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Employment Hacks: What Employers Are Really Looking For in International Students

This article is sponsored by StudyPerth

As an international student, you have many strengths to bring to a workplace. By making the choice to study overseas, you have shown a great deal of courage, openness, ambition and resilience. These are all great traits to have as an employee. But what else are employers looking for? If you’re wondering how to get a job in Australia, then this guide is for you. 

Here are the top seven skills that employers look for in international students. 


Employers will be looking for international students who can speak English confidently. Most employers won’t require you to speak perfect English, but they will be after people who can communicate with their co-workers. 

If you are applying for a customer-facing role, your English speaking skills will be very important to your job. But don’t worry if you don’t feel super confident yet; your speaking skills will improve the more you practise. Make sure you read all of our best tips to get started. 


One of the first things we are taught as children is how to play well with others. This skill is just as important in the workplace as it was on the playground. 

Employers are looking for people who will fit into their team. At some point, you might find yourself working with someone who you struggle to get along with or who happens to approach things differently to you. If you can show them that you have the skills to negotiate conflict and work with people from different backgrounds, then you will be seen as a strong candidate.  

If you’re looking for more tips on how to get a job, including interview advice and LinkedIn hacks, make sure to check out our employment hub.


It’s much easier to do well in a job that you enjoy than in one you don’t. Employers always look for people who are passionate about the job because those people will be more motivated to perform better. When you are looking for work, consider which jobs you might enjoy, because an employer is more likely to employ you if they can see that you’re going to be motivated. For example, if you love being around people, you might enjoy working in hospitality. 

When Catherine Blizard from Dôme Coffees Australia hires a new employee, she looks for people with a genuine passion for hospitality. “We want people that love giving our guests good service and welcoming them into our establishments,” she says.

Similarly, executive director of the Prendiville Group, Warwick Prendiville, also looks for people with enthusiasm for the job, saying, “We really want to nurture people that have the right drive and the right passion.”  

A positive attitude  

Employers will always take notice of your attitude at work. They don’t want an employee who grumbles and complains, because it makes them difficult to work with. Plus, a negative attitude usually puts other people in a bad mood as well. Instead, employers appreciate people who are upbeat and ready to work. Their positive attitude not only makes them easier to get along with, but it also motivates everyone else around them. 

Carl Leembruggen from Perth’s Three Pound Group says that the right attitude is one of the main traits the company looks for when hiring someone. “We’re looking for people that bring the right attitude to whatever it is they might be doing,” he says.

Catherine Blizard, the human resources manager at Dôme Coffees Australia agrees: “We need people that have the right attitude. We can teach everything else.” 


Employers are looking for employees they can rely on. If you’re always late to work and you regularly cancel your shifts at the last minute, then employers will think you don’t value your job. Employers also want to employ people who take their job seriously. A committed employee might sometimes cover someone else’s shift to help out or stay later when it’s busy. These actions show employers that you are committed to your job. 

Jai McNaughton is the talent and culture manager at Accor Hotels. She says, “If you come into our business and you are committed to us, then we are committed to you as well.”

Work ethic  

In Australia, employers really value people who work hard. They don’t want to hire someone who will give up when something is too difficult; they want people who are willing to tackle any challenges that may arise.

You don’t have to be perfect at your job, but you do need to work to the best of your ability. Even if you fail, most employers will value the amount of effort you put in over the outcome. 


If you are applying for a job and you have some work experience, you will likely have an advantage over a candidate who doesn’t. Employers will ideally want people who have experience in a similar role, but having experience in any role is better than having none. Work experience won’t only give you something to talk about in your interview, but it will also make you feel more confident in your next role. 

There are lots of ways to gain work experience. You might find a casual job, volunteer with a charity or undertake an internship in your field.