Applying for a job
When applying for a job, find out as much as you can about the position and the organisation to ensure that you would be happy and comfortable working there.
If the position was advertised, check the advertisement for details of someone who you can contact for more information. That person can give you details about the job, which might include hours of work, and pay. They may be able to send you a more detailed job description.
Show your interest in the organisation. Find out more about your potential employer by reading the Annual Report or checking out its website. You can find background information such as:
- the people;
- how the organisation operates;
- the organisation’s position in the market;
- plans for future expansion and growth; and
- career opportunities for you in the future.
The job description may include skills or qualities the employer wants you to have. Make sure your application or résumé addresses each of these selection criteria. Examples of selection criteria are ‘experience in use of computer-based systems’, ‘a commitment to quality customer service’ or ‘able to work as part of a team’. Check your résumé for any omissions or spelling errors before sending it.
The employer will compare your application with the selection criteria for the job. It is important that you address each one in detail and provide examples of your work experience where possible. You may be asked for more details in the interview. The employer will use this information to determine whether you have the skills and qualities necessary to perform the job successfully.
Discrimination is prohibited
There are a number of laws which prohibit discrimination. The grounds on which discrimination is unlawful are set out in Discrimination section.
It is unlawful to discriminate against someone in employment, including during the advertising and recruitment process.
Preparing for the interview
At the interview, you should be prepared to:
- show information or samples of work that confirm your qualifications or experience;
- explain what qualities or attributes you possess that would make you the best candidate for the position;
- ask questions about the position, the employer, or even future promotion within the organisation, to help you understand the job; and
- provide accurate information about your credentials and work experience.
Examples of questions you may be asked at the interview:
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- How have you developed your skills?
- What makes this job appealing to you?
- What are you looking for in an employer?
- What is your long-term career objective?
- What did you like/dislike about your previous job?
- Why are you leaving your current position?
Misleading or deceiving your employer during the recruitment process can be grounds for dismissal later, even if you are good at your job. This could be embarrassing for you and may affect future employment prospects; it could also be costly to the employer.
Letter of offer
An offer of employment will usually be confirmed by a letter of offer. This letter will outline the terms and conditions of employment and will usually include:
- your responsibilities, the grade of the position;
- the rate of pay;
- whether the employment is permanent, part-time or casual;
- hours of work;
- entitlements to sick leave and annual leave;
- any probationary period; and
- other information, such as whether your job is covered by an award or an enterprise agreement.
The terms and conditions outlined in the letter of offer will form your contract of employment.
What is your employer required to do?
When you start work, your employer is required to:
- Start a detailed written record of your terms and conditions of employment. This record must include your basic terms and conditions, and other information, such as the actual hours which you work, your accrued leave balance, and superannuation contributions; and
- Give you a Fair Work Information Statement. This is a fact sheet prepared by the Fair Work Ombudsman and contains valuable information about your rights and obligations at work. It is available for free from the website of the Fair Work Ombudsman.
It is a very good idea to ask for the terms and conditions of your job to be confirmed in writing.
Check that the terms and conditions set out in the letter of offer match your understanding of the position. If they don’t, then discuss this with the employer. If you are unable to reach an agreement, you may need to reconsider your decision to accept the job.
What is a ‘contract of employment’?
Everyone who has a job has a contract of employment, even if that contract is not written down. When an employee accepts an offer of employment (oral or written), a contract of employment is formed. An employment contract has different kinds of terms:
- Express terms – which are terms that the employer and employee discuss and agree openly; and
- Implied terms – which are terms that form part of the contract even if the employer and employee don’t talk about them. For example, if you apply for a job as a dishwasher, and attend an interview in a cafe, and no one says anything about your work location, then it is implied that you will work at that particular cafe.
Before you start work
Your employer will need some information from you when you start work.
When you start a new job you should be asked to fill in a form which tells the Australian Tax Office that you have started work. If you don’t fill out a tax declaration form and are paid in cash, the working arrangement may cause serious legal problems. If you are underpaid while working ‘for cash’ you will have difficulty lodging a complaint for underpayment of wages. Additionally, you could be penalised by the Australian Taxation Office if you don’t pay the correct amount of tax.
More information on workplace rights and responsibilities for young workers is available at the website of NSW Industrial Relations. It covers getting a job, rights at work and leaving a job, and is available at here.
Useful information to take with you on your first day of work:
> your tax file number
> the account number of the bank account you want your pay to go into
> your superannuation account number (if you have one).
An induction is your introduction to your workplace and new job. Your induction might cover:
- a tour of the workplace, including location of amenities and exits;
- an introduction to your supervisor and immediate work colleagues;
- discussion of the duties and responsibilities of your job;
- information about wage payments;
- work conditions including hours, leave provisions, dress requirements, and travel arrangements;
- after-hours access and security requirements;
- information on company policies and procedures and how to get access them; and
- occupational health and safety.
Employees are allowed to join a union if they choose to, but cannot be compelled to become a member of a trade union. Your employer cannot refuse you the job on the basis of your joining or not joining a union.
As a union member, you may be asked to participate in workplace meetings, or other union activities. You may even be asked to participate in decisions and activities in relation to industrial action. If you are not sure about your rights and obligations in relation to your union membership, you can:
- ask your workplace delegate, or an organiser from the union;
- see the website of the Fair Work Ombudsman, or contact the FWO office; and
- contact Unions NSW.
Freedom of association
If you have been subject to a disadvantage at work because of being a member of a union (or refusing to join a union) then you may be able to make an adverse action claim to the Fair Work Commission. You are also able to make a complaint to the Fair Work Ombudsman, and request that the Ombudsman investigate your complaint. This may lead to the Ombudsman taking action against your employer, although it is a decision of the Ombudsman whether or not to start legal action.