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Page last updated at 15:07 GMT, Monday, 12 January 2009

How to land dream island job

Tonge Point on Whitsunday Island, Queensland
The view on the way to work is one of the perks of the job

It's being billed as "the best job in the world" - six months working as a "caretaker" on Hamilton Island in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. But with competition for the post sure to be cut-throat, how can you make your application stand out?

As winter gloom settles in across the UK, Tourism Queensland has cannily cast a wide net in its search for someone to take the caretaker job. The indigo skies and rolling golden sandy beaches of Hamilton Island couldn't look more appealing to your average Briton at the moment. As if these weren't enough, the job comes with a pay packet of nearly 70,000 and a rent-free three-bedroom villa, complete with pool.

In return, the successful applicant will be expected to spend the six-month contract exploring the idyllic surroundings, filing weekly blog, photo diary and video updates and conducting "ongoing media interviews".

A geography background, any experience of wildlife management, a role as a forest warden, some kind of outdoor role involved in monitoring and observing - that's going to put you ahead of 75% of the other applicants
Corrine Mills, HR adviser

Interested? The first step in securing this role is to send a 60-second video application explaining why you are the ideal person for it. But what do you need to do, and to emphasise, to put your application near the top of the pile?

1. Get the basics things right
"It sounds pretty mundane but make sure you send the video in the right format," says Corinne Mills, HR adviser for She says there's a small but growing trend for applications to be submitted by video.

"They are going to be absolutely inundated, and if they can't see what you send them your application will go straight in the bin."

2. Make the video as strong as possible
If you don't already have a camcorder you will need to invest in one, rehearse like crazy, memorise a script - don't read from one! - and make sure the finished product is perfect.

"If it's too dark you can look a bit sinister," says Mills. "So make sure there is lots of bright light. Look directly at the camera and hold imaginary eye contact. The eyes have to be absolutely focused. "Relax, don't fidget, speak slowly, make sure you are very focused and have good arguments. The great thing about video is you can keep doing it until it's absolutely right."


Could this be the best job in the world?

3. Demonstrate a spirit of adventure
You are going to be sent to one of the most idyllic corners of the world. Few people will be able to call on first-hand knowledge of the region so it's a question of being enthusiastic about where you have been and what you have done.

A thirst for the outdoors is clearly important, but what have you done that can give your application a unique flavour?

4. Mention all your relevant experience
To get yourself onto the shortlist of 11 candidates - all of whom get flown out to Hamilton Island for the final interview - you will need to demonstrate more than strong presenting skills.

"If you have any scuba-diving qualifications, mention them. Think hard about what you have done in the past and how they might help you," says Mills.

"A geography background, any experience of wildlife management, a role as a forest warden, some kind of outdoor role involved in monitoring and observing - that's going to put you ahead of 75% of the other applicants."

Hamilton Island
The balcony where you could be having your breakfast every morning

5. Know your marine wildlife
With 2,900 individual reefs comprising the world's largest coral reef system, and 900 islands, the area is a haven wildlife. If you are not an expert on the myriad of species you will feast your eyes on in coastal Queensland, then it's worth getting a working knowledge - spend some time at the library or learning about it on Wikipedia.

Then you can tell your prospective employer how keen you are to see the possums, migrating whales and anything else you've learnt about during your studies.

6. Show your genuine love of animals and the outdoors
Instead of getting a friend to film you in a dreary indoor room with a blank wall behind you, adopt a more creative approach.

"Go to your local park or local wildlife centre, they will want to see your style," explains Mills.

7. Enhance your application
You only have 60 seconds to impress and you might find that's not nearly enough time. If you have experience of writing and blogging - or professional photography - mention a website where your material has been published.

"If you are a performer or a TV presenter there will already be videos of you out there," adds Mills. "Then you can add: 'If you want to see more of me in action, go to this website.' "

Scuba-diving in the Great Barrier Reef
Scuba-diving and snorkelling are some of the few skills required
8. Balance the "fun factor" with a more serious side
"Remember you need to speak in a business-appropriate way," says Mills. "You can certainly make it fun, and they will be looking for enthusiasm.

"But remember the serious side. Are you someone they can trust? You need to be seen to be reliable and a safe pair of hands. You need to balance a lively communication style with coming across as really responsible."

9. Don't waste money on a course
There are plenty of one and two-day courses out there which cover most aspects of the writing, blogging and video side of this role. But they aren't cheap and Mills says you might be wasting your time anyway.

"Bear in mind that with this particular job, with the huge competition and the deadline factor [applications close on 22 February], you would probably not have time to get yourself on a course," she says.

"But if you see a role for yourself in this sort of field in the future, then by all means do some training and get yourself some experience."

10. Are you sure you're the right person?
It sounds ideal, but is it really for you? The job starts on 1 July and lasts until the end of the year, with no days off to fly home for your parents' silver wedding anniversary.

Hamilton Island has an airport and a population of 5,000 but you may still get homesick, particularly if you are on your own. You will get a three-bedroom home to live in rent free, so the temptation to bring along family members or a partner is there - but they must be flown out at your expense. And besides, the start date coincides with the beginning of the British summer... and the start of the Australian winter.

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