Australia Chuckles

Job hunting Down Under

When we arrived in Aus I pictured myself popping along to a recruitment agency one morning and leaving half an hour later with an amazing, well-paid, career-enhancing job. Alas this was not the case.

Instead I found myself filling each day by applying for dozens of jobs, some of them questionable, and speaking to a multitude of recruitment agents (none of whom were Australian, which made me think that perhaps the answer was to become a recruitment agent myself).

Three job hunting experiences stand out in particular:

  1. UnSUITed
  2. Crazy advertising company
  3. Worst job in the world?

1. UnSUITed

This interview was for a big role at an interesting arts organisation. I did heaps and heaps of preparation beforehand and felt like I really knew my stuff. (Unfortunately I had discovered from their annual reports that they were in dire financial straits, but I was still excited about the opportunity!) I arrived completely drenched thanks to a torrential down-pour, but tried my best to sort myself out while I waited for my turn. The interview seemed to go ok-ish – I answered every question to the best of my ability while also realising they were looking for a candidate who probably did not exist. I don’t know many people who are experts in four very different disciplines – corporate fundraising, marketing, stakeholder relationship management and html! Anyway, I left feeling mentally exhausted (and still damp) and waited to hear back from the recruitment agent.

The next day I heard that they interviewers were impressed with how I’d interviewed, but that they weren’t giving the job to any of the candidates as they hadn’t been able to find the right person. This didn’t surprise me at all, but the next comment did. Apparently they didn’t think I was dressed ‘corporately enough’ for the interview. I was wearing a purple silk dress, dark tights, heels and a black jacket – quite possibly the smartest I have ever looked ever. I couldn’t help but think that I had dressed just right for an arts organisation interview, and I will continue to think that until the day I die. But in reality, if they wanted the successful candidate to wear power suits everyday for big meetings with corporate partners, it really wasn’t the right job for me anyway!

2. Crazy advertising company

I had applied for an internship at a new company (or a start-up, if you will) whose innovative idea was to place advertising on plastic water bottles. The bottles would be given out for free to young, trendy people at young, trendy places – paid for by the advertisers. First of all I had a trial day at their small shared office space in Fitzroy. I felt self-conscious as soon as I walked in the door, what with being a 30 year old intern and all. This was only compounded when I realised I had more work experience than the founders! I was surrounded by other interns who had been born in the 90s – the 90s! – and I felt completely out of place. The morning was slow to get started because the founder who would be managing us was running late. So I busied myself by spotting typos in the media kit.

We had lunch at an uber-cool bar on Brunswick Street, in a curiously decorated upstairs room (yellow swirls on the walls and patterned fabrics everywhere). One of the cool young interns commented “Its like tripping on acid”. All I could think was “I really wouldn’t know about that. I prefer to sit down of a evening with a cup of lemon and ginger tea.”. After that we went back to the office and listened to a cool internet radio station (playing music from bands I’d never heard of) while we worked. I was editing a press release, while at the same time emailing my press officer friend back in the UK to ask How do you write a press release? I went home at the end of the day feeling old and a strange mixture of Too Experienced and Not Experienced Enough. The start-up then moved offices so I couldn’t go in for my second trial day (sigh of relief), and in fact I never went back!

3. Worst job in the world?

I’d applied for the job of ‘Marketer’ at an organisation that was something to do with helping job-seekers back into employment. That seemed like a nice thing to do, I thought to myself. As I studied their website before the interview two things struck me: 1) I don’t actually really understand what this company does; and 2) I wonder if the job involves sorting out their website because this is a mess! The interview was at a hotel right by Melbourne airport, so after two trams and an expensive airport bus, I arrived. The interviewers were lovely – two bubbly women who made me feel totally at ease. It turned out the job was about helping job-seekers market themselves – teaching them how to sell themselves in applications and at interviews, and then driving around to local businesses to try to find them work. I think I managed a poker face when I found this out, but inside I was thinking “this is the worst job in the world and I would hate it!”

I left thinking how awkward it would be if they offered me the job. How do you say “I’m sorry but I had no idea what the job was about before the interview, and then when I found out I pretended it would be great for me and I’d love to do it, but in actual fact I can’t think of anything worse.” Luckily someone else got the job so I was spared that conversation!

Then finally, at long last, I had a good interview experience. It was for a job I actually wanted, working for an interesting, innovative company with interesting, innovative people. The interview was on a 40 degree day in December – not the best weather for trying to come across as calm, cool and collected! But it went really well and I start on Monday!

The job is part marketing (email and social media) and part graphic design, so it’s a chance to develop my existing skills while also trying something new. This is exactly what I was looking for in an Aussie job. Yay!