Getting a job in Australia 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, and there are often many stages and hurdles before you even get an interview. These suggestions will help you not only present yourself in a better light, but they will also demonstrate to your potential employer why you’re the perfect candidate for the role.
Here’s our 7-step guide on how to find a job in Australia.
Step 1: Understand your work rights as an international student in Australia
On a valid student visa, international students in Australia 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 is OK, too (be sure to check conditions here). If you break these restrictions, you are at risk of having your visa cancelled.
Also, make sure you know the minimum wage in Australia. You can find out more here.
Step 2: Do your research
We cannot stress this point enough! Make sure you fully understand what the role entails and what the company does. This will make your application easier to assemble, and you’ll be much better prepared when it’s time for the interview. Don’t make one generic application for all jobs – each application should be specifically tailored to the role you are applying for. Employers are looking for candidates who 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 of any job description. Your application should address each one and articulate how you fulfil each of these, using examples to illustrate your points.
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 get the right attention
- Resume: Also known as a CV, this is an outline of your job history, starting with the most recent role. 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 other resumes.
- Cover letter: This is essentially a letter directed to the person responsible for hiring and allows you to provide a more in-depth description of yourself, detail why you would like to work with the employer and explain how you align with each of the selection criteria. Make your cover letter clear, concise and easy to read, and try and keep it shorter than one page.
TIP! Submit these as PDFs to avoid any formatting errors.
Step 5: After you submit your application, follow it up
Put yourself in your employer’s shoes; they have to filter through an abundance of applications, often on top of their usual workload. If you have not heard back in a week or two after applications close, it is more than OK to make a polite enquiry. It shows that you are eager and have taken the initiative to be proactive. Employers appreciate those 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.
Situational/Behavioural Questions: These are some 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:
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 I would 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: Follow up with the employer
Find out when the employer plans 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 at 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. In other words, don’t choose your friends.
Job websites and portals
We’ve put together a guide to the best places to look if you’re keen to get a job in Australia. Good luck!