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Career Tips & Ideas

Broaden your scope when it comes to career ideas

Whether you are at the start of your career, looking for a change, or simply after a new job, it is a good idea to brainstorm different career ideas and approaches.

This section outlines how to network and provides a list of tips, books and websites, all dedicated to career ideas. Click the links below to find out more

How to network

Networking isn't necessarily asking for a job. It's about letting people know you are available so if a vacancy comes up, they will think of you. In fact, tapping into your existing network is often the best way to find new opportunities or generate new career ideas.

First, make a contacts list that draws on:

  • friends
  • work colleagues
  • family
  • neighbours
  • social connections
  • sporting involvements
  • community groups
  • school connections
  • tertiary or university associations
  • professional interest groups.

Three steps to effective networking

  1. Start by making contact with someone you know. Unless you see them regularly (at work or at weekly social or sports events) it is quicker to contact them by telephone.
  2. Then try a 'warm call', that is, use the name of a mutual friend or acquaintance as an introduction when you call someone you don't know personally.
  3. Finally, try 'cold calling' employers to ask whether they are likely to recruit people with your capabilities and skills.

Keep at it. Networking takes time, so don't expect it to pay off immediately. Cast your contact net widely and often. You never know where an unexpected lead or opportunity may come from. You should also stay open-minded and flexible. So be open to new career ideas and directions you had not previously considered.

And remember, every contact you have with someone creates an impression of you - so make it positive.

Tips for making contact

It isn't always easy speaking with people you don't know. Follow these tips to take the pressure off yourself and ensure you give a good impression:

  • write down what you want to say and rehearse it
  • tell them your reason for contacting them
  • check if they have time to talk at the moment - if not, call back later
  • keep the phone call short and focus on your reason for calling - this makes a professional impression
  • research the organisation before you go to a meeting - potential employers will be impressed by your initiative
  • follow up your meeting with an email or letter thanking them for their time.

Books

There are many references to choose from when it comes to career ideas, tips and advice, but these might be useful starters:

  • Scudamore, P & Catt, H 2003, Managing your own career, UK Hodder Headline, London, Emgland.
  • Bolles, RN 2004, What color is your parachute?, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, USA.
  • Bisbee, B 1997, Steer your own career, Australia Penguin Books, Ringwood, Australia.
  • Sher, B 1999, I could do anything if I only knew what it was: how to discover what you really want and how to get it, Dell Publishing, San Francisco, USA.

Try your local library for more resources.

Websites

The internet has a wealth of information, from basic job searches through to training opportunities, career ideas, articles and career guidance tools. You can download our career guide toolkit here.

Other useful sites to visit are:

  • Careers website home page for Victorian Government job opportunities
  • myfuture is Australia's career information and exploration service 
  • Job search has a career quiz, job outlooks and much more
  • Centrelink can help with transition to work services
  • Youth Central helps Victorians aged 12 to 25 years. Their website provides information about jobs and career ideas, studying and training, travel and transport, managing money, opportunities to get involved and much more
  • Experience+ has information for mature workers
  • Volunteering opportunities and resources are available through Volunteering Australia
  • Careers in health and community services provides career information and resources (on these sectors), for secondary school students, teachers, parents, employers and other interested parties
  • MoneyHelp can help Victorians facing job loss to plan their return to work.