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The inside story: how to get a job at The Smith Family

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 Lee Grewal, Talent and Recruitment Advisor at The Smith Family. The Smith Family creates opportunities for young Australians in need by providing long-term support for their participation in education.

You can check out the roles The Smith Family is currently advertising here.

Hi Lee – thanks for chatting with us! To kick us off, can you tell us a bit about what The Smith Family does?

The Smith Family is a national, independent children’s not-for-profit helping disadvantaged Australians to get the most out of their education, so they can create better futures for themselves. We run national programs that support kids through education helping them stay engaged at school and realise their potential.

What are some of the things that might attract candidates to apply to The Smith Family?

Being a part of a purpose driven organisation with such huge impact within community. Our focus on education really connects with candidates who also believe that the way to empower, develop and inspire children is through education. Candidates talk to me about looking a role where they can “give back” in a job that is “meaningful and makes a difference.” Being in a team of likeminded people and an organisation with an aligned value based culture is an appealing aspect to joining The Smith Family.

Can you walk us through the recruitment process at The Smith Family? 

Our recruitment process is all about connection and authenticity. I’m a sincere believer that human connections are what defines the success of the recruitment process. From a candidate’s perspective they want a point of contact, someone real to speak with, someone to listen to their aspirations – so being available is important. We start with screening resumes that have been uploaded online, then call out to those candidates who align in terms of skills, experience, and values. Our interview process is robust and personal and usually includes two rounds. We conduct our own reference checking to help us tap into the specific questions we want to ask. Most importantly, we have an in-house recruitment function as a part of our HR team to guide and support the candidates.

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

Job experience in terms of recent jobs, let’s say the previous 2 or 3. I also look for overall tone of the resume, does it look and read as a compelling and interesting story? It’s a balance of experience and fit. We look for people who will add value as well as thrive in The Smith Family culture.

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

Either information overload, or not enough. About 3-4 pages of a solid career outline, as well as education is great. Also, sharing volunteering work is helpful. And I like reading career objectives – say something about yourself, what you can contribute and why you’re different. It’s old school but gives us a feel for who you are. 

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

They will meet at least 2 managers; one will be their direct manager (or hiring manager) and the other will be a key internal stakeholder. They may also meet a team member who can give them a good dose of reality about the job.

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

I think candidates today are generally well prepared and well versed in interview techniques, but my advice would be to answer questions directly, stay on topic and bring your natural energy. Most importantly, be yourself and be real. It’s you we want as much as the experience you bring!

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

It’s essential in some roles that you can demonstrate relevant experience, but if you are still developing your skills and gaining experiences, or are looking to switch to the not-for-profit sector, then solid commercial, strategic and leadership skills are transferrable. Volunteering is an excellent way to demonstrate your alignment not only in terms of practical experience, but in terms of the values you bring that will strengthen our organisation.

Thanks Lee!

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