Wondering 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 insider knowledge you need to make your next job application amazing.
This month we speak to Karen Dimmock, Business Services Manager at the Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY). Based in Victoria, CMY is a not-for-profit organisation that supports young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds to build better lives in Australia. It employs staff across the state in areas like social work, youth work, research and training.
Hi Karen – thanks for your time! To start us off, what does CMY do?
CMY is a not-for-profit organisation providing specialist knowledge and support to young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. We have staff working in a diverse range of roles across Victoria, in both metropolitan and regional areas.
Some of our staff work in case management, providing direct support to newly arrived young people, while others coordinate youth leadership and sports programs. We also have trained teachers who work closely with schools to improve the educational outcomes of students from migrant and refugee backgrounds.
Finally we have teams running programs focused on employment, mentoring and youth justice; and we deliver training to the NFP sector and collaborate on a number of research projects.
Wow, that’s a lot of different roles. Can you briefly walk us through your recruitment process?
CMY roles are advertised for a period of two weeks. Candidates are asked to submit a written application that consists of a cover letter, resume and response to key selection criteria.
A selection panel is formed to ensure a fair, consistent and transparent process. The panel shortlists candidates based on their skills and experience and their alignment with CMY values. Shortlisted candidates are then invited to interview.
Before each interview, we give candidates 10 minutes to review the questions and prepare their responses, as we want to hear people’s best answers. This element of our recruitment process also supports applicants from a culturally and linguistically diverse background, where English is an additional language.
Depending on the role, there may be an additional activity to be assessed alongside the interview. For example, candidates for a youth facilitator role might be asked to participate in a group facilitation exercise, while candidates for a communications role might be asked to complete a writing exercise.
Reference checks are then undertaken and, for the successful candidate, further police checks and working with children checks are conducted.
So what are the top things you look for when assessing a candidate’s application?
We celebrate and value the diversity of our employees. Having the right right mix of skills and experience in our team enables our work with young people from diverse backgrounds, allowing us to build strong partnerships with all our stakeholders and create positive change.
We want to hear from candidates who can demonstrate how their skills and experience show a commitment to making a difference in the lives of the young people we represent, and who can share their passion and motivation for ensuring young people are empowered.
And what are some of the most common mistakes candidates make?
While the application processes can be overwhelming, it’s important to read the instructions thoroughly and ensure your application covers everything that has been requested. Check you have included three documents – a cover letter, resume and statement responding to the key selection criteria. The most common mistake we see candidates make is leaving out the response to selection criteria.
Another common mistake we see is candidates applying for roles that are outside their skillset and experience level. As you are preparing your application, consider whether a role is right for you. When responding to selection criteria, provide real and specific examples that give context for past projects you’ve worked on and demonstrate your suitability for the role.
So who usually sits on the interview panels at CMY?
The selection panel generally consists of three members of staff, including the supervisor of the position being interviewed.
And what are some of the key mistakes candidates make in interviews?
Candidates often assume we know all about their past projects or employers, and don’t give enough context. It’s important to quantify your experiences – give details of the scale and impact of projects you’ve worked on. Talk about how the skills and experiences you’ve developed in previous roles will translate in the new role.
People also make the mistake of not talking about their values to the interviewers. As a values-based organisation, it’s really important for us to understand your personal motivations and how well your values align with CMY.
The interview is also an opportunity for you to find out more about CMY’s work and organisational culture. Show the selection panel how interested you are in the role by coming armed with a few questions of your own.
What roles would you say are the hardest to fill at CMY? Why?
Leadership roles, including coordinator and team leader roles, are generally the hardest to fill. For these roles, we encourage applicants with 5-10 years’ professional experience, ideally with a mix of local government, state government and community sector experience.
If you don’t have direct or recent experience supervising staff, consider any other leadership experience you have that may be relevant – like managing volunteers, for example.
Finally, what advice would you give to someone who wants to work at CMY but might not have the right qualifications or experience?
Volunteer with us! We have a variety of programs that we recruit volunteers for, whether your interest is in education, settlement support, professional mentoring or sport. You can find out more about these opportunities here.
Volunteering with CMY is a great way to gain experience and insights into our programs, while demonstrating your commitment and passion for working with young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. It also means that the next time a job opportunity you’re interested in comes up, you’ll be able to apply this knowledge in your application!
Thanks so much, Karen!