Gap years have become an increasingly popular option among high school leavers in Australia. According to research by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, around 20% of students who complete high school opt to take a gap year before they go on to further education. Benefits of taking time out from study (and away from home) may include the development of work and life skills, a clearer idea of career goals, increased motivation and a deeper world view – all of which add to individual employability further down the track!

But, what about taking a career break at another life stage? Jacking it all in at 30 to follow your dream of working with the turtles in Costa Rica? Or, quitting your long-term job at 45 to explore outback Australia in a campervan? Yes, the year will no doubt be an adventure-packed, inspirational, life-fulfilling experience. But, how will potential employers view your time out when you are applying for jobs 12 months later?

Here are a few tips to consider so your gap year doesn’t leave a gaping hole in your career path.

  • Take a career break when there is something you really, truly want to do. Work alongside local teachers in a school in Ghana, sail around the world, protect the turtles! Make the right choice and your motivation, enthusiasm and commitment will shine through to potential employers on your return.
  • When it comes to job application time, be sure to mention your career break:
    • In your resume, include dates, job title and organisation (if relevant) and location. Then single out key tasks and achievements, as with any position, particularly those that may have value in the role you are going for. Many skills are transferable – your gap year experience should stand in your favour!
    • Briefly explain your time out in your cover letter – and then show motivation for returning to paid employment. Wording along these lines does both: “I have just returned from 3 months in Costa Rica where I fulfilled a lifelong ambition to help research and protect sea turtles. I am now keen to apply my skills and experience to the role of project officer in your organisation.”
  • At interview, reassure employers that you’re not going to disappear off on your travels in six months’ time, while emphasising the valuable skills you have gained during your career break. For example: “Sailing around the world has given me an opportunity to develop my leadership skills and work with others in challenging circumstances. It’s something I’d always wanted to do, but now I’m ready to put down roots and focus on my career in earnest.”

Taking a career break in your 30s or 40s (or at any other time) may be seen as risky and unconventional, but time away from your everyday routine can bring benefits both to you and to your future employer. Rather than leaving a gaping hole in your career path, a gap year can pave the way to the future you want and deserve.

When was the last time you sat down and updated job descriptions in your organisation? For many managers, this activity may not be very high on your priority list, but it should be! Well-written, up-to-date job descriptions (JDs) can be incredibly useful documents for setting and managing expectations in many areas, including:

  • Recruitment: Whether you are hiring internally or externally, a job description provides recruiting managers and candidates with a clear idea of what the role entails and what requirements and qualifications are needed. A JD is also an excellent source of information for writing job ads and briefing agencies.
  • Training: A comprehensive job description gives managers and employees an indication of individual training needs based on role requirements. A suitable training plan can then be drawn up to enable employees to perform their job with confidence and skill.
  • Performance Management: When it comes to that year-end appraisal, reach for those job descriptions. You can evaluate your employees against the expectations you have set out, see where they are succeeding, and establish areas for development.
  • Compensation: A JD should provide an indication of the expected salary range for a particular role. This can help prospective candidates to self-select during the recruitment process. It can also be useful for managers when it comes to discussing salary raises, e.g. providing justification for a lower increase if a job holder is not fully carrying out the responsibilities of the role, or not meeting certain requirements.

So, what should you include in a winning job description?

A comprehensive header: State the formal job title, job type, reporting relationship, division/department, work location, salary range.

Job summary: Provide a brief overview of the job’s purpose, expectations and objectives.

Duties and responsibilities: Start with the duties/responsibilities that take up the most time. Use a bulleted list so that content is easily readable; you can also split the list into categories.

Education & qualifications: Provide information on the education level/type and qualifications that are required for the job.

Knowledge, skills & abilities (KSAs): This should be a list of those KSAs that are required for the job. Note that although skills and abilities are often bundled together, there is a difference! Skills are measurable and observable, and may be acquired through training. Abilities are generally innate (and not learned through training). Here are some examples to get you started:

Knowledge: Knowledge of administrative processes, year-end accounting procedures, operational systems

Skills: Proficiency in the Microsoft Office suite, mechanical repair, accurate data entry,

Abilities: Preparing and maintaining records, working in a team, communicating effectively (written and spoken)

Physical/mental demands: Include any information that is specific to the job, such as heavy lifting, climbing stairs, standing for extended periods of time, public speaking, as well as the work environment (e.g. outdoor work, use of hazardous chemicals).

Tools/equipment used: If applicable, include any specific/specialist tools needed to do the job.

Signature: The employee should sign and date the job description to acknowledge they have read and understood it.

We’ve put together a neat job description template that you are welcome to download and complete for jobs within your organisation. Send us an email and we will share it with you. We hope you find it useful!

From 1 July 2019, the new national minimum wage (NMW) will be $740.80 per week or $19.49 per hour – an increase of 3.0%. A significant number of workers stand to benefit from the change. Currently around 2.2 million employees in Australia are paid the NMW or a modern award minimum wage, which is also set to increase by 3.0%.

Over the next few weeks, the Fair Work Commission will be providing more information about how the increase will affect modern awards. They will also be updating their pay tools with the new pay rates. So, keep your eyes on their website or subscribe to receive email updates from them about changes in your industry sector!

There are also some changes to penalty rates for Sunday work from 1 July 2019. These will affect employees paid under the Hospitality and Retail awards. Starting next month, full-time and part-time employees covered by the Hospitality award will receive 150% of their base pay rate, instead of 160%, for Sunday work.

Under the Retail award, employees will be affected by reductions to penalty rates for Sunday work from 1 July, as follows:

  • Full-time and part-time employees who aren’t shiftworkers will be paid 165% of their base pay rate for Sunday work, instead of 180%.
  • Casual employees who aren’t shiftworkers will be paid 175% of their base pay rate instead of 185%. This includes their casual loading.
  • Full-time and part-time shiftworkers will be will be paid 185% of their base pay rate instead of 195%.
  • Casual employees who are shiftworkers will be paid 215% of their base pay rate instead of 220%. This includes their casual loading.

Further changes to penalty rates for casual employees who aren’t shiftworkers will come into effect under the Retail award from 1 October this year. These retail employees will benefit from a 5% increase in penalty rates for Saturday work and Monday to Friday evening work from 6 pm.

Detailed information about the NMW changes can be found on the Fair Work Commission website.

Click here for more information about changes to penalty rates under the Hospitality award.

Click here for more information about changes to penalty rates under the Retail award.

We would love to hear what you think about the new national minimum wage ? 

Last year, a recruitment video for the Australian Department of Finance Graduate Program went viral for all the wrong reasons. Designed to showcase the “the variety of work, cultural and social experience [graduates] can expect when joining the department”, the video came in for heavy criticism by marketing experts. Dee Madigan, creative director of agency Campaign Edge, who has worked on a number of marketing campaigns for the Labor party, rated it as “probably one of the worst recruitment videos I’ve ever seen.”

So how do you get it right?

There is no magic formula for making a successful recruitment video, but here are a few recommendations:

  • Keep it short: very few viewers want to watch a 30-minute mini-documentary
  • Present your company culture in an honest and attractive way to help prospective applicants self-select
  • Provide insights into the type of work employees do and the perks they benefit from
  • Show a diverse range of employees to appeal to a broad target audience
  • Include humour and fun for maximum entertainment value.

The following videos, we think, work particularly well.

Notching up a huge number of views on YouTube – for the right reasons – is this recruitment video for the New Zealand Police. Aimed at 18-24-year-olds, it features frequent bursts of action, snippets of speech, and a good dollop of Kiwi humour. Well scripted and sharply filmed and edited, it is a great way to attract prospective applicants to a role in the NZ Police force.

Dropbox

Produced in 2014, “Working at Dropbox” is still one of the best recruitment videos out there. Classic employee lines, such as “It’s not only a place that I come to work; it’s a place that I come to grow” are injected with humour by replacing the people who voiced them with puppets. In just under 2.5 minutes, viewers gain an idea of Dropbox’s values, people and perks – and are entertained all the way.

HubSpot

Unlike Dropbox, HubSpot used real people to front their brand in this upbeat 2012 recruitment video. Prospective applicants are given a clear introduction to the company’s mission and values, as well as a privileged peek into the working environment. The video showcases a diverse range of employees who add their individual experiences to the bigger picture.

Do you have a favourite recruitment video? If yes, do share it in the comments. We’d love to hear your suggestions.

Thank you for watching!