3 years ago, when I entered the Australian job market, I was highly excited and fully confident that I will get a job offer in no time. I had a strong hands-on experience with big some of the best financial institutions in the world. I had worked with clients from the US, the UK and Singapore. There were plenty of certifications, awards and recommendations to prove my knowledge. I built a strong LinkedIn profile and a meticulously crafted resume. Plus, my agent informed me that there was a good market for Microsoft technologies, especially for .Net, in Australia. In short, I had all the right ingredients for getting a job offer.
But I struggled to get even a single interview call for about a month. I was depressed and fought the urge to go back home. But during my struggle, I learned a few things about the Australian job market which helped me get my strategy right. Here are 10 facts about finding a job in Australia which you might not know.
1. Australia has a small job market
Even though Australia is huge, the majority of her job market is limited to only a few cities. As per the latest Labour market report by the Australian Government, three states – Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland – make up for more than 80% of the total job vacancies in Australia. As for the software related jobs, Sydney is expected to have the strongest employment growth while Melbourne will be second by 2020. The situation is more or less the same for other occupations as well.
Another important aspect to understand is the distribution of jobs across the industries. The government statistics show that almost 70% of the jobs will be in the service sector. In short, if you are working in the service industry like Hospitality, Healthcare etc. you have a better chance to survive in the Australian job market.
2. Demand vs Supply of skills is highly non-proportional
Due to the heavy inflow of skilled migrants, there is an oversupply of skills in the Australian job market. As per the government data, on an average, there are 15 applicants per job advertisement of which only 3 people are interviewed. In other words, you won’t even make it to the interview stage for 80% of the jobs that you apply for. It also depends on how niche your skills are and how big the market is for your skill set. For example, if you are a CRM or Microsoft Dynamics developer, you probably won’t face as many difficulties as let’s say a Java or Mainframe developer.
3. Australia has a hidden job market
You might have heard this term while talking to friends or recruiters. Yes, there is a hidden job market in Australia and it’s called job referrals. It’s not a rocket science. If I am working in an organisation where a position opens up, I will contact my friends/family members who are looking for a job. I will refer them to that position. My boss will be happy because he doesn’t have to advertise a job, hire a recruiter and go through other hassles to interview 50 candidates to find the best match. Instead, he might just interview 10 referred candidates and find the best match. I will be happy too because I will get a referral bonus. More importantly, I will get to work with my friends or ex-colleagues.
As per government statistics, every 1 in 3 jobs is not advertised in Australia. In other words, if you are only applying through Seek or similar job portals, you see only the tip of an iceberg. If you want to tap this hidden part of the Australian job market, you need to build a strong network of peers and friends who can refer you.
4. The same job is posted multiple times by different recruiters
You will often find that the same job is advertised by more than one recruiter on job portal. To add to the confusion, some companies post the same job on their own website as well. Often recruiter won’t mention the name of the client which makes it tricky as you won’t know that it is a duplicate job advert. If you apply for the same job through two different recruiters, you are in for mess because you are going to ruin your relationship with one or both of them. Funnily it’s not your fault, but you will suffer nonetheless.
Another issue is stale job adverts. Sometimes you find a job advert which matches 100% of your skills, you apply for it only to find out later that the job was already filled. Also, some recruiters post fake jobs just to swell up their numbers and show that they got the business. Calling the recruiter before applying can help sometimes, but only if the recruiter is being honest.
5. Moving to different state/region for a job is common in Australia
Usually, people who come to Australia have already zeroed in on a city according to their personal preference. As such, they are looking for jobs which are local to that city or region. However, this obviously limits the job market that you are trying to tap into. In Australia, people frequently move to different cities or even states based on the job requirement. Sometimes, job advertisement will mention this. Some jobs explicitly ask if you have Australian drivers license as the job might involve travelling. As such, be prepared to move to any location as per the job demand. Also, don’t limit your job search to a particular city only. Keep your options open.
6. Australian job market is slow
If you are used to Indian job market where as soon as you upload resume on job portal, recruiters call you, you will be surprised how painfully slow Australian job market is. Due to skewed demand-supply ratio, recruiters don’t come knocking on your door, even if you are a highly talented person. I have seen examples where people who worked with big MNCs struggled to get more than 1 or 2 interviews in a month in Australia.
When you apply for a job in Australia, chances are that you won’t hear anything from the recruiter for weeks or even months, irrespective of whether you follow up or not. To be fair, many times it is not the recruiter’s fault either. Due to the dynamic nature of the business, sometimes companies cancel positions or delay recruitment. So even if you call the recruiter, all you can hear is the standard reply saying that the client hasn’t responded back yet. So be ready to spend at least a couple of months before you start to see some interest around your profile from recruiters.
7. (Almost) All jobs require “Local” experience
Similar to the hidden job market, you might have heard the term “local experience” in the online forums or from your friends in Australia. Local experience is nothing but the experience of working in Australia or with Australian employers. If you don’t have the coveted “local experience”, Many recruiters won’t think twice before tossing your resume in a dustbin.
Mind you, local experience doesn’t mean experience working with western clients. If you have worked in the UK or the US, it doesn’t count. Heck, if you have worked in New Zealand, it doesn’t count. You must have experience of working with Australian clients either from within or outside of Australia. What’s so special about Australian work experience? I don’t know but possibly it is a way for the recruiter to find out how well you can assimilate in an Aussie work culture.
It’s a chicken or the egg problem. If you don’t get a job in Australia, you don’t get local experience and vice versa. Please note that not every recruiter will ask for it but most of them do, so it’s not a trivial matter.
8. Don’t fall prey to employment guarantee packages from migration agents
I know this because I went through this. Migration agents often advertise job-guarantee packages. Agents often advertise them as placement services that promise to arrange a certain number of interviews. Sadly, it’s far from the truth. All you can expect is a half-cooked resume which is based on a standard template you can find on Google and a dull cover letter.
The so-called placement guy then posts this resume to those jobs which he thought might be the best fit for your skills. Trust me, it will do more harm than good.
First of all, nobody knows your skills and work profile better than yourself. So how can you trust someone else to apply on your behalf and expect to get an interview call? Secondly, there is neither a personal touch to the resume he drafts nor a research about the company and the job he is applying for. Eventually, the recruiters might stop looking at your resume knowing how bad it is and you will end up hurting your chances.
9. There is no good or bad time for job search
Many people think that they should move to Australia only at a certain time of the year such as January/February or June/July. I can’t blame them, I myself believed this when I was planning to come to Australia. This might be the biggest misconception of all. Now pause here for a second and think – is there a good or bad time to look for a job back in your home country? If not then why the Australian job market will be an exception?
There is no particular season which favours job seekers. As far as job vacancies go, people resign and join anytime they like. It’s not like people wait till the new financial year or new year to resign. Yes, there might be a few new jobs created after the budget is allocated to the teams in the new financial year but they are not significant in number.
The only real slowdown comes during the Christmas break. During the Christmas break, many companies shut their office for at least a couple of weeks, people go on long holidays. As a result, you won’t find many new jobs posted during this time. But apart from that, you can hunt for a job whenever you want.
10. Getting a job offer from overseas is rare but possible
Most people think that once they get PR, they can start applying from overseas. Once they get a job offer, they will make the move. Sadly, they are just chasing a mirage. Almost in 99% of the cases, the recruiter won’t even look at your resume if you are not in Australia. Some people try to hide the fact by not providing any address or contact number. But eventually the recruiter is gonna find out and when that happens, it won’t create a very good impression of you.
So my advice is not to apply from overseas unless you have extremely niche skills which are in demand in Australia. Research the Australian job market before applying – see how many jobs are posted for your skills, how long the vacancy is open, the urgency of the requirement etc. If the vacancy is open, it might indicate a shortage of resources.
To conclude, job search in Australia requires careful planning and study of the Australian job market. Hopefully, this article has given you a good start in the right direction. How was your experience finding a job in Australia? Please share your story in comments below.