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Australia at a Glance

Job Search and Etiquette in Australia

Starting a job in Australia as an expatriate might confuse you at first. How to dress for the workplace? What about your pension? Our article covers everything you might want to know about working Down Under: how to find a job, how to behave in the office, or how to handle pension plans.

Skills and Qualifications

People hoping to work in Australia should have their qualifications and skills assessed by an appropriate authority. A detailed list including contact information of all current assessing authorities can be downloaded from the website of the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

You have to register your educational and employment details with the government´s SkillSelect database while you are waiting to become eligible for a visa application. This database is used by employers and national or regional governments to fill skilled vacancies under the sponsored visa categories.

Having your skills assessed is a must in any case. It will increase your employability and give you access to Australian JobSearch, Australia’s largest free online service for job seekers and employers run by the Australian government.

Some professions also require a trade recognition or special license. For more information on applying for a recognized trade certificate, visit the relevant website of the Trades Recognition Australia. If you are a member of a regulated profession and require an occupational license, you can find details of relevant licensing authorities on Licence Recognition.

The English Language

When working in Australia, you are expected to have a sufficient command of the English language. For most types of visa, English language skills are a prerequisite and are assessed using the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). All business is conducted in English. However, other foreign languages can be a welcome additional skill and might give you some advantages on the job market.

The Australian government runs a translating and interpreting service for people whose English is not good enough to communicate with local authorities, doctors, or government departments. Interpreters work over the telephone and on site. You can reach this service under the local number 131 450.

Getting a Job

As in most other countries, vacancies are advertised in newspapers. There are also numerous online job databases and search engines. A couple of commercial websites specialize in helping prospective expats or skilled migrants find work in Australia prior to arrival. The Australian government regularly updates its list of skilled occupations – the best place to find out which professions are currently in demand on the Australian labor market.

Job Services Australia is another government initiative to help job seekers. It focuses on people who might be disadvantaged in the labor market for various reasons, e.g. lack of sufficient English skills. However, people on temporary visas or their family members might not be eligible for JSA’s full range of services.

Social Etiquette

Australians are a friendly and sociable crowd and usually open towards foreigners. Although socializing with other expats from your native country or cultural background while you are Down Under might seem like the more comfortable option, getting to know the locals is a great way to make the most of your expat experience.

A favorite pastime of many Australians is the obligatory barbecue or “barbie” in the backyard. If you have just moved into your new home in an Australian suburb, this might be a good opportunity to get on friendly terms with your neighbors. It is not uncommon for guests to contribute by bringing their own meat or drinks.

Business Etiquette

Work is not only a good environment to establish business contacts, but to socialize as well. When you meet someone for the first time, a firm handshake is an acceptable greeting. It is quite common for colleagues and business associates – from junior to executive level – to address each other by their first names. To be on the safe side, though, let the other person make the first move.

In the office or at a business meeting you can be direct, but you should always remain respectful and polite and never show signs of arrogance. Formal dress may be required depending on the occasion and your area of work.

Colleagues or business associates might invite you out for a drink after work, especially on a Friday night. Usually, these are informal social occasions and not used to discuss business matters. Unless you have explicitly been invited by a business associate, you will be expected to pick up a round (or “shout”) like everyone else, i.e. pay for a round of drinks.

InterNations Expat Magazine