How do you get a job in Australia?

That’s one of the most common questions I get these days from readers of this blog. It’s a little bizzare for me to be asked this question because just a few weeks ago I was asking the same question. And suddenly, I’m on the other side. It’s really weird.

I wish I can give you a definite answer, but the truth is there’s no  guarantee that you can get a job in “x” amount of time if you follow steps A, B and C. However, you can improve your chances of getting a job if you follow certain steps. Notice the difference?

I can only share with you what I’ve done and hope that it would help you in some way. Frankly, I have no idea how in the world I ended up getting interviews for the two jobs I saw in Seek. I only applied for these two jobs, by the way. I will tell you honestly – I give all credit to God who proved that a miracle like this is possible.

But here’s what I can recommend that you do:

1. Research how to write a good Australian resume.

Holy crap there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. Try to research before coming over to Australia so you’ll save time trying to learn it while you’re in Oz. Two books that I found helpful are:

  •  The Secrets to getting a Job by Philip Garside (I wrote my cover letter based on this book, and the first company I applied to said that my cover letter stood out, so he must be doing something right.)
  • Australian Resumes for Dummies – One of the most detailed books about resume writing I’ve seen. Reading it you’ll realise how mind bogglingly complex Australian resumes are. If you want to apply for government jobs you better make sure you read this bible!

Of course, don’t forget friends who have gotten a job in Australia. I had a few dear friends who helped me out immensely here. So tap their wisdom if you can.

2. Don’t just rely on

Probably contradictory coming from me since I got my job via Seek, but networking is really important. Read Cracking the Hidden Market will give you ideas and tactics to use. I got my first two casual jobs through friends and recommendations by the way.

3. Don’t think that any job is beneath you or above you.

I know this may sound contradictory, but here’s this: You’d notice in Australian ads that they have a list of skills or job requirements. (By the way, you need to prove, in your resume, that you meet all requirements.) A lot of times you may not have ALL the job requirements. However, don’t ditch that ad – apply for it anyway. You may never know. A friend of mine told me that many Malaysians wouldn’t even bother trying if they think the job is not a good fit. But you can never know. Heck, the job I applied for – I couldn’t meet all the requirements, but I applied for it anyway because it didn’t hurt to try. In the end I was rewarded for it!

Anyway, on the other side of the coin, don’t feel upset if you get a job “beneath” you. (Wah! I used to be a VP and now I’m just a clerk.) Every job experience counts in Oz, and over time you’ll have a different attitude about work. Work will be less about status and more about a way to enable you to live your lifestyle.

4. Have a good and positive attitude

Because that will impact how you interview. A dejected and dispirited person interviews badly. A bitter one interviews horribly. Be positive (gosh I know it’s hard when you want a job so badly and you don’t want your hopes to be squashed like a wet sponge under a tractor) and be interested.

Although I didn’t get the job at the first company I applied to, they said I interviewed well. I am really glad that my previous job in Malaysia trained me to think on my feet. And because I had to talk to intimidating/powerful/eccentric people all the time, I’m not easily frightened by these kind of situations. I’m able to come up with questions and answers just like that. I am so, so, so grateful for my job experience in Malaysia!

Okay, okay, so what if you don’t have my kind of job experience?

5. Write out your answers.

The first book, The Secrets of Getting a Job, is pretty good at explaining the interview process and how to answer the common questions thrown at you. Practise saying your answers in a confident, cheerful manner until its second nature. Pronunciation is really important so make sure that you speak slowly and clearly. Malaysians tend to speak too fast!

6. Most of all, have a little faith

Faith in your abilities and faith in God – to be honest, it’s my faith in God that carried me through, that He has me in the palm of His hands. I constantly remind myself that all things work out for good, even bad things and treat everything as an experience rather than a trial. This attitude will carry you far in Australia. Even if you “fail” so to speak, you would’ve done what so many people had not dared to do: Took a gamble to change your life. It shows what kind of person you are – really tough, courageous and very different from the 99% who think about changing their lives and never do anything to change it.

(In the future, when I have the time, I hope to go deeper into the technical bits such as writing a resume and cover letter and interviewing well.)


17 thoughts on “How do you get a job in Australia?

  1. Hi, Susan! Always looking forward to read your posts. By the way, do you know whether it is a must to have a degree to apply for executive jobs in Adelaide?
    Ai Rin

    • Frankly Airin, I’m not sure! But over here it’s not whether you have a degree but WHAT kind of qualifications you have. A lot of times certificates from Tafe carry more weight here and if you have a degree from a non-Australian uni they may not recognise it. I don’t know why it works this way. Oz is nutty like that.

  2. Hi susan,

    what you wrote are what I have learned after many years being in Germany – and I echo your statement – you will be rewarded 🙂 will start my next phase next year – back in Malaysia 🙂 God has been good and the next job is already waiting there.

    • Back in Malaysia?? And now I’m in Australia. Dang! I hope you come down under one day. Yes, God is really good, isn’t He?

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  9. Hey Susan, your tips on OZ has been very inspiring. I will contact you through email personally soon in order to get more useful information 🙂

  10. Hi Susan, that’s helpful insight. And since it’s already 2015, I’m really looking forward to the post that “go deeper into the technical bits such as writing a resume and cover letter and interviewing well”….haha…much appreciated.

  11. Dave I plan to interview a more knowledgeable guy about this as I am no expert! Waiting for his reply now 😉

  12. Hi Susan,

    I’ve been reading your blog for couple of years and found it really helpful. Thank you. I’ve been down under for approximately 10 weeks and am actively looking for a job. It didn’t go well but I remembered you wrote about getting a job in Australia, so I followed your advice and borrowed the ‘Australian Resume for Dummies’ from the library and totally reconstructed my resume and cover letter. I was contacted to attend an interview!

    So I borrow more books from the library to get myself prepared for interview but am not sure about dress code. I am applying for a creative role in a union. In my past positions in Malaysia I practically either wear T-shirt and jeans to work, or in uniforms. I am not sure whether trousers are appropriate or not and is it a must to wear a suit to an interview? What about make-up? I am in dilemma because I hardly wear make-up all my life. I hope you can give me some advice. Thanks a lot!

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