How to find a job in Australia

Finding a job in Australia
Updated 2023-06-03 20:45

Once you have a visa that allows you to work in Australia, the next step is finding a job. Perhaps you were lucky enough to already have a job offer in Australia, but for most people, job hunting is a major step in moving to a new country. Below, we break down how to best go about this often daunting process.

Job opportunities in Australia

Australia is well-known for being a wealthy country due in part to its rich natural resources, like iron ore, coal, gold, and gas. Australia is also known for its relaxed lifestyle, and this combination of opportunities for both work and play makes it a very sought-after place to live and work. Luckily for expats, Australia has a diverse and robust economy with many job opportunities available for international workers, especially if your skills line up with current shortages. By most metrics, the country has strong economic growth, low unemployment rates and a high standard of living. Due to its rich resources, Australia has thriving engineering industries, and these valuable materials contribute significantly to its export earnings.

Despite the strong economy, some sectors in Australia are facing a shortage of skilled workers and require overseas workers to fill the gaps. These sectors include:

  • Healthcare: Australia's aging population has created a high demand for healthcare professionals, particularly in rural and remote areas where it can be hard to find skilled staff. Doctors, nurses, and allied health workers are in high demand, and many hospitals and healthcare facilities are actively recruiting overseas workers.
  • Information Technology: Australia's technology sector is booming. IT professionals are in demand, particularly in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and data analytics. Many companies in Australia are struggling to find local talent to fill these roles and turn to international workers to meet their staffing needs.
  • Agriculture: Agriculture is a major industry in Australia, and there is a need for skilled workers in crop production, livestock management, and horticulture. Many farms and agricultural businesses are facing labor shortages, particularly during peak harvesting periods, and need overseas workers to help fill the gaps.
  • Education: Australia has a strong education sector, and there is a high demand for qualified teachers and education professionals. Many schools and universities are actively recruiting from overseas to fill teaching and administrative roles, particularly in STEM areas.

If you are hoping to travel to Australia with a job already taken care of, one way to determine if your field of expertise is experiencing labor shortages in Australia is to consult the Skilled Occupations List. If your job is on this list, you may be able to apply for a skilled worker visa, which provides pathways to residency.

Job finding basics in Australia

So, you're either job-hunting from abroad or you find yourself in Australia, looking for a job. Whether you're after something short-term while you settle into your new country or looking to take an existing career further, we've broken down the job-hunting process step-by-step to make the process less daunting.

Job listings and recruitment

Australian jobs are predominantly advertised online through career and job search websites where you can search for jobs by location and occupation. The most common job websites include Seek, CareerOne, and Ethical Jobs. You can also use LinkedIn as this is becoming more popular not only for jobs to be advertised but for companies to view your profile and get in touch with you. Make sure your profile is always up to date and open for job recruiters.

In addition to online advertising, recruitment (or employment) agencies are very common in Australia, with many jobs advertised directly and solely through agencies. There is usually no cost to sign up with an agency, as fees are paid by the employer. Therefore, many job seekers will register with multiple agencies. Agencies can assist with matching your skills to suitable jobs and can also help with interview skills. Both short-term contracts and permanent roles can be obtained this way. Agencies often specialize in specific industries or skills, and a bit of research online should help you narrow down your search.

After you have applied for a job, if the employer is interested, you will be asked to have an interview. If this is successful, employers will generally check your references, and ideally, this will be followed by an offer of employment.

CV and cover letter

It is important to make sure your CV and cover letter are up to date. A cover letter should always address the job you are applying for specifically and be tailored to suit each job. It is also good to refine your CV so you remove anything that isn't relevant to the job you are applying for. If an employer senses that you are sending the same template letter to a number of companies, they will be put off.

Try and keep your CV down to three pages. The Australian style of a CV and cover letter may be slightly different than your home country, so research this before applying for roles or ask an employment agency to assist you. Having strong English language skills will also help, although many community centers offer low-cost or free classes that can help you with your skills, if necessary.

Here are some tips to help you create an Australian CV that is effective and professional:

  • Keep it concise: CVs in Australia are typically shorter than those in other countries, so aim to keep your CV to a maximum of two or three pages.
  • Use a clear and easy-to-read layout: Use headings and bullet points to organize your information and make it easy for the reader to find what they are looking for.
  • List only the jobs that you have had that are relevant to the role
  • Give examples of skills you have used and gained from past roles
  • Give descriptions and details of previous companies you have worked for, as Australian employers may not be familiar with your previous employer, even if they are well-known in your own country.
  • Be positive about yourself, but don't boast.

It may also be useful to make a note of your legal work status so employers know whether or not they have to assist you with getting a work visa for Australia.


References are essential, so if you are coming from overseas, make sure you have the email addresses of previous employees and notify them that they may be contacted.

Good to know:

If you are unsuccessful in your application, often companies or agencies will be able to offer you constructive advice for how you can do better next time, which is good to take advantage of, if available.

The interview

Job interviews in Australia are generally similar to the job interview process elsewhere and follow a standard format where upper-level staff from the organization will ask you questions about your work experience and general suitability for the role. Of course, the interview format may vary depending on the workplace and its culture. Still, you should be informed in advance about anything out of the ordinary or if your interview involves any aptitude tests or other assessments.

Though Australia is a country that is known for its casual culture, it is a good idea to dress smartly for your interview, arrive on time, and generally present a professional persona – even if the role or company seems casual. The Australian government's website Workforce Australia offers tips regarding interview preparation, but, in general, it will serve you to have researched the company, re-read your own application materials, and prepared for some standard interview questions. It is always a good idea to come to an interview with a few questions you would like to know about the role or the company, which is an excellent way to seem like an engaged interviewee.

Overseas qualifications and experience

Qualifications (diplomas and degrees) are often an essential part of job applications in Australia. Certain types of employment require specific skill levels and requirements, and you will need to prove that you have the appropriate qualifications. You will need to bring either your original qualification documents or certified copies.

It is possible that your overseas qualification may be recognized as valid in Australia, but it will depend on a number of factors. In general, qualifications from countries with a similar education system to Australia, such as New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, are likely to be recognized as equivalent. However, qualifications from other countries may require further assessment before they are accepted.

To determine if your overseas qualification is valid in Australia, you can contact the Australian Government's Department of Education and Training. The department is responsible for evaluating and approving foreign qualifications for use in the country. To have your qualification assessed, you will need to provide documentation, including your academic transcripts and any other relevant information about your studies. The department will then assess your qualification to determine if it is equivalent to an Australian qualification.

It is important to note that even if your qualification is recognized as valid in Australia, you may still need to meet other requirements in order to work in certain fields or industries. For example, you may need to obtain a professional license or meet other regulatory requirements.

Overall, it is a good idea to research the specific requirements for your field or industry in Australia and to contact the appropriate regulatory body or professional organization for more information.

Formalities for working in Australia

The first thing to do upon arrival in Australia is to apply for your personal identification number, or Tax File Number (TFN), at the Australian Taxation Office.


Getting your TFN is compulsory for paying taxes in Australia, which all workers must do, or if you wish to enroll in the Australian public healthcare system. Every job will ask for your TFN, so it is good to get one straight away so you pay the correct amount of tax. To apply online, you simply need a valid passport.

Most Australian businesses will pay via direct deposit into your bank account, so it is helpful to have an Australian bank account before applying for jobs. You may wish to check if your current bank has branches in Australia; otherwise, opening a bank account locally is a simple and easy process that will require a postal address, a valid passport, and other possible forms of ID, depending on the bank.

Wages, leave and workplace protections for workers in Australia

In Australia, as in any country, salaries and wage expectations vary hugely based on your industry, level of education, experience, and location. However, Australians are well-paid by world standards, and according to a 2022 study, Australians rank as the wealthiest nation in the world. Currently, the average full-time wage in Australia is approximately AUD 89,000 per year.


When it comes to overtime pay, Australian law mandates that employers must pay employees for any hours worked beyond their normal work hours at an overtime rate. The overtime rate is typically 1.5 times the employee's ordinary hourly rate for the first two hours and then double the ordinary hourly rate for any hours worked beyond that.

Worker's rights

In terms of workplace rights, Australia has a strong history of union organizations and a robust legal framework to protect employees' rights. The Fair Work Act 2009 is the primary legislation governing workplace relations in Australia, and it explains entitlements for employees such as annual leave, sick leave, and parental leave. The National Employment Standards (NES) also provides a safety net of minimum employment conditions for all employees covered by the national workplace relations system.

Employers are also required to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees and to prevent workplace discrimination and harassment. Employees have the right to join a union and to engage in collective bargaining, and there are provisions for resolving disputes between employers and employees through the Fair Work Commission.

Leave entitlements

In Australia, Australian citizens and expat workers are both entitled to leave. Of course, the exact leave allotments will vary per contract, company, and industry but, in general, expat leave entitlements will be the same as Australian citizens. The most common types of leave are:

  • Annual Leave: Full-time employees are entitled to paid annual leave, which accrues based on length of employment. The standard entitlement is four weeks of annual leave per year, but that will vary depending on your contract.
  • Sick leave: In Australia, the standard sick leave entitlement for full-time employees is 10 days of paid leave per year. This can also be used to care for a sick family member.
  • Long Service Leave: This is a kind of extended leave granted to employees who have been with the same employer for a long period, e.g., a decade or more. The entitlement and conditions for long service leave can vary between states and territories.
  • Parental Leave: The Australian Government provides paid parental (PPL) leave to support employees who are having a child or adopting a child. If you're eligible, you receive up to 18 weeks of government-funded pay at the National Minimum Wage rate. There is also unpaid parental leave and schemes where employers add or top-up the government-funded PPL. These conditions will all be contained within your employment contract and may have the potential to be re-negotiated.
  • Public Holidays: Employees are entitled to paid time off on public holidays. If you do work on a public holiday, you will generally be paid between 1.5 to 2.5 times your usual wages, so some employees will opt to work these days.
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