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  • Writer's pictureLata Hamilton

HOW TO: Get a job in Australia when you're not an Australian!

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

I’ve had so many career coaching clients who struggled to find a job when moving to Australia.

I hear them say things like:

  • I’m not getting any interviews because I’m from overseas.

  • No one will hire me because I haven’t worked in Australia, or haven’t got enough Australian experience.

  • I’m working in retail/hospitality/manual labour … though I’m trained in [insert incredible qualifications & highly relevant industry experience here].

I’ve heard this from Europeans, Asians, Americans. And I’m sure if I asked an Antarctic penguin, it would sing me a similar story. STOP THE MUSIC! You are drowning out the sound of your own success with your problems and excuses!!!

So here are my 5 top tips for getting a job in Australia when you’re not Australian.

1. Reframe Your Value

Instead of seeing your overseas origin as a hindrance, see it as your biggest strength. In case you haven’t noticed, Australia is an island… For hundreds of years we got music, movies, technology, car models, fashion, fast food chains & other trends later than the rest of the world because we are so geographically isolated. The likelihood is that you come from a country that’s bedded in a continent (Europe, Asia, America) with a history far longer and far richer than the mere 200 or so years modern Australia has been hanging around (Indigenous cultures excepted, of course). You come from a nation that borders a ton of other countries and thus you have come from a culture with centuries of exposure and influence to other ways of thinking and working. Embrace it. Your overseas experience in an advanced market is a value-add to any company. Even more so, not only is Australia a multicultural society, many private & public sector organisations have a diversity policy and encourage hiring a variety of backgrounds to bring vigour, ideas, and experience in. Not being Australian is a huge bonus for you.

2. English-cise Your CV

Your language is beautiful. But sadly, you need to leave it at the door when job-hunting here because English is our national language. So of course your CV is written in English. But where possible translate the names of your:

  • schools

  • academic institutions

  • companies

  • industries

  • projects

into their English equivalent. It’s not lying - it’s the same words, just a different language. Because when a recruiter or hiring manager who only speaks English sees foreign words peppered through a CV, it’s effort for them to interpret it and can raise unconscious red flags. Take out the risk of unconscious bias and make it easy to read.

3. Get Local Experience

Of course it looks better if you’ve got some Australian experience on your CV! Now I hear you think: “How am I meant to get Australian experience when no one will hire me?! Answer me that, genius!” Well I faced the same problem - how do I get a job to be eligible to get a job? The difference is - I was a uni student. So I volunteered, did unpaid internships, & casual or short-term contracts to build up my bank of skills and experience. This qualified me to get a Sales & Marketing role in a large consumer goods company despite not actually having studied either Sales or Marketing! Need to still bring in some cash? Do the work for a few days a week, and find a casual paid job for income. Again - that’s what I did. I worked in a cafe 2-3 days a week, unpaid internships 2-3 days a week, and had a 1-2 days off a week.

The other thing I’ll add here is - I always recommend putting the city of your company in your job history in your CV. But unless it’s extremely relevant to the job, I don’t see the point in putting your country. And the reason is transferable skills (which I’ve written about before).

  • If you know how to manage teams, you know how to do that in any country.

  • If you know how to do graphic design, you know how to do that in any country.

  • If you know how to run projects, you know how to do that in any country.

A city gives you job credibility; a country might be unnecessary information that distracts the hiring manager’s attention away from your incredible transferable skill set that you can apply in any role, any industry, any country.

4. Bridge Your Qualification Gaps

Look, the truth is some Australian industries from a legal/regulatory/safety/insurance perspective do require you to have Australian accreditations in order to practice here. I’m thinking Law, Medicine, many Health Practitioners, Education, etc. It sucks, yes. But, rightly or wrongly, it maintains standards of service and safety in Australia and also ensures that local talent who have come up through our education system have a level playing field. So find whatever bridging qualification or certification you need and do it as soon as possible. Because the longer you are out of the industry you are actually trained and have worked in, the more your own confidence in that industry will fall. Plus, doing the course can help deepen your English, understand cultural norms in Australia, and even build your network with Australian professionals.

5. Build Belief in Yourself

This is actually #1 but you wouldn’t have kept reading if I’d put it first. You’ve moved to a brand new country with new people, new culture, new government, & sometimes a new language. It is stressful. You feel like a fish out of water. You wonder if you made the right decision. You don’t know many people here and all your friends/family/colleagues/support networks are back in your home country. Don’t underestimate the huge emotional toll this has on your psychology.

Similarly, don’t mistake the cultural shock of moving to a new country as being the same as you having lost your skills in your industry. Yes, you’ve suffered a confidence blow - but it’s not in your career. Understand and accept that you’ll have learning anxiety moving to a new place. Then take comfort in the fact that you’re an incredible professional and that your career is something that you can nail.

If you don’t have the belief in yourself, you’re going to be projecting that dis-belief in your own abilities through your job applications and interviews. Shifting beliefs can be hard, so you can always get help from a career coach like me. I’ve transformed people’s entire psychology just by re-writing their CV properly to make them shine.

So welcome to Australia. There are more jobs than people to fill them right now. We need you in them.

I'm Lata Hamilton - Change Leadership and Confidence expert, Founder & CEO of Passion Pioneers, and the creator of the Leading Successful Change program.

If you'd like help getting your next pay rise, promotion or career change, grab my free Underpaid & Overlooked Coaching Action Guide to change with confidence and earn your worth - download it here.


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