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Searching a Job in Australia – The Advice I Never Asked For – Part 2


In a previous blog “The Advice I Never Asked For – Part 1” I wrote about How people love to give unsolicited advice based on what they’ve *heard*, and how that can misguide people before migrating. I compared the advice I got before migrating to Australia with what the reality is to help people get the real picture. So, let’s continue with a very important advice related to getting a job (which is the fundamental reason for migration for most).

I am asked this question a lot “How do we search for a job?” or “How is the job market in Australia”. So here is a comparison of what people said, and some tips on how to search and prepare yourself to look for jobs in Australia.

Horrible Advice/Statements: “Go and get an odd-job first, it’s really hard to get a professional job there” and “I heard it’s really easy to get a job there, you’ll be fine” (Both direct conflicts)

Don’t blindly believe any of the above. There are a lot of factors that influence this. Let’s break this down into pieces. 

“Get an odd job first”: If you are a professional who is migrating to Australia, then getting an odd job just after coming here is one of the worst things you can do. Why? Here’s why:

You are committed. You lose focus. You may miss interviews because you have to work. You may not have the energy to search and apply for professional jobs once you get back from work. 

I’ve done this during my time at University in UK. I’ve worked in KFC and Subway, and due to that I became lazy in applying for professional jobs. However since I was a student at that time, so it was fine. But this is a rabbit hole you won’t be able to come out of, I have witnessed this happen to quite a few people I know.

“It’s really hard to get a professional job there”: Yes and no. If you’re migrating on a Skilled Migrant Visa, that means there are job opportunities for your field here. However in any other circumstances where you don’t have a professional skill, yes, it’s going to be difficult, but that’s not limited to Australia, that’s the reality of how the whole world works. This piece of advice totally depends on “You” and how confident you are about your skills. 

“I heard it’s really easy to get a job there”: This relates to the previous point. Like I said, this completely depends on your skills. Let’s break down some important points that relate directly to what your chances are in getting a job:

English language proficiency:

Your grammar, spoken, and written English matter equally. I’ve seen a lot of resumes and cover letters here that have basic grammatical mistakes and I simply skipped them. Then after interviewing people when I was asked for feedback, there were so many times I had to say “He/she is good technically, but communication skills might be a problem”, and they were simply skipped.

If you’re in Australia, you need to be good at their national language, and if you lack that, yes, you’re going to have a problem, there is a lot of emphasis on “good team communication” here, and if your English is not good, you’re going to struggle and unfortunately this advice does not apply to you.

Good resume and Portfolio: Not having a good resume is also a huge issue. You have 10 seconds to hook the viewer, and that’s easier said than done. Do some research, seek advice from people working here. As for a portfolio, have a look at my blogs “Importance of an Online Portfolio and How to Create One” and “What to put in an Online Portfolio”. Having a portfolio helps A LOT, trust me.

Interview Skills: Once you secure an interview, it all boils down to your skills, confidence, and how you present yourself. If you fail, learn from it, don’t take it personally and get depressed. When I was searching for jobs here, I failed quite a few interviews, but I learnt from each and every one of them. I used to ask for feedback, analyze what went wrong, and what I needed to work on. I spent countless hours doing self learning just so I can add the latest techniques to my resume, and be able to answer questions regarding them, that’s how I got my next job. You need to be prepared to do all of this, because nothing is given to you without your own hard work, and in the end, it pays off!

The Reality and Preparation

It’s not impossible, and it’s not easy to get a job in Australia either. References don’t work here like they do in Pakistan, it is all dependant on your skills. Analyze yourself, YOU should decide whether it will be easy, or hard for you to get a job here. Here are a few tips on what you need to do to research this:

  • Go to seek.com.au (there are other sites as well, but I’ve always used Seek) and search for a job that’s relevant to your field. Read the job descriptions, extract the most common and emphasized things.
  • Once you get an idea of what your salary might look like (based on the research from the previous point), use a Salary Calculator tools like this one to see how much tax will be deducted, and what you will get in hand. This will further help you decide what sort of job descriptions you should narrow down based on the mentioned pay and your desired income, this will mould your resume and portfolio.
  • If you are migrating, Don’t apply for jobs before you’re here!. Reason being your phone number will be of overseas and this is also another reason why candidates are skipped. Even if you write in your CV/Cover letter that you’ll be migrating soon, if your phone number is an overseas number, chances are very high that you’ll be skipped. A lot of people say that start applying a little while before you go there, NO, don’t waste a job application by applying when you’re not here yet, come here, then apply, because a lot of the times the interview calls are just a few days away and they need people right away.
  • You can contact different recruiters in different cities on LinkedIn, give them your details, tell them that you’re migrating soon, and contact them once you’re here. Instead of applying directly for positions, do this if you want to start the process before you arrive. Recruiters will keep your details, because they want their commission. This will also give you an insight in what the demand of your skills might be, and you can use that to better prepare yourself.
  • Get reference letters from your current and previous employers. A reference/experience letter from your previous employer is required at the final step (usually once you receive an offer from a company. The recruiter or the company HR departments needs them). At the very least, you need to have contact details for 2 references. I had reference letters from all my previous employers which had brief information of all the projects I had worked on. They were very helpful, have them made before you come with contact details so they can be contacted to verify.
  • Don’t put too much in your CV. The problem is a lot of people add too many things in their CV hoping that something might click. Unfortunately this is a huge downer, and a sign that the candidate is trying too hard and will not actually know the written things. Or it can also mean that the candidate is a Jack of all trades master of none. You’ll be asked about things in your CV, asked to give examples of them, explain them in “your own words”. This is something I cannot emphasize enough on. Keep it short, crisp, too the point, and highlight your strengths that you KNOW you can talk about, if you get asked something you don’t know about, tell them you don’t know, it’s OK. Don’t overdo it, it’s fatal, and a huge demotivation and gives a bad impression of you.

Persistence and staying focused no matter how many times you fail is the key, as long as you keep learning from each failure and improving yourself. I hope this advice helps someone, even if it helps one person, I’ll count that as a Win! 🙂

Author Details
Software Engineer
Father, Husband, Blogger, and the most sarcastic guy you’ll meet!

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