Unless you’re extremely rich, if you come to Australia on a working holiday visa then at some point you’re going to be looking for a job. Goon doesn’t come cheap (well, okay maybe it does) and you’ll need to secure some income to help fund the next part of your travels.
I’ve now been in Australia for nearly 4 years and during that time I’ve had 7 different jobs and been offered many more. After arriving in a new spot my record for job offers was 4 in one go, and the longest it took me to secure some form of employment was 5 days.
Trust me on this: I’m not trying to humble brag at you guys here. I didn’t get offered those jobs because I’m the most amazing and incredible employee ever to walk this earth (although I am practically perfect in every way). I found it easy to get a job in Australia as a backpacker because I knew how to play the game.
And you can play to. Just follow my instructions and I promise you that finding a job in Australia will be easy peasy.
Unless you’re a weirdo serial killer who likes to lick hammers. Then you may have a problem.
^^^Sydney is expensive, and will bleed you dry like a non-shitty Twilight vampire would.
Don’t bother looking before you get here
Seriously. Who is going to get hired – the person in that’s right there or the person 9 timezones away? Obviously if you’re going to try your hand at getting a professional job this is a little different (hello awkward Skype interviews), but assuming you’re after the usual backpacker jobs there really is just no point. Maximise your time remaining at home bragging about the riches awaiting you.
Get your tax file number as soon as you arrive
Many places won’t hire you without one and even if you do get a job you’ll get taxed at insane penalty rates making slogging away pretty pointless. It takes just a few minutes on the ATO website. Do this the second you’ve got internet. Well, maybe after you’ve updated your facebook status to “wooo I’ve landed in Australia and a kangaroo just kicked me in the knackers!”.
Don’t do your RSA right away
Welcome to Australia, the laid back land that’s covered in red tape. To work in any establishment that serves alcohol you’re required (by law) to obtain a fun certificate from a Responsible Service of Alcohol course. It’s the biggest bunch of wank and is essentially just a moneymaking scheme for the government, but you have to have it. BUT. Honestly? Just tell employers you’ve got it, then when you get a job quickly bash out the course online in a couple of hours. You won’t fail. If you’re dumb enough to fail you wouldn’t have made it to Australia alive, you’d still be walking around the airport terminal starting at your shoelaces.
Speak well good English like
I’m not going to sugar the pill here, if you can’t speak English well then you’re going to find it extremely difficult to find work – especially in the service industry. If you’re not that linguistically capable then either put some effort in before you arrive or look for jobs that either don’t require English or where speaking another lingo is a bonus. Many families want a nanny that can teach the kids a new language and most farms don’t mind if you can’t chat along while you pick bananas. Your English skills will improve rapidly when you arrive anyway.
Tailor any cover letters
Look, I know when you’re firing out applications online taking 15 minutes to write something personal can seem like a hassle. But imagine having to be the employer reading through a stack of CVs, wouldn’t trying to stand out to them be worth it? Lets not even consider the fact that you’re not writing a cover letter at all, because come on you guys. Do this properly.
Have multiple CVs
A one-size-fits-all doesn’t cut it with your cover letter, and it won’t with your CV either. I had three. One that concentrated on my sales experience, one for my hospitality background and another for my ‘creative’ achievements. They’ve not got to be hugely different, but it makes it much easier to cut things out and keep them below two pages when you’ve got a target in mind. It will also make your achievements in various fields (if ‘held down a bar job at uni’ is an achievement) seem more prominent according to what sort of employment you’re searching for.
^^^Want to go find nemo? It’s going to cost you… Better get working!
Have a good CV
I feel like this is self explanatory, but having been handed many CVs in my time it obviously isn’t. Keep it to two pages. Include your contact information as the header and footer on the page to declutter. Make sure it is clearly written and throughly spell checked. Don’t put in every single thing you’ve ever done with your life, keep it relevant (see above). I was once handed a CV that was 9 pages long and actually listed all the applicants education back to their kindergarten. They did not get the job.
Be active, not passive
Applied for a job and not heard back? Call them! Seen an advert online for a bar that’s around the corner? Go and give them your application in person! I guarantee you that anyone you meet who’s having a hard time finding work is shooting out 10 application a day online and complaining that they’re not getting anywhere. Dress up smart, hit the streets and stride into places with a big smile on your face. I once got called for an interview because I was the only person who went in that day and, “didn’t look like a homeless person.” True story. Even if the places you’re door knocking aren’t looking that day, with the turnover of employees in most establishments you never know who’s about to hand in their notice. And then of course they’ll remember that enthusiastic, smartly dressed person who came in for a chat a few days before…
Choose your battles
If you have no experience working in a pub, maybe don’t waste your energy applying for that position in a fancy cocktail bar? Use your time wisely and apply for the jobs you think you’re likely to get, then move down the list.
^^^Jobs will help you pay for fun things like this – a glass bottom gondola over the rainforest!
Work for your accommodation
Most hostels offer backpackers accommodation in exchange for a few hours of work each day. The majority of these are for cleaners, but I’ve also seen people work as gardeners and receptionists. If you’ve got a roof over your head (and the ‘free shelf’ in the fridge to eat from) then it takes a little of the pressure off. Job searching doesn’t feel quite as frantic when you’re not going to be potentially homeless.
Treat getting a job like a job
Want to get a job in Australia? There are literally millions of other backpackers who are trying to find work too. Procrastinating on facebook for three hours then sending out 3 CVs from Gumtree ads is naaaaaht going to cut it. If you focus on finding work as though that is actually your work then you’re going to be upping your game. Imagine if you spent six hours a day job hunting and your dorm mate spent one – you’re a week ahead buddy. And it’s a dingo eat dingo world Down Under.
Find out what local agencies there are in your area and sign up. If you’re not fussy about where you go then companies like MLKA recruitment have rural opportunities that pay well and often include bed and board. Seek is probably the largest online and you can upload your CV for potential employers to search for. One friend had a restaurant contact her via Seek and she ended up working right on the ocean front for $27 an hour, nice. Oh, and of course Gumtree is the absolute backpacker favourite. You can list here too, and this is where you’ll find the majority of ‘backpacker’ work like farm and kitchen jobs.
So there you go. Yet another ‘quick’ post that I started to write and ended up vomiting out 1,300 words in a brain explosion. Have you found it difficult to find work? Am I just lucky and being a massive smug bastard? Would you add anything to this list? I’d love to know – lets help each other out. Backpacker power!