Getting a job abroad is a fantastic way to integrate, meet new people and develop new skills that will, in turn, prove incredibly beneficial when you apply for jobs in your home country or elsewhere abroad.

In Australia, job hunting can be fierce competition, with often many stages and hurdles before you even get an interview. These suggestions will help you not only present yourself in a brighter light but will also demonstrate to your potential employer why you’re the perfect candidate for the job.

Step 1: Understand your work rights as an international student in Australia

International students in Australia, on a valid student visa, can work for up to 40 hours per fortnight while classes are in session and unlimited hours when class is not in session. Hours of work that are required as part of your studies will not count towards your ’40 hours’ and most volunteer and unpaid work are ok too (be sure to check conditions here). If you choose to break these restrictions you are at risk of having your visa cancelled. Find out more information on work restrictions for your visa here.

Step 2: Do your research

We cannot stress this enough! Make sure you fully understand what the role entails and what the company does. This will make your application easier to assemble and will make it easier when it’s time for the interview. Each application should be specifically tailored to the role you are applying for, don’t make it generic. Employers are looking for candidates that have a true desire to work with them and aren’t just submitting 100 applications randomly.

TIP! Try your hardest to find out the name of the person who will receive your application and formally address the application to them, rather than ‘To whom it may concern’. 

Step 3: Read and address the job advertisement/description carefully

There are four main parts to any job description. Your application should address each one and articulate, using examples, how you fulfil each of these.

1. Values: How the employer works and what it expects of its employees. Check that you are comfortable with these.
2. Accountabilities: The day-to-day responsibilities and duties of the role. Your previous work history should have skills and experiences that are transferrable to this role.
3. Key Selection Criteria: Often listed in the job description, these outline the qualities, knowledge and skills required for the role. Include specific examples or situations where you have demonstrated the qualities they are seeking.
4. Qualifications: Sometimes specific qualifications will be required and form part of the screening process for the employer.

Step 4: Make a Resume and Cover Letter that gets the right attention

TIP! Ensure you submit these as PDFs to avoid any weird formatting errors.

  • Resume: Your job history, starting with the most recent. Keep the descriptions short, to the point and relevant to the job you are applying for. Format the layout to your own unique, professional style so that it won’t look like others. We have created a free resume template for you to use here!
  • Cover Letter: Clear, concise and easy to read; try and keep this shorter than one page. This is essentially a letter directed to the person responsible for hiring and will describe a little bit about yourself, why you would like to work with the prospecting employer and explain how you align with each of the selection criteria. Some extra tips on writing a good cover letter can be found here.

Step 5: After you submit your application, follow it up

Put yourself in their shoes; the employer has to filter through an abundance of applications often on top of their usual workload. Make finding you easier and you’ll stand more of a chance. Call them and be friendly, it shows that you are eager and have initiative. Australian’s appreciate people who are driven and determined.

Step 6: Prepare for the interview

So you got the interview. Well done!

You may encounter a broad range of interview styles. From casual lunches to phone interviews to group interviews, the most important thing is to be prepared, be positive and be yourself. Find more information on common interview questions here.

Situational/Behavioural Questions: These are one of the most common forms of interview questions. You will be asked to demonstrate your competency for a task by describing a time in which you handled something similar in the past. Take your time to answer the questions properly; we suggest using the STAR approach when responding to ensure your answers are structured, don’t miss out on key elements and finish strong.

S – Situation: Where and when you had the relevant experience.
T – Task: What was required of you for this experience.
A – Action: What you actually did in this instance.
R – Result: How the situation played out and was benefitted by your action.

Here’s an example of what we’re talking about:

Interviewer – “tell me about a situation where you provided excellent customer service”

You –  (Situation) “At my previous employer, XYZ, I took a call from a disgruntled customer who was upset that it had taken us so long to reply to her enquiry. (Task) I apologised, quickly looked up her details and confirmed the issue with her. (Action) After establishing that his transaction with us had been incorrectly processed, I assessed the degree to which he had been infringed and assured to call him back within the hour. I then explained the situation to my manager and proposed a remedy to which she agreed. I quickly called the customer back and explained how I was resolving the issue and to see if she felt it was adequate. (Result) The customer was extremely happy with the way I handled the situation.”

Step 7: Do the work behind the scenes

Find out when they plan to make their hiring decision. This will provide you with a timeline and you can follow up if you have not heard anything since the meeting.

If successful, the employer may wish to speak to people who can validate your credentials; these are known as your referees (it’s a good idea to include these on the end of your resume). Have at least two people ready who will be able to speak positively about you in a relevant and occupational sense, don’t choose friends.

Further help on the application process can be found at…
Seek – Advice and tips
Any of the State Government Careers Websites – This is for Victoria but is useful across the entire nation.
Employability websites such as – Live in Victoria
Learn how to avoid common resume mistakes here

Places to find work:

Seek – more professional
Indeed – professional and casual
GradConnection – Graduate programs and internships
LinkedIn – professionals
Facebook – search for groups such as “Melbourne Bartender Exchange” for hospitality (or other) jobs in your area.
OneShift – Highly recommended – this is a really good source that pairs you up with prospecting employers.
Spotjobs – Highly recommended – Great for part time work.

Good luck!