“When I arrived in Australia, I thought it would be easy to get a job.”
“People tell me not to include a career objective on my resume because employers will never consider me for a decent job.”
“I know I will have to take an entry level position because getting a job in my field is impossible.”
“This ‘local experience’ requirement is killer. How am I supposed to gain experience if no one will give me a job?”
“I will have to go back home if nothing works out. It’s a disaster because I have nothing to go back to.”
These statements resonate with most of us, 1st generation immigrants. Over the years the “local experience” hurdle has been an issue for most immigrants. My personal career experience was based mostly on trial and error until I finally hit the jackpot. The rest, they say, is history.
I hope that you will find this article useful as you strive to find your first job in Australia. The decision to immigrate is a brave decision. Now, to adapt and settle here, you’ll need to be resourceful, persistent and resilient. Let’s take a look at a couple of ways you can do that.
How do you overcome the “local experience” hurdle?
Learn to communicate like a local
The first step in overcoming this hurdle is convincing your future employer that you will fit right into the organisation. Most employers would like to see their new employees coming up to speed fast and adding value to the company.
Start by trying to talk like a local. You obviously cannot pick up the accent at this point, but what you can do is appreciate what is important to Australians and express your opinion on current hot topics.
Your employer would want to know that you can fit right in and understand how things get done in Australia. The best way to demonstrate him this is to go out of your way to understand this country and to prove that you are keen to assimilate into Australian culture. A great way to fit in is volunteering, which we’ll get back to later.
One of the best ways to stay in touch with the latest events is to listen to the radio and watch the news every day. It’s a great way to find out all the current local issues, breaking news and latest events. It will also help you tune your ears to the Australian accent and most-used phrases. I still remember wondering what “crook or bring a plate” meant, when I first arrived here.
Next step is to try and talk with as many people as you can. This will help you get fluency in your new language. Try to resist the tendency of hanging out exclusively with people from your background. Get to know people around you. Australia is a multicultural country and you might be amazed at who you will bump into.
Draft a correct, concise and relevant resume
As English is not our first language, we will need to be careful not to make spelling or grammatical mistakes. So, make sure that you get others, who have a better English, to read and correct any mistakes in your resume.
It’s best to have a concise resume with only relevant information. In Australia, a resume is usually 2-3 pages long. If you’re having trouble keeping it concise, compress your early experience. Hiring managers focus on your latest jobs to get an understanding of your skills and experience.
Give some context to the companies you’ve worked for before. It will give your future employer information they can relate to. Make sure you clearly define your achievements in your roles. While in some countries modesty is highly valued, in Australia you will need to display your talents and capabilities in order to get the right job.
Lastly, approach an experienced hiring manager to check out your resume. They will give you some valuable advice on how to fine tune it. Make sure you own every word that is on your resume and you feel comfortable talking through the document on your interview.
Practice your interviewing skills
Mock interviews are a must, regardless of seniority or profession. It’s best to practice both behavioural and traditional questions. Practice will make your English flow smoothly and help you get over the nerves you usually get in an interview.
Think of the best examples to demonstrate your capability. Write these examples down before you start practising. Make sure you have enough examples to cover the key skills and characteristics employers are looking for.
It’s always a good idea to present yourself in an energetic and positive way. Make sure your story is a positive one. Establish a connection with your interviewer.
If you find it hard to communicate in English, participating in Toastmasters clubs would be a great idea. It’s a great and cheaper way to practice your speaking English and improve your public speaking skills.
Look for creative ways to find job openings
Building a network in a new country will be hard, but not impossible. Reach out to new people as much as you can. It may be the staff at your local library, the parents at your kid’s school or even your neighbours. Make sure you build good relationships with them. Remember, strong relationships are a balance between giving and receiving.
Volunteering is a good way to establish your credentials and fit in Australia. Volunteering opportunities can be found almost everywhere, whether at professional firms or charities. The altruistic work that comes with being a volunteer will prove to your prospective employer how enthusiastic you are to learn about and to fit in Australia. In fact, that is how I got my first break over twenty-five years ago.
Join industry groups, professional forums and attend events like HackerX (a passive recruitment event for developers). It will help you interact with professionals like you. Again, it’s important to build relationships. Be yourself and speak confidently about your capabilities, you never know who you will impress.
The key to overcoming the “local experience” hurdle is to show how passionate you are to fit in and contribute to this wonderful country.
Good luck! I’m sure you will look back one day at this episode and pat yourself on the back for staying positive and cracking the code to getting your first Australian Job.
If you need help with your career register with Stridez.com.au