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Job Search Strategies for Graduates: How to Find the Right Fit

By Kristy O'Connor

It’s that time of year again; students are soon to graduate and are likely busy searching for that perfect first job. I, like so many others, have been through this process and remember it being an exciting, yet daunting time.

Drawing from my lived experience of being a student searching for my graduate position to leading KEO Care as Clinical Director, I want to share some advice with soon-to-be graduates. In particular, I’d like to share my thoughts on what criteria you should be using to assess whether a company is a good fit for you, as well as what questions you can to ask to find out this information.


First and foremost, it is always a good idea to research a company’s values to see what drives its goals and purpose. You want to make sure these values align with yours in a way that will support your own goals. For example, if you are someone who is constantly driven to learn and enjoys making meaningful connections with the people you work with, you’ll want to make sure you join a company that will provide ongoing learning opportunities and encourages socialisation amongst employees.

Questions you could ask:

What values sit at the heart of the company? What is the company’s focus, and how does it include team members in achieving this focus?

Broad knowledge base

As part of your graduate year, it is ideal to have access to a broad scope of fields when developing your clinical experience. As you begin your career, you want to be careful not to pigeonhole yourself into a specialisation too early on. The foundational years of your career are for exploring different clinical streams and discovering your specific area/s of interest. In saying that, if you are someone who is already passionate about and aware of a particular clinical stream you wish to pursue, it is equally as important to have access to specific targeted learning areas throughout your graduate year. Deciding which clinical stream is best for you will require some reflection, but in the off-chance you change your mind, it is best to sign up to a graduate program that can offer you both flexible and targeted learning options.

Questions you could ask:

How is your graduate program structured? Will I have access to a broad scope of streams, as well as targeted learning areas if I decide upon a specialisation within my graduate program?

Clinical support

As you’ve likely already heard, proper clinical supports and sufficient supervision are essential components to your growth and development throughout your graduate year. These will assist you in providing safe and high-quality care for participants, and, just as importantly, will work to build your confidence as a practitioner and support your overall wellbeing. Supervision should be structured and delivered one-on-one with a consistent, trusted supervisor; ad-hoc arrangements and peer support should be supplementary to formal supports. Ideally, you should receive a minimum of one hour of face-to-face contact with your supervisor each week, with extra time accessible to you if necessary. The option to have your supervisor attend appointments with you from time to time is also beneficial as it enables them to see how you work and provide guidance where necessary.

Questions you could ask:

What structure will my supervision follow? What clinical supports will I receive throughout my graduate year? How will my learning goals be supported?

Reasonable billable targets

You should not be expected to fulfill the same obligations or operate at the level of more experienced therapists. In line with this, reasonable billable targets should be tailored to cater to the learning needs of graduates. Ideally, you should be billing to at least three to four hours less than more experienced therapists.

Questions you could ask:

Are billable targets and caseloads tailored to graduate and early career therapists’ learning needs? How do expectations of graduate therapists differ to those of more experienced therapists?

Career pathways

For many, growth, development, and career progression are important aspects of gaining fulfillment at work, and continually pushing boundaries to achieve career goals. It is ideal if you can find an organisation that is willing to create a personalised career pathway for you based on your strengths, interests, and aspirations. You may not know exactly what these are yet, but as you continue to work with your employer throughout your graduate year, you should be supported to reflect upon, and discuss these to allow you to start shaping what your future career may look like. In saying this, the foundational years of your career should be dedicated to developing your clinical skills, and it is important not to take on too much responsibility too early on that will prevent you from doing so.

Questions you could ask:

What career pathways are available to employees for their growth and development? Will there be opportunity to discuss my career interests and aspirations with my supervisors to start creating a plan for my future?

Finally, once you commence your graduate position, keep this in mind; what you learn in your degree acts as foundational knowledge for developing your clinical skills and further learning within the workplace. Once you step into the workforce, there is still so much to learn. You are not expected to know everything, and you should not feel afraid to ask for help. Support should always be provided when you need it.

If you’re looking for assistance as a student or graduate, I’m always happy to information share and provide guidance. Feel free to DM me or email me at koconnor@keocare.com.au if you have any questions.

About the author

Kristy is the visionary force behind KEO Care, serving as the Clinical Director and founder. With over 15 years of industry experience as a dedicated physiotherapist, Kristy’s journey led her across multiple settings, including hospitals and private practices, before finding her true calling in community and aged care.

At KEO Care, Kristy drives our commitment to clinical excellence, imparting invaluable leadership and guidance. Her passion for forging genuine connections extends beyond her team to encompass a profound understanding of individual goals, nurturing the full potential of her colleagues and ensuring the best outcomes for our participants.

Kristy is passionate about forging genuine connections with her team to wholly understand their goals, foster their full potential, and support them to achieve the best participant outcomes.