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The inside story: How to get a job at the Alcohol and Drug Foundation

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 Laura Esperanza, People & Culture Business Partner at the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF). The ADF provides facts, resources and programs to prevent and minimise alcohol and other drug harm in Australian communities. Based in Melbourne, the organisation employs staff in a range of areas from alcohol and other drugs to community development and support work.

Hi Laura, thanks for chatting with us! To start us off, tell us about what the Alcohol and Drug Foundation does

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s purpose is to prevent and minimise the harm caused by alcohol and other drugs in Australia. We work to support and create evidence-based policies and practice to achieve these goals.

We co-design our evidence-based programs with communities and support them to build capacity to create change. Our work is focused on primary prevention, harm minimisation and advocacy.

As an organisation, we reach millions of Australians in their communities through sporting clubs and workplaces, by supporting and informing drug and alcohol prevention programs, and through the provision of educational information.

Alcohol and other drug harms are prevalent in our community. They result both from individual lifestyle choices, and how we ‘organise’ our society. While we’re all ultimately responsible for our personal choices around tobacco, alcohol, pharmaceutical and illegal substance use, community prevention acknowledges that our behaviour is influenced by our social environment, and that this environment is powerful in its ability to prevent and minimise these harms.

So can you walk us through the recruitment process at Alcohol and Drug Foundation?

Candidates apply online through the ADF website, where they will be able to see the position description with selection criteria.

The next step could be a phone interview or an in-person panel interview – this process depends on the hiring manager, who might prefer a coffee catch-up, a panel interview or a one-on-one.

There will often be a second round interview, which might also take the form of a coffee catch-up or panel interview.

After a second round interview, the hiring team meets and comes to a decision, and we then contact all the applicant’s referees.

We then meet again as a hiring team and, if we decide to give the applicant a formal offer, we verbally offer them a position over the phone and follow up with a contract.

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

We look for applicants who have addressed the key selection criteria, and we look at their relevant experience.

We consider addressing the selection criteria as the most important factor. As an organisation, we need to see exactly how the applicant’s previous skills, experience and education relates to the responsibilities of the role being advertised. We want to see applicants who have spent time and thoughtfully completed the application process, ensuring they are aware of the components of the role and what they can bring to the role and organisation.

And if they make it to interview, who is a candidate likely to be interviewed by?

Again, it depends on who the hiring manager is. It could be key stakeholder to the role or it could be a people and culture representative.

It’s generally an internal staff member although, dependent on the role, it could be an external stakeholder, too.

What are some of the main mistakes candidates make in interviews?

Waffling about topics that aren’t relevant, which we know often comes down to nerves. It’s also obvious if someone has not read about our organisation or done any research.

Our interview questions are tailored specifically to the ADF’s values, so if the applicant has become familiar with the ADF’s values and mission they will be in a better position to answer the questions and may feel more comfortable with the content discussed in the interview.

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

Besides being a meaningful organisation in the NFP sector, the ADF invests in building staff capacity around alcohol and other drugs – we recently held a two-day workshop, where staff from around the country gathered together to share ideas and collaborate. It was great to gain more knowledge and get to know our interstate colleagues.

We proudly offer above award and National Employment Standard benefits.  For example, staff are entitled to 15 days personal leave per year and we gift two extra days between Christmas and New Year. We also have programs such as staff benefits through an external provider.

And finally, what advice would you give to someone who wants to work at Alcohol and Drug Foundation but perhaps doesn’t have the right qualifications or experience?

Work out why you want to work here and work from there. Is it because you have an interest in the not-for-profit or alcohol and drug sectors? You could look for similar roles in your interest area – perhaps look for volunteer roles and courses that would help you gain experience.

However, you might have more experience than you think – for example, a local sporting club is a not-for-profit. You need to be willing to get your foot in the door through different avenues that you wouldn’t normally go for. Be committed to seeing the opportunity through to the next one.

Thanks for your time, Laura!


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