Finding a job in Australia

With so many backpackers heading off to the great and mighty Oz every year, on Working Holiday Visas, I didn’t feel too concerned with finding work. The logical side of me figured that people wouldn’t go if they couldn’t find work and the anxious side of me didn’t want to jump straight to negativity.

However, after a couple of weeks in Oz we discovered that finding work with plentiful hours was going to be difficult for me. Matt is a trained chef and found work, with full time hours, after a week of looking. One of our flatmates, also a chef, got the first job he applied for.  So, if you are a chef I can safely say you will pick up work no problem but if like me you are looking for retail or admin you might struggle a little.

My work experience includes: 3 years of retail, 1 year of admin, bar work,  a degree in journalism and various volunteering jobs.  I got skillz.

I found my skillz weren’t getting me anywhere though unless I wanted to work on a farm, canvass on the street for a charity, or do hardcore sales.  If you are interested in doing any of those jobs you should come across them with ease.  It looks like I’m being picky but I know myself enough to know I wasn’t going to be good at those jobs.

I wanted a basic job with lots of hours and the occasional weekend off so we could travel to the surrounding areas.  It’s a couple of months down the line and I know have three jobs.  My first job I picked up through an agency and it ended up being a sales job.  I found it challenging to start with but with time it became easier.  I sell makeup and skincare for companies like Benefit and Loreal so something I know a little about. Although, doing people’s makeup not so much but I gave it a shot.


My other two jobs are Christmas casual; since it’s the Christmas season. Unfortunately I’m not getting full time hours every week but I am grateful to have work; which will allow me to save some dollars and see the rest of this beautiful country.

1.  My first piece of advice would be to research what a Australian resume looks like and have your resume up to date before you depart.  Researching the Australian format hadn’t even crossed my mind but I was lucky to have a flatmate who passed on this advice and let me copy his successful format.

2.  Make sure you have a cover letter and say exactly what you are looking for when it comes to hours and your availability.  It’s up to you whether you disclose that you are a backpacker.  I did say I was a backpakcer and I also said how long I was staying in the area.  Due to amount of jobs applied for ,which I had more than enough expeirence for and never heard back from, I would say it deters employers from interviewing you though.

3  Upload said Resume and cover letter to drop box so that they are easy to access and edit – since you will need to add your Australian phone number.  A lot of the job sites allow you to upload from Dropbox also.  We travelled without a laptop so the majority of our job applications were done through mobile phones and tablets.

4.  Set up accounts with Seek, Indeed, and Gumtree – these are the main websites you will use.  If you have a certain skill you can even advertise that skill for hire on Gumtree.  Just remember to post your ad at an optimum time (early morning or after 5) every day so that it is at the top of the listings. Also set up notifications for casual and temp jobs – don’t bother with permanent jobs as you will not be considered.  Casual work will be the main type of work you will come across and if like me you love structure it might stress you out a bit.  It is basically the same as the UK’s  zero hour contract -so you could get lots of hours or you could get none. Matt is casual and gets 40 hours a week and I am casual and it varies for me between 3 hours and 30 hours.  My jobs also mean I am on call for when shifts need filled; I could be down to do 9 hours and end up doing 30.  It’s great getting more hours but it’s hard organising your day if you dont know if you are working or not.  Casual staff do ge paid a little bit more to make up for the lack of holiday entitlement though.

4. Research the surrounding areas you can reach easily by public transport that aren’t the city centre so you can expand your job search.  Google Maps is great for working out how long it takes to get somewhere.

5.  If you have a trade or know what field you want to work in join an agency.  I got my first job through an agency a friend recommended and for a while this was my only job.  Sign up with as many as possible as you won’t hear back from them all.  If you are confident on the phone give them a call and tell them what you are looking for. I plan to do this once we reach Melbourne.

6. Request to join closed groups on Facebook – such as ‘Brisbane Backpackers’ or ‘Poms loving Australia’. Occasionally you will see jobs being advertised on there and people will be able to give you advice.  It’s also a nice way to make new friends.

7.  Start applying for jobs before you leave. I wish I had done this but didn’t since I didn’t have an Australian phone number.  The majority of correspondence I have had regarding jobs has been through e-mail and the process of interview to starting a job can take weeks in Australia. Definitely get the ball rolling before departure.

8. Check you don’t need to get a certificate in order to work. This varies from state to state and mostly concerns the sale of alchol and manual labour.  You can find out if you do here.

9. Research the companies you are applying to work for to see what kind of hours they are usually able to provide.  Sites like Glassdoor are great for this and also very helpful if you want to find out what the interview might be like.

10. Remain optimistic as finding a job might not happen over night but keep on trying as you will find something.  Talk to the people you meet also – they might know somewhere that is looking. Also remember this might be the only stretch in your pre-retirement life that you have this time to yourself. Once your back into the grind you’ll miss those afternoons. Read that book you’ve never got round to reading or try out that recipe you’ve never found the time for.

One of my favourite ways of spending an afternoon is by watching the two possums that live outside my bedroom. I know for sure that there won’t be another phase in my life when I’ll pass the time doing that.

Enjoy living without the constraints of working.


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