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The Inside Story: How to get a community-sector job in regional Australia

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 speak to Simone Cottee, Human Resources Coordinator at Brophy Family & Youth Services (BFYS) – the primary provider for youth and family services in South West Victoria. Brophy originated in 1974 with its beginnings in hostel accommodation for homeless youth, and has grown to employ around 150 staff across a huge variety of services from mental health and homelessness services to education and training, and family support services.

Hi Simone – thanks for chatting with us! To kick us off, can you tell us a bit about what Brophy does?

Brophy is a community services organisation in South West Victoria, with sites in Warrnambool, Portland, Hamilton and Colac. We also operate two headspace clinics: headspace Warrnambool and headspace Portland, along with a Youth Foyer, also in Warrnambool.

Our team work across program areas including (but certainly not limited to!) youth and adult homelessness, family violence, youth mental health, youth justice, education and employment engagement, foster care, kinship care, child FIRST, family services and LGBTIQA+ support. Most of our team are program workers, working directly with clients across those areas, however we have teams working directly with schools and in community projects. We also have teams providing support to the Agency in areas such as quality and compliance, customer service, workforce engagement, finance, facilities and IT.

So walk us through the recruitment process at Brophy

When recruiting for new team members, we take the time to review where we are at within the program that a vacancy has opened up – we want to ensure that we have the best people working with our clients in providing whatever service they engage with. So the first thing we do is to review the Position Description to make sure that it still aligns with the strategic direction of the program and the Agency and is truly reflective of the work a position requires.

After a position has been advertised and we have received applications, the interview panel read through each application and create a shortlist based on the key selection criteria. Shortlisted applicants are contacted to arrange an interview.

After interviews have taken place, the interview panel select the best candidate based on experience, qualifications, team and cultural fit. They then conduct referee checks and safety screening and call the successful applicant with an offer of employment.

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

Due to the nature of the work we do and the specialisations of some of our programs, qualifications and experience relevant to the advertised role are the first things we look for.

We understand that applicants may not have the exact experience of a particular role, so we are impressed when applicants can demonstrate how their previous experience will be transferable to the role they are applying for.

We also look to applications that are concise, yet tell the story of the applicant – who they are, what their experience is and why they want to work with us.

What’s the most common mistake you see candidates make in their applications?

The biggest mistake that we see is candidates not addressing the key selection criteria in their application. Many candidates also don’t use their responses to clearly link their experience to the job they are applying for.

Who will candidates meet at in interview at Brophy?

We always aim to have a panel of three staff including the team leader or manager for the position, another supervisor, and a member of the executive team or Workforce Engagement team, depending on what is appropriate for the role.

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

Not researching the organisation and knowing who we are and what we do. It is always obvious when a candidate doesn’t know much about us! Being aware of our vision, mission and values and how your values and experience relate to those is always good to have in mind to refer to throughout the interview.

Finally, what advice would you give to someone who wants to work at Brophy but perhaps doesn’t have the right qualifications or experience?

Have a think about why you want to work at Brophy, what work you would like to do and look at how you can achieve the right qualifications and experience.

While many of our jobs are non-negotiable on having particular qualifications, be creative about how you can gain relevant experience. If you are studying, tailor your placements to gain the experience you need for the job you want. Look at previous employment and how you can specifically relate that experience to the experience needed.

Thanks for your help Simone!

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