Planning a career, preparing for work or finding a job in Australian may be different from in your home country.

We can help you understand workplace culture in Australia, and provide advice on where to have your overseas qualifications assessed before entering the workforce or undertaking further study.

Most Australian-based employers will ask if you to have the legal right to work in Australia.

You may be required to have either Australian citizenship or permanent residency (PR) status. Specific eligibility requirements vary between individual employers, therefore if you do not have your permanent residency (PR), it is important to check your eligibility to apply.

For more information on gaining permanent residency and all aspects of visa requirements for Australia, visit the Australian Department of Home Affairs.

Australian workplace culture

You may find that Australian workplace culture is different to what you experience at home.

It is important to familiarise yourself with Australian cultural practices to be competitive in finding work and perform well once employed.

Some of the most common cultural characteristics of the Australian workplace are listed below.

  • Informal communication style – the use of Australian slang is common, as is the discussion of non-work matters.
  • Socialising – workers often socialise at lunchtime, during breaks or after work.
  • Sense of humour – a good sense of humour is also valued in the workplace, as long as no one gets offended.
  • Professional communication – despite the use of informal language and humour, workers should communicate in a professional manner. This means listening well, giving clear and constructive comments as feedback, remaining calm and friendly, and respecting workmates' right to different political and social views.
  • Non-verbal language – when being introduced, Australians will usually shake hands.
  • Eye contact when speaking with others is very important.

  • The Australian workplace is normally formal, but there are clear lines of authority and decision-making.
  • Workers usually talk on an equal basis with their superiors, sometimes using humour or irreverence that can be seen as a sign of disrespect in other cultures.
  • Promotions in the Australian workplace are usually based on merit and seniority.
  • Being a good team member is an important skill sought by Australian employers.
  • Workers in lower-level positions (e.g. cleaners, filing clerks, and delivery people) are treated with respect and as equals by those above them.

  • Most jobs are described as being 'nine to five'; however, an increasing number of businesses operate outside standard hours.
  • Most workplaces have four weeks' annual leave, in addition to public holidays including Good Friday and Easter Monday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
  • Unionism is well established and accepted as a right to advocacy.
  • Australian workers have benefits such as superannuation with employer contributions, sick leave entitlements, paid maternity leave, paternity leave and, in some situations, study leave.
  • Australians generally prefer to maintain a ‘work–life balance’, believing in the principal of ‘working to live' rather than 'living to work'.

The Australian workplace is increasingly diverse. In most workplaces, you can expect a multicultural mix: over 40% of Australians were born overseas or have a parent who was born overseas.

Other forms of diversity include: single and married women and men, sole parents, people with disabilities, those of various sexual preferences, various age groups, and those who work flexible hours.

There are certain industry sectors or work settings that are more homogenous, for example trades such as building are majority male workers.

In Australia employees often socialise at lunchtime, during breaks or after work.

Returning home

After completing studies in Australia, many international students return home to look for work.

Australian qualifications are great on your resume, and will be further enhanced by:

  • references from Australian employers, club officials, and academic staff
  • joining VU Alumni
  • posting your résumé on appropriate websites.