A Shaky Start

23.08.13 – I remember the date vividly as it was on this day that Ambika and I landed in Australia, permanent resident visa in hand and with the prospect of starting our lives in a whole new country.

This was the Lucky Country after all, and we were keen to claim our piece of good fortune and live a life of abundance and security.

Ambika held a Masters in Business Administration and I was a ship’s Captain who had just quit sea life with dreams of transitioning to a shore-based job. With years of experience, excellent English language skills – as our near-perfect IELTS score will attest – and a resident visa in hand, we thought we’d get off the plane and walk straight into a job in the capital city of our choice.

We were proved wrong. Oh, so wrong!

Reality Check

Reality hit us within the first month when we didn’t get a single reply from any of the employers we contacted. It didn’t take us long to realise that we were doing everything wrong; from using resume templates that were tailored for the Indian job market to not following up job applications with a phone call, from using generic three-page cover letters that even proudly stated my IELTS score (Hint – absolutely irrelevant info to any employer) and visa status, to adding rows and rows of skills that had no relevance to the job applied for.

There’s a saying that you don’t know what you don’t know. This was the exact situation we found ourselves in.

We had literally sleepwalked into a massive brick wall, one that had stopped us dead in our tracks.

The biggest hurdle we faced was the unceasing rhetoric of ‘no Australian work experience’. It was a classic chicken and egg situation we found ourselves trapped in with no hope in sight.

But we had not moved all the way Down Under to give up so easily. Like all the other migrants who came before us, it was time to roll up our sleeves and do what was required.

It was time to fight back!

Those first few months of uncertainty and unemployment gave us several heartaches but also taught us some invaluable lessons. We dug deep within, became more resilient, and learned to be adaptable and nimble.

Lessons Learnt

We also learnt three incredibly important lessons:

  • As a migrant, you go where the job takes you – In our case, we relocated from Brisbane to Townsville as this is where I got my first break. It was a casual job with no guaranteed minimum hours, mind you, however, I grabbed it with both hands and that single (hard) decision opened up further opportunities and has got me to where I am today. There are more opportunities and better pay conditions in the remote regions than you think. Cast your net wider if you are unable to find employment in your city of choice.
  • Networking is the most crucial element in the settlement phase – Australia is a land of migrants and if you reach out there will be scores of people who will empathise and guide you. We had tremendous support from an Indian group in Townsville who helped us in immeasurable ways during those first few months when we were looking for employment, starting a family and learning to assimilate into the Australian culture.
  • Keep trying but be prepared to start small – It will get hard before it gets any easier, I can assure you that. But as long as you keep trying, are willing to improvise your strategy and are ready to grab even the smallest of opportunities that come your way, you will be able to carve your own path towards success.

I end this post with a positive message to all future migrants who are aspiring to become future citizens of Australia.

The start, at least for most new arrivals will be tough, but through it all be humble, be resilient, and be hopeful. The tide will turn in your favour at some point but in the meantime learn to swim with the current and keep your head above the water. Do not be afraid to seek help. And when the time comes and you begin to reap the rewards of your hard work remember to reach out to the fellow migrants who follow in your footsteps and offer them the same assistance that you and I received at the start of our Australian journey.

Migrant Ninja

Practical Advice and Handy Tips

For jobs and career advice Seek.com.au is the leading portal in Australia. Apart from that you have a range of other websites, including Migrant Ninja, that provide handy information that will help you prepare for the Australian work environment. The Resources section below lists a range of websites and portal including some relevant posts from this website that will help you during the initial settlement period.

Be sure to check out the bookstore and sign up to receive regular posts delivered straight to your mailbox.

Migrant Ninja

Fun Fact

Did you know that Canberra was selected as the capital of Australia because Sydney and Melbourne could not stop arguing about which city should become the nation’s capital?

Aussie Migrant: Jobs

Jump the Employment Queue in Australia. Grab a copy of the 'Book Of Secrets' aimed to give you the edge over all other job seekers!

Aussie Migrant: Money

Are you migrating to Australia? Are you adequately prepared to manage your finances once you arrive here? This eBook provides you with comprehensive information in one convenient location to help you understand money matters during your settling-in phase in Australia.

How to Write an Australian Resume and Cover Letter

Every country has its own recruitment procedure, and more often than not, what works in one country will not work in another. You may have the necessary skill set and years of relevant experience, but if you are not able to present it in a customary manner in Australia, chances are you will have to wait for a considerable amount of time for that elusive interview call.

This eBook (which forms a part of the book Aussie Migrant: Jobs) will provide you with guidelines on writing an ‘Australian Ready’ Resume and Cover Letter.

Sydney City Guide for Migrants

This book is packed with content aimed at helping migrants who intend to settle in Sydney to do so with ease. It contains invaluable information on an array of topics including:

- Sydney Suburbs Profile
- Tips on Renting
- Phones and Internet
- Utilities (Gas and Electricity) and many more...

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