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The Inside Story: how to get a job that combines sport and working with people with a disability

ver 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 Susan Solakovic, HR and Volunteers Manager at Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association, Queensland’s peak body for sport, recreation and fitness for people with a physical disability or vision impairment. Their vision is for every Queenslander with a disability to have opportunities to live a more active and healthy life.

They often recruit both paid and volunteer support staff such as coaches, team managers, equipment maintenance staff, and project officers.

Hi Susan – thanks for chatting with us! Can you tell us a bit about what the Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association does?

The Association recently had its fortieth birthday. Proudly, we are recognised by the State Government as the State Level Organisation for five key sports, and widely acknowledged as a lead agency ensuring sport is inclusive for all. Our mission is to enhance the lives of people with a disability through health and fitness, sport, active recreation and building inclusive communities.

We deliver core sporting programs throughout Queensland, including wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, boccia, goalball and para – powerlifting, and we partner with other organisations to provide opportunities for people to participate in a wide range of activities such as, canoeing, archery, shooting, blokarting and wheelchair dancing.

So what does the recruitment process at Sporting Wheelies look like?

Our recruitment process always starts off with a clear position description. The subsequent advertisements aim to attract applicants that feel confident in addressing the key requirements of the role.

We respect all applications and the time and effort people have invested in them, so we aim to acknowledge their application within 48 hours.

The shortlisting process receives as much attention as the face to face interview, as the applicant’s responses are weighted against the selection criteria.

The face to face interview process is supported by merit and behavioural-based questioning, but in a relaxed environment conducted by an interview panel of two or more. This is where we really focus on getting to know the individual, confirm their skills and experience and understand their motivators and career goals.

And what are the top things you look for when assessing a candidate at the application stage?

A cover letter addressing the selection criteria is essential; applicants who talk about their ability to meet the advertised level of skill, experience and qualifications will hold the attention of the selection panel.

A resume that supports statements made in the cover letter is essential, as we would look for roles and responsibilities in the resume that support a given statement.

Still on the application process, what are some of the most common mistakes candidates make?

Applicants who send in their resume without a cover letter that addresses the selection criteria will not pass the shortlisting phase.

Sometimes potential applicants will call us to discuss their qualifications for the role. We always encourage people to apply for a role and put their best foot forward.

When asked, we encourage applicants to use the Situation, Task, Action and Result (S.T.A.R) method as a guide when responding to the selection criteria.

A cover letter that says more than “I am applying for the position”, and again, one that genuinely attempts to address the selection criteria is essential for consideration for an advertised position.

What should candidates do to prepare for an interview at Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association?

The interview panel is usually made up of two to three people, the department or Workgroup Manager, the General Manager and or the Human Resource Manager.

Candidates who come prepared with energy, a smile and demonstrate a relaxed confidence will create a greater impact in the face to face interview.

Doing your research about the Association, being able to show some knowledge of our events or activities or current and future strategic focus will demonstrate a genuine interest in the role. Make sure you bring the person that you described in the cover letter to the interview.

And finally, what advice would you give to someone who wants to work at Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association but perhaps doesn’t have the right qualifications or experience?

I would encourage people to be open to any entry level opportunity that would give them exposure, interaction or experience. The Association is supported by hundreds of volunteers, work experience participants, interns and practicum placements students across Queensland. It’s easy to register as a volunteer with our Association and it’s free to join.

As a registered volunteer you will be amongst the first to hear of any up and coming volunteering or career opportunities too.

Thanks Susan!

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