As they say, finding a job is a job in itself.
Since the last job I had in NYC became too intense to sustain, I dove into my planned holiday with both feet. It was important to me that I move to a new country without the additional stress of needing to find work right away. But as I burned through money, burned through weeks, and got a burning desire to feel creative and social again, I accepted that it was time to start the Aussie job hunt.
I moved over on a work and holiday visa (462), which allowed me, as an American citizen, to work the same job for no more than 6 months and stay in the country for 12 months. My plan had always been to work on this visa with the hope of finding sponsorship of a work visa (457) so I could stay in the country and work longer; eventually, I dreamed of becoming a permanent resident, which would open the options (and benefits) even more. But just like my wise Mother, who quotes the wise John Lennon, says, “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
On the day that I was finalising conversations with a potential employer, Prime Minister Turnbull axed the 457 visa. As of when I write this on 19 April 2017, it’s brand new, so I’m not sure what this change will mean for my future of staying in Australia. So even as a law-abiding, tax-paying, responsible working adult living in Australia, it might not be that simple. (Of course, immigration never has been simple…)
But even before I made the leap, I entertained the thought of working as a barista or as a greeter at a gym… something where I could speak and meet people, but ultimately live fancy-free. When I researched job markets before I arrived in Oz, I was told that getting hired is no problem and that when I want to go back into the industry I came from, I’d have no problem because I have experience in NYC…
But all in all, finding work has been hard to come by. So, in true Emily fashion, I made lists to organise and assist anyone who is following a similar path:
3 Things That Surprised Me About Finding Work in Sydney:
- Your Australian CV should be formatted differently from your American resume
- I came from the school of putting your experience front and center, followed by your skills and education. Here, it’s more important to put your skills and qualifications up top.
- Finding cafe or bar work is very competitive
- Since bartenders and waitstaff aren’t working for tips – because they actually get paid well, unlike my American experience… – the positions are quite competitive. And because they’re so competitive, candidates come with lots of experience. If you haven’t been a barista before, you need to have the skills or know that a cafe will train you. If you want work behind the bar, you need to have your RSA Certificate at a minimum.
- As a government regulation, employers have to consider Australian residents as before they consider any other candidate for a job
- As a move to keep Australian jobs open for Australians, employers have to prove that you are the only and best candidate for a job in order to hire you above an Australian resident. So even without the challenges of having stipulations of the visa, you still face a steep hill to climb when it comes to finding a first job.
3 Recommendations for Finding Work in Sydney:
- Start by temping
- It’s incredibly common for recently-arrived expats to get their start by temping. Many jobs pay $24+/hour! You can find work quite easily through a recruitment agency or going on job search sites like Seek and Indeed. To find short or long term contract work, search LinkedIn or industry-specific sites (I checked The Loop for digital/creative).
- Use your network
- Sydney is very much a city of who-you-know. Connections are important and they’re the best way to get “an in.” And just like in any other city, your best bet to getting a foot in the door is a personal introduction. Network, find your connections, and fill your calendar with informational coffee meetings or interviews.
- Titles and salaries are different
- Research ahead of time what the Aussie equivalent is of your desired position title and salary so you are informed. You’ll likely find yourself needing to know for an initial interview or on an online application. When in doubt, check a site like PayScale to give you an idea of where to start.