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During our 15 months there, we managed to secure eleven jobs between us. It’s safe to say we know a thing or two about getting hired on a working holiday visa in Australia, so we’ve shared our best tips in this Working Holiday Visa Australia guide!

Something like 600,000 backpackers visit Australia every year. And most backpackers are likely to try to find a working holiday visa job at some point during their time there. It goes without saying that competition is FIERCE.

Read on to learn more about finding the best paid backpacker jobs in Australia – and what you are doing wrong.

Psst! Make sure you save this post for later!

Working Holiday Visa Australia guide pin

Working Holiday Visa Australia Guide

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.

Working Holiday Visa Australia Guide - a photo of a couple on a sandy beach along the Great Ocean Road, Australia

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Why You Aren’t Getting Hired in Australia

Get Qualified

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. Other states allow you to do an online course and test.

This can make finding work whilst travelling a bit confusing, but there is plenty of information online regarding what you need and how you can obtain it, depending on where you are in Australia.

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.

Booking.com

Have we made ourselves clear? 

The same goes for obtaining a white card if you’re going to be looking for construction jobs for backpackers. 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. 

Helpful Links for Getting Qualified

Click here to get your RSA certificate online – valid for QLD, WA, SA, NT, ACT.

Complete your NSW RSA certificate online here.

Click here to get your TAS RSA certificate online.

Get your White Card here.

Click here for RSA training providers in Victoria.

Prep Your CV

Finding work as a backpacker 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. 

Be Proactive

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.

BACKPACKER’S GUIDE: Why You Aren’t Getting Hired on a Working Holiday Visa in Australia | So Today We Found | Travel Blog | Competition for backpacker jobs in Australia is FIERCE. Between us, we managed to find eleven jobs during our 15 months in Australia. We’re sharing our tricks here with you, all about getting hired on a working holiday visa in Australia.

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 river and going in every bar and restaurant along the way to enquire about job vacancies.

In one of the first bars he went into, he met the owner who was trying to unpack the weekly delivery by himself. The guy told Sam to come back in later in the afternoon for a trial shift. However, seeing that he had quite a lot on his plate, Sam offered to help out. He ended up working for him from that point onward. Kez got a trial shift there two days later, and the rest is history.

Sam actually ended up became bar manager. Our boss told Sam that if he hadn’t offered to help out like he had, we probably wouldn’t have been considered for the job as we had no actual bar experience. Yep, you read that right. Neither of us had worked in a bar before, and yet we managed to get steady, well-paid bar jobs within our first week of arriving in a new city. Persistence, personality, and proactivity are the keys here.

Are you heading over to Western Australia for Vine Pruning season? If you are, you’ll want to check out our blog post all about getting the best-paid pruning jobs.

Plus, get access to our FREE spreadsheet sharing the contact details of loads of hiring Margaret River wineries! Just click the button below.

Everything You Need to Know About Getting a Pruning Job in Margaret River | So Today We Found | Insider tips to get the best pruning jobs out there! Plus a free handy resource...

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 casual 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 it you’ll be on the next plane home faster than you would like.

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 3am and have to be up and cleaning for 9am on Saturday morning. Then she’d be back in the bar for Saturday evening. 

Backpacker jobs were so different from the jobs we had been doing at home. But we threw ourselves into every job we had. Aren’t prepared to hustle? You will find it very hard to get hired on your working holiday visa in Australia.

Best Paid Backpacker Jobs 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.

However, if you keep grafting, keep knocking on doors and keep going, you will find a job. And a well paid one at that. We aren’t saying settle for the first offer you get – if something doesn’t feel right, go with your gut. Always.

We hope that we’ve helped you somewhat by sharing our tips and tricks that allowed us to travel Australia for 15 months. If you’re really struggling, for a small fee we can take a look at your CV and cover letter and suggest changes to help your chances. Just get in touch.

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 in our Working Holiday Visa Australia Guide series. Why not take a look at them below?

For information about finding a vine pruning job in Margaret River, click here.

Click here to read our Backpacker’s Guide to preparing for regional work.

For what to expect, that no one tells you, about living and working in Australia click here.

To work out which East Coast Australia city is the best for you, take a look at this blog post.

Cheers, all the best.

Sam & Kez x

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BACKPACKER’S GUIDE: Why You Aren’t Getting Hired on a Working Holiday Visa in Australia
Working Holiday Visa: Australia Guide for Backpackers

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