Career advice for International students

Planning a career, preparing for work or finding a job in Australian may be different from your own country. We can help you understand workplace culture in Australia, as well as provide advice on where to have your overseas qualifications assessed before entering the workforce or undertaking further study.

Our Careers Educators can also assist students to be job ready by providing advice about writing targeted applications, by having documents reviewed online and preparing for interviews.

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 Immigration and Citizenship.

Australian workplace culture

You may find that when working in Australia, the workplace culture is often different to what you may experience at home.

It is important to familiarise yourself with cultural practices in Australia in order for you to be competitive in finding work and performing well once employed.

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

Communication

  • 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 at all times.
  • Non-verbal language - when being introduced, Australians will usually shake hands and, in professional jobs, exchange business cards.
  • Direct eye contact when speaking with others is very important.

Hierarchy and leadership style

  • The Australian workplace is usually not overly formal and hierarchical 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 which can be seen as a sign of disrespect in other cultures.
  • Promotions in the Australian workplace are usually based on merit and seniority rather than on other factors.
  • 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 usually treated with respect and as equals by those above them.

Work structure and protocols

  • Most jobs are described as being 'nine to five', however the standard working hours of permanent full-time jobs are being abolished with an increasing number of businesses operating 24 hours per day.
  • Most workplaces enjoy four weeks annual leave, with 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 enjoy 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'.

Diversity

  • The Australian workplace is increasingly diverse. In most workplaces, you can expect a multicultural mix: more than 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 which are more homogenous.

Returning home

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

Australian qualifications are great on your resume, but you still need to take the time to present yourself as a well-rounded, competitive applicant.

We recommend that you:

  • obtain references from Australian employers, club officials, and academic staff
  • join VU Alumni
  • start researching overseas jobs and posting your résumé on appropriate websites.