How international students can find a job in Australia

Job search strategies to give you an edge
Gain Australian work experience that will give you a competitive advantage in the global marketplace after graduation.

Working during your studies will not only assist with living expenses, it's a great opportunity to network and meet new people.

As an international student, you are eligible to work up to 20 hours a week on your student visa. While the prospect of finding work in a new country may seem daunting, with just a few small steps you can be on your way to your first local job.

To help you prepare, we’ve compiled our top tips for job search success for international students.

1. Know your rights and responsibilities

It is important to know your rights and responsibilities to work in Australia. As a worker you have rights around minimum pay, leave entitlements, and workplace health and safety. The Fair Work Ombudsman can provide you with information and advice about your work rights.

If you intend to work in Australia, you'll need to apply for a Tax File Number (TFN), a personal reference number used in the tax and super systems. Without one, 45% of your pay will be witheld as tax.

If you’re on a student visa, once your course has commenced you are permitted to work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight (20 hours per week) when your course is in session, and unlimited hours when your course is not in session.

Work that is a formal registered part of your course is not included in the limit of 40 hours per fortnight, and voluntary, unpaid work is also not included. For more information, visit the Department of Immigration.

2. Research and make a job search plan

Allow sufficient time for your job search, including putting aside time to learn about the Australian recruitment process, research your target industry, potential employers and the local job market. This will allow you to make better decisions and demonstrate that you are well informed of the company, position and the organisation’s values. Set targets for yourself, identify contacts you can reach out to for assistance and consider the values that are important to you in an organisation.

Sources of information to use in your search include:

  • Fair Work Ombudsman
  • industry publications
  • professional associations
  • organisations' websites and annual reports
  • information from the press using databases such as Factiva.

3. Network

They say “who you know” is important, and many jobs today are found through word of mouth.

Be sure to reach out to the contacts you’ve made in Australia – in and outside the University – and even to companies which are of interest to you. It is also beneficial to be proactive and incorporate networking into your job search to build and foster relationships with people in your target industry and related organisations. Getting involved in all that the University has to offer, including our Careers Centre and clubs and societies, will help you expand your network.

You can also set up a LinkedIn profile, connect online and follow potential employers of interest, and join relevant online forums and LinkedIn groups. 

4. Find your unique selling points

Consider the employability skills you have to offer an employer and think about any attributes that will make you stand out from other job applicants. You may find that you have some interesting ‘selling points’ as an international student, such as language skills, international experience, cultural sensitivity, knowledge of foreign markets/businesses or the ability to rapidly adapt to different environments. Seek opportunities that will utilise your unique skills.

5. Develop your skill set and value your work experience

Seize opportunities to develop the skills employers are looking for alongside your study – through casual work, volunteer experiences and by joining University clubs and societies. Extracurricular involvement is highly regarded by employers in Australia, as it demonstrates your ability to work for a cause alongside a team of people and will help you develop the interpersonal skills you may not gain in the classroom. Employability programs offered through the University can also help you boost your skills and confidence.

6. Prepare and practice

Prepare targeted professional applications for each role you apply for, with tailored resumes and cover letters written for an Australian audience. Demonstrate evidence of your relevant capabilities and the value you will bring to the employer, and use your industry and employer research to demonstrate your interest in the role and employer.

Know your strengths and be prepared to talk about your relevant skills, experience and professional interests. It is a good idea to consider interview questions that may be asked, based on the position description, and practice your responses to develop your confidence. The Careers Centre offers workshops which can help you prepare for your interview.

7. Strategise and stay confident

Engage in activities that will keep your energy levels high as well as maintain your focus on the job search. Be open to job opportunities that allow you to further develop professional skills and experience. For instance, you may consider applying to small/medium organisations, startups or temporary roles.

You can also network within expatriate communities to find opportunities that will make the most of your language skills or cultural understanding.

Above all, stay positive, be persistent, learn from feedback and keep your options open – you never know where it may lead you!

We are constantly speaking with our employer partners so that we can work with our students in best equipping them for graduate recruitment and success in the workforce. There is no better way to demonstrate the leader you want to be than by taking part in the opportunities available to you at university.
Sarah Fletcher, Director Careers Services (Business School)
14 September 2018

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