Expats - Increase Your Success in the Australian Job Market

When it comes to moving overseas and finding work, many things will determine your success, but we think the greatest factor is preparation. At OFX, we’ve teamed up with leading professional recruitment consultancy company Michael Page to bring you some solid advice when it comes to looking for work as an expat in Australia. 

Michael Page is part of PageGroup, which helps facilitate matches between job seekers and employers, providing advice on salaries, employment markets and regional information for clients and candidates across more than 30 countries. When you arrive in a new country, it might take a while to truly settle. There are a few things you can do to speed things up and make a truly successful international career move. 

Do you have the right to work? 

It sounds obvious, but before you move to Australia in the hope of finding a job, it’s important you know whether you have the right to work. For example, those with a Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (457), are permitted to work for one employer for up to four years, but this can be significantly shorter if the sponsor is a new business. The Australian Government’s border and visa page has more information on this and a number of other visa types.

Michael Page's Global Opportunities team provides guidance for job seekers moving between Australia, New Zealand and the UK on finding work in a new country. 

How expats can increase their success in Australian job market

Decide when you want to arrive at your new destination 

Many professionals arrive in Australia during the summer, not knowing that December and January are typically slow periods for hiring. Hiring activity tends to pick up again in March. Similarly, many Aussies head over to the UK during the summer months, not knowing that this is when recruitment slows down. Conversely, temporary work may increase to cover employees on their annual leave. 

Transfer your qualifications where needed 

Some qualifications are not recognised in Australia, meaning foreign workers may require additional training to become fully qualified. For example, if you’re a professional in accounting, legal or construction, employers may have particular requirements for local qualifications. These could limit your job opportunities unless you can obtain equivalent qualifications to practice. 

Make financial arrangements 

Moving to Australia will mean exchanging your local currency to Australian dollars, and you’ll want to get as much out of your local currency as possible to make your funds stretch. Once you’ve set up your Australian bank account, send your money with a foreign exchange service to avoid your bank’s high exchange rates and transfer fees. At OFX, not only do we offer highly competitive rates, but we also give you the option to set up regular payments, which automatically transfer your money to your Australian bank account as often as you like (for up to 12 months). 

Get your resume suited to local standards 

Recruiters often make tweaks to candidate resumes to make them more suitable to local employers. Resumes in Australia are usually just a couple of pages and highly geared towards listing past achievements as well as responsibilities. You should also ensure you can provide references in English that can easily be verified, for example, providing a written reference with the referee's contact details so the potential employer can quickly follow up.

Zero in on the job search 

In today’s job market, there is an abundance of strong local candidates. It can be difficult to outperform professionals with a background in their home market. However, all is not lost. A combination of patience and a focused job search can go a long way. When searching and applying, here are some things to keep in mind: 

Research the market 

When you arrive in Australia, it’s advantageous to have an understanding of the company or companies you would like to work for. This may determine which State and area you want to move to. Other questions to ask yourself include: ‘Will it be suitable for my family?’, ‘Where is my industry experience most in demand?’, ‘Is the office relatively easy to commute to?’ Michael Page provides help with this in their City Guides

Be flexible 

Many candidates accept contract or interim roles before finding permanent work in the local market. This may allow you to get your foot in the door and gain more local experience, making you more competitive. 

A word of warning 

Many candidates assume they can shift careers as easily as they can move country, however, this is rarely the case so keep this in mind when considering a career change. Landing a new role in a foreign country can be difficult enough, let alone making a career change simultaneously. To find out how PageGroup’s Global Opportunities team can help your international career move, or for more general information, visit their Global Opportunities page

Finally, here are some additional things to consider for expats planning on working in Australia. 

  • Factor in the shipping of your personal belongings which can be anywhere between 1-3 months. 
  • Consider whether you want to rent or sell your current home. 
  • Remember to change your mailing address across all your correspondences. 
  • Apply for an international driver’s licence. 
  • Depending on your country of origin, you may need travel insurance when visiting Australia. 
  • Prioritise setting up a local bank account (which you can often do from home) and tax file number (TFN) to avoid being heavily taxed on your income. 
  • Research the best superannuation fund for your retirement. You can redeem the super you have accumulated upon leaving Australia.