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The inside story: how to get a job at Beyond Blue

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 Nicola McDonald, People & Culture Business Adviser at Beyond Blue. Beyond Blue is an independent, not-for-profit organisation working to reduce the impact of anxiety, depression and suicide in Australia. 

(You can check out the roles Beyond Blue is advertising here).

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

We provide information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live. We often help people take the first steps towards recovery by connecting them with local health and community services, empowering them to get better and stay well. 

Beyond Blue’s tools, resources and services create mentally healthy environments. Through our dedicated programs, we support schools, universities, workplaces and community organisations to protect and promote good mental health. 

We’re working to break down the stigma that prevents people talking about anxiety, depression and suicide, as well as tackling prejudice and discrimination wherever they exist. 

Our independence and bipartisan approach to issues position us to advocate for positive change, and a better deal for people experiencing anxiety, depression and suicide risk. Our research continues to shape our work and that of others, and we collaborate with partners across many sectors and industries to advance our collective thinking, knowledge and direction.

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

Beyond Blue is one of Australia’s most well-known and visited mental health organisations; a knowledge leader that is helping to shape system reform in the mental health space.

Working at Beyond Blue means you will learn from the those with expertise across the entire mental health system. A team that is high performing, professional, supportive and cultivates a respectful culture.

But most of all, you will have the opportunity to contribute to our vision that all people in Australia achieve their best possible mental health. 

Can you walk us through the recruitment process at Beyond Blue?

We believe in a human centred design approach to our recruitment. We know that having efficient, flexible and human focused processes is important. This means we do everything we can to learn as much as possible about your skills and knowledge and how we can apply these to a role at Beyond Blue. 

We also love to facilitate opportunities for you to meet other Beyond Blue employees throughout the process so you can learn about us  – after all, it’s as much about what you want in an employer as much as what we want in an employee.

If you decide to apply for a role at Beyond Blue, you’ll be able to tell us about yourself by creating a candidate profile and answering a set of pre-screening questions. You can also upload your cover letter and resume. 

The People and Culture team will work with the hiring manager to shortlist and offer first and then second round interviews. We appreciate good communication, so you you’ll hear from us throughout the process, but you can always reach out at any time.

Whether successful or not, we want each candidate to walk away with a quality candidate experience. Our doors are always open – you’re welcome to apply for anything that matches your skills and experience. We can also help you with this by recommending you for other roles if you match the criteria.

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

We admire people who are passionate about mental health and have a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector. We are here for the community and your commitment to making a difference for people experiencing or supporting others with anxiety, depression or suicidality is a must.  

We look for people who have the skills, capability and experience to enable them to successfully fulfill the requirements of the role – make sure you tell us about these in your cover letter and resume! 

We also want to know how you will do this. Tell us about your values and how you live these. Share a bit about what would make you proud to work at Beyond Blue. We get excited when we can feel the enthusiasm from a candidate. 

It’s important to us that we have a diverse and representative workforce – we look for the differences in people and what their experiences can bring not only to Beyond Blue but to the community.

It’s also important that we know how you work once you’re in a role. Beyond Blue is a progressive organisation and we like to understand how you engage with change programs, contemporary working practices and keeping up with best practice and changes that are relevant to a skillset and role.

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

The most common mistake made by candidates is not taking the appropriate time to consider, respond and tailor their application to the role.

Incomplete cover letters or resumes not detailing the appropriate capability and experience, as well as spelling errors and incorrect contact details are also common.

Ensure you put the time into tailoring your application and making it stand out as much as you can.

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

This really depends on the role and the hiring manager. We adjust our interview format to make sure it fits what you’re applying for.

There will always be a member of our People and Culture team engaged in the process, either during the screening or interview process.

At an interview, you’ll likely find a combination of the people leader/hiring manager, Head of the team or a significant stakeholder.

Each recruitment experience is unique and designed to meet the needs of the role of an ever-changing environment.

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

We love it when we can tell you’ve done your research! 

Find out who will be on your interview panel and research them. At minimum take the time to review their LinkedIn profile. A good tip is to find out how to pronounce their name and write it down phonetically if you need to.

We encourage you to think about your opening statement and elevator pitch. Short, sharp sentences that provide us with who you are, your motivations, your experiences and how these will help set you up for success. 

Tell us something that isn’t on your resume but is relevant, which might provide further insight into why you’d be a great cultural fit.  

Consider reading out loud and practicing these statements or any topics that you wish to highlight. Remember to pause and breathe. The more you practice out loud, the more comfortable you will be saying it.

Have a pen and paper handy in case you wish to write anything down. Have your questions ready about what you would like to learn from us. Remember, it’s always a two-way interview.

It’s okay to be nervous and feel the butterflies creep in! We expect you to be nervous when you’re excited about a role. But you can help by acknowledging they are there and that they can help you. Have some water ready, and again, remember to breathe.

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

People are drawn to Beyond Blue for a lot of different reasons but often they are driven by purpose, their values or personal experiences.

Consider looking at all role levels and roles you may not have previously considered. You might like to find out what experience or skills gaps you have and research getting coaching or extra learning for this.

We also recommend looking into volunteering with Beyond Blue. We attend and facilitate many events right across Australia that always need volunteers. Our volunteers are required to have both Police and Working with Children checks, as well as be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. You can find more about volunteering with us on our website here. 

Thanks Nicola!

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