Working Holiday Visa – What to consider when looking for work in Oz?

For many travelers heading to Australia, looking for work is a must at some point during their stay. Whether it’s to get a more authentic taste of what living here would be like or to cash up and travel to other places beyond Oz, those on a Holiday Working Visa (WHV) can easily seek and obtain work during their time down under.

But what are some of the key considerations for looking for a job?

Trial shifts are a thing. Fairly out of the norm if you are from the UK, asking a prospective employee to come in so you can trial them for the job is by no means out of the ordinary in Australia – especially in hospitality. Whilst it makes sense both for you and the employer, be clear on what’s fair and what’s essentially taking the p*ss.

Typically, a good employer will state upfront how long your shift will be and whether you will be paid. This can vary depending on the type of work you do, but typically for unskilled work any work carried out past 1.5 hours should be paid for. Unfortunately it’s not wholly uncommon for some employers to take trial workers on during busy periods and then never contact the individual again. Fortunately there’s a great website to help you understand your entitlement when it comes to a trial shift. You can find it here and you should use this info to fight for what you’re owed.

Make your CV applicable. This is fairly obvious. But if you’re planning on bashing out the same CV to a range of different sectors then it’s unlikely you’ll get a call back. Don’t be generic. Give specific examples of your experience in waitressing / bartending / training up penguins for the circus. Whatever it is, make it clear you have the right experience.

Don’t be picky. If you’re just looking to earn a quick buck, don’t spend too much time turning your nose up at certain jobs. Whilst you should always do something you think you’re going to enjoy – what would be the point in coming to the other side of the world if you hate it – be open-minded as it will only cost you in the long run.

Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) – To serve alcohol in Australia, you must attend a four hour RSA course, take and pass the test at the end. That means, if you’re looking for a job in hospitality – bar, cafe, restaurant – you’re going to need to complete this bad boy. Don’t stress. It’s cheap – around $40 most places – and pretty easy too. One thing to bear in mind is that if you do the course in one state and move to another, you will have to retake the test as each state requires its own certificate. The RSA website can be found here.

Ask questions. For most, this comes naturally. You’re keen to understand what the employer is looking for from an employee and whether you think you can match up. But for a lot of people looking for casual work in Oz, questions easily get forgotten because, well, it’s perhaps not so long term for you.

Yet, Australian employers have hundreds, if not thousands of interested applicants coming in and out of their doors all the time – all enthusiastic, all with experience. If you don’t seem the least bit interested, it’s unlikely they’ll pick you from the pack.

Use a range of methods. Gumtree, good ol’ Google and my favourite – door-to-door CV bashing – don’t be shy of using more than one way of getting work. From personal experience, going in and physically handing your CV out is most effective. It gives the employer an opportunity to get a sense of what you’re like and is usually far more memorable than someone emailing their CV across. If you can, wait around to meet the manager.


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