Finding a job as an expat in Australia

If you’ve chosen to immigrate to the land down under then there’s a good chance you’ll need to find a job. Luckily for you the Australian economy is relatively stable and is doing quite well despite the global economic crisis. It was one of the first nations to pull itself out of recession and continues to attract skilled workers from overseas.  Australia has seen its economy move from manufacturing based to a more service orientated one, and is an attractive place for anyone from overseas to move too.

The difficulties

Despite the appeal of Australia’s job market it isn’t simple for someone from overseas to walk straight into a job. There are a number of legal issues and laws that you will have to navigate.

The most important thing you need is proof of your identity and an Australian visa permitting you to work. There are many different types’ o f visas and it pays to research each one thoroughly so that you avoid any complications.

Many Australian businesses disregard foreign qualifications preferring Australian ones over any other; UK immigrants may have fewer problems in this regard due to many Australians being familiar with the British education system. It is advised that any migrant to Australia obtains a local qualification. However, work experience is more preferred than any qualification. It is a good idea to start off in a lesser job to get used to the Aussie way of doing things and the experience you gain will mean you will have a better chance of getting a better paid job.

Pay and conditions

Australia’s working conditions are regarded as some of the best in the world thanks to a combination of Government legislation and a number of strong workers unions. The average weekly wage of someone working in Australia is $918.80.

The average working week in Australia is normally 36 hours from Monday to Friday; however this does vary between different job sectors with the average day lasting from 9am to 5pm. This includes rest and lunch breaks.

A lot of Australian employers readily employ migrant workers, especially during a labour shortage. People with a strong proficiency in English and strong qualifications are the migrants most likely to succeed in landing a job.

Top tips for finding work

Here are some tips to help you find a job in Australia

Research the Australian immigration rules. Some of the strictest immigration controls are in place in Australia and it pays to know what you are doing.

Decide on where in the country you want to go. Australia is vast and your choice of location is very important.

Find out about and start the registration process. Some jobs require that you register with them or the government. This process can take time so it’s best to do this sooner rather than later.

If a position does come up, apply for it quickly as there’s a good chance there will be competition for the job.

It’s a good idea to be patient after all trying to start a new life half way around the world takes time. It’s a long process to get your visa, home and job in Australia.

It is never easy searching for a job from overseas. Here is a summary of the do’s and don’ts for overseas jobseekers in the Australian employment market place.


  • Do visit the various Australian job websites BEFORE deciding to emigrate to familiarise yourself with the job opportunities in your field.
  • Do apply for your permanent residence visas. Very important. Prospective employers will ask about your immigration status and having your residence visas (or at least being in the application process) is a “prerequisite” for most Australian job vacancies.
  • Do start applying for advertised job vacancies from OVERSEAS, but only 1 to 12 weeks before a possible start date or a visit to Australia.
  • Do send a cold letter of application and C.V. to EVERY potential employer and recruitment agent in the region of Australia you intend settling in to let them know that you are available. Use to locate details.
  • Do prepare your C.V. in the Australian style and write a short but clear covering letter confirming that you have been granted permanent residence visas (or that you have been assessed as eligible and are in the visa application process).
  • Do provide an Australian postal address and Australian mobile/email address in your C.V. where possible.
  • Do visit Australia or arrive permanently (once your visas have been approved) to attend job interviews, as very few employers will engage candidates on a “sight unseen” basis.
  • Do make a positive impression in the interview, be flexible and have copies of your residence visas and references available for employers to sight.


  • Don’t apply for job vacancies OR visit Australia for job interviews more than 1 – 12 weeks away from a possible start date. Employers will not be interested.
  • Don’t expect everything to work like home. Be flexible and willing to fit in with local ways of doing things.
  • Don’t expect a job at the same level or higher than you had overseas. You may lack Australian local knowledge and may need to take a step back in order to advance later. Wait one year.
  • Don’t expect the same salary or more than you had overseas. The cost of living and income tax rates are lower in Australia than many other western developed nations, so look at your NET INCOME not the gross amount
  • Don’t expect a job offer in the first week. On average, it can take native Australians 1 – 8 weeks to find a new job.
  • Don’t “over negotiate” the contract with your first employer. Be flexible and under-stand that employment law and contract terms may be different in Australia
  • Job Search Sites

The CGSM scheme

For professional and permanent employment, you will need to apply through the competitive General Skilled Migration scheme. This scheme gives priority to people who have skills, qualifications and experience, and applicants are awarded points depending on how in-demand the job is.

Alternatively, you can be sponsored by an employer through the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS), or it may be possible for a UK/EU graduate working for an international company to work in its Australian branch for a period of time.

Detailed information on all the visas available can be found at Australian Government: Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

  • Typical problems encountered: qualifying for a visa to work in Australia, restrictions on the type of work you can undertake on particular visas, unemployment due to the global economic crisis which increases competition for jobs.
  • How to improve your chances: consider undertaking a professional qualification or gaining a few years’ work experience that would qualify you as a skilled migrant through the GSM scheme, be flexible with your location as there may be more vacancies and less competition in regional areas.
  • Language requirements: the main language is English and you may have difficulty securing skilled work unless you speak it fluently.

Links to job sites: