Australia is the world’s sixth-largest country and is on an island continent. While English is the official language, many other languages are spoken both at home and in the social sphere, and one in four Australians have English as their second language rather than their first. This is due in part to the fact that Australia is an incredibly multicultural country with migrants from some 200 countries.
Over the last decade, Australia has enjoyed a relatively low rate of unemployment. In recent years Australia has needed to import a range of skilled and semi-skilled labor to meet labor shortages throughout the country and to serve the growing economy. Workers from around the world have come to fill all sorts of jobs, from professional vacancies in areas such as accounting, to positions in more labor-intensive industries such as welding, building and construction, and in various roles in the service sector.
According to Trading Economics, “the unemployment rate in Australia was reported at 5.1 percent in August of 2012. Historically, from 1978 until 2012, Australia’s unemployment rate averaged 6.98 percent, reaching an all time high of 10.90 percent in December of 1992 and a record low of 4.00 Percent in February of 2008.”
Job seekers can find opportunities in all major cities, although certain regions are known for a particular area of expertise, due to their respective histories and natural assets. For example, Melbourne is home to Australia’s financial services, biotechnology, and manufacturing centers; while Perth and Brisbane are renowned for their resources and mining. Construction and building jobs can be found throughout Australia, though Brisbane, Perth, and Darwin seem to have the most growth in this sector. On the other hand, Victoria is often recognized as Australia’s “bread-basket” thanks to the impressive fact that about 33 percent of Australia’s agricultural exports come from this part of the country.
Top 5 Tips for Your Job Search:
1. Know Where to Look
The process of finding work in Australia is not unlike that of many Western nations, including the U.S., Canada, the UK, and many European countries.
Five great ways to identify vacancies are:
- Government and NGO assistance through job agencies
- Major city newspapers, which traditionally advertise for positions of all levels in their Saturday edition
- Job web sites and job boards
- Recruitment agencies, for both temporary and permanent positions
- Headhunters, usually for industry-specific and/or senior positions
- Informal and formal networks for positions that never get advertised
- Here is a list of professional organizations in Australia to help you get started!
2. Be Proactive
- In Australia, like most other economies, the best jobs are rarely advertised and are filled with known contacts. Identify the appropriate placement or recruitment company for you and get to know one to two contacts that you can call at any time. Be aware of vacancies, salaries, and what will be required of you. Be prepared to hold a few short-term positions before landing your goal position.
- Develop professional and social networks – Support networks are critical when you first move to a new city and/or country, more so when you are seeking a job. To identify groups that can assist you with your professional endeavors, go to networking functions, meet people, and identify recruitment consultants and others who can help you as you settle into your new location. These can also be the people you ask for advice about the local social and cultural norms.
- Australians are very social, but it can sometimes be difficult to meet new people. The best way to do so is through social clubs for both sports and hobbies. There are thousands of clubs and you can easily show up, join, and start socializing. This group will help you de-stress and bring back some good memories of your sports or hobbies from other locations.
3. Work within the System
- Ensure that your paperwork is in order and be realistic about timing – Make sure that your visa/work permit allows you to work, as this will be one of the first questions you will be asked.
- Format your resume or CV to fit Australian standards. This means using UK/Australian English (e.g. “centre” as opposed to “center”) and paying special attention to resumes or CVs of professionals in your desired field. Check out sample resumes and CVs and LinkedIn profiles of leading Australian professionals in your industry.
- Get a local mobile phone and set up your voicemail, so that you can be reached and maintain reliable contact with potential employers and contacts.
- Make sure you have regular internet access, in your home or at an internet café, so you can track your applications and be in touch with potential employers and contacts
4. Prepare for each job application and interview individually.
- Match your skills to each job opportunity – Many people use a standard resume and cover letter template for all jobs that they apply to. This can often work against you. Tailor your CV to each new position and company you apply to. Everyone wants the perfect recruit; preparation, knowledge of what the employer needs, and clearly showing how you can meet these needs is a great first step.
- Set up informational interviews if you are unsure of the position or the company being a good fit. Industry professionals will respect your interest in their company and could become great networking contacts!
- Practice for your interview – Do not underestimate how different an interview in Australia may be from interviews back home. Australians are very direct but they do not like people to boast too much about their skills. How do you find a balance between promoting yourself and your skill set without overplaying your abilities?
- Be aware of the competitive environment and remember to regularly follow-up with recruitment companies and prospective employers. They get hundreds, if not thousands, of inquiries for jobs, so consider how you can make yourself stand out in a positive light.
- Prepare your references so that they are ready to assist – Australians place a great deal of emphasis not only on the CV, but also on the interview and your references’ comments. It is important that you alert your references to the role you are applying for and you prepare them on what you would like them to say or focus on.
- Consider being extremely proactive: for example, if it is your dream role, consider asking your reference to call the prospective employer and confirm why you are the best person for the job, prior to going on the interview or prior to the reference being asked for their opinion. This can be a very good way to get your resume to the top of the pile, as long as it is done professionally and by a reference whose credentials would impress the recruiter or prospective employer. Written references carry far less weight in Australia than elsewhere.
Another way to break into the job market in Australia is to start your own business. A great deal of assistance is provided by all levels of government for business startups. The Business.gov.au webpage offers you access to all the government information, forms and services you will need. This government resource provides essential information on planning, starting and growing your business.
You can also work remotely for an employer abroad, or you could study at a university. You may also be interested in doing some volunteer work in an area of interest to you while you wait. This will ensure that there are be no sizeable gaps in your resume. Check out the Alternative Opportunities section of My Briefcase on the Passport Career webpage to read more about these options!
Finally, you also need to realize that like your home country, the city in which you first arrive may not be the best city for you. For example, if you want to focus on the public sector or on government-related positions, Canberra may offer you better opportunities than Brisbane or Perth. Likewise, you may discover that your dream job abroad is suddenly not for you. If things are not working out, consider looking around. Moving within Australia from city to city is not difficult. There are thousands of opportunities out there and if you keep trying, you will find some positions that will be right for you.
For additional information on various aspects of immigration to life and work in Australia, research the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship webpage.
Compiled by Lucia Kolaja Bordean, Program Specialist, Passport Career
Edited by Meg Wallace, Social Media Manager and Research Consultant, Passport Career
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HOW TO FIND A JOB IN AUSTRALIA OR OTHER COUNTRIES?
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GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR TRANSITION!