Getting work

The following are tips are drawn from experience of job seeking, being a referee for colleagues and former students, and also recruiting in this field of practice.

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Sector awareness

  • Subscribe to peak bodies, service providers, and advocacy bodies.
  • Set up ‘Google Alerts‘ with key words to monitor relevant themes such as ‘refugee employment’ or refugee disability’, and use RefWorld for country information
  • Set up table of content alerts with key journals about forced migration

Self awareness

  • If you are a new graduate or haven’t had a relevant experience, demonstrate your professional reasoning process for how you would approach plan A, and then options for all the obstacles that may arise.
  • If you have personal migrant or refugee experience, analyse and articulate how you can use it as an asset for the position you are applying for.
  • To really stand out demonstrate awareness of potential challenges such as managing boundaries, cultural pressures, or burn out risks and how you will manage.

Job search

  • Job search websites may be general or specialist. For example, humanitarian, government, commercial, ethical job boards. Use the university career support.
  • Sector website and communications. For example, peak bodies. Service provider organisation website or communications. For example, Facebook, LinkedIn.
  • Expect positions to be described by output, outcome, or responsibility rather than discipline. Learn to assess and analyse positions in terms of alignment with occupational therapy.

Deciding to apply

  • Assess the position description – does it intersect with the occupational opportunities, life skills, and inclusion of displaced people?
  • Assess the required qualifications are specified or indicative – sometimes they may be specific because it’s tied to the funding, or sometimes they may be indicative
  • Don’t ask the contact person on the advertisement if you should apply or not – that’s your job to determine, and the purpose of the application process is for them to determine if you’re the best fit for what they need.


  • Does your resume have experiences that indicate a commitment to this sector?
  • Does your resume have professional development reflect relevant specialist skills for work with this population (e.g. intercultural practice, work with interpreters)
  • Does your resume reflect development of literacy with a breadth of relevant approaches (e.g. community development, project management)


  • Draw on aspects of your life that demonstrate relevant skills, capacity to function in this or similar sectors.
  • Do the work to demonstrate the connection between your skills and experience and the position description, even if you think it’s obvious.
  • What would be challenging about the position or practice setting? Demonstrate skills to manage in practice settings with similar characteristics.


  • Never leave people to guess how occupational therapy adds value, tell them and better yet, illustrate it with how you solve problems.
  • Ask relevant questions about the position that also demonstrate you have researched the organisation, team, program, and funding.
  • Ask about supervision and professional development arrangements.


Applying for a position is hard work, don’t waste it if you were not the preferred candidate this time.

  • Ask about application. Could it have been improved?
  • Ask about development. What directions would better prepare you for that type of position?
  • Ask about engagement. Look for ways to stay involved and develop with the organisation.

Got a question or tip? Get in touch!