Skilled migrants face a multitude of challenges when they first arrive in Australia and begin looking for work. Not only is it a whole new environment, but often it’s a whole new way of life. The language is different, nothing is familiar and many have arrived with no family or friends to provide support. It’s a massive challenge but one that thousands of skilled migrants and their families face every year.
As a Careers Counsellor and professional resume writer, I have met some amazing people who arrived with big dreams and strong desire to build a better life for themselves and their families in this great country. These are highly skilled and talented individuals and have included Chemical Engineers from India, Chemists from China, Mechanical Engineers from the Middle East, an Aircraft Mechanic from the USA and a Software Developer from the Croatia. All of these people were obviously highly qualified but still faced the same challenges as any new graduate or school leaver – a lack of local experience and limited knowledge of how to successfully search for work.
Looking for work in Australia is very different to other countries – our resumes are expected to be longer, our spelling and grammar is not the same as in Europe and the US and you really need to ‘market’ yourself for the job so that you stand out. It’s not like you can just turn up with your qualifications and expect to land a decent job. It takes determination, perseverance and a willingness to possibly start at the bottom.
So where do you start when you first decide to look for work? The best way to secure employment (especially if you have no local experience) is to start meeting people and building relationships. This is what we call ‘networking’.
Contact Australian organisations or groups that deal with your industry and find out the similarities and differences between your job in your country of origin – and the work you will do in Australia. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Volunteer opportunities are a great way to get you foot in the door so enquire if any such programs are available. LinkedIn has many groups that will provide valuable information on current industry trends, local organisations and of course – great connections. Build your online presence, contribute to LinkedIn discussions and connect, connect, connect with your industry peers.
2. Make friends
One easy way to make new friends is to join a group. This can be any kind of group like a sporting group, reading group, volunteer group, church group or group that’s involved in an activity you are passionate about. People are more likely to refer you for a job if they know and trust you first. You never know, someone in your cricket team may have heard that their company is looking to hire someone just like you. It’s also a perfect opportunity to practice your English with the locals and get some feedback on your communication skills.
3. Make sure your resume is suitable for the Australian market
Unlike the US and other European countries, resumes in Australia are expected to be around 3-5 page long. An Australian employer wants to know all about your career history, achievements and the specific skills that you’ll bring to the table. They don’t want to know about everything you have ever done. They want to hear about what relevant skills you have and what value you’ll bring to their organisation. A one page resume just won’t give them that type of information.
Don’t just focus on full-time employment opportunities. You may find it easier to gain local experience via part-time, casual, contract or volunteer work.
Australian spelling and grammar can also be a challenge so I suggest having your resume proofread for spelling and grammatical errors by someone who has a good grasp of the Australian language. Ask people from your circle of new-found friends as they should be more than happy to help you with this. Don’t make the mistake of relying solely on your computer spellchecker.
If you start your job search with these 3 things in mind, it won’t be long before you begin making the right connections and hopefully receive a job offer. Looking for a job is a full-time job in itself so you need to be patient. Never give up because Australia needs and embraces skilled workers and once you make it over this first hurdle, you’ll find everything should start falling into place.