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The inside story: how to get a job at GetUp!

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 Billy Marshall, Human Resources Lead at GetUp! an independent movement of more than a million people working to build a progressive Australia and bring participation back into our democracy.

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

The GetUp movement is powered by the values and hopes of everyday people. We combine the power of over one million members, movement partners and a central team of expert strategists to make extraordinary impact. Our work is driven by values, not party politics.

It is GetUp members who set our movement’s agenda on issues they care about, in the fields of Environmental Justice, Human Rights, Economic Fairness and Democratic Integrity, and standing in solidarity with First Nations Communities to promote justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

What are some of the things that might attract candidates to apply to GetUp?

Like our members, people are attracted to work at GetUp because they want to help create a more progressive Australia. But it is the innovative way that GetUp campaigns that is the real attraction to many candidates. GetUp is a leader in digital campaigning and with this exciting technological innovation, our days are filled with analysing the political state of play, developing long-term and rapid-fire strategy, engaging with the political process, the media and affected communities, spotting the right moment to intervene, running impactful tactics including everything from protests to undercover investigations.

One of the main reasons I was attracted to GetUp and love working here is the people. Every single staff member at GetUp is exceptionally capable, hardworking and highly intelligent. The people here are all strategic thinkers and innovators who are consistently looking for new ways to boost the collective people power of our members and create positive impact. It is a seriously fun and rewarding place to work.

What impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had to your organisation?

COVID has changed the way we operate internally and the way that we campaign. It was not so long ago that we saw over 500,000 people turn out to school climate strikes across the country. Today, mass demonstrations are harder to organise but still vital to show those in power that we demand action.

While we have become more creative in the ways we get people to take action on the issues that matter to them, we have also had to get creative internally and have adopted new ways of working.

2020 has been a massive year politically. We experienced the effects of catastrophic climate change with the summer bushfires, have and continue to go through a global pandemic, the inspiring and powerful Black Lives Matter movement shone a light on racism around the world and the horrific track record of black deaths in custody here in Australia. On top of this we are now facing a global recession.

GetUp staff have been at the centre of all of these political moments this year. So it has been crucial that we listen to staff and their needs to work sustainably as activists. We have adopted the philosophy of slowing down to speed up, meaning that we have actively encouraged managers and teams to create more time to communicate and connect. On top of this we also gifted every staff member two days of extra leave to encourage people to take some time off and unwind.

Can you walk us through the recruitment process at GetUp?

We have a staged recruitment process that is designed to fairly shine a light on the different skills and experiences of each candidate. Our recruitment process, like most, starts with an application where we ask each candidate to submit a current CV as well as complete a series of questions. The application is designed to give recruiters a snapshot of a candidate’s experiences, instincts and motivations for wanting to work at GetUp.

In the next round of the application we ask candidates to complete an exercise designed to test the applicants skills against some of those necessary in the role. At this stage each candidate is asked to leave their name off the submitted task so recruiters mark each of these tasks blindly. It is really important for us to ensure each candidate’s skills are assessed equally and without any bias.

We then take a small group of candidates through to a face to face interview. This is a more traditional panel interview where candidates will meet a few members of our hiring team to further discuss their fit for the position and often the task they submitted. If needed, there can be other stages of the recruitment process, like a follow up face to face interview.

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

While many GetUp staff come to us with professional experience in activist organisations around Australia and the world, not everyone is a seasoned activist.

Through the application process we dive into a candidate’s skills fit, their relevant professional experience, and the right motivations for joining the organisation. Ultimately we are looking to employ people who will bring a diversity of relevant skills and experiences, who are passionate about growing a movement of everyday people and have the ability to work in a dynamic and fast paced environment.

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

We get many good applicants that have solid experience but unfortunately they have not done their research into how we campaign, nor our business model. I would recommend that anyone who is motivated to work at GetUp should get to know our work before submitting their exercise or attending a face to face interview.

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

At GetUp we use a range of staff to build the recruitment team for any given position. At a face to face interview a candidate is likely to meet the line manager or Director, a future colleague or member of the team we are recruiting for as well as a member of the human resources team. For more senior positions a candidate is likely to also meet our National Director.

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

Write down the question! You don’t have to immediately fly into your answer. Take your time to write down the key components of each question and then answer.

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

Advocacy and activism can be a tough sector to break into and when you apply for a position at GetUp you are often going up against hundreds of other applications. The competitiveness of the sector is only increasing as people are more and more motivated to join the fight to build a more progressive Australia.

For those at the start of their career who might not have the exact experience we are looking for I would suggest that they get experience in GetUp style digital campaigns. This might be via working for other advocacy and campaigning organisations or volunteering with GetUp or other organisations. For those looking to make a career change but might not have the exact experience we are looking for when recruiting, I would suggest applying anyway and using the recruitment process to shine a light on the unique skills you could bring to the organisation. To do this well you will need to do your research into how we operate.

Thanks Billy!

You can see GetUp’s current job vacancies here.

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