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The inside story: how to get a job at Berry Street

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

In this series, 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 Michael Gliddon, Lead Talent Acquisition Partner at Berry Street – one of Australia’s largest independent family service organisations, employing close to 1,400 staff.

Berry Street has a wide range of career opportunities and is currently advertising several roles.

Hi Michael, thanks for chatting with us! To kick us off, can you tell us a bit about what Berry Street does?

Berry Street’s journey to ensuring children, young people and families are safe, hopeful and thriving began over 140 years ago. Since 1877, we have been committed to delivering the best possible outcomes for the people we work alongside.

Today, we’re one of Australia’s largest independent family service organisations, employing close to 1,400 staff. Through our services and advocacy, we work towards achieving our vision to courageously change lives and reimagine service systems.

Berry Street supports families through a wide range of specialist programs. These include family violence, family services, home based and foster care, residential care, youth services, our therapeutic clinical program Take Two, various community programs, plus more! We also have our education program which includes the world-renowned Berry Street Education Model along with four school campuses.

What are some of the things that might attract candidates to apply for a role with Berry Street?

The large range of programs listed above means that we have a selection of interesting, meaningful roles on offer. We are always searching for candidates who are committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for our service users, to make a real and measurable difference to their lives.

By joining Berry Street, you’ll be working for an organisation that believes in you, and believes you can make a difference, no matter your role. We can offer you:

  • paid parental leave, carers leave, study leave and additional leave benefits
  • ongoing training and professional development opportunities
  • flexible working arrangements
  • access to our Employee Assistance Program
  • a competitive salary, including access to salary packaging.

Can you walk us through the recruitment process at Berry Street?

After sourcing candidates for our roles, (including from our Talent Community and advertising channels) our Talent Acquisition Partners screen the list of candidates who meet the criteria and work with our hiring managers to decide on the shortlist.

From there, the Talent Acquisition Partner will generally phone screen and schedule interviews, supporting the hiring managers with interview guides and interview procedures.

After we have a preferred candidate, we will complete reference checks and probity checks and once we are satisfied that we have found the perfect candidate, officially offer the position. At this stage, we will always call all other interviewed candidates to advise them that they were unsuccessful in this instance and provide feedback. We also notify those who did not make it to interview that were unsuccessful. Those who weren’t successful this time but would be suited to Berry Street for future vacancies move into our Talent Community to be approached for other roles which may be of interest.

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

The main things we look for in applications at Berry Street are;

  • A relevant qualification – since most of our roles are funding based, we have strict minimum qualification requirements which are listed on the position description. We can’t consider applicants without this benchmark.
  • Applicants submitting a cover letter that is specific to the role and addressing the key selection criteria of the position in the cover letter.
  • A succinct resume focusing on your relevant experience and qualifications. Your resume should show your most recent work experience at the top.

Remember, we are often assessing 50+ applications for three or four interview slots, so find a way to stand out from other applicants!

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

Not submitting a cover letter or a statement addressing key selection criteria when clearly requested to is the most common mistake we see. While your resume shows us your work experience and education history, we need you to tell us why you are the perfect person for the role to make the shortlist.

And if they make it to interview, who is a candidate most likely to meet on an interview panel at Berry Street?

You would most likely meet a member of the Talent Acquisition team, the Manager or Senior Manager of the program and the person who the role reports to. The Talent Acquisition Partner will confirm all panel members names and titles within the interview confirmation message to ensure you don’t have to stress about remembering their names at the start of the interview!

What advice would you give candidates to improve their interview skills?

Prior to the interview, refresh yourself on the role requirements within the position description and consider your strengths and suitability to the role. The questions will be based around the key selection criteria for the role, so think of where you have done these things in previous roles. Also think of other transferable skills you have to ensure you meet the required criteria.

Consider your motivation for applying and make sure that comes across in your responses too.

Try to be calm, positive, listen to the question and take your time to think of an answer to ensure you answer it in full – and never be afraid to ask for the question to be repeated! Make sure your nerves don’t get the better of you. We find that this can make people respond either too briefly or go off on tangents without answering the specific question.

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

While a lot of our client facing roles do require qualifications and experience, for some roles, transferable traits and qualities like teamwork and resilience are looked upon favourably. We have positions within our Residential Care, Teaching Family Model and Targeted Care Packages programs where enthusiasm and a passion to help at-risk young people are just as important as a qualification or extensive paid experience.

Berry Street is also a Registered Training Organisation and each year we support many staff members in obtaining a Certificate IV in Child, Youth and Family Intervention or a Diploma of Community Services for free!

No matter what your current circumstances, if you see yourself one day working for Berry Street, submit your information to join our Talent Community and stay in the loop with our organisation!

Thanks Michael!

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