asking for time; set a definite date for when you will provide an answer.Don’t be discouraged if no definite offer is made or specific salary discussed. The interviewer may want to speak with others in the office, or interview more applicants, before making a decision.If you get the impression the interview is not going well and that you have already been rejected don’t let your discouragement show. Sometimes an interviewer who is genuinely interested in your potential may seem to discourage you in order to test your reaction.Thank the interviewer for his/her time and consideration of you.Position DescriptionPosition Descriptions are frequently prepared when jobs are advertised. If a Position Description is available, make sure you request a copy. Position Descriptions usually outline the objectives of the role, the duties and responsibilities. This information can help you prepare your job application and interview.If you get the role, position descriptions assist you to know what will be expected. Sometimes Position Descriptions can become part of your employment contract.

Example 1: Graduate Engineer
Example 2: Graduate Behavioural Scientist


Job Offers

How is a job offer made?

If you have been successful in the job interview process, you will usually be notified by telephone. Alternatively, if you have been invited back for a second, or even a third interview, you may be offered the position at this time. If the offer has been made orally, the employer will usually follow up with a written employment contract, which may take the form of a short letter of appointment or more detailed contract.

This document will contain further information about the position; you will be required to sign and return it to the employer. Always keep a copy of this document for your own records.

What should my contract contain?

  • names of the parties to the contract
  • position title and duties (sometimes called a position description)
  • where you will be located
  • how you can be transferred
  • who you will report to
  • annual salary and other benefits
  • superannuation (amount and default fund)
  • hours of work and overtime arrangements
  • annual leave, sick leave, parental leave entitlements
  • termination arrangements (including redundancy provisions)
  • probationary period
  • salary reviews

When should I accept the offer?

Before formally accepting any job offer, it’s important to ensure that you have all the relevant information regarding conditions of employment for the position. If you have already reached in principle agreement with the employer regarding your salary and conditions, you can wait for the formal written offer to arrive.

Alternatively, at the time the offer is made, you can express your thanks and tell the employer that you will respond to the written offer in a few days. It is important to give yourself enough time to obtain advice on the offer and make a considered decision. The employer will tell you if they require your decision in a shorter time period.

Always get it in writing.

When you have something in writing, members should consult Professionals Australia on the offer.

We can:

  • explain any unfamiliar terms
  • check the salary and conditions against the relevant award and legislation
  • compare the salary offer with market rates
  • ensure that the terms of the contract are in your best interest
  • identify any key conditions not covered by the contract
  • advise members of any conditions which could be improved by negotiation

You are then in a position to make an informed decision regarding your acceptance of the employment contract.

What if I change my mind?

It is usually possible to withdraw your acceptance of a position prior to commencing work by notifying your employer. Keep in mind, however, that this course of action involves inconvenience for the employer, and that this may affect your chances of working with them in the future.

If you have commenced work, but then change your mind, you are bound to give notice to terminate your contract, unless this occurs during your probationary period. Usually the notice period is one month, although a shorter notice period may be arranged by agreement.

Employment contracts explained

An employment contract is an agreement between the parties for work to be provided in return for remuneration and other benefits. Legally speaking either a verbal or written contract is perfectly valid. However, where something as important as your employment is the subject of the contract, Professionals Australia recommends that you always get it in writing.

Usually once verbal agreement is reached between the prospective employee and employer, the details are written down to record the agreement. This document usually sets out the agreed salary and conditions of employment, and the duties and title of the position. A contract is a legally enforceable agreement. If, however, the salary and conditions contained in a contract of employment are less than the relevant award, they may not be legally enforceable. In this respect, the award system provides a safety net.

common contracts


When should I discuss salary?

The second interview is usually the best time to discuss salary, but you should wait until this is raised by the interviewer. This may be a time to agree in principle on salary and conditions of employment.

It’s a good idea to be informed about both market salaries and award minimums (that is, the legal minimum salary by industry or profession) at this stage. Professionals Australia can provide access to up-to-date information on these matters.

Can I negotiate my salary?

In most private sector areas of employment graduates are free to negotiate their salaries. While graduates usually have a lot less scope than more experienced professionals to get the best deal, your remuneration can however, be improved over and above the award minimum.

If your salary is discussed with the employer prior to a written offer, you may seek to increase their offer. Remember to be delicate in your negotiations and be well informed about your award and market rates

Graduates offered employment in areas that have traditionally been public sector are typically not free to negotiate on salary. These workplaces have classification structures in place which specify a graduate starting salary.

Other areas of employment that specify a particular graduate starting salary include the airline, automotive and waterfront industries.

Can I negotiate my conditions?

Starting dates of employment can usually be negotiated. In the private sector, negotiable conditions may include the length of any probationary period, superannuation arrangements, overtime compensation and much more. This is an important reason for Professionals Australia to review your contract.

Opportunities for the negotiation of conditions in public sector areas of employment are very limited.

What are you worth?

The employment market is a marketplace like any other. Professionals offer their skills and expertise in exchange for a salary and other benefits in an ever-changing environment. It is important that you have current information on the level of demand for professionals with your qualifications and experience and what salaries are being paid in the marketplace for your level of experience, location and specialisation.

The usual method of simply determining your worth in the market is by consulting a market rate survey. These survey reports bring together a series of information about what is being paid to others with similar backgrounds. Once you determine your market rate, be aware that it will also increase over time, usually well above increases to the cost of living, as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

Check the annual movement in market rates that you need just to keep pace with your position in your profession. Market rates will also increase as you gain responsibility. Most young professionals who are in their first year in the workplace will be at the first responsibility level, the entry level. You will usually move on to the second level when you have gained sufficient experience to work without detailed supervision.

As a rough guide, this would usually occur after three or four years of work experience. You can use market rate information to assist you in the bargaining process that you go through each time you undertake a salary review or negotiate a new role. Market rate information will also enable you to consider the salary implications of different career directions.

Organisations will vary in their use of market rates depending upon their remuneration policies.

If you are unclear about your market value or how to apply this in your workplace, contact Professionals Australia for advice.

Salary Surveys and Market Information

Professionals Australia conducts comprehensive market rates salary surveys, and that information is available as a part of your membership.

 Online Surveys Other Information
 Engineers and Graduate engineers Engineers responsibility levels
 IT professionals IT professionals responsibility levels
 Scientists Scientists responsibility levels

If you are in one of these disciplines, click the link and select the ‘log in to online survey’ option. Look up your profession and graduate rate (usually at the first or entry responsibility level). Check out the different variables, e.g., what would happen to your salary if you did further study?

Hint: enter only two variables at any time to get results. Use multiple queries for comparison.

Professionals Australia also conducts remuneration surveys for Pharmacists and Architects, and has a large amount of information on salaries on other professions. Contact Professionals Australia for further information.

If the median rate seems too high or low, consider the range of salaries paid in the market by looking at the top and bottom quartile rates (top and bottom 25%).

If you are earning below the bottom quartile, check with Professionals Australia to ensure that you are above the legal minimum rate and to discuss strategies on how to improve your salary.

When starting a new job -the golden rule is

Be yourself!

As a graduate your supervisor will be seeking potential in you. This does not mean being perfect overnight. In fact, those who try to be someone they are not are sure to burn out. Employers will always look for someone with honesty. Admitting to your supervisor that; ‘You need to work on your presentation skills’, or, ‘that you can be impatient at times’ show both character and personality. An employer will always respect graduates who are genuine.

More importantly, the combination of keeping a positive and controlled mind-set will prove useful when meeting your future peers in the workplace. After all, from the first day of your graduate career you will be working with supervisors and peers.

To avoid slipping up it is best to keep the supervisor’s and fellow colleague’s expectations about you reasonable. Be measured but keep your enthusiasm When offered a job, maintain your enthusiasm, but also respond in a measured and business-like fashion.

Where there are matters that require negotiation with the employer do so in a pleasant, sensible, non-confrontational manner. Keeping a controlled mind-set and enthusiastic approach in any job is vital. It shelters you from high pressure and it also helps you work with others. Therefore, as you negotiate your salary and position act responsibly as the employer will be looking for someone they can trust.

Be measured but keep your enthusiasm

When offered a job, maintain your enthusiasm, but also respond in a measured and business-like fashion. Where there are matters that require negotiation with the employer do so in a pleasant, sensible, non-confrontational manner.
Keeping a controlled mind-set and enthusiastic approach in any job is vital. It shelters you from high pressure and it also helps you work with others. Therefore, as you negotiate your salary and position act responsibly as the employer will be looking for someone they can trust.

Policies and procedures

In most organisations there are policies and procedures on how to do things. These are made not to infringe but to protect your rights and responsibilities. For instance, in most cases there are rules for daily routines, facilities, emailing, deliveries and budgeting. Furthermore, there are often rules for submitting or contacting others in the workplace. In most organisations there will be an induction to how policies and procedures operate. However, if your organisation does not offer a formal induction it is strongly encouraged that you ask before you act.

Induction process

When you start a new job the first experience will be the induction process. If you are not taken through an induction you may wish to ask your employer about this.

typical induction

Whilst you may not learn everything about your role and company during an induction, it is a good place to start. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You are new to the organisation and people will respect this.

Why have performance reviews?

Performance reviews involve the regular, systematic and formal assessment of how staff are performing in their jobs. Often they will be linked with salary reviews or incentive schemes of one form or another.

The objective of performance reviews is to improve individual performance by effective two way communication between the individual and their manager. The intended outcome is improved overall effectiveness and efficiency within the workplace.

Specific objectives of the review process include:

  • to improve performance in the context of corporate goals and the culture of the organisation;
  • to improve the individual’s understanding of their work responsibilities and performance standards expected of them;
  • to give feedback on individual performance;
  • to identify training and development needs and to develop, with management, plans to address these needs;
  • to reward performance exceeding expectations with salary increases; and
  • to provide a fair basis to identify and manage unsatisfactory performance.

Typical process

Any performance appraisal process should include the following:

Performance Agreement

  • The process starts with a performance appraisal agreement, which links the individual job responsibilities to the department/workplace goals. The agreement is generally prepared by you and your manager together and should include:a statement of job responsibilities;
  • objectives to be achieved during the appraisal cycle;
  • performance indicators setting out expected level of achievement for each objective; and
  • expected performance standard for each indicator.

Mid-Term Review

Most employers will conduct this after six months. This gives the opportunity:

  • to assess standards of performance and deal with any perceived under-performance;
  • to ensure that the performance appraisal agreement still matches the job priorities and objectives; and
  • to arrange for any training or development needed.

Annual Review or Performance Assessment

This occurs once a year and is often tied to a salary review. It should take place in an interview with open, honest, two-way communication and your full participation as the individual being appraised. Performance is usually rated against a scale of achievement, with salary increases or bonuses being paid once a certain level is reached.

How to prepare and maximise the outcome of a performance review

It is obviously important to ensure that you work consistently throughout the year to meet the objectives set out in your performance appraisal agreement. Any problems should be addressed as they occur and any training or development needs should be met where reasonably possible. Preparation throughout the review period, as well as shortly before the review itself, will improve your chances of ensuring the best possible outcome.

Throughout the review period:

  • Keep a record of critical events, such as achievements and milestones, which impact on the appraisal.

Before to the performance review (at least one week prior):

  • Examine your performance appraisal agreement in light of your work over the review period. Consider where you have met or exceeded your objectives and performance indicators and note down the best examples of this.
  • If you have not met certain objectives, consider why this has occurred – for example, did the objective become irrelevant during the review period due to a change in responsibilities? Prepare to explain the reason for not meeting an objective or goal to your manager.
  • Consider any training and development needs you may have.
  • Some performance appraisal systems require that the above preparation process be done in writing and submitted before or at the review. Even if your manager does not require your written input, it is still a good idea to prepare notes to take with you into the review – to ensure you do not forget any important points or examples.

During the review:

In the appraisal interview, try to focus on a balanced discussion of your performance throughout the period, not just most recent events.

What is a fair process for a performance review?

  • The performance agreement must contain realistic and achievable objectives and take into account the skills and resources needed to achieve results.
  • Standards should be expressed as clearly and objectively as possible.
  • Agreements should be reviewed if there are changes in circumstances which impact on the ability of the individual to meet the agreed objectives during the agreement period.
  • The individual should receive regular informal feedback, so that they are aware of any problems well before either the mid-term or annual review.
  • There should be a mechanism in place to ensure that consistency and equity is applied to the appraisal process, so that individuals achieving similar levels of performance receive similar rewards.
  • There should be a process to resolve any disputes over the outcome.

Professionals Australia can provide assistance to members regarding performance reviews. Call for advice.

Performance Pay

Performance pay is sometimes referred to as pay for performance or incentive pay. Usually performance pay is associated with the more formalised systems of performance appraisal just discussed. It is based on the premise that where superior performance is expected it must be rewarded.

At this point it might be useful to distinguish between fixed remuneration and variable remuneration.

Fixed Remuneration

In private sector organisations, fixed remuneration would typically include base salary, any cash allowances, annual leave loading and non-cash benefits such as a motor vehicle and superannuation. In public sector organisations, it would include base salary, annual leave loading and superannuation – vehicles are not usually provided until more senior levels have been reached.

Normally you will find a salary range is applicable to your position and this could comprise a number of pay points between the minimum and maximum values. Progression to higher pay points within this range is usually by annual increment.

Assuming satisfactory performance, these increases are not ‘at risk’ and fall within what is usually called fixed remuneration.

Variable Remuneration

On the other hand, variable remuneration is that part of your total reward that is performance based, with payments contingent on meeting set targets and corporate goals. It could take one of the following forms:

  • bonus plans – a discretionary payment based on organisational or divisional performance;
  • performance pay – payments made as a lump sum or as part of regular salary on achievement of targets negotiated with your supervisor or manager;
  • profit sharing – under this arrangement a prescribed proportion of profit is available for distribution to employees after an agreed threshold level has been realised;
  • employee share purchase plans – in some instances these plans are linked to achievement of key performance targets and may involve the issue of company shares or an opportunity to purchase company shares at discounted rates e.g. option plans.


Variable remuneration is the ‘at risk’ part of the total reward provided to an employee and will therefore usually comprise one or more of the incentive or pay for performance arrangements outlined above.

As already noted the approach to be followed in properly conducted performance/incentive schemes is very similar to that outlined for performance reviews and they are often combined as a single process. For example, there would need to be agreement on quantifiable targets generally arrived at by discussion between the individual and the manager concerned.

This agreement should be in writing and, if possible, provide for a mid-term review so as to give an opportunity for fine-tuning and feedback. Both this and the end of term review should be conducted by the manager and the individual in a face-to-face interview. Preparation for the interview should follow the steps outlined earlier as well.

Salary Reviews

Many organisations have a procedure for salary review that does not involve either performance appraisal or performance payment.  Should you find yourself in a situation where your employer does not undertake any regular review of salary levels or if you wish to become involved in your enterprise agreement, you should contact Professionals Australia on .

The possible reasons behind a salary review are many and varied.  A salary review may occur as a result of an enterprise agreement, to recognise company profitability, cost of living increases and the market, i.e. what their competitors are paying.

Most organisations will conduct salary review of one form or another, as failure to do so will leave their employees dissatisfied and vulnerable to poaching by their competitors.

Tips on individual salary negotiations

The approach to salary negotiations differs between workplaces. Nevertheless, it is important to remember in any salary negotiation that pay increases are rewards for performance and reflect the value the employer places on the individual staff member.

You should therefore, emphasise the achievements you have made and how they have benefited the employer, in terms of:

  • meeting or exceeding goals and objectives;
  • meeting budget targets or delivering under budget;
  • any initiatives you have taken which have resulted in benefits to the employer;increased revenue as a result of your efforts;
  • increased efficiency as a result of your efforts, resulting in cost savings.

Always remember that your employer will be very interested in how you can contribute to the organisation’s performance. Most companies are prepared to pay more to an employee if they know they are going to get value for money. So avoid talking about your own financial position and concentrate on how you can add value for your employer.

You might also find the following tips of use:

  • Keep a diary of your successes and achievements throughout the year. You can then use this to compile a list of what you have done before commencing negotiation with your employer on your salary review.
  • Research what the market is paying for similar jobs. Professionals Australia’s Remuneration Surveys are an invaluable tool for this purpose and can be obtained by contacting your local Association office.
  • Decide on the salary you would like based on what you think you are worth to your employer and the appropriate market rate.
  • Prepare a work program with targets for the next twelve months so that your employer will be able to see how they will benefit from your contribution.
  • Consider whether you will include an ‘at risk’ (variable) element in your remuneration package (see the performance pay section).
  • Be self assured and confident in your approach to negotiations with your employer. But do not overplay your hand and become too arrogant, or alternatively, allow yourself to be dominated in the discussion.
  • Do not jump the gun by trying to present your case immediately after you walk through the door. Observe the demeanour of your manager and listen first. It might well be that your manager will commence by making some comments on your performance over the past year.•
  • If things don’t work out so well, you shouldn’t threaten to resign in the heat of the moment. Nobody likes to be threatened, and it may be that your offer to resign is accepted. Aim to get a better understanding of the issues. so that you can make a properly considered decision once you have had the opportunity for reflection (and Call advice).

remeberJob evaluation

Payment should accurately reflect the nature of the work carried out, and should be equitable for all people carrying out the same job.

In this way you can access the worth of a new role that may attract you or justify a review in your current role when you have taken on more responsibility.

To evaluate your job, you need evidence of:

  • job size
  • complexity
  • skill requirement
  • intensity
  • responsibility and/or
  • accountability.

One way of assessing this is to use a points factor assessment system. It is an analytical method which breaks down each job into its composite factors; this can occur using evaluation system such as those provided by Mercer, Hay and other consulting firms. Some organisations have developed their own versions of these systems. Professionals Australia can advise you on formal job evaluation systems and assist you to undertake a job evaluation assessment.

Once you role has been evaluated, a relative salary within your organisation as well as in the marketplace can be determined. The latter process uses market rates surveys. Your organisation will usually have a policy on how to apply these relativities, i.e. whether it pays at the higher end of market rates, or relies upon other aspects of the employment environment to attract and retain preferred employees.

Issues can arise in the relative value assigned to specialist skills and responsibilities in ‘off the shelf’ assessment methodologies – for example, giving a higher weighting to roles that require PhDs or take high levels of safety responsibility. Again, if you have concerns, ask Professionals Australia  for advice.


Because you deserve one!

Contrary to popular opinion, promotions do not tend to land on your lap. To excel in today’s work environment you must learn to sell yourself. Here we give you some advice on the best strategy to beat the competition and win that promotion.

Going for promotion is usually linked with a pay increase and is often associated with new challenges and new opportunities. A good promotion should also be consistent with the goals of your long term career plan.

Different methods of advertising vacancies and accessing internal staff for promotion apply in different organisations. For instance, members employed in public sector organisations should take a close look at the promotion processes documented in the human resource policy manual.

So although there is no single formula for promotion, there are however, some basic steps that should form part of your promotion strategy. These are outlined on the following page.

Promotion checklist









Prepare your application and for your interview with the same rigour as for an external role.

Training and further education

Training and education is essential to any role. It ensures continual improvement and in causes employee satisfaction.


Internal training is conducted within the organisation, with most employees, particularly graduates, under-taking some form of further training and education when they start a new job. This often consists of the new employee learning what is expected of them in the job, as well as the company’s policies, procedures and techniques.

Organisations that have a structured Graduate Program usually include planned training as part of the program. Graduates are exposed to a variety of different roles and operations.

It is important when in a graduate program to gain this breadth of experience, to move around into different roles and positions where possible to gain a variety of workplace skills and knowledge. The greater your skills and knowledge, the greater your chance of promotion and/or finding a better job outside your current organisation.

Companies can also bring in external training providers to conduct training when they introduce new technology, work practices or changes in the structure of the organisation. Again, participating in this training allows you the chance to improve your skills and knowledge, and thus your employability.


External training and education is conducted outside your organisation you work for. External courses are usually authorised and funded by your employer, where you can gain skills to assist you in your role. Trainig to support your career development is often your own responsibility. Use your career plan to think ahead, and investigate the career options open to you within your company and outside it. Do you want to stay within your current field or move outside it with a career change? Thinking about your options will help you identify any gaps in your skills and knowledge, and help determine how you can develop your professional skills.


For many graduates the transition from university to work can be difficult. Starting work in a new environment, even with a few years of work experience behind you, and dealing with new policies, procedures and an unfamiliar workplace culture can be daunting. One common solution to this situation is mentoring.
While it is usually the supervisor’s/manager’s role to give you on the job training, an internal mentor can generally show you the ropes and help you settle in, using their broader practical knowledge of the organisation.

Career plan

To successfully plan your career you must know yourself, be aware of your skills and competencies, your strengths and weaknesses, and of what you want in relation to work.

You can then use your career plan to help in focusing on your short and long-term goals. If you find a job advertisement that looks interesting, for example, you can then consider how the job fits in with your overall plan.

  • Will it give you opportunity to expand your skills?
  • Will it place you into an administrative, managerial or technical direction?
  • A career plan should be revisited and revised
  • It should be flexible and adaptable to reflect change in your ideas

Changing Career

The decision to leave your job can be a difficult one. Most obviously, you may consider leaving as you are unhappy or dissatisfied with your current position. Even when things are going well, however, it can sometimes be a good idea to think about leaving, so that you don’t miss out on agood opportunity. Either way, knowing when it is the right time to move on is an important element ofsuccessful career management.

At a difficult time

If you are unhappy or dissatisfied in your current position, you may consider looking for work elsewhere.

If the above suggestions are unlikely to help improve your situation, you may seriously consider the second option of leaving your current employer. It is usually not advisable to leave your present position until you have organised a new job.

At a successful time

Once you have established yourself and gained experience, it can be a good idea to consider leaving a job when you are experiencing success. This can also be one way of fast-tracking yourcareer in its earlier stages.It can be useful to consider how long you should stay in a position.

To help you estimate, consider how long it will take you to make a contribution or impact and gain experience that you candemonstrate to others. Once you have achieved success in your position, you may consider the opportunities for new challenges or promotion in your current organisation.

If you do decide to leave your job in order to take the next step in your career, you should have a clear career objective in mind. It is a good idea to develop a career plan, and to use this to guideyour career development.It is always important to ensure that you keep your skills and qualifications up-to-date, undertake relevant training, and that you keep a record of your achievements in each position, but it is even more important if you decide to follow this particular career strategy. This preparation will also assistyou in ensuring that your career heads in the right direction.

Job seeking while working

For many people it is obviously not a good idea to leave one job without another new position to go to. Job seeking while you are already working can, however, sometimes lead to a difficult situation once your employer becomes aware that you are seeking work elsewhere.

Problems that can arise as a result of your employer discovering your intentions include everything from tension in your work environment to open hostility. Many employers, on the other hand, will not openly react at all, while others still are supportive in this situation. Naturally the response depends on the individual employer.

Unfortunately there is no easy solution to this problem, but it is usually a good idea to be discreet and to keep your plans confidential for as long as possible, particularly if you believe that your employer will react badly. If possible, arrange interviews outside of working hours, and organise a reference from a supervisor or manager that you can rely on to maintain confidentiality.

It is possible to be discreet for a certain amount of time, but eventually your employer may become aware of your intentions. Try to maintain your normal work effort and continue to interact with your colleagues as usual. Remember that you will probably need a reference from your employer, and that finding a new job might take longer than you expect.


Once you have made the decision to leave your job, the next step is, obviously, to inform your employer.

If you are leaving the organisation because you were unhappy with your role or dissatisfied with aspects of the organisation itself, it can be tempting to vent your anger through insults and criticisms.This is rarely a good idea, particularly as in most cases you will require a reference from your soonto-be previous employer.

Be sure to check your contract of employment or letter of appointment as these often set out your obligations in terms of resignation. Unless otherwise stated, you are generally expected to give onemonths notice of your resignation, but a shorter period can also be arranged by agreement.If you leave without notice, you are only entitled to be paid up until the date of your leaving.

In most instances, you will be entitled to be paid for any annual leave you have accumulated, but not for any sick leave. If you are unsure about your contractual obligations, please contact Professionals Australia for assistance.

Providing feedback on the organisation however, is valid, as long as it is appropriate. If you are planning to criticise your employer in your letter of resignation, it is a good idea to ensure that theletter is appropriate.

Contact Professionals Australia for advice.Your resignation is usually expected to be submitted in writing. The letter will usually be included in your file, and then serves as a final, and lasting, impression of you as an employee. If your letter includes insults and criticisms, a negative impression of you will remain on file.

A positive, wellwrittenletter, however, leaves a good impression, and can help counter any minor difficulties thatmay have occurred before you decided to leave.


The employment market today is very different to that of previous generations. Working for the same employer for your entire, or even a significant part of your working life is now increasingly uncommon. work

If members become aware of any potential redundancies within their organisation they should immediately inform Professionals Australia.

This will allow us time to establish the validity of the proposed redundancy, ensure appropriate procedures are followed, and assist you in gaining your best possible outcome.

If you are faced with a redundancy, do not make any commitments or give any undertaking which may prejudice your subsequent rights to reinstatement or an improved redundancy package.


If your position has been declared redundant you may be redeployed or laterally transferred into a new or vacant position. You may be given training to bridge any skill gaps or to gain anyrequired qualifications.Obligations regarding redeployment vary greatly. In the public sector, in some states and territories, government policy prevents forced redundancies.

Across the public sector, usuallyevery effort is made to redeploy individuals within the department or within the public sectorgenerally. In private industry, organisations are often obliged under legislation or awards to consult with the workforce when redundancies are likely to occur. During the consultationperiod there should be an attempt to redeploy any workers made redundant within theorganisation, although the likelihood of this being successful depends on many factors including the size of the company and its financial situation.

Outplacement Services

Outplacement services are a means of providing employees with an important source of advice and support in the event of job loss. These can include counselling for employees being maderedundant, or services such as resume writing and interview skills workshops.Professionals Australia urges members to make use of any outplacement services provided by the employer.

If those services are not provided as part of your package Professionals Australia can assist in seeking their inclusion.Financial AdviceBecause of the complexity of the taxation laws regarding superannuation and lump sum payments, those facing redundancy must seek expert advice in the area. Professionals Australia has enteredinto arrangements with leading financial advisory companies who can assist you in thesematters.

Obtaining appropriate financial advice is also recommended to ensure that your entitlements to unemployment benefits and other forms of government financial support are not prejudiced byparticular investment decisions. Contact Professionals Australia for further information.

Financial Advice

Because of the complexity of the taxation laws regarding superannuation and lump sumpayments, those facing redundancy must seek expert advice in the area. Professionals Australia has entered into arrangements with leading financial advisory companies who can assist you in thesematters.

Obtaining appropriate financial advice is also recommended to ensure that your entitlements to unemployment benefits and other forms of government financial support are not prejudiced byparticular investment decisions. Contact Professionals Australia for further information.