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A Career Move Down Under

A Primer on Landing Entry into Australia and Finding Work There

If you’re dreaming of a new lifestyle, but one which will allow you to continue on your own career path, consider Australia. The Land Down Under is now the world’s leading multicultural nation. One in four Australians are born outside of Australia, and half that many again have a parent who was born overseas. With a lot of people arriving there’s a positive increase in awareness of the needs of new immigrants and propaganda to encourage multiculturalism and acceptance of newcomers. It was said at Brisbane’s first multicultural festival held in 2006 that there are 150 languages spoken and 100 different faiths present in Queensland alone.

Having spent two years immersed in Australian culture I can say that I’ve found Australians to be helpful, relaxed in their attitudes, and positive about themselves and their country. Settling in involves little bureaucracy, which allows more time to build a network of friends. Being located in Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, Australia I can understand why it is rated as one of the world’s most desirable relocation destinations.

There are several paths possible to take when thinking of applying to immigrate or relocate in Australia. The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMA) provides detailed information on types of visas and settlement information but in brief, there are four possibilities:

  1. A Family Migration: the applicant has a relative in Australia willing to sponsor him or her.
  2. Skilled Migration: the applicant must have skills or special abilities that will contribute to the economy of Australia and other areas of Australian life.
  3. Job Sponsored Migration: when a company sponsors the applicant’s move.
  4. Refugee, humanitarian, and special assistance programs.

There are strict requirements, a number of forms to fill in, references and proof of eligibility to gather, and many forms to fill in, but all of this is very doable.

Since this process can raise a number of confusing questions, it may be worth enlisting the help of an overseas immigration agent or specialist immigration agent. We chose to do what is known as “skilled migration” and enlisted an immigration agent. This visa is based on education, English language ability, work experience, health, marital status, and finance. Enlisting the help of an agent to advise us and submit our application cost $3,500 and took two years. Once in Australia the agent’s job was finished and we then did our own housing research and job hunting.

Two years can be a long wait, particularly as you don’t know if your application will be successful. There is usually a period of six months or so after receiving the visa, if successful, before you must arrive in the country and validate your visa. It is possible to visit Australia on a holiday, have your passport stamped, and then return home to finalize things before really moving.

Sponsorship by a company is the quickest way to immigrate and can take as little as eight weeks. While based in Switzerland we tried to get sponsored by an information technology company (my husband’s profession), but in our experience they weren’t in themselves very forthcoming. Since living here we have found that most companies outsource their overseas recruitment to immigration specialists.

A specialist in immigration differs from an immigration agent in several ways. An immigration agent helps only with the visa application and charges only for this service. Once the visa is obtained the relationship is over. Job done. In contrast, an immigration specialist can act as an overseas recruitment consultant assisting with a job application and setting up a sponsored migration visa and job before the move or after. They can also provide information, advice, and services relating to planning a business and transferring business interests, such as selling a business you own in your home country and then helping you re-establish in Australia.

Finding a one-stop immigration specialist can be difficult as they often specialize in one or two areas of the immigration process and then would rather settle up than establish a long-term relationship. The importance of local know-how in terms of finance, investments, buying or renting a home, and finding the right credit lender, etc. can all be difficult without a credit history or firsthand information about the Australian state you wish to live in. This is where a good immigration specialist will come into his or her own and aim to serve as a longterm contact and service provider. There are a number of immigration specialists listed on the Internet: Aussiemigrant (see sidebar) is well reputed.

Once in Australia, as skilled migrants, we discovered that finding a full-time job in IT management was more difficult than we had expected even though there was officially a skill shortage in this profession in Australia. There were plenty of positions in software development with short-term contracts but anything more permanent and at a management level was hard to find at first.

Most companies now outsource their recruitment to agencies and work on contract and subcontract bases. The best way to approach independent job hunting is to register and meet as many recruitment agents in your field of work as possible (they don’t charge a fee).

Some recruitment companies are more willing to spend the time to provide counsel than others. They offer advice, do role playing to help you practice for the interview (particularly useful if your mother tongue isn’t English), and they do the hard sell to their clients. It is worth contacting as many as possible. Be persistent with phone calls and emails. It’s normal to have several interviews both with the recruitment agency and the company that is hiring. You may have to take a step down the career ladder in order to take a step up once you have your foot in the door, confidence, and the resources to build a network within your industry.

If you are searching for more general work, the Saturday newspapers advertise jobs. The Job Network is the government agency for job searching, and the best website we found for professional, trade, and general local jobs is Careerone and Seek.

We quickly discovered that a 1-page “career highlights” resume is not suitable for finding a job in Australia. CVs need to be long and detailed. If responsibilities, achievements, and duties are not written, it’s assumed you didn’t do or have them. A CV can be up to seven pages long, and don’t be surprised if your prospective employer hasn’t heard of the famous company you worked for at home!

Once you’ve decided on the visa that’s best for you, the way you wish to immigrate, and how much of the research and work you wish to do yourself, it is worth considering having your qualifications translated into the Australian equivalent so that they will be recognized formally. This can improve your chances of working in the profession in which you are qualified, whether teaching, nursing, or engineering. If you have trade qualifications the Trades Recognition Australia provides this service. For Tertiary Qualifications, The Australian Education International-National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition (AEI-NOOSR) provides information on how to have post-secondary overseas academic qualifications recognized in Australia. The Queensland government provides a free service for assessment of all overseas professional and technical qualifications. Their website is worth a visit.

For More Info

Department of Immigration Multicultural Affairs:

 Independent Job Searching:

 Free Government Assessment of Qualifications:

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