Thursday, 16 January 2014

Milestone 3: Getting a full time job!

Hi folks! I believe this is a post that many regular readers have been waiting for. At approximately 10 am today, I got a job offer for a full time position, a few days shy of 2 months after landing in Melbourne. This post serves to share some of my insights, learning points and the process of job hunting in Melbourne, which I hope will be useful to others who intend to migrate in time to come.

1. Be prepared to start over.

If you have read other migration to Oz blogs and forums, you've probably heard this before. What it means is this : Job-wise, you need to be prepared to start at entry level again. Right now, you may be a senior officer, an executive, a manager, a CEO, a high flyer -- the truth is, your prior overseas job experiences may not be fully recognized or even relevant to the employers in Australia. Whatever your circumstances, it will be wise to adopt this general mindset during the actual job hunt. I find that it opens more doors to the jobs one can apply for since there are usually more entry level jobs available than middle management jobs (which typically require Australian experience anyway).

Not everyone can accept starting over -- it is a humbling experience indeed. Unless you are super rich, extremely talented in your field (then why are you reading this?) or have no overseas working experience whatsoever, be prepared to cast aside your pride and pre-conceived notions when looking for a job. Depending on the number of applications sent, you should also be prepared for a number of rejections, as sometimes you are simply not what the company is looking for.

Have a slice!

2. Be patient, realistic and have faith.

If you are applying onshore (like I did), make sure you provide your phone number in your resume and remain contactable during working hours. Most online advertisements for full time jobs indicate an application deadline and typically the shortlisting process can take another 1-2 weeks. Factor that in and you are looking at an average 2-3 week wait for the outcome of each application.

If you are applying for a job offshore, be prepared for an even longer wait and a lower chance of success. I didn't try this route but this might work for those migrating with kids and those who are simply too uncomfortable with the notion of migrating without a job at hand. During the job application phase, it is probably a good idea to get a phone plan that allows you to make and receive overseas calls without breaking the bank. S and I have observed that Australians generally prefer to communicate verbally over the phone instead of over email and SMS.

An image of Yarra Valley, an hour's drive away from Melb CBD.
Spend some time exploring your new 'neighbourhood' while you wait!

Statistics from the Australian Immigration states that over 80% of new immigrants find a job within the first 6 months. If you have done your due diligence and put in genuine effort in your applications, then just sit back, relax and enjoy all that Australia has to offer while you wait! Of course, spend your savings wisely in the meantime.

3. Be aware of Hiring 'Seasons' and Trends

Unlike (some) Singaporeans who work all the time throughout the year (including weekends and PH, yes you know who you are), most Australians do have a life and work-life balance. During the job hunt period, you are not likely to get a call or email over weekends and public holidays. There are also periods in the year where the HR processes are significantly slower, such as long holiday periods over Christmas or Easter, where some companies may close for a week or two - so be prepared for a slightly longer wait. On the other hand, holiday seasons do offer more opportunities for casual employment - restaurants and cafes will have an increased number of positions for delivery drivers, wait staff, counter staff and bartenders etc. Casual employment may be a good way to start offsetting your running costs while you are searching for longer-term employment.

Depending on your trade, it will be good to find out beforehand if there are periods in the year where more specific vacancies may be available. For example, if you hope to work in a school (like I did initially), it is good to know that the new school year generally starts at the end of January. This means that many school vacancies may be available in the months of October to December in preparation for the coming school year.

4. Consider other Alternatives

Depending on your circumstances, full time employment may not be the only way or best option for you. One alternative I've mentioned earlier is casual work. Another widely available alternative is part-time employment, which may be a better choice for mothers of young children.

As S has mentioned in this earlier post, the educational qualifications of PRs who are dependents or secondary applicants are not formally recognized by Australia. As such, if you have sufficient savings  and are considering a career change, you may also consider doing a certificate or degree in Australia before applying for a job. Australia has numerous government-funded courses for upgrading of skills in general. Some universities/institutes also assist their graduating students with subsequent internships, apprenticeships and job placements.

Anyway, these are just suggestions. Perhaps none of them work for you, for one reason or another. My main point here is this: find solutions, not give excuses. If status quo is not working out, do something about it. I've chosen to share these specific alternatives because these are the ones I considered during my own job hunting period the past 2 months. Helpful readers are more than welcome to suggest other constructive alternatives!

5. Useful websites

Most of them are online job portals. You can also create a job profile using most of these websites for free.

6. Networking in the new community

"It's not what you know, it's who you know." The same is true everywhere, I guess. Although I managed to secure a job on my own, many new friends and acquaintances we have made in Melbourne through family, existing friends, ex-colleagues and church have all contributed greatly to our new life here. Some have offered to pass our resumes to their friends who are hiring, some have kept us in their prayers, some have offered specific advice about employment and many have encouraged us in one way or another. A million heartfelt thanks to this special bunch of people!!

Cultivate a new sense of belonging!

7. Your visa makes a difference

More than half of the job adverts for full time and part-time jobs I have come across typically include a statement such as "only citizens and PRs need apply" or "only candidates with valid unrestricted work rights in Australia will be considered" etc.

Yes, like I've mentioned several times in my pre-migration posts, the type of visa you hold makes a HUGE difference. Permanent Residents are essentially on the same playing field with citizens, whereas temporary residents or offshore applicants looking for sponsorship will face a lot more challenges during the application phase. Its not impossible, though. 

8. Technical Tips 

The following points may be quite 'DUH' to those who have gone through many interviews and job applications in their lifetimes, but it never hurts to be reminded.. :) I picked up some of these learning points during my time as a HR manager, having gone through countless resumes and sat through many interviews myself.
  • Your resume/CV should not be longer than 3-4 pages in general. Place the most 'impressive' or important information about yourself on the first page. In Australia, a recent photograph is not required by default, unless specifically requested for. If you need specific help with resume writing, click here.
  • Click here for some helpful interview tips, if you need them
  • Higher salaried jobs usually involve applications that require your unique response to the job position's key selection criteria. Respond to each criteria honestly and in good written English. Respond in such a way that helps you stand out from the other candidates (in a good way!) 
  • If called for an interview, read through the key selection criteria and your responses in preparation for the interview. It is likely that most of the interview questions are derivatives of the key selection criteria.
  • Use more than one job search website. Don't be lazy! Take the effort to create a profile of yourself on some recruitment websites and make your resume available for prospective employers to view. When I was a recruiter, I have actually searched for and found candidates this way for a couple of vacancies.
  • Most advertisements will indicate where the job is located. Google-map the location before you apply, especially if you are not too familiar with the suburbs yet. Bear in mind that each Australian city is huge and it may not be feasible to travel a long distance (more than 50km?) to work everyday! Don't assume that the job location is always in the CBD area.

9. Response to FAQs 

I anticipate some specific questions (especially from kiasu Singaporeans who love to compare) regarding my job offer, so I shall pre-empt my Singaporean readers here. :D

How far is your workplace? About 8km from home and located in CBD. A good distance to cycle or tram!

What are your work hours like? Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Definitely shorter hours than working in a Singapore school...

Is it a teaching job since you were a teacher in Singapore? Nope. I decided to apply for an office-based admin job as my first job in Oz.

What is the salary like? More lucrative than an ex-MOE teacher with 4 years experience and an Honours degree. What more could I ask for? 

What are the benefits and entitlements like? About the same as the average Singaporean I think.

How did you manage to find a full time job in such a short time? By God's grace and by following my own advice as documented in this rather long post! I truly am looking forward to going back to work this coming Monday after such a long sabbatical. Thanks for reading!



  1. I am not in the education sector but as I quote from my sharing here. In my years of migrating here (Australia), I have met almost 20 Singaporeans / PRs who are in the IT sector and have also migrated here, they shared similar stories as mine or as the author of this article...

    I learnt so much from this country (Australia) who gave IT people like us a 2nd chance to continue on our career...I met an uncle who was working in the IT sector in Singapore and came here at the age of 50s and he continue in the IT career. He set his expectation correctly is working well in Australia.

    The pay in Australia are descent. The income gap between managers and engineers or between rich and poor are not wide.

    That is how the wealth of a nation should be spread so that everyone can retire with dignity.

    I was joking with my wife that if I return back to Singapore at my 40s, I may have to take up a taxi licence because there is simply no fighting chance for IT people like us...

    I am an just average Joe but I am grateful for many supports people have given to me as there is "kampong spirit" here than back home (Singapore) and that why my success is not mine alone but siblings, friends and cell members who help me through this journey.

    I used to blame PAP a lot for what has happen to the IT sector but now, I move on..we make lemonade out of lemons and hope that those who are affected will make the best of situations and move on too !

  2. Congrads, A!

    To Anonymous at 16 January 2014 19:59:

    > we make lemonade out of lemons

    True. Being fired illegally from an IT job in Singapore was the best thing that happened to me (despite it hurting like hell at that time). It became a wake-up call, the last straw that pushed me to emigrate and here I am now in Canada living a simple and contented life.

  3. I can verify the truth of Anonymous' comments - was privileged to be a tiny part of his migration story. It wasn't easy initially but having a network of friends and fellow migrants helps a lot. I was blessed when I first came 9 years ago and had a job lined up before I even arrived but nothing too flash - I vacuumed, mopped, clean toilets and moved bins, not exactly my ideal job as an Honours degree graduate with over a decade of management experience :) But it paid the bills and I had more time with my family and earned more than ever before - I reckon the biggest hurdle is the one in our minds.

    Ah....anonymous - the both of you are doing well and I'm glad you changed your mind and came to Melbourne instead of staying on in Sydney :) It'll be even more fun if we can convince more mates from our old unit to join us, haha. BTW, I'm still waiting for your housewarming party invite ;)

  4. Congratulations! you are moving forward in new environment

  5. Good luck to you! I I am seriously thinking of migrating after a series of price hike in Singapore.

  6. It will be a big surprise to find out that certain things can be more expensive in Australia than Singapore. Will you return to Singapore for good after migrating if a series of price drop in future?

    1. That was for Jacky I suppose.

      For SG, actually prices never really bothered us. After we got our 3-room HDB for $85k, and paid for it fully in a few years. Couldn't complain, really.

      Cars? Tough, but they are luxury items. Public transport in SG is so damn cheap and reliable. Other than "unfortunate" incidents like what happened today. Those are so rare.

      So if I answer this question, I will say no. I'm not sure what Jacky would think, though.

      I'm not sure why so many people dig the overpriced and so-so Paparich. My chicken rice is better IMHO, and A can do much better Rendang. But we won't complain for social events. Just that we would never ever go there if it were just the two of us...


  7. Dear A
    Congrats! I have been following your blog and it has been really helpful. Melbourne is indeed lovely as I've studied there a long while back. A few questions tho
    Currently, there is a possibility my husband and I will get a 457 due to his job. However, we eventually would want to be a PR there as well. Is it possible to apply on shore while having a 457 ( not having to wait for the 2 years work experience) plus I am also a soon to be ex teacher ;) if I apply for PR under the skilled list.. As seen in your job change ( hooray) does that mean even if I am granted under a visa for my teacher skill, I am allowed to hold other jobs? :) thank you very much! Hope to see you in Melbourne soon!

    1. Hi Anon,

      If you have evidence to prove you are indeed a qualified teacher (in Singapore), you can apply for your PR subclass 189 anytime. The whole process took me about 6-7 months. You can apply for 189 onshore or offshore. The tricky bit is to get all your required documents from MOE/your employer etc before you come over otherwise you are going to face a challenge getting the statements you need for a positive skills assessment.

      If you are granted a 189 for nominated occupation of a school teacher, you do not need to teach or do any teaching-related jobs in Oz.

      Cheers mate and hope you make it to Down Under!

    2. Thanks A! I just took my ielts exam on Saturday! Was so zzz by the time the writing component started :/ anyway, just want to say a big thank you for your entries. If not for the steps you wrote out, I wouldn't have known what to do with the necessary documentation! I got in touch with NIE and received my practicum statement already! : D really thanking God for leading me to your blog. :)))

    3. Hi Charms,

      It's great to know the blog is helping real people out there. Keeps the bloggers (who have been busy and getting lazier with writing, hah) more motivated to post helpful stuff. All the best in your move!


  8. Hi,

    Will like to find out from you that if i have my trade assessed + Ielts results average of 7, however my trade is hitting occupation ceiling for the year, thus will likely be added as secondary applicant so does that make my credentials not formally recognised by Aussie employer?

    Btw, my degree is directly from Australia as well.


    1. Hi,

      Does it also mean that if you get the Visa on your Nominated Skill, are you strictly allowed only to work in that field/occupation?

      ie. Visa granted using with Accountant (General), but intending to study/work in different field.

      Prospective Migrant
      (Taking IELTS in March - Wish me luck!)

    2. Hi Anon, do take a look at the immigration website. Last I checked when I was still in the migration process earlier last year, you do not need to work in the field/occupation which was given a positive skills assessment. To be more explicit in your example, if you have a positive skills assessment for accountant (general), you do not legally need to work as an accountant after you are granted a subclass 189/190. If you are holding subclass 457, however... then different story.

      All the best in your IELTS,

    3. Hi Alvin,

      Frankly speaking I don't understand your question. What secondary applicant are you referring to? Generally, if your degree is from a recognized Australian University then logically of course the Australian employer will acknowledge the qualification. Whether they want to hire you or otherwise is a separate matter from whether they recognize your degree or not. Last I heard, about 20% of local graduates from Australian Universities are still looking for first employment, so be prepared for competition.

      All the best,

  9. Hi, great post on seeking jobs and of course discovering the wonders of gum tree. I brought my first lemon car in gum tree. Love it to bits. I could relate to your job hunting journey. All the best. Enjoy the great work life balance!

  10. Hi! I've been granted a subclass 189 VISA and planning to move to Australia next year. However, due to "bad" news I read everyday about several companies closing all throughout Australia, I started to hesitate if I should delay my plan. Man, I was thinking day and night about when to make the big move since I got my visa and it’s taking a toll on my sanity. Thanks God I came up your blog and your stories gave me hope!

    I am a Structural Engineer with more than 8 years of experience in Industrial field (Oil & Gas, Petrochemical). I know it is really difficult to land a job in Australia that's in line with my experience so I am open to applying for blue collar jobs first while patiently applying for my dream job.

    Considering the current situation in Australia (a lot of companies closing or downsizing, record-high unemployment rate and LOW confidence among Australians that things will get better soon), I am thinking that it would be difficult to get blue collar jobs nowadays since the Australians who lost their jobs would also be moving into the blue collar jobs pool. One friend of mine who's already there told me that there was an order from the Australian government to hire locals first before hiring migrants. This, I think, is a recipe for disaster ( I stand to be corrected though).

    In this regard, do you think that I should postpone my plan of moving permanently to Australia next year wait a little bit more, perhaps a year, before finally moving permanently to the land down under?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. First up, congrats on getting your 189!

      Wrt your comment, I think you worry a little too much.

      Who dares, wins. We walk the talk ;)


  11. Hi
    Did you look for a job after u landed? I'm already a PR, is it easier to look for a job from overseas or head over to look for a job? Any feedback is useful to me.