Something like 600,000 backpackers
For fear of sounding like your grandparents, ‘things aren’t what they used to be’. For example, gone are the days when you could rock up to Australia with nothing but a backpack and a working holiday visa, and find a job practically as soon as you step off the plane. Businesses are tightening up their recruiting processes. For many, it is no longer cost-effective to bring somebody in, only to have to replace them in a matter of weeks. Combine this with a common assumption that backpackers are lazy, and you don’t find yourself in ideal job hunting conditions.
Thankfully, Kez spent five years working in Human Resources. During this time, she saw HUNDREDS of CVs and carried out HUNDREDS of job interviews. The common things she would look for in a candidate are pretty universal, and so can apply to any job search, in any country. Even a backpacker job search in Australia! We’ve narrowed down six easy to address action points to help you work out why you aren’t getting hired in Australia, and what you can do about it.
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Getting hired on a Working Holiday Visa in Australia
First things first: Australia takes certification and the law very seriously. You need a qualification of some level to do bar and hospitality work, construction work, sometimes even barista work (we’re looking at you, Melbourne). And the tricky thing is that each state has its own requirements and even slightly different laws.
For example, to serve alcohol you need a Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) certificate. These are state-specific. This means that if you get one in Victoria and then drive across the Nullabor to Western Australia, you will need to complete a different RSA for Western Australia. A pain, we know. Some states, like Victoria, specify that you need to complete a classroom-based course to get your certificate. O
Let’s be honest with you here. There is ZERO chance of you being offered a bar job if you go looking for work without an RSA. Any potential employer will be unwilling to risk their licence, and a hefty fine, by letting you work without the legally required qualifications. You will be wasting your time if you begin your hospitality job search without having first completed your RSA. GET YOUR RSA FIRST.
Have we made ourselves clear?
The same goes for obtaining a white card if you’re going to be looking for construction jobs. Sam completed his one afternoon, and was hired the next day. Of course, you may find an employer who is willing to look the other way, but we don’t recommend this. If they are fine with letting you onto a building site without ensuring you are up to speed with health and safety regulations, they probably won’t take your personal safety very seriously.
Click here to get your RSA certificate online – valid for QLD, WA, SA, NT, ACT.
Prep Your CV
Finding work as a traveller in Australia can be tricky at times. Some places have a lot of competition when it comes to finding a job. Particularly the east coast cities and rural farming communities. It will help to have a professional, grammatically-correct and neat CV to help you stand out from the sea of backpackers all looking for a job on their working holiday visa.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because it is a casual job, you can apply ‘casually’. Treat your application the same way you would a job application back home. Update your CV and contact details. Especially your address. It’s super confusing to see a CV of someone applying for a job in Melbourne but their CV says Townsville. Write a short paragraph outlining any jobs you have had since coming to Australia. Potential employers can find this reassuring and be more inclined to contact you.
If you haven’t had a job in Australia before, see about getting a reference from your landlord or ex-employer from back home. It does help if you can get an Australian reference, but something is better than nothing.
Don’t just blindly send out your CV with the generic Gumtree or Seek cover letter either. Make more of an effort. It doesn’t have to be pages and pages, but take the time to draw attention to any relevant experience you may have for the job you are applying for. That said, pay attention to what the job poster says about contact methods. If they specifically ask you to call them instead of email, it would do to follow their request.
When we arrived into Melbourne, we had just enough money left between us to get a room in an Airbnb for a few nights and to put a deposit down on a tiny studio flat in East Melbourne. After that, we were in serious trouble, so we knew we needed to find work quickly.
Every morning, we woke up at around 7 or 8 am. We spent the first half-hour or so trawling through online job boards and applying for jobs that had been posted overnight. We got a few work trials pretty quickly from doing this. Kez went on to secure a really good part-time cleaning job that she found on Gumtree. Then, Sam took being proactive to a whole new level and managed to get us both work trials at a bar.
Kez was working a trial shift at a fine dining restaurant, and hating every second. Sam’s spent the time walking along
Sam actually ended up became bar manager. Our boss told Sam that if he hadn’t offered to help out
Ask For The Manager
Following on from the above, our boss at the bar was also very particular about who job searchers asked to speak to when they came into the bar. If they didn’t ask to see the manager, he instantly wasn’t interested.
Sure, the manager may not be around to see you. But just asking shows that you are serious, respectful, and are trying to do things properly. For example, if you were applying for a job in a supermarket you probably wouldn’t just hand your CV over to the cashier and walk out again, would you?
Don’t be scared of this either. Asking for the manager shows that you are confident. Which is exactly what you need to be to succeed in hospitality.
Dress To Impress
We cannot stress this one enough! Turning up in board shorts or a bikini top just isn’t the way to go. During Kez’s trial at the fine dining place, the supervisor actually thanked her for dressing appropriately. She said that all too often job applicants turn up in flip flops and a vest top. Once you get a feel for the place, feel free to adjust your uniform, but initially play it safe.
You don’t have to spend a lot to sort yourself out with a work-appropriate wardrobe. We picked up a pair of black plimsolls each and black trousers and a shirt for Sam from Target, and Kez got a black skirt and a couple of smart-casual tops from our local Op Shop.
It’s so easy to forget what you did when you were applying for jobs back home, we get it. It’s even easier to slip into a constant state of ‘holiday mode’. You feel like you don’t need to be serious or smart for anything. But when applying for jobs in Australia, especially as a backpacker, it pays to leave your new-found hippy status back in the hostel for a bit.
Be Prepared To Hustle
Last but not least – leave your pride at the door. You are setting yourself up to fail in your job search if you immediately disregard certain types of jobs. Money is money, and without
Kez worked three jobs whilst we lived in Melbourne; the bar job, as a cleaner, and as a freelance social media manager online – which she still does now. And yes, it was bloody exhausting. Especially on some weekends. She would get home from her Friday night shift at the bar at
Backpacker jobs were so different from the jobs we had been doing at home. But we threw ourselves into every job we had.
Finding a Job in Australia
Finding work as a backpacker on a working holiday visa in Australia can be tough. You will need to up your game to make sure you stand out in a sea of similar applicants. We hope that we’ve helped you somewhat by sharing our tips and tricks that allowed us to travel the country for 15 months.
Have you struggled to get hired as a traveller in Australia, or in another country? What are your tips to help others find work whilst on their working holiday visa?
You might enjoy our other blog posts about finding jobs in Australia. Why not take a look at them below?