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How Tough Is It To Get A Job In Australia?

Finishing your degree or education and starting work can be an exciting time. Thousands of migrants arriving in Australia too are fairly optimistic of gaining fruitful employment upon their arrival in Australia. But as many migrants may tell you from their personal experience, finding a job in Australia is rather challenging, especially for young people from culturally diverse backgrounds. If you, too, are finding it difficult to find a job, you are not alone. Young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds face additional disadvantages in earning and occupational attainment.

But it's often not your fault that you can't get a job. The competition is real. There's a high number of people looking for work, and with so many people applying for roles, the odds of you securing an offer are shorter. So how come there are so many people looking for work these days? The Australian economy is not producing enough jobs anymore, and the reasons why are listed below. Unfortunately, these reasons are unlikely to change any time soon and will continue to make it hard to find a job.

Reasons Why You're Unable To Find Work

Low Levels Of English Language Proficiency

English fluency plays an important role in your pursuit of employment in Australia. Experts suggest mentioning your IELTS score to prove your English Proficiency may help in your application. Alternatively, If you aren't confident about your English language skills, you can improve your skills through a course.

Experience Discrimination

There are often stories about young people who choose a more Anglo-sounding name on a CV, and they are more likely to get a job interview. And some of that racism and discrimination is more structural, and some of it is much more abduce."

Lack Of Relevant Past Experience

This includes limited work experience and a lack of prior learning and qualifications recognition. These issues result in people from ethnic backgrounds mostly taking up informal and casual work within their communities like being employed at a corner store, fast-food chains, local community businesses where often no experience or English language skills are needed.

Limited Knowledge Around Australian Systems

Career experts suggest that it's beneficial to speak to peers who have lived in Australia for a long time to learn the local Australian system of finding employment. Often tips you receive from friends and family from their own personal experiences can help you move in the right direction. Another important tip is to volunteer.

Slowdown In Employment Growth

In the past, it was easy to find work. So where have all the jobs gone? Since the end of the mining boom, Australia's economy has not fared well, and as a consequence, many people have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced. About 1.8 million Australians are looking for more work or some work. And they're not able to find it. The past year was the worst for job creation since 2013. According to recently released figures from the ABS, the average monthly gain in employment for the past year was around 7,100 per month. This is around 1/3 less than in 2015. For the calendar year, annual employment growth reduced to just 0.9 per cent compared to 2.5 per cent in 2015. The end of the mining boom has continued to impact the economy. To secure these scarce opportunities, people have to apply for more roles than before. It also typically takes longer to find employment. This is because employers have a much bigger candidate pool to select from and demand more from potential employees.

Less Full-Time Jobs

The economy is creating more part-time, casual or subcontracted jobs. The number of part-time positions (classified as between one hour and 35 hours per week) in 2016 increased by 126,000. This compares to a reduction in full-time (classified as over 35 hours per week) jobs of 34,000. The most common type of work used to be full-time work. However, a changing economy, deregulation and globalisation have seen the nature of the Australian labour force adapt drastically in a very short time. In the late 1970s, eight in 10 workers had full-time jobs. Today, only about 65 per cent of workers are classified as being in full-time roles. An ever-growing rate of part-time employment has some advantages. For some, part-time work means flexibility, especially if they have other jobs or responsibilities (like parenting or study). But research shows it can also mean lower wages, less job security and fewer career opportunities than full-time roles.

Last year, Treasurer Scott Morrison said the rise of part-time work was good for workers and employers. "A job is a job, and more jobs is always a good thing." However, this ignores how part-time work is impacting the economy. The average full-time worker works just over 39 hours per week, and the average part-time worker clocks up 17 hours per week. The total number of hours worked in Australia increased by just 0.4 per cent, but the population increased by 1.4 per cent, so hours worked per capita is just 85 per month. This is lower than during the GFC and the tech wreck of the early 2000s. Only the recession 'we had in the early 90s was worse.

Lack Of Opportunities In Regional Areas

Those jobs being created are predominantly part-time and in Sydney and Melbourne. In regional areas of NSW and Victoria and the other states and territories, employment growth is much slower, with WA and Queensland being the worst-performing states. However, figures also show weakness in their economies, even in NSW and Victoria.


A large number of employees are 'under-employed'. Over one million people are employed part-time but looking for more hours. On average, these under-employed people are looking for another two days per week. As a result, some employers have a largely part-time workforce where there can increase people's hours. This means they can avoid creating new positions, hiring more staff or incentivising existing staff with higher wages. This is a good way for businesses to contain costs but means the workers work fewer hours than they would like. Until much of this capacity is utilised, it is also unlikely that wages (and your next pay rise if you're currently in a job) will increase significantly.

Machines, Not People

As a result of technological advances, the modern workforce needs fewer workers. High tech jobs require only a fraction of workers that once did those same jobs. One robot or computer can do the work that a hundred or more employees perform. As a result, society needs less manual labour, and some jobs will even become obsolete with society becoming more automated. While automation eliminates many jobs once done by people, new technology is not creating an equal number of well-paying jobs to make up for those losses. A 2014 Oxford study found the number of US workers finding employment in new industries has been low – in 2010, only 0.5 per cent of employees were employed in industries that came into existence after 2000.

FAQs About Getting A Job In Australia

Before you travel to Australia, you need to ensure you have the right visa. If you are coming to work, it's important to have a visa that matches the kind of work you will be doing. There are over 30 visa options for people wanting to work in Australia. It may be possible to get a work visa if you are:

  • A skilled worker
  • A person participating in specific activities
  • A working holidaymaker
  • A highly specialised worker
  • A (short term) trainee
  • A successful business person
  • An investor
  • Working in Australia's offshore oil and gas industry

Finding the right job can take a long time and is by no means guaranteed. It's not uncommon for eligible job seekers to be looking for a job for several months. When you apply for a visa, you will be told the average processing time it takes to find out if you have been successful or not.

The number of applications, seasonal peaks and complex cases all impact processing times. If you can, lodging your application online is recommended as this is likely to streamline your visa processing.

There are many different visas available to overseas workers. The best place to start is the Australian Department of Immigration. You can use their 'visa finder' to explore your visa options. The visa you need to work in Australia depends on how long you want to stay and the kind of work you will do. In addition, you will likely need to meet particular criteria such as showing that you have a certain amount of money and specific skills/qualifications and proficiency in English.

Particular visas can regulate the type of work you can perform and/or the number of hours you can work. Australian citizens, permanent residents and New Zealand nationals holding Special Category (subclass 444) visas are the only people who have an unrestricted right to work in Australia. Therefore, it's important to know the rules for your visa. You can check your details and conditions with Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO). This will tell you your visa's expiry date, how long you can stay and what you can and can't do on your visa.

The visa process can be very expensive. Some visas are free, some cost a few hundred dollars, and others are several thousand dollars. The cost depends on the specific visa you are applying for.

To work legally in Australia, you need evidence of your right to work. This could be a visa, evidence of permanent resident status, an Australian or New Zealand passport, an Australian birth certificate or a certificate of Australian citizenship.

SEEK is a website that houses available jobs in Australia and other helpful career-related tools, but SEEK can't help you with information on visas or securing the right visa. However, once your visa and legal documentation have been finalised, SEEK can help you search for jobs, assist you with career advice and guidance, and help you get your SEEK Profile set up so that when you are legally able to work in Australia, you'll be ready to go.

International workers can seek advice and assistance from the Department of Home Affairs, the Fair Work Commission or the Fair Work Ombudsman. If you're looking for visa advice or immigration assistance, you can get help from a migration agent. Visit the Department of Home Affairs to access the Register of Migration Agents.

Step Guide To Get A Job In Australia

In Australia, job-hunting can be fierce competition, and there are often many stages and hurdles before you even get an interview. These suggestions will help you present yourself in a better light and demonstrate to your potential employer why you're the perfect candidate for the role.

Understand Your Work Rights As An International Student In Australia

On a valid student visa, international students in Australia can work for up to 40 hours per fortnight while classes are in session and unlimited hours when class is not in session. Hours of work that are required as part of your studies will not count towards your 40 hours, and most volunteer and unpaid work are OK, too (be sure to check conditions here). If you break these restrictions, you are at risk of cancelling your visa.

Do Your Research

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We cannot stress this point enough! Make sure you fully understand what the role entails and what the company does. This will make your application easier to assemble, and you'll be much better prepared when it's time for the interview. Don't make one generic application for all jobs – each application should be specifically tailored to the role you are applying for. Employers are looking for candidates who truly want to work with them and aren't just submitting 100 applications randomly.

  • PRO TIP! Try your hardest to find out the name of the person who will receive your application and formally address the application to them, rather than 'To whom it may concern. 

Read And Address The Job Advertisement/Description Carefully.

There are four main parts of any job description. Your application should address each one and articulate how you fulfil each, using examples to illustrate your points.

  • Values: How the employer works and what it expects of its employees. Check that you are comfortable with these.
  • Accountabilities: The day-to-day responsibilities and duties of the role. Your previous work history should have skills and experiences that are transferrable to this role.
  • Key Selection Criteria: The job description often outlines the qualities, knowledge, and skills required for the role. Include specific examples or situations where you have demonstrated the qualities they are seeking.
  • Qualifications: Sometimes, specific qualifications will be required and form part of the screening process for the employer.

Make A Resume And Cover Letter That Get The Right Attention.

  • Resume: Also known as a CV, this outlines your job history, starting with the most recent role. Keep the descriptions short, to the point and relevant to the job you are applying for. Format the layout to your own unique, professional style to look like other resumes.
  • Cover letter: This is essentially a letter directed to the person responsible for hiring and allows you to provide a more in-depth description of yourself, detail why you would like to work with the employer and explain how you align with each of the selection criteria. Make your cover letter clear, concise and easy to read, and try and keep it shorter than one page.

PRO TIP! Submit these as PDFs to avoid any formatting errors.

After You Submit Your Application, Follow It Up.

Put yourself in your employer's shoes; they have to filter through many applications, often on top of their usual workload. If you have not heard back in a week or two after applications close, it is more than OK to make a polite enquiry. It shows that you are eager and have taken the initiative to be proactive. Employers appreciate those who are driven and determined.

Prepare For The Interview.

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So, you got the interview. Well done. You may encounter a broad range of interview styles. From casual lunches to phone interviews to group interviews, the most important thing is to be prepared, positive, and yourself.

Situational/Behavioural Questions: These are some of the most common forms of interview questions. You will be asked to demonstrate your competency for a task by describing a time when you handled something similar in the past. Take your time to answer the questions properly. We suggest using the STAR approach when responding to ensure your answers are structured, don't miss out on key elements, and finish strong.

  • S – Situation: Where and when you had the relevant experience.
  • T – Task: What was required of you for this experience.
  • A – Action: What you did in this instance.
  • R – Result: How the situation played out and benefitted from your action.

Follow Up With The Employer.

Find out when the employer plans to make their hiring decision. This will provide you with a timeline, and you can follow up if you have not heard anything since the meeting. If successful, the employer may wish to speak to people who can validate your credentials – these are known as your referees (it's a good idea to include these at the end of your resume). So have at least two people ready who will speak positively about you in a relevant and occupational sense. In other words, don't choose your friends.


Getting a job in Australia is a fantastic way to integrate, meet new people and develop new skills that will, in turn, prove incredibly beneficial when you apply for jobs in your home country or elsewhere abroad. You have the qualifications, experience and skills, so why is it hard to find a job in Australia? When you have been looking for an extended period of time but are unable to land a job, you may find yourself asking, "Why won't someone give me a chance?" It can be a struggle to stay optimistic about your job search in a tough employment market.

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