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MIGRANT NINJA NOTE –  This is the first post in the two post series to supplement the webinar (LINK) event organised by Terry O’Reilly of OBP Australia. For the introductory post click HERE

Note – There was some data drop out at my end during the initial part of the webinar (8 minutes-11 minutes) during which time Terry was still taking questions. I do apologise for that.

POST 1 – THINGS LEFT UNSAID

SLIDE 1 – TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

I am a migrant who moved to Australia in 2014 along with my wife on a Permanent Resident Visa (Class 189). Prior to this I was employed in the maritime sector and had over two decades of sea-going experience, having worked as a Master Mariner (Ship’s Captain) for the last few years. My wife too was at the peak of her career, having an MBA degree from one of the most prestigious institutes in India and with work experience in the retail industry and the media industry. In her last position, she was working as a Manager (Corporate Sales) for one of the largest media houses in Asia. Although we were both eligible for PR, I applied as the main applicant because my job (Ship’s Captain) was on the SOL list (Now known as the MLTSSL list).

On paper, we were both the ideal skilled migrants: PR Visa in hand, top marks in IELTS, above average English communication skills and decades of experience. Getting a job would be a cakewalk. At least that is what we thought until we landed in Australia and the reality hits us smack-on like a runaway freight train!

SLIDE 2 – HOW DID THE BOOK COME ABOUT?

During the initial visa application phase, the actual transition to this great country, and during the initial years of settling down, we had our fair share of doubts and queries. As with most migrants, we were excited to make the move as soon as we were granted our visas and to finally live the Big Australian Dream. The one thing we did not factor in was the time it took for us to get our first job in Australia and the insecurity we had to face during that period!

Here is a question for you – Of all the Dream Merchants who are selling the Great Australian Dream in your home country, is there anyone who mentions the challenges that await you when you get here, the biggest one being getting employed?

Getting a job is one of the most crucial milestones in every migrant’s journey to a new country. A majority of us migrants arriving on a Permanent Resident visa will probably be on the SOL or CSOL and have their skills assessed as a part of their eligibility requirements. One would then safely assume that the relevant industry will have ample job opportunities when the migrant arrives. The ground reality, however, is a lot different.

Unless you are one of the fortunate ones who has got a placement before you have even landed in Australia or if you are in a booming industry which is seeking professionals with niche skill sets, your first big break in Australia may take a while.

A quick statistic – According to one report, many migrants arriving on Independent Skilled Visas say they struggle to find work and nearly half indicate they are “just getting along” or struggling to pay bills. Just 36 percent indicated they were employed, while 20 percent were looking for work and the remaining 44 percent were not in the workforce. Scary, isn’t it?
 

(Incidentally, this also matches the snap poll conducted by Terry at the beginning of this webinar about the general profile of the attendees and it turned out that 62% were skilled migrants already in Australia but still looking for work)

I honestly did not give any thought about applying for a job until I actually got here. I did go through the basic motions of preparing a resume (the format and layout of which is another story altogether!) and sending it to some employers through SEEK and INDEED, two of the leading job portals in Australia.

It was a long and laborious process for us when we got here and there were some nervous moments when we actually thought that neither of us could succeed in getting a job out here. Don’t worry, there is a happy ending to the story. In my initial interaction with some of the migrants who were already well settled out

Don’t worry, there is a happy ending to the story.

In my initial interaction with some of the migrants who were already well settled out here, it was evident that every migrant went through the same challenges, to a point that it was almost considered a rite of passage or an initiation of sorts!

I decided early on that the next stream of migrants who were aspiring to migrate to Australia should not face the same uncertainty that my wife and I faced due to lack of knowledge about the employment market in Australia. I began taking meticulous notes, gathered tonnes of information from various sources, spoke to migrants from diverse backgrounds and consulted some leading experts with the intention of creating a resourceful guide which will benefit all future skilled migrants. Aussie Migrant: Jobs is the result of all that hard work.

This book is over 400 pages long and some of the topics covered are:

  • Specific Work Restrictions and Conditions
  • Overseas Skills Assessment
  • Average Wages
  • Contacting Prospective Employers
  • Golden Rules for Job Hunting
  • Tapping the Hidden Market
  • Job Market Demographics
  • Importance of a Professional Online Profile
  • Getting the elusive ‘Australian’ Experience
  • Writing a winning ‘Australia Ready’ Resume
  • Addressing Selection Criteria
  • Interview Process and Tips from Experts
  • The STAR Format of Answering Interview Questions
  • Different types of Employment
  • Employment Contract
  • Workplace Etiquettes
  • Support for Job Seekers
  • Government Initiatives for Jobseekers
  • Interview Preparation
  • Challenging Interview Questions & How to Answer Them

Additionally, there are some Sample Resumes and Cover Letters to help you get started and Chapter 11 has over 180 usable Website Links all in one convenient location. These include State-wise break up of industry related links, government job sites, a list of recruitment companies, information websites and a comprehensive list of the major job portals in Australia.

SLIDE 3 – WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR LEARNING EXPERIENCE IN THE MAKING OF THIS BOOK?

  • Seeking employment, especially in a new country can be quite challenging and is a skill in itself. It is not a simple matter of drafting a generic Resume and sending it various employers and then sitting by the phone waiting for the interview call.
  • Hiring a professional earlier on can make all the difference between getting a job quickly or remaining unemployed for an extended period. As one of the contributors to this book has put it: Early intervention, strategic planning and professional support will get you ahead of the game. You may want to just hire a resume writer or you may opt to connect only with a language and vocational expert. You may even decide to go ahead on your own steam. This book will surely be able to help you one way or the other. (Note – The cost of employing a professional may seem prohibitive at first but it is a sound investment that will reap rewards in the long run).
  • There is dignity in labour in Australia. Being a largely egalitarian society most of the Australians have access to the same living standards, irrespective of the job or trade.
  • The main aspects to focus on when job hunting are: mastering Resume writing, networking, interview preparedness, obtaining local experience (knowledge) and understanding workplace culture.
  • Beware of the company you keep and the advice you receive. In my book I have written about two distinct set of migrants I have come across – The Go-getters and the Whiners. Stay positive and focused and avoid making or listening to generalised statements.
  • Australia’s progress is linked to its successful migration policy in a very big way. Inviting skilled migrants to Australia is mutually beneficial.
  • Australia is a great country and offers a rewarding life for all those who arrive here but you have to work towards achieving that goal.

 SLIDE 4 – MAIN CHALLENGES FACED BY ALL JOB SEEKING MIGRANTS

From an overall perspective, as soon as every migrant lands in Australia there are a range of issues that he or she must deal with or get accustomed to. The cost of living, setting up bank accounts, obtaining a TFN (Tax File Number) and Medicare Card, obtaining a drivers licence are some of the tasks that needs attention.

Migrants with children face an added degree of difficulty as they need to figure out the best time to move in order not to miss a term and also to figure out which suburb they will live in. Obtaining a rental accommodation without any rental history in Australia and with no identifications to fulfil the 100 point check requirement also poses quite a challenge.

Here are some of the challenges you may encounter when looking for a job in Australia:

  • Entering the Job market after a long period of being gainfully employed. Lets’ face it. How many of us have actively pursued for jobs off late? Most of us have been working until the grant of our visas. How much of ‘job-hunting’ experience do we actually have? Now imaging having the same issue in a completely new country!
  • Poorly written Resumes, cover letters, Position Descriptions (PD’s) and selection criteria.
  • Poor covering emails (unprofessional, too informal, bad spelling and grammar) and poor application letters (not directed at the actual job in question).
  • Competing with the local workforce. Australia’s unemployment rate is at a high of 5.6% (2016). Who will get the preference if a job comes along?
  • No local experience – I tend to call this local knowledge because that is what the employer wants from his employee. For example an accountant from overseas will need to have relevant knowledge about Australian taxation system.
  • No Network – Most of us will know just a handful of people when we arrive. How then does one tap the ‘Hidden’ Job market? (Quick Statistic – According to one survey only 30% of the jobs are actually advertised)
  • Cultural differences – Which may pose challenges in the workplace. Simple things like a poor handshake, being too formal (using Sir/Madam all the time), not maintaining eye contact could be reason enough to not get the job.

 SLIDE 5 – TOP TIPS FOR MIGRANTS

Here are some tips for starters (For more tips and practical guidelines consult my book):

  • Do your research about the company you are applying to. Who is the owner? What are the company’s values? What is the organisational structure?
  • Network (Socialize) – Terry correctly pointed out during the webinar that networking is probably not the right term that should be used in this context because that implies connecting with people merely with the intention of getting a job. One must make the effort to socialize and interact with people within the industry with the desire to learn the Australian culture and the general etiquettes. As one of the contributors put it succinctly, networking means – Be helpful, be useful and be seen. The best way to do this is to volunteer or work as a temp.
  • Seek professional help at the onset. Consider it as an associated visa expense and reap the benefits of expert advice. In my book I talk about types of services available and questions to as a career practitioner before hiring one.
  • Practice writing ‘Australian’ ready Resumes, cover letters and letters addressing selection criteria.
  • Remember the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result format when) addressing selection criteria or answering interview questions.
  • Connect with Industry bodies, professional associations and similar institutions related to your profession.
  • Be prepared to start at a lower position within the organisation.
  • Focus on improving your soft skills (Body language, tonality, eye contact etc.)
  • Follow up your application with a phone call to enquire about the outcome.
  • Do not have pre-conceived notions which may tend to inhibit your performance.
  • Think of it as a marathon and not a sprint. Pace yourself accordingly.
  • Once in a while take a break from job hunting and enjoy the good life that pulled you to these shores in the first place. Go camping or fishing, pick up a new skill, explore the country.

Read my next Post which is a continuation of this write-up. POST 2 – QUESTIONS LEFT UNANSWERED