How to find a job in Australia as a migrant

Have you just moved to Australia, or are you thinking of moving here? Welcome!

If you’ve just moved here, welcome!

If you’re thinking of moving here, it’s a great country!

Either way, the excitement of this new adventure can sometimes be deflated through the challenge of (re-)establishing your career, despite having relevant overseas education and work experience.

In order to increase your chances of finding a job in Australia, it is important to consider the cultural differences which affect getting a job here.

We’ve put together some great tips to help you. More than two-thirds of the team at Jora have a first language other than English, so you can learn from our experiences.

Get Rid of Your own Biases or Misconceptions

Don’t let the following negative beliefs stop you in your job search.

Negative Belief #1: I don’t have local work experience, so I won’t be considered

This may be true in some cases or industries but unless you hear it from a knowledgeable source, it is wiser to not assume so.

However, even if this is the case, it is possible to overcome it. A member of our team received this comment initially, but successfully landed their first Australia-based role. Each role is different, each company is different, and each interviewer is different, so it very much depends on the individual situation.

How to overcome this: If you weren’t successful in the role you applied for, ask the recruiter for a feedback. Don’t assume. Keep your chin up, improve what you lacked, and work on getting better at it.

Negative Belief #2: My poor English is holding me back

This could be true. But we have found that many people underestimate their English ability, and overestimate the job requirements. Basically, if you are comfortable communicating in English, then it shouldn’t be a problem.

There is no better way to improve your English than by immersion in a working environment. So if your other professional skills are good, and people in the company are open-minded enough to give you a chance, your English shouldn’t be an issue in a few months.

If you really feel that language is a problem, you may wish to consider an English Proficiency course.

How to overcome this: First, don’t exclude yourself before you’ve even started.

Secondly, use your native language as an asset, not an issue! Here at Jora, several members of our team got their position precisely thanks to their foreign language skills and overseas experience.

You can use your language as a ‘keyword’ when searching for jobs, for example, here are the jobs for people who can speak French in Australia.

Negative Belief #3: My name clearly indicates I wasn’t born here

This is largely untrue. More than a quarter Australians were born overseas. Australia is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, and one of the most tolerant.

How to overcome this: If you strongly think that your name is hindering you, experiment with a different way of writing your name on CV. For example:

One Jora staff member removed their middle name (it has an accent) and finally got a call for an interview at another company.

Another person we know opted to use her ‘nickname’ that Australian friends gave to her because her real name is impossible to pronounce in English. She finally got a call from an employer.

Whatever the view might be, don’t let yourself be consumed by any of it. It doesn’t help you getting ahead. Have an open mind, roll with it, and if not successful, get a feedback and improve.

Three job search tips for the newly arrived

Now that your head is in the right place, let’s get started with job search again! And here are our tips when searching for jobs:

Focus your job search to the areas you are specialised in or enjoy doing the most.

Our HR consultant sees many instances where someone will apply for ALL the open jobs at a company, even using the same resume and cover letter. This is less effective than focusing on a specific job to which you are most suited.

If you intend to switch industries or job type to something which you have less or no experience in, check out our other articles on switching industries and tailoring your resumes.

Online: Our job search site, Jora, has more jobs than anyone else in Australia. We get these jobs from job boards like SEEK and Gumtree, as well as company and industry websites.

Recruiters: An important thing to note is that recruitment agencies in Australia may function differently from your home country.

Networking: Don’t solely rely on job search websites and recruiters. Get into the network even before you get the job.

There are also many online meet-up groups for expats that you can join to start networking with those who have established their career here. You can use meet-up groups related to career and business to help you out.

Often jobs are not advertised, so networking is one of the most powerful strategies to find work in Australia. – Live In Melbourne

Tip #3: Be patient and have a plan

Last but not least, try to remember that job search is a journey, not a short ride. You need to plan wisely, research diligently and choose carefully.

Also, be aware that some job types or industries may only recruit at specific times of the year. Do your research to understand those cycles.

We hope this gets your mojo going. Are you ready to start your search now?

How to apply for a job in Australia

Consider removing your age, marital status, photo and salary expectations from your CV. Australian recruiters don’t expect these things, and they could even work against you.

Even though you may need to include these things in your home country, recruitment works differently in Australia.

Should I include a photo in my resume?

You certainly don’t want to be perceived as arrogant, but if you are physically attractive and include a photo when one isn’t required, it could backfire. (Regardless if this is potentially a form of discrimination).

Should I include my age in my resume?

As to your age or marital status, questions about those aspects of your private life are illegal during the recruiting process in Australia. This is done to prevent any discrimination.

On the other hand, make sure your contact details are up to date and look professional. Don’t use an email address containing irrelevant / unprofessional words.

Get your resume proofread

Another important point: Get your resume proofread by a native English speaker with good language skills!

‘Poorly written resumes from overseas professionals may fuel employers’ doubts about immigrants’ communication skills.’ – Karalyn Brown

Experience is more important than qualifications

‘Local candidates talk about their experience, achievements and success, while overseas job seekers focus on their qualifications.’

That’s the main difference mentioned by our HR consultant in regards to cultural mismatch. And our colleagues with an Asian background confirm this: there is a high focus on qualifications for Asian job seekers, both in the résumé and the cover letter, simply because that’s what is expected in their countries, be it India, Thailand or even Russia! They refer to it all the time, even if they apply for an entry level position.

While qualifications are still important in Australia, experience is equally or even more important.

‘I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.’ – Confucius

We learn in a much more sustainable way through experience and Aussies seem to have understood that.

Applying for jobs where qualifications are required

Even if the job description explicitly mentions a degree, you shouldn’t focus much on it in your application (with the exception of very specific jobs requiring certifications, like accountant or nurse).

You should rather put the emphasis on your achievements in the relevant field. Where in your previous working history did you successfully demonstrated the required skills?

Use numbered outcomes whenever possible. See the difference in mental images you create when you read the following two sentences:

Applying for jobs where qualifications are NOT required

If you apply for a job that may not require a specific degree / qualification, like cleaner or barista but still mention your degree, you are very likely to be perceived as overqualified (hence not fit for the position as you are likely to be unhappy in this role and aiming for more before long).

So, our advice in this case would be to just remove the information about your degree as it’s irrelevant for this work. Anybody can be in a situation where they need a temporary job to provide for themselves or to keep a regional visa, there is no shame in it. It’s just a stepping stone. But you don’t necessarily want the recruiter to know about it if you really want this job.

However, even for hospitality jobs, some certificates are a pre-requisites if you wish to apply in full-service restaurants (=restaurant serving alcohol); i.e. RSA (Responsible Servicing of Alcohol) certificate, or those from culinary schools such as William Angliss Institute. But definitely, a BA or MA is not required and such a candidate would be viewed as overqualified.

How many jobs should I apply for at once?

You might say to yourself: ‘I shouldn’t be too picky’ and end up applying for multiple roles in the same company. This is definitely not the best strategy! Recruiters can see all the positions you applied for in their Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and they told us:

‘When I see this, the same person applying for a developer, customer support, and marketing analyst position, I wonder what (s)he really wants to do? And I don’t believe the application anymore.’

We don’t doubt you might have all those diverse skills and could do all those jobs - people are increasingly versatile nowadays and switch industries more often. But if your application is too broad, you will suffer from it. What are you really passionate about? What do you want? Find it, then try and personalise your CV so your personality stands out.

Don’t underestimate ‘cultural fit’

Recruiters are increasingly looking for a good cultural fit for the company, so look for opportunities to give the interviewer an idea of what it might be like to work with you and how you could fit into the company culture you previously found out about, e.g. in SEEK company reviews.

To find out if you are at risk of this cultural mismatch, check out your country in comparison with Australia on the Hofstede cultural dimensions theory page.

We suggest you focus initially on the first two dimensions: power distance and individualism:

Once you are aware of these differences, you can prepare for them accordingly. For example, listing your hobbies in your résumé (if you have the space), or preparing for that question in the interview.