Job Hunting in Australia on a Work & Holiday Visa
Job hunting in Australia can be a dream or a nightmare depending on where you are, what you’re looking for, what your skills and experience are, and what your expectations are.
It could take just a couple days to find a job working in hospitality, retail, agriculture, waitressing or bartending (especially rural work), or it could take weeks or months to find the job of your dreams in your field of expertise (but it is possible!).
Where to Look (And What to Look For)
If you are eager to start searching ahead of time, useful resources include:
- SEEK (my preferred job search site)
- careerone (monster)
- Gumtree (basically the Australian version of Craigslist)
TIP: Try searching specifically for temporary/contract and casual jobs, as these may be easier to get given the six-month working restrictions on the Work & Holiday visa.
Gumtree is good for finding jobs if you’re looking for casual, part-time, or retail work. Many of the Gumtree ads are targeted at backpackers, so you will find a lot of those “marketing” jobs (everything from passing out flyers on the street to sales or getting people to sign up for this or that). There are also all kinds of listings for jobs in retail, hospitality, bars/restaurants, call centers, recruitment, a lot of receptionist/secretarial/office jobs, and a variety of other things in a number of fields.
Once you’re in Australia finding a job will be much easier. I still highly recommend the aforementioned sites, but there are plenty of other resources out there.
- Hostel bulletin boards and staff can often be of help.
- Networking and meeting people (both other backpackers and locals) can lead to information on job openings.
- There are also jobs ads in the newspapers (a scant few in Mx, the free paper you can pick up any weekday in the train station) and backpacker magazines found in most hostels.
And there’s always the age-old method of walking around to stores, restaurants, bars, hotels and other places of business asking about openings and handing out your resume.
If you’re not looking to live in a city, fruit picking and other agriculture and farm hand jobs are available all over Oz, and you can find out about them on Gumtree, in hostels, and all over the place if you do a little searching.
Temping and Recruitment Agencies
There’s also temping jobs to be had and lots of recruitment agencies in each city constantly on the look out for receptionists, administrative assistants, accountants, and much more, though you will need to have the right specific skills and experience in most cases.
Creating an Australian Resume/CV
Creating an Australian resume should be a top priority, and something you should start doing before you arrive if you are looking for a mainstream job.
I mostly did a Google search when crafting mine, but there’s obviously some mixed opinions on what to do and not do. Kick out everything you know about American resumes when you’re doing your Australian one.
Forget one page. Long and detailed is where it’s at.
If you have a bit of work experience, you’ll probably find yourself at 3-4 pages. From what I’ve gathered I’d say it’s something like this:
- Basic info and contact details
- Email Address
- (Australian) Address
- Phone Number.
- I recommend also putting key info – name and phone number – in the footer of every page of your resume.
- Objective (optional)
- Profile/Summary and/or a bullet-point list of your Key Strengths.
- Professional History/Work Experience
- Other Skills, Special Achievements
- Other Activities & Interests.
- At least a sentence that references are available upon request.
- Don’t forget to let your references know that people may be contacting them! And be sure to have their email addresses, as with the time difference that is the most likely way they will be contacted.
Customize Your Resume
Make sure to tailor your resume to the specific job you are applying for, whether it is highlighting certain achievements or skills from previous experiences or just rewriting your summary or key skills to emphasize relevant points. And for 90% of jobs you will also need a cover letter, don’t skimp on it.
Utilize Australian Spelling
And be sure to use Australian spelling! Watch those z’s, they probably should be s’s. Don’t forget your ou’s and double-l’s. I have yet to find an ultimate (free) online source for all those words to watch out for, but even just looking on Wikipedia you can get an idea and do a search if you’re not sure. Otherwise, change your spell check to British English (or try Australian but I found it didn’t really correct my Americanized spelling!) and it will do most of the correcting for you.
Once you’ve applied your heart out, you will need to start preparing for interviews. Though in my experience, every interview I did (and in Sydney, I did about six and was offered all but one of the jobs) was pretty informal. I felt overly prepared every time, and the questions were usually pretty basic or it was more of a conversation than anything.
In fact, my most conversational and least formal interview was for the most “big time” job (i.e. real/important – not a whatever retail/call center/envelope stuffer type job) that I interviewed for. So you never know, but it can’t hurt to be prepared.
And you will probably do quite a few group interviews too, so just be sure to smile a lot and try to stand out in a good way. Also, if you’re going through recruiters for very specific-skilled jobs, you may have to take skills tests (i.e. simulation tests on Microsoft Office programs) and could possibly have a more regimented interview process (this was my experience in Perth).
The job search sites mentioned in the beginning can be good resources for all of these matters. I used them in conjunction with some Google searches and felt that I got a good grip on how to go about the job search process.
Direct links to resume/cover letter/interview tools at:
I used this a lot when I was creating my Aussie resume.
After You’re Hired
Once you’ve landed a job, you’ll want to get paid so you’re going to need to provide a few important details. You’ll need your TFN (Tax File Number) and bank details (including account number and type, branch number and address). If you don’t have those yet, read more about getting your TFN or opening a bank account.
You’ll probably also need your passport and contact details for your references if you haven’t supplied them already. If you have a specific superannuation fund you want your super put into (read more about superannuation), you will need to bring those details/forms as well.
Also, in some cases, you may need some kind of proof of your visa (since this is electronically linked, you can either allow them to verify it online or I usually showed a printed copy of my visa confirmation email) and even your university diploma or other certifications you might have.
Hopefully, by now you’ve also got a place to live, but if you’re still crawling out of a hostel bed every morning, check out my tips on finding housing.