When I moved from Canada to Australia on a 1 year Working Holiday Visa, I wasn’t sure what type of job I’d be able to find in my field or if I’d be able to find a job in general. I was even more unsure after talking to friends I had made when I moved. They were having a difficult time getting hired and they were applying to jobs in the food industry. According to my research before my trip the food industry was supposed to be the easiest place to look for a job.
When you don’t want to Work in a Restaurant or Bar
To be honest I had no interest in working as a server or bartender because I knew it would make me feel very nervous and out-of-place. Plus I knew in Australia tipping wasn’t a regular thing so I didn’t think it would be worth putting myself in that uncomfortable position to just make minimum wage.
My friend Robin was working as a server in a Brisbane pizza place where he said the hours were so sparse that he would have to find a second serving job just to have enough hours in a week. I thought maybe not being able to find a serving job was just a hard task in Brisbane but as I travelled around more in Australia I found that it was even a bit hard in cities like Melbourne for my friends who were also on the working holiday visa like myself.
Let the Job Hunting Begin
At first I figured I’d look for work in a clothing store selling clothes since I had prior experience and education in the fashion industry. After handing out resumes for a few weeks I learned that most places would just tell you to apply through their company’s website online.
Applying online turned out to be a big application process where you are competing for a job with 100s if not 1000s of other people looking for the same type of job. Unless you are to enter the right “keywords” in your resume or application your resume will easily be filtered out of the running and not even be looked at by a person only by a computer.
Finally Something Good Happened
Luckily during my time of walking around trying to hand out resumes in malls I stopped to talk to a girl giving out perfume samples. Feeling a bit desperate I ended up asking her how she obtained a job in the mall. I was expecting her to tell me she just applied online through the company’s site like everyone else and by some mystical force she got the job!
Alternatively she said to take her number and to text her at 5 and she would tell me more about it. So I did that exactly, I really didn’t expect a response-I thought she was just being polite in the mall but to my surprise she replied. She told me to check out MEA and there was a good chance I’d find something good.
What is MEA Anyways?
MEA is an agency who hires people with experience dealing with skin care and cosmetics. Luckily I happened to be an esthetician back in Canada so I was eligible to apply. I decided with nothing to lose I’d give it a chance. Not long after applying I received a phone call from a lady who worked in the MEA office she called to invite me to an interview later that week.
The interview was a two-day process, the first day consisted of a round of questioning and filling out papers and the second day was basically a few questions and then an informational sessions of things to do and things not to do on while working. Of course they also wanted to make sure I was in Australia on a valid Working Holiday Visa.
Dressed in black head to toe I got the job! Working for MEA you are required to only wear black, dress pants, high heels and a black blazer. I was totally jazzed about this because black is my favourite colour to wear anyways!
What Was My Job Exactly?
I basically worked as a beauty consultant and makeup artist who traveled around from mall to mall filling in with different brands when one of the regular workers couldn’t make it. I often worked for the companies Napoleon, Clarins, YSL and Lancome. During your shift you are required to hit a certain sales target which were pretty attainable unless you were working amongst very competitive beauty consultants who would practically push you out-of-the-way to get to the customer before you did and in that case meeting your targets may be more of a challenge.
Final Thoughts About MEA
My overall experience working for MEA was a positive one. I enjoyed working with makeup and skin care and because I was often in new stores daily I was able to learn the city a lot better. Another bonus was I made more per hour than I had ever made in Canada.
After a while of working for them I was offered a job as a Counter Manager at one of the stores I was temporarily placed at for the week. I decided to leave MEA and take the Counter Manager job instead because the hours were consistent and I liked the people working at that location.
If working in the beauty industry is not your thing I’ve heard very good things about Hays Personnel Services . I’ve never used this specific job recruiter but a girl I met in my hostel was hired by them to work in an office at desk job.
My biggest tips for job hunting in Australia are :
- Apply with an Australian phone number, people will not hire you without one
- Make sure you have a TFN (tax file number) another super necessary thing to have before applying for jobs! You can apply for one here.
- Apply online when applying for jobs within large companies sadly big companies generally won’t take resumes in person usually only mom and pop shops do now
- Be consistent with applying to jobs don’t just apply to 1 or 2 and hope for the best, keep submitting resumes to multiple businesses to better your chance of finding work
- Talk to someone working in a position you’d like and ask them how they got the job
- Make connections with people around you and let them know you are looking and willing to work, you never know who might have a job for you
- If you’re applying to a serving job and don’t have experience but feel like you could do it anyway then fluff the truth a bit (at least that’s how my friend found a serving job, when she had absolutely no previous experience)
- Make sure you resume is clearly laid out and up to date
- Construction Jobs are supposedly easy for travellers to get and depending on your location it could even possibly count towards you farm work hours for a second year visa
- Of course you can always look for farming jobs but be careful and do your research ahead of time, it can be a tricky time finding something not sketchy
Finding a job when you’re a foreigner isn’t easy! Don’t be discouraged to easily, keep applying to jobs until you get one and be open to new opportunities you may not have considered before. You will find something just give it time! Have fun, be careful and make the most of your Working Holiday Visa ! If you have any thoughts, tips or comments leave them in the comment box below – I love hearing from you!!