Getting a Job In Australia: 9 Do's and Don't's For Backpackers.
Job-hunting pretty much always sucks, no matter where you are in the world.
It's competitive and sometimes demoralizing, especially when you go into place after place, essentially begging someone to give you money, and you realize that it isn't anybody's concern but your own if you can eat that week or not. Maybe your parents, but not the people who see backpackers every day, all trying to get the same job's, so they can save up for more travels.
A lot of the time a business owner would prefer to employ a local person not someone who has become voluntarily unemployed to follow their wanderlust....yeah, it makes us seem like we might have our heads in the clouds and leave as soon as we make even a little bit of money.
Some people will give you a chance, and usually if you can give them at least 6 months commitment, you can strike it good.
But sometimes you will be faced with a brick-wall. Some employers in Australia simply won't consider someone from the travelling community, who have a reputation for being flighty and unreliable. In reality that is the minority, as plenty of travellers actually value when someone gives them an opportunity, and end up being a really good member of a team. Plenty of aussie employers know that, and will embrace the positives of having a willing and enthusiastic person on-board, even if it's not forever.
To summarize, when trying to find a job in Australia you are up against 3 things: competition with other travellers, unwilling employers, and other Australians.
But fear not, young backpacker, you can find work, you just need to approach it differently:
1. Don't land anywhere expecting to find work in a week.
In fact, expect to not find a job. I'm not saying that to be pessimistic, but have the mindset that you will need to try super hard to find work sometimes, and so you should always budget and make plans accordingly. Try to find a job before you need one, cause by the point you need one, it could be too late.
2. Don't turn up to establishments looking like a backpacker.
By that I mean, consider not wearing just wearing swim-wear and flip-flops out that day, maybe even buy a cheap but smart outfit, so that when you walk in somewhere, you aren't immediately pigeon-holed as a traveller. Sure, soon enough they'll figure out that you are, but they are more likely to see you as employable if you show you've made an effort and stepped out of your backpacker uniform for a minute. If you take yourself seriously, others will to.
3. Do perfect your resume and make sure it focuses on real experience and transferable skills.
Not all employers will care if you volunteered or worked for accommodation, this might be something you can bring up at an interview, but lets be honest, anyone can commit the couple of hours day that a hostel usually requires for work for accommodation, so it isn't a sparkling addition to your resume. They need to know what you can do, and what you might be able to learn. Always list experience from home (even though there won't necessarily be references an employer can verify) as well as recent experience, as it can create a broader picture of your skill-set and personality.
4. Do visit places in person, even if they advertise online, and usually suggest you email through a resume.
Only replying to a job ad via an email means your resume will probably be lost among all the other ones, whereas if an employer meets you in person, with your resume in hand and a smile on your face, you've made their task a lot easier. Do go into places even if you have no idea if they are hiring, you never know if they might have lost someone that day, or just haven't placed an ad yet.
5. Do send emails sometimes, for example, if you are job-searching far away from the place you want to find work, then consider sending them to employers or companies which interest you.
Be concise, introduce yourself briefly, and list your recent experience and skills, in a few lines, no more. Tell them why you want to work for them, display some knowledge of their brand or business, and make it personalized to them, addressing the email to an actual person's name if you can find it. Let them know at the end that you are contactable by phone or skype for a conversation, leaving the ball in their court, whilst making yourself appear assertive and confident. Be sure to include a photograph in the email or as part of your resume, its much harder to ignore someone when you've seen their face, and they become more than just some words on the page.
6. Do follow up on these emails if you don't receive a response in a few days.
People are busy, sometimes they need a nudge to prioritize your email. A polite and short re-iteration of the initial email should be enough to secure either a yes, no, or a maybe, which is better than no response at all. Always proof-read these emails, use indents, and sign off with a thank you followed by your contact tel.
7. Don't oversell yourself, on paper, or in person.
Aussie's all have top-notch bull-shit detectors, and they are usually not favourable to a backpacker who is just blagging it, flat-out lying, and is irritatingly over-confident from the get-go. They just want someone who will turn up on time, not smell of alcohol and do the job well, not be a winner of Personality of the Year. Then again if you are going for a job at a travel agent, as is common with backpackers, then feel free to ooze charm from every pour...There is a fine-line between confidence and arrogance in all walks of life, but a backpacker fresh off the plane needs to remember they are suddenly a small fish in a big pond full of backpackers, and it's a competition of skills and experience, not who's the most gregarious.
8. Do use a multiple of job-search avenues, such as gumtree, seek and indeed, plus the Facebook accounts of brands or businesses you like.
Try to check these sites first thing in the morning and then again later on, as new opportunities go up all the time. Apply to pretty much everything that is even a little bit relevant to your skill-set. Don't be afraid to ring a number if the ad requests it, it's always nerve-wracking reaching out for an opportunity on the phone or in person, speaking to someone you don't know, but you will miss out a number of chances if you don't take a pro-active stance.
9. Don't be picky when searching for jobs or applying, or consider yourself too experienced.
You can't wait out for the perfect job description with the optimal pay, whilst your bank balance continues to wither away. It's much easier to look for a job that is more suited to you or more fulfilling, when you are already in a job. Plus, no job when your a backpacker is forever. I've come across people who at home, worked in finance, nursing and advertising, who have had to adapt to their surroundings, and now work in housekeeping jobs, including me. I had my own business in England, and was my own boss for two years, and generally I prefer jobs where I can use my brain. However I am still quite content making beds and polishing tap's (not just because I am a clean-freak) but because it means I am in a better position than a lot of other backpackers; I am being paid and can save up to keep travelling, as well as, ya know, eat.
So the bottom-line of getting a job in Australia as a backpacker, is respecting the needs of the employers, matching your needs with theirs and appreciating that the competition will be strong; you will need a stellar CV, a great cover letter and a professional approach, for an employer to take you seriously. Happy job-hunting!
Thanks for reading!
Hannah and Taran here. We hail from Southern England, where we met online and are now realizing our mutual passion for travel here at Nomad'erHowFar. We discuss Nomadic Living, Simplifying your Life and Long-term Travel, to empower, motivate and inspire our readers. Get to know us here!