Ethical employer profiles
5 min. read

How to get a job at one of Australia’s largest disability organisations, Yooralla

Have you ever wondered what hiring managers are looking for when they recruit for Australia’s most sought-after NFPs?

In this series on the Ethical Jobs Blog, we interview the people who hire at the organisations where you want to work – and we’ll give you the inside knowledge you need to make your next job application amazing.

This month we spoke to Ben Linehan, Workforce Planning and Resource Manager – People and Culture at Yooralla. Established a hundred years ago in 1918, Yooralla is one of Australia’s largest not-for-profit disability services organisations and employs people in fields like disability supportallied health and administration.

Hi Ben, thanks for your time! Many people have heard of Yooralla, but tell us about what Yooralla really does?

Yooralla is one of Victoria’s largest disability services providers, supporting people with disability to live independent and fulfilling lives that are both driven by individual choice and cater to their individual needs and goals.

Our support for customers is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we’re there to meet their personal goals, promote their independence and participate in activities either in a home or community setting.

So how does Yooralla go about recruiting new staff?

After advertising a role, we personally review each application that’s submitted to us, and we evaluate them against the requirements of the relevant position.

Those that align to the needs of the position are then given a short phone call to discuss the position, and then depending on which position it is, they’re invited to a face-to-face panel interview.

For our support workers – our frontline positions – they’re normally invited to complete a video interviewfirst, which is then assessed by the service managers or the recruiting team. If they’re successful through that stage, we then invite them to attend an information session to get to know us better, and that also includes a Yooralla customer with a disability as well.

Those who are successful through that process will then proceed to our pre-employment process – which is our police checks, references and psychometric assessments – before they’re offered a position.

For our support workers, their employment begins with a three-day paid induction and functional skill assessment session in our head office in Melbourne.

What are the top things you look for when assessing a candidate application?

We look for people who have a passion for the industry, those who want to make a difference in people’s lives and support them with the life they choose, and those who have a willingness to learn how to support our customers.

It’s easy to see the difference between someone who submits a cover letter who really has a passion for the industry and can express their drive to work in it, versus someone who just submits their resume with very little information about why they’re applying. So if you have no experience and no cover letter, it makes it really hard to assess you – but if you have no experience and a cover letter, we can understand why you’re applying for the role.

We also highly regard candidates who have specific experience; they often come to work with us in more complex environments a bit sooner than someone who might be less experienced. Even if their experience comes from volunteering or from personal experience, they’re still quite highly regarded because of that.

Candidates who have any formal relevant qualification are also highly regarded as well, as that’s where the industry is moving towards.

And what are some of the most common mistakes candidates make?

Probably the most common mistake we see is candidates who don’t follow the instructions of the application process. So they fail to submit the required documents or information in their application, and therefore make it more difficult for us to assess their application. They would be much less likely to progress.

We often have people who don’t submit their CPR or first aid certificates, which are required in the application, or they fail to include an up-to-date resume as well – they might put in something that is quite old.

So who is most likely to sit on an interview panel at Yooralla?

For the front line staff in particular, it would be a service manager, a Yooralla customer who’s usually from the service the position is for, and then either a senior service manager or a group manager.

And what are some of the main mistakes candidates make in interviews?

Not asking enough questions about the position or organisation. Even if they understand the role, not asking enough questions can be seen as a bit of disinterest or complacency.

Also, failing to clearly demonstrate their experience in their responses to interview questions. Especially where their resume explains their experience better than they can verbally in the interview. It tells the interviewer they’re not very confident in their abilities when it comes to explaining their experience – they can only do it on paper or someone helped them put together their resume.

Which roles are generally the hardest to fill at Yooralla?

The top roles at the moment are disability support workersnurses and other positions in our allied health services – therapists, for example. This is due to increasing demand in the sector, as every organisation is looking for these people in particular.

There’s also the fact that Yooralla wants to maintain a strict safety and quality benchmark with all our candidates, which makes it even more difficult to find and fill those positions.

And just to finish off, what advice would you give to someone who wants to work at Yooralla but might not have the right qualifications or experience?

We’re always looking for people who are willing to learn – for our support work positions, we can provide all training and support you require for the position. For other positions, we may have volunteering opportunities, which can help you gain further experience.

And if you have any questions about whether you’re suitable for a role, you can always contact us!

Thanks, Ben!