A Guest Post by Naishadh Gadani from Your Career Down Under

On a cold wintery evening in Melbourne, I attended a job search seminar for skilled migrants, organised by Engineers Australia. The experts delivered pep-talks on various issues related to job search including the contentious topic – ‘local experience’. I could sense the issue of local experience was still looming large in the room. One gentleman stood up and asked, “I am a Civil Engineer with more than 10 years of experience in construction and design. I diligently tailor my resume to each job ad. I am told that my qualifications are great, but I do not have local experience; hence my application will not be considered. Can you please explain if engineering principles operate differently in Australia vis-à-vis my erstwhile country?” His frustration and anger were very palpable. Everyone had the same question – how can I have local experience without a job? It is like a chicken and egg situation, which came first? The presenters attempted to answer; however, no attendees were satisfied with the response.

I am sure the same question keeps many of skilled migrants awake and thinking – Why employers do not value my overseas experience?

Over the last seven years, I have discussed the question with skilled migrants and recruitment consultants. And, I have formulated three strategies to counter the dreaded question.

Let me demystify the local experience issue.

In an interview process, the organisation is evaluating you on two aspects – technical fit and cultural fit. A lot of decision-makers value cultural fit more than the former.  It makes sense! An organisation can train you to perform a particular task/activity based on your technical skills. However, it would be challenging to change your inherent traits. I think when hiring managers or recruitment consultants say we cannot hire you because you don’t have local experience; they are referring to your cultural fit including communication skills and presentation competencies. Organisations want to hire someone who will integrate with the existing team. After all, who wants to throw cats amongst pigeons!

Here are the three strategies to counter the local experience question:

  1. Do not believe everything they say: Yes, that’s right. If you are given a reason for not being hired on your application is put forward due to lack of local experience, just smile. Resist the temptation to ask confrontational questions just like Tom Cruise did in the movie A Few Good Men. Hiring managers and recruiters will always be diplomatic in their responses.
  2. Surprise them with a counter question: When a hiring manager or a recruiter tells you about lack of local experience, ask him/her a question. Something like this “Thank you, John, for reviewing my application and getting back to me. I am sure you did not call just to remind that I do not have local experience. You really liked my application. And now my application will not be considered for the reason you already knew. I would appreciate if you could provide some constructive feedback to improve my chances.”
  3. Address the issue in the cover letter: this strategy works brilliantly. Tell them you do not have local experience and provide compelling reasons to consider you for the job; list stand-out accomplishments and transferable skills you can offer.

For example:

“You would ask “Do I have local experience?” My answer is, no.

Whilst I completely respect your and the employer’s concerns about local experience, I’d like to draw your attention to skills and expertise that I have honed in last 10 years; generated and expanded business; captured customers in a highly competitive market; implemented marketing ideas and campaigns; delivered strong customer support.  These are transferable skills that transcend the boundaries of different countries.”

Try these strategies. I am confident that at least one will work for you. Good luck.


Download a FREE Copy of Naishadh’s ebook on ‘How to Find a Job in Australia without Any Local Experience’. Follow the link below or visit the bookstore.


Naishadh Gadani

Naishadh Gadani

Unemployment Warrior and Inspiring Mentor at Your Career Down Under

Since 2009, Naishadh has worked as an employment consultant; first helping job seekers with multiple and complex challenges who receive Centrelink benefits and later, moving into the occupational rehabilitation industry where he still helps those wanting to transition their career because they are unable to return to their original jobs due to injury.

Today, Naishadh is a self-employed coach, helping migrants develop their resumes and crack the Australian job market. And in 2017, he launched Your Career Down Under with a full range of job search, interview and career guidance services, while continuing to engage in the latest research and technology within the career development industry.

Download his free eBook on ‘How to Find a Job in Australia Without Local Experience’. See Link below.


MIGRANT NINJA TIP – Being on the SOL and getting a Skilled Visa is by no means the end of your struggles when you migrate to Australia. As you enter the employment market here, you may soon realize that getting a job may be your toughest challenge yet.

Stay ahead of over 190,000 skilled migrants to migrate each year to Australia. Grab a copy of the book Aussie-Migrant: Jobs now!