21 Job Search Tips for Civil Engineers in Australia and New Zealand

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Our Recruiters have compiled a list of universal job search tips for Civil Engineers at any career level who are looking for a new job opportunity in Australia or New Zealand. 

Tip 1: Networking

It’s often said that who you know can be just as important as what you know, and networking embodies this principle. Networking is an avenue for discovering an array of opportunities that might otherwise remain hidden. Whether it’s stumbling upon job openings, forging partnerships, or unlocking new career pathways, networking widens the scope of what you can achieve.

Through conversations and interactions, you gain access to information, trends, and updates that may not be readily available through traditional channels. Building a strong professional network is essential for your career growth.

Participate in conferences, seminars, workshops, and trade shows related to your field. These events provide excellent opportunities to meet fellow engineers, industry experts, and potential employers. Become a member of engineering associations and societies relevant to your specialization. These groups often organize networking events, webinars, and forums to connect professionals.

Tip 2: Practice answering the question “Why did you apply for this role?”

Potential employers will ask this question for two reasons. Firstly, they want to check that you have done research about the company and you know what the job will involve. Secondly, they want to understand your career goals. So get ready to explain what makes the company appealing to you. 

Don’t mention pay or benefits when you are being asked this question, as the employer wants someone interested in the job, not the perks.

Tip 3: Have clear expectations about the salary but be flexible

Know what fair market value is for the role. You can use SEEK, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor to check current rates. Have a salary range e.g. $80k-95k per annum for a Site Engineer role in Australia. It’s important to understand that most companies have preset salary ranges for a given civil engineering position and will offer the median of the range. 

Let the Recruiter know upfront that you are open to negotiation if that’s the case. Once you have accepted a job offer, you MUST NOT change your salary expectations. The hiring process is often long and complicated and playing games with a Recruiter or an Employer is an absolute no.

Tip 4: Prepare for Zoom or Skype interviews

Start your interview preparations early. Test your laptop camera and audio. It’s a good idea to ask a friend or a family member to ring you to make sure you can hear the incoming call. Have a professional virtual background. If you are using Zoom, you can easily download one for free (How to download a Zoom background ). You might also want to consider using earbuds so the interviewer can hear you clearly.

Ensure your computer is fully charged so you won’t run out of battery halfway through the interview. Choose a small chair that doesn’t creak when you move.

Check the time zone. If you are based in Brisbane and interviewing with a company in Sydney, there might be a time difference. You should check with the interviewer which time zone they are using for scheduling the interview.

Dress professionally and make sure nobody (kids, partners, animals) disturbs you during your interview. You should put your phone on silent but have it nearby just in case the interviewer tries to ring you on your mobile first.

A copy of your CV, a glass of water, pen and paper, and a list of questions you want to ask during your interview are also a great idea.

Before the virtual call, close all browser pages and elevate your device so you are not staring down into the camera. If for some reason you are unable to connect with the interviewer, ring them and explain the situation ASAP.

Tip 5: Get ready to explain employment gaps on your CV

It’s not necessary to explain employment gaps in detail, but you should give a short explanation to the interviewer or a recruiter. Whether it’s redundancy, travel, starting a family, or health problems, your potential employer might want to know why you took a break from employment.

If you were engaged in activities such as freelancing, volunteering, or taking courses during your employment gap, highlight the transferable skills you gained. These skills can be relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Example Explanation: “During the gap from [start date] to [end date], I took time off to focus on family responsibilities and to pursue further education. I enrolled in [relevant courses/certifications] to enhance my skills in [relevant skills]. During this period, I also volunteered with [relevant organization], which allowed me to contribute my expertise and stay engaged in [industry/field].”

Tip 6: Have a job-searching routine

Set up a designated workspace at home where you won’t be disturbed. Create a list of 5 -10 companies you would like to work for. Start by visiting the website of each company and understand how you could fit in with them. Check if they advertise their vacancies directly on their website. If not, it’s likely they are using recruitment agencies, LinkedIn jobs, or job boards such as SEEK.

Find each company on LinkedIn and follow them. This will allow you to stay up to date with company news and job openings. Like the posts so that the LinkedIn algorithm shows you similar posts and related content.

If the company doesn’t advertise jobs on LinkedIn, move to SEEK. Type in the company’s name in the “Search” bar and hit “Enter.” This will bring up any jobs the company might be advertising. If this search doesn’t bring up desirable results, use the job title to search for job openings. 

Tip 7: Practice answering the question “Why did you leave your last job?”

If there is one question we can guarantee will come up in your job interview, it’s this one. Why? Because your potential Employer wants to know if you are going to stick around if they give you a chance.

Your interviewer will want to know:

  • Did you leave for a good reason? — Maybe your project came to an end or the company was in financial trouble and had to let staff go. Or maybe you had to move to another city for family reasons.
  • Did you leave voluntarily, were fired or made redundant? — The interviewer will try to determine if there were any performance issues.
  • Did you leave on good terms? – Can the Interviewer get references from your previous manager?

Tip 8: Rethink your resume

Your resume is not a transcript of your education and work experience. Instead, it’s a marketing publication in which you are selling your skills and knowledge to potential employers. Your resume should be crafted with your target position in mind and correspond with your LinkedIn profile.

Your work experience and your last job are the most important parts of your resume. Initially, Recruiters will spend just six seconds on your resume looking at your name, current title, and company, current position start and end dates, previous title and company, previous position start and end dates, and education.

Additional tips for job seekers: read our blog on resume/ CV heat maps here. This article will help you edit your resume so that recruiters read they absorb the important information. 

Tip 9: Carry out a quality check on your resume 

Make sure your CV/resume looks professional and easy to read.

  • The font is easy to read.
  • The format and layout are simple and professional looking.
  • Sentences are short and factual.
  • Use dot points to break up blocks of text.
  • Your email address is professional (for example your name).
  • Include your name, phone number, and email address on
    every page.

Make sure your resume is tailored to the job and employer.

  • Use ‘keywords’ from the employer’s job ad to describe your past work tasks and responsibilities.
  • Include a summary of your relevant work history.
  • Only include information that is relevant to the job and employer.
  • Provide a short explanation of any employment gaps.

Triple-check your resume for spelling, content, and grammar mistakes.

Review your application before you submit it. You can use a tool like Grammarly to make sure your resume is free of mistakes. Once you click ‘submit’ your information is sent directly to the recruiter. Remember that first impressions count, so make the best one you can when you apply.

Addition tips for job seekers: read how to write an Australia CV here

Tip 10: Manage your digital identity carefully

When you apply for a job, the employer will look you up online and make judgments about you based on what they find. If your online profile raises any red flags, they won’t consider you for the job. Search for yourself online to see what comes up. Pretend you are an employer. If this was all the information you had on an applicant would you hire them?

Be careful about what you like and comment on across social media channels. Derogatory comments about previous employers or colleagues can be extremely off-putting. Make sure your private content is private. Always think about your professional identity and reputation when making public posts.

Tip 11: Be a good listener

Be a good listener. Listen carefully and focus on the person you are speaking with and their body language. Show interest in what’s being said. Nod, smile, and avoid interrupting the person speaking. Always thank the person for their time.

Tip 12: Practice, practice, practice

Be aware of how your body reacts to stress. Do you avoid eye contact or fidget? Fidgeting and avoiding eye contact in an interview can be seen as being rude or bored. Practice for your interview in front of a mirror or with friends or family. Ask for feedback on how you present and what you might need to change.

Presenting well means the employer won’t be distracted or put off by how you look. Instead, they’ll focus on your skills, experience, and other professional attributes.

Tip 13: Choose your Referees carefully

Think about your referees carefully. Find people who can say you would be good for this job. Always list at least two people who will say good things about you and are not related to you. Always ask your referees if you can provide their details.

Tip 14: Profile your potential Employer

When talking to employers about jobs, you need to show them you understand their business. You also need to explain how your skills and experience make you a good fit for their business. Figure out what employers want, before writing your job application or showing up to an interview. This can take a little time but it’s definitely worth it.

Here are some questions you might want to answer:

  • What do you think are the business’s main priorities?
  • What are the business’s values? What does it pride itself on?
  • How do you see yourself fitting into this culture? What would you like about it?
  • How many employees does the business have?
  • Is the business growing or shrinking?
  • What types of customers does the business work with?

Tip 15: Have a correct LinkedIn headline

A LinkedIn headline is the section at the top of a LinkedIn user’s profile where you describe what you do in no more than 120 characters. This description appears next to your name in search results. If you are currently employed, your headline should state your current job title. If you are unemployed, you should have at least two job titles you are seeking.

You should not write “Seeking a new job” or “Open to new opportunities” because Recruiters might not be able to find you on LinkedIn and you might come across as desperate.

Tip 16: Thank the Recruiter and write them a reference 

You might be surprised to hear that Recruiters love receiving ‘Thank You” messages as well as positive online reviews. If you have had a good experience with a Recruiter, let the World know. In return, when you are looking for a new job, the Recruiter will very likely remember you and you might get some preferential treatment.

Tip 17: Write Recommendations on LinkedIn

Writing LinkedIn recommendations for your connections is a great way to strengthen your profile. When you recognize a colleague’s work they might return the favor and therefore provide you with a reference for potential employers. Important: only write recommendations for people you have worked with.

Tip 18: Learn to read job adverts

While some job posts are very detailed and long, others can be short and skimpy and you should learn how to read between the lines. Start by reading the posting at least three times so you can identify what the interviewer is seeking.

Employers use ‘keywords’ to describe the important attributes they look for in workers. This can include technical and workplace skills and personal qualities. Look at the keywords in job ads to help you decide if you are suitable for the job. Use these same keywords to describe your skills and attributes. This shows the employer you understand their needs and are suited to the job.

Tip 19: Don’t be scared to talk about yourself 

Many people who attend interviews are scared to talk about themselves because they worry it might come across as “bragging.” This is unfortunate because the interviewer wants to collect as much information as possible about the candidate. This is not “showing off”; this is informing. If you do not choose to provide the information, you are forcing the Recruiter or your potential Employer to dig through your CV.   

Tip 20: If you decide to write a Cover Letter

While many companies do not require a cover letter from job applicants, if you do decide to include one, make sure you tailor it to the specific job and employer.  There is nothing worse than sending a generic cover letter as it shows you are just looking for any job.

Address all the required skills needed for the job. Include a summary of relevant previous employment, qualifications, and industry and occupational licenses. Make sure the cover letter is easy to read. The employer should be able to read the key points in your cover letter in less than a minute and understand why you are right for the job.

Your cover letter should include today’s date. Always attach your tailored résumé when you send out a cover letter.

Choose a simple and professional format and layout and use a font that is easy to read (for example Arial size 12). Ensure the letter is a maximum of one page in length.

Tip 21: Always send your resume in a Word format

As you might be well aware, Recruiters often use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and CRM (Candidate Relationship Management) to track job applications, optimize the hiring process and create pools of vetted Candidates. Unfortunately, these complicated systems can only handle MS Word format documents. PDFs or image files don’t translate into these systems so sometimes parts of resumes can go missing.  

Recruiters might also need to add information (such as a company logo and a cover sheet) or remove information from your CV (your name and contact details) before they can send it to the Client. It’s also best to avoid inserting tables, columns, or other strange formatting into your resume.  Keep your CV simple! 


If you are a Civil Engineer, a Construction Professional or a Surveyor who would like to be part of the infrastructure boom in Australia or New Zealand, register your CV here or search our jobs.

ConsultANZ Recruitment  –  We consult our Clients on their hiring needs and our Candidates on their career prospects.

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