In this guide, our goal is to help you find a job in Australia when you’re a foreigner. Maybe you still haven’t left your country, and you’re looking for ways to find work in Australia? Or maybe you’re a working holiday maker or a backpacker?
If you’re a backpacker or Working holiday maker in Australia, visit our backpacker job board to find work opportunities.
Now, read our tips…
You will definitely need a work visa to get a job in australia and settle there
You need the right visa to work in Oz, or else you’ll be sent back to your country! Your visa will depend on your individual situation: are you a single individual or do you have a family? Which country are you coming from? Are you qualified and can you apply for a job in a field that’s in demand in Australia?
How to get more information about visas in Australia?
You should visit the Australian Department of Immigration website to see the different types of visas available and read more about eligibility and requirements: www.immi.gov.au/immigration.
Some of the requirements are:
- Evidence of available funds
- Skills and qualification assessments
- Health insurance
- Police checks
- English language testing
For some visas, you will need to already have an open Australian bank account.
What to do first?
Are you a bit confused? Don’t worry, it’s absolutely normal! Immigration can be a real pain in the b… You should first try the Visa Finder (or Visa Wizard) on the Department of Immigration website. You’ll have to enter information about your status and circumstances, and the Finder/Wizard will then give you more information about which visa is right for you. The most common migration categories to live and work in Australia are skilled migration, study migration and family migration.
What rights will my visa grant me?
Each visa category grants different rights and conditions. You should be very careful: some visas don’t allow visitors to work or they have restrictions on healthcare. You could possibly hire a lawyer or migration agent to help you find the right visa, but first check their credentials to avoid scammers.
Want to become an Australian Citizen?
That would be great, right? Some visas are the first step on the pathway to australian citizenship. You can find more information about australian citizenship here: http://www.citizenship.gov.au/
Types of visas
The 2 most common visas are the temporary work skilled visa subclass 457, and the skilled independent visa subclass 189 (or 190):
- The 457 visa allows a skilled worker to work in Australia in a nominated occupation approved by a sponsor for up to four years, providing that the sponsor is an approved business
- The 189 visa is for skilled workers who are not sponsored by an employer or family member or nominated by a state or territory government (you get the 190 visa if you are nominated by a state or territory).
You can also apply for a Work Holiday Visa (WHV, subclass 417) if you come from an eligible country. UPDATE: In April 2017, the Prime Minister of Australia cancelled the 457 visa and replaced it with the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (TSS), which will involve a smaller number of occupations in the list of jobs required in Australia, and which will be of two kinds: A short-term visa for a maximum of 2 years, and a medium-term visa for a maximum of 4 years. More info here.
Tax in Australia
All workers in Australia must pay tax. The amount of tax depends on your salary. You can find more information here: http://www.ato.gov.au/ You must also get a Tax File Number (TFN). This unique number identifies your tax records and you need it to work in Australia. To check how to get one visit: http://www.ato.gov.au/
Finding a job in Australia when you’re a foreigner
Australia’s unemployment rate is very low thanks to its dynamic economy. As for wages, they are generally higher than in most other countries, and certainly much higher for certain trades. Are you wondering if it’s hard to find a job in Australia ? Let’s say that it depends on your motivation and your willpower. Obviously, networking with people, the place where you are, and the type of job you are looking for are also factors to consider.
You can try looking for qualified jobs (new technologies, finance, medicine, etc.) related to your field but you may find it harder to find than small jobs. In fact, it all depends on your goal, whether you’re a working holiday maker or backpacker who just wants to save a little bit of money and travel (short term jobs), or if you want to be hired for a long term job and stay in Australia.
I’m talking about working in hotels and catering (waiter jobs, kitchen assistant, barman, barista, maid, receptionist, etc.). It is one of the sectors that employs the most foreigners in Australia, especially during the summer season. Having a previous experience is not always essential but highly desirable (you don’t want to drop your clients’ plates on them or forget their order !) It is advisable to have a good level of English, especially when you interact with clients and welcome them. Some regions / trades require one or more work certificates to get a job. Salary: about 16 to 28 AU gross per hour as of 2017 when you work in shops, supermarkets, bakeries etc.
If you want to work in sales, you won’t be asked for a certificate but you will need a good level of English in order to communicate with the customers. You’ll usually work as a salesperson and / or cashier. Salary: about AU$16 to 25 gross per hour.
It’s not the most glamourous job ever, but you have a very good chance to find a job as a factory worker. Packaging and unpacking boxes, assembling equipment, packaging food, cutting meat or fish, etc. could be a good opportunity for you to earn money. It all depends on the products processed by the factory you are working in. The positives? Salaries in that industry are quite good, and your level of English does not really matter. On the other hand, working conditions can be difficult (carrying heavy loads, cold temperatures, repetitive movements, etc.) and you will have to get used to the schedules (day or night). Salary: about AU$16 to 24 per hour.
Tradie/construction jobs such as mason, carpenter, plumber, painter, roofer, electrician, etc.
Construction is a thriving sector in Australia and special skills are very much appreciated! It is a great opportunity to get a good salary, to find work easily and to work outdoors. If you do not really have any experience but are good with your hands, don’t hesitate to try your luck! Although in general, you will need some certifications to be able to work in that field. Salary: about AU$19 to 40 per hour, or even more! Salaries can be huge in the Outback !
Working as an au pair
Working as an au pair means living in a family where you’ll help by taking care of the children, but also by cleaning and cooking. You are lodged and fed, which saves you from spending your savings. The pay you get often depends on the means of the family you are living with. This is a good way to immerse yourself in the lives of Australians and speak English.
Other jobs : Babysitting, language classes, flyers distribution, car washing, telemarketing, cleaning, gardening, events, etc.
There are a multitude of other small jobs easily accessible to foreigners, working holiday makers and backpackers! Be creative and look everywhere, especially where other foreigners haven’t looked! You can also find work in areas such as IT, finance, data processing, the medical field, etc. However, you will need specific qualifications and a very good level of English. Some trades will also ask you to pass an Australian qualifications recognition certificate. This is worth the effort for those with special skills / diplomas and it’s a great opportunity to be able to work in your field of predilection!
You may be asked to train to obtain a specific diploma or certificate that will allow you to find work more easily. This can take one afternoon or one to two days and is easily obtained. Be aware, however, that each state has its own legislation, so you may have to get a new certification again if you move to another Australian state.
RSA Certificate (Responsible Service of Alcohol)
This certification allows you to occupy positions where you must serve alcohol. You can’t do it online for the state of Victoria, you have to go to a class (from 3 to 4 hours). Same thing for New South Wales (about 6 hours) and for Tasmania.
But if you already hold an RSA from another state, you have the option of updating it online so that you do not have to pass it again for the states of Victoria, NSW and Tasmania. The RSA is mandatory in all Australian states, and sometimes it has to be re-examined because the laws are not the same in each state.
Here are a few websites to get the certification online when it’s allowed :
The RSA certificate usually costs between 40 and 160 AU $, depending on the city and the package you choose.
RCG Certificate (Responsible Conduct of Gambling)
Allows you to work in the field of gambling and betting (casinos, gambling halls, etc.). You can obtain it online or in a classroom. You can register on the websites mentioned above to get it online when it’s allowed. This certificate costs around 80 AU $ but it may vary because many organizations offer to obtain it at the same time as the RSA.
Allows you to work in cafes and coffee chains, by learning all the techniques to prepare coffee, cappuccino, espresso, latte, etc. You study in a classroom and it takes between 3 and 4 hours.
Here is a school where you can go :
The diploma costs between 100 and 120 AU $, sometimes more depending on the package chosen.
Allows you to work behind a bar and serve alcohol. Of course, you must also pass the RSA beforehand. Some organizations offer to obtain the RSA, RCG and Bar Skills together in one package. Such a course can last from half a day to a full day and costs between 100 and 130 AU $.
Food Hygiene Procedures
Allows you to work in the food industry and to demonstrate your knowledge of strict safety and hygiene rules. Some companies may ask you to start this training but it is quite rare. The course usually lasts half a day and costs between 80 and 100 AU $.
Compulsory to work in construction. Valid throughout Australia. It can take place online (3 or 4 hours) or in a group (one day). Choose an organization to train that’s based where you are. Costs between 40 and 80 AU $ but the prices can sometimes go up to 130 AU $.
Learn how to operate a forklift, which is a significant advantage on your resume for certain jobs (factory and construction jobs in particular). Not compulsory but makes it easier to find work. Training can last from one to two days depending on your previous experience. Costs between 400 and 500 AU $.
Blue Card (traffic control course)
Allows you to work as a traffic controller, a well paid job! You must first get a White Card but you can obtain both at the same time with some organizations. Training lasts approximately one day (6 to 7 hours). Costs between 140 and 170 AU $. Good to know: always consider choosing a training organisation that’s certified by the state in which you are.
Many organizations offer discounts for all these courses, and prices vary enormously from one place to another. Once you get your certificate or diploma, don’t forget to specify it on your resume so that employers can see it !
When you’re looking for a job in Australia, you must be motivated and very patient. It can take time to find work, so don’t dispair if you can’t get a job straight away. Your level of English and previous professional experience will obviously play a role. Do not hesitate to try your luck everywhere, to knock on doors and tell people around you that you’re looking for a job.
The first thing you should do is to visit Australian job boards. The 4 best ones are:
Some of these websites also give information about salaries, and can help you get the right education if you need new skills to succeed in Australia.
You can also visit buy and sell websites such as Gumtree to find backpacker/working holiday type jobs.
Don’t forget to submit your CV to recruitment agencies and to consult their websites. Check for instance :
Armed with your resume and your best smile, go around restaurants, bars, shops, etc. to ask if they need your help. Be on the lookout as some establishments seeking staff stick job ads on their shop windows. Try to hand your resume directly to the manager, if possible. If he/she isn’t there, you can come back or hand your resume to an employee, although it’s not ideal. Also check inside Internet cafes, information centers, supermarkets and hostels where job ads are often posted. Generally speaking, when you are submitting your CV door-to-door, you should try to time things perfectly. Don’t go during their lunch break or on a Saturday afternoon when they’re very busy. Try to brush up your English if it’s not your first language because someone might want to interview you straight away or simply ask you a few questions about your previous experience, etc.
You will find many job offers in newspapers. Check :
Networking to find a job is very important. People around you may know about a job opening that would be perfect for you !
-Work on your English to optimize your chances (unless it’s your mother tongue).
-Do not wait until you no longer have any money to start to look for a job.
-Don’t look for jobs only in big cities. Small towns and suburbs see fewer working holiday makers or backpackers asking for work and this is where you can sometimes find it.
-Be positive, look motivated, confident, smile and make a good impression.
-Write a good resume and cover letter !
Consider asking campgrounds, gas stations, beach life guards organisations, night clubs and other similar places if they have a job for you. Do not restrict yourself to the main sectors and look everywhere. Look also in mining, because these jobs are extremely well paid. If you do not have any specific skills, you can find small jobs in cleaning or cooking for example. If you are applying for a skilled job and are being asked to get qualifications recognition, go here.
In Australia, a CV is called a resume. If possible, try to write your resume on one page. You should:
-Write your personal Information (“Contact Details”) : First name, last name, address, telephone number, email address.
-Add a short, relevant introduction sentence in relation to the job.
-Highlight the skills you have and adapt what you’re writing according to the job you’re applying for.
-Add your professional experience (“Professionnal Experiences”) the dates, names of companies, positions held and descriptions of the different tasks carried out.
-Add your diplomas/degrees with dates, names of diplomas or degrees, establishments (city, country).
-References (“Referees”) : Former teachers, employers, etc. Choose people who know your abilities in this field of work and who are available in case your potential employer contacts them.
Tips for your resume
-No need to specify your age, marital status or to put a picture, this can be considered discriminatory.
-Avoid writing that you are on a working holiday visa if that’s the case. You should say it during the interview instead.
-Make sure to translate your diplomas if you didn’t get them in an English speaking country.
-Do not hesitate to detail as much as possible the skills and professional experiences you’ve got.
-Check your spelling and grammar.
-Don’t forget to write your address, email and phone number.
In Australia, a cover letter is the letter you email for an internship or job when a job offer was made public on a website like Seek or Indeed, or in a newspaper.
This cover letter must be:
- Targeted to the specific job described in the ad
- Personalized: you must tailor it to a specific person in the company
- Sent with your CV
You must adapt your CV and cover letter to the job ad. You must prove that you have the skills and competencies that are required for the job. You must also be honest: you can’t invent skills that you don’t have, or your potential employer will find out very quickly.
A motivation letter isn’t like a cover letter in Australia. You send a motivation letter or spontaneous application letter when you try to get a job in an Australian company that didn’t specifically publish an ad for this job, or if you want to work as a volunteer in an organisation, for instance.
Australian companies rarely answer these applications, unfortunately.
Here is a very good Australian cover letter example for a chef in a restaurant. You can also find other examples of covers letters here. You can definitely send a CV and cover letter for a job in Australia even if you don’t live there. If you have the right skills, an employer might want to sponsor you.
What should you indicate in your Australian cover letter ?
The header must include :
- Your first name, last name, address, phone number, email and maybe LinkedIn profile too. Don’t forget to write your recipient’s name with Mr/Ms/Mrs…, the recipient’s title in the company, and his/her address
- Today’s date
- The object (Reference line). For instance: “Application for Marketing Coordinator position”
Body of the letter :
- The usual way to address the recipient : “Dear Mrs Williams”… “Best Regards”
- 4 to 5 paragraphs indicating :why you’re sending this cover letter (you’re answering the ad that was published in…), why your skills are a good fit for the job, what competencies you have that make you the best candidate, your secondary competencies, and when are you available for an interview.
- Your signature
Style, formatting etc.
- Don’t forget to write in British English. Never use US English to get a job in Australia!
- Write with a normal font like Arial or Tahoma, size 10-12. The best idea would be to have a cover letter on one page only. People have no patience nowadays!
- Separate each section in different paragraphs.
- Don’t use the word “I” too much.
- Check your spelling and grammar with software such as Grammarly.
- Try to not repeat the same words all the time. Try to find synonyms
- Australian cover letter and resume guidelines
- Australian cover letter: The Good And The Bad
- Australian cover letter examples
Try to read about the company before your interview. You should also:
- Be relaxed. Maybe meditate before the interview, do something you enjoy or spend some quality time with your friends to feel good about yourself
- Try to have a few answers ready for the usual questions an interviewer might ask you
- Wear nice clothes. Don’t go to the interview bare feet or wearing flip flops
- Be polite. Say Hello, Thank you etc. This can give you the edge over other candidates
- Be self confident. Show the interviewer that you know what you want, and that you have the right skills and motivation for the job. You must really make him/her want to contact you again to offer you the job
Don’t hesitate to call or email the employer to see how your application is going. This will show that you’re very motivated
- If they decide to not hire you, ask them why. This can be very useful feedback for your next application
- Continue applying for other jobs. You’re not sure that this particular company is going to hire you, so you have to be proactive and look for other opportunities while you’re waiting for their answer
- Be patient. There’s no use stressing over things. Worrying won’t help you get a job! Meditate or read a book instead.
The minimum wage is set by a governmental agency: Fair Work Australia. Do not hesitate to contact them if you need advice or if you have a problem with an employer. The minimum wage in Australia is 17.70 AU $ per hour or 672.70 AU $ per week (calculated on the basis of a 38-hour week before taxes). You have the same rights as Australian citizens, so you are not supposed to be paid less than that amount. However, know that this rule sometimes varies, if for example you work in fruit picking and you are paid for the amount of fruit you picked up.
Sometimes, an employer may also try to offer you a lower salary. It’s up to you to accept or not! The lucky ones can also come across a job that pays much more than specified above (in construction for example). Check the rates and information on the Fair Work website.
List of sectors that recruit the most: – Tourism – hospitality – gastronomy – Health – Mining and agriculture – Industry – Metallurgy – Public works – Sales / Retail- High Tech – Services
Pitfalls to avoid
Be wary of job ads that seem a little too perfect. The ads offering a great job, a great atmosphere and an extraordinary salary without really saying what the job is about. If you think a job is illegal or even worse, don’t even think about accepting this offer !
-Never give your personal information (passport number, visa number, etc.) to an employer via the internet or by phone. Everything must be done in person with legal documents.
-When you apply via a recruitment/temp agency, make sure that they’re approved by the state.
-During an interview, your mission, salary and working conditions must be described clearly. If this is not the case or if you have a doubt, run away.
Fruit picking is very popular with working holiday makers and backpackers. You work in a farm or in a field, and the job you get depends on the weather, where you are and the current season. You don’t need previous experience, nor a high level of English. You are mostly asked to be resourceful and in good physical shape. You generally work outdoors (except for packing) and it can be a very interesting experience. It allows you to find work while travelling and to meet other foreigners in Australia. It also gives you the possibility to get a second year visa if you’re on a working holiday visa.
But working outdoors can also be hard when it’s very hot or rainy outside. Some tasks can be tiring, repetitive and painful in the long run, and your compensation can vary a lot, especially if it is performance-based, because it will depend on your efficiency.
Picking up certain fruit or vegetables requires more efforts than others. You may be asked to “pick” all fruits or choose them according to their appearance. It can be taxing for your back, and sometimes you might get bitten by insects !
Packing consists in selecting, sorting and packing the fruit and vegetables that have been picked up. It’s quite a repetitive job. However, you are usually seated and sheltered in a sort of hangar. You get paid hourly or depending on your performance.
You may also be pruning trees and vines. It is a well paid job but it requires a good physical condition.Or you could be planting seeds for future crops of fruit, vegetables or trees. It is often done outdoors but can also be done in a greenhouse or in a hangar.
Fruit picking and farm work tips
- If you don’t like the heat, avoid the Outback. It’s very hot in there!
- Visit the regions where you would like to apply for a job and don’t hesitate to talk to local farmers and recruiters.
- Be prepared. Thousands of young foreigners apply for an Australian working holiday visa, and many of them decide to stay on a second year. You’ll have lots of competition, so try to stay in the closest town or city in advance to be first in line when these farms or companies begin hiring people.
- Once you get a regional farm or fruit picking job, bring insect repellent, sunscreen and anything else you need with you. The nearest town could be miles away, so you might not be able to go shopping for a while!
- While you’re working, collect bank statements, employer references or pay slips to prove you’ve completed the requirement. Then, once you have worked three months, you can begin the process of extending your visa to stay in Australia for another year. Great news!
You don’t need to tell farmers and agricultural labour recruiters that you only want to do the farm work to get a second year visa. If you do, they might think you’re not really motivated by the job and might put your resume at the bottom of the pile. When trying to find a job in Australia, you should always look like you’re very interested in the position you’re applying for. It shouldn’t sound like you’re just doing it for practical reasons.
Never pay money to anybody before you arrive
Lots of scammers tell working holiday makers that they’ll give them a job if they send them a recruiter’s fee, or a month’s rent to stay in the farm’s living quarters etc. When the poor victims try to contact these “recruiters” again to start their job, they realise these companies never existed in the first place…
You can always contact Fair Work Australia to make sure your potential employer is following all the rules and is not a scammer.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE BEING EXPLOITED OR BADLY TREATED
Unfortunately, sometimes working holiday makers and backpackers in Australia are exploited by their employers. Here are a few tips if you’re being mistreated or if you’re not being paid enough money:
- Check websites like Fair Work Australia to see what’s the minimum wage in your sector
- Contact fair work Australia if you have questions or if you realise you’re being exploited
- If your employer does anything illegal (assault you, ask you for sexual favors etc.), don’t hesitate to tell people around you and to contact the local police
You should never accept this type of behaviour, and you should be paid the right amount of money for your hard work.
Volunteer work makes it possible to learn more about Australians and their culture, but also to approach professions that are completely different from what you are used to. There are many organizations and associations in Australia to find this type of job. They may be about animal protection, the protection of the environment, help to the poor, etc. To find out more, you can contact them. Here are some websites:
Voluntary work can help you get a Second Year Visa if you’re on a Working holiday visa, depending on the state where you are and on your field of work. To extend your visa to a second year, you’ll need to find what is called “specified work”.
You’ll need to complete three months (or 88 days) worth of specified work in a regional area of Australia. The easiest work to find will be fruit picking, farm work or horticultural work.
GOOD LUCK !
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