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Working in Melbourne

Find out how to get a job and work in Melbourne

Are you interested in working in Melbourne as an expat? Australia’s second-largest city boasts numerous job opportunities, for example in growth fields such as IT or the life sciences. To find out about the urban economy, job hunting, working conditions, and office culture, read our InterNations GO! guide to working in Melbourne.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats ourselves, we understand what you need, and offer the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us to jump start your move abroad!

Employment in Melbourne

  • Victoria’s farms produce grain, fruit, vegetables, dairy products, meat, livestock, and fish.
  • With the manufacturing industry declining, there are a growing number of new job opportunities available in the service sector.
  • When you are applying for jobs, make sure that your documents, certificates, and diplomas are all translated into English. 
  • In addition to paid annual leave, there are 13 public holidays in Victoria.

Working in Melbourne means participating in a highly diversified urban economy. While the city’s importance as an Australian manufacturing center went into decline during the 1970s and 1980s, the metropolitan area now offers opportunities in Melbourne’s growth sectors and service industries.

Victoria is Australia’s second-largest economic contributor, right after New South Wales. In 2015 it created over 22 percent of the nation’s total gross domestic product.

Agriculture and Mining

Outside Melbourne, in rural Victoria, the primary sector retains some importance. Laborers and farmers produce mainly grain, fruit, vegetables, and dairy products or specialize in farming livestock and fisheries.

Today, the great gold rush that led to Melbourne’s first boom, and provided a job for many of the country’s immigrants, has long become a colorful era in the history of the state. For foreign engineers thinking of getting a visa to work in Melbourne, the mining industry could be of considerable interest; the region still has resources of gas, petroleum, and brown coal. Furthermore, the government allocated 15 million AUD to fund mineral exploration projects in the 2014-2015 budget.

Manufacturing

As far as the manufacturing sector is concerned, what was once the main pillar of the local labor market and the pride of many people working in Melbourne, is now crumbling.  

The decreasing importance of traditional manufacturing is largely responsible for Victoria’s relatively high unemployment rate of 5.9 percent (August 2016). The turmoil in the industrial sector has slowed down the state’s economic growth, and lay-offs often affect workers from construction and manufacturing. Moreover, the manufacturing sector in Victoria has taken a further hit with the closure of major car manufacturers GM Holden, Toyota, and Ford between 2016 and 2017. Unfortunately, experts are forecasting an estimated loss of over 28,000 jobs.

However, the higher-than-average unemployment rate cannot be completely blamed on the manufacturing industry. One of the main issues affecting the Victorian economy is the paired combination of slow job growth and the influx of newcomers intent on working in the state.

However, advanced manufacturing has found its way into Melbourne and still employs a large amount of people living in Melbourne and Victoria. For instance, the industrial development zone of Fisherman’s Bend is home to factories and R&D facilities of the aerospace, defense, and marine industries. For an example, one major company located in this area is Boeing Aerostructures, supplying over 1,200 jobs to qualified workers in this area.  Moreover, overseas applicants with the proper qualifications should look into working in one of Melbourne’s high-tech industries.

The Service Sector

As mentioned above, working in Melbourne’s tertiary sector is the employment opportunity number 1, for locals, expats and immigrants alike. Finance, education, healthcare, ICT, the life sciences, logistics, and tourism are of great significance for the urban economy and are in constant need of staff.

Melbourne has become a key center for Australia’s pension funds. It is also home to the corporate HQs of the National Australia Bank, Goldman & Sachs investment services, and Standard & Poor’s. If you are an expat with professional experience in international finance, this could be your chance.

Healthcare and Life Sciences

Furthermore, there is an ongoing shortage of skilled staff working in Melbourne’s healthcare service and medical services. On the research side, Melbourne’s nine universities are important employers, but you might want to explore the bio-tech market as well.

Around half of Australia’s top 20 bio-tech businesses are based in the Melbourne region. Scientists in Melbourne’s pharmaceutical companies have been involved in clinical trials of new medications, stem-cell research, and the development of innovative cancer therapies.

IT and Tourism

Plenty of ICT jobs in Australia are located in Melbourne, due to the availability of venture capital and the good climate for start-ups. The city is thus attractive for computer and communication specialists, as well as for geeks active in the open source software movement.

Last but not least, a magnet for backpackers, tourism is another essential pillar of Melbourne’s economy. In 2016, 2.5 million international tourists — mainly from Asia, New Zealand, the US, and the UK — decided to go on vacation in the state of Victoria, spending around 6.7 AUD billion there. Also the tourism industry is responsible for supplying over 22,000 jobs in Greater Victoria. Hence, if you are interested in working in Australia’s event management agencies, catering services, or hotel businesses, then Melbourne may be the right choice.  

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Jobs in Melbourne for Foreigners

In the previous part of our article on working in Melbourne, we have outlined the local economy and the sectors that offer employment opportunities for expatriates and immigrants. If you are not an expat on a foreign assignment, you should check out the following strategies for finding a job in Melbourne.

Occupations in Demand

First, check if your occupation is on the official visa sponsorship list for Australia in general or the state of Victoria. If its current status is marked as in demand, you can apply for an immigrant visa. In this case, you do not need a job offer from an Australian employer in order to complete your visa application, provided you fulfill the other criteria.

However, the Australian government made some important changes to the Skilled Migration Program in July 2012. Even if you have professional experience in an in-demand occupation and fit all other criteria, you may not be able to submit a visa application automatically.

There is now a quota system in place, where the government chooses visa candidates from the database known as SkillSelect. Invitations for immigrant visa can also be issued by state governments, for example in Victoria. Please read up on this issue on the SkillSelect website.

At the time of writing, jobs currently in demand in Victoria include occupations as diverse as chemist, electrical engineer, airplane pilot, child care worker, midwife, chef, software engineer, plumber, welder, or pastry cook. So, if you are able to apply for a skilled migrant visa, don’t hesitate to do so — but don’t forget to have your overseas qualifications officially assessed and recognized. Please get in touch with the Victorian Overseas Qualifications Unit for this purpose.

Strategies for Jobseekers in Melbourne

Even if you can apply for a skilled migrant visa (without landing a job offer from a Melbourne company first), it doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed employment once you arrive in Australia. You have to search for a job sooner or later.

In any case, it is vital to be aware of the “hidden job market”. Personal and professional networking is often a better starting point for successful applications than replying to an advertisement.

Networking

If you do not have any friends or business contacts in Melbourne yet, start by finding out which industrial association best represents your job and join it. Moreover, the events organized by the Australian Chamber of Commerce in your home country or by your national chamber of commerce in Melbourne are good networking opportunities.

For example, if you are interested in working in Melbourne’s aerospace industry, you should become a member of the Australian Association of Aviation and Aerospace Industries. As an expat woman, you could look into professional networks for businesswomen in Australia.

Employment Ads

Once you have exhausted these networking possibilities, you can try other ways and means. Major websites popular among jobseekers “down under” include SEEK, adzuna, and many more. Don’t forget to have a look at the homepage of any Melbourne-based company you might be interested in!

Last but not least, the Australian, theAustralian Financial Review, and the Age are influential newspapers in Victoria. All three of them have a classified section with job offers in the region.

Writing an Application

When it comes to the application process as such, first make sure that all your documents (e.g. diplomas, degrees, professional certificates, work records, licenses, testimonials, etc.) are up to date and translated into English. If your business English isn’t fluent yet, ask a native speaker or a translator to have a second look.

Cover Letter and Resume

Your cover letter should not be longer than one page, neither too formal nor too casual in tone, and address all the key selection criteria as mentioned in the job description. You should then attach a one-or two-page resume listing the following details:

  • name and contact details (no gender, marital status, or date of birth)
  • career overview
  • career goals
  • employment history (relevant work experience first)
  • education / qualification
  • professional memberships
  • references

Australian Particularities

When applying for a job in Melbourne, it is important to keep a few things about Australia in mind: First, pay attention to your soft skills in your cover letter and your career description. Just like soft skills, references are also considered essential by Australian HR staff. Therefore you should make sure to have someone who can vouch for you. At least one person who’s actually located in Australia would be a tremendous help.

In general, do refer to Australia whenever it makes sense to show that you are genuinely interested in working for an Australian company. Last, remember that most people in Australia use British English. Sometimes, it’s the little details that matter.

Working Conditions in Melbourne

Congratulations on getting a new job in Melbourne! Before you sign an employment contract or start at your new workplace, we recommend doing a little research about working conditions and business etiquette in Australia.

Your Employment Contract

First of all, your employment contract should include at least all the following specifications:

  • full name and contact details of your new employer
  • job title and full description
  • salary
  • bonus payments (if applicable)
  • details of payment
  • working hours and annual leave
  • periods of notice

Paid Leave and Notice Periods

According to Australian employment law, there are three types of employment, based on your working hours and with direct consequences for your rights and benefits:

  • Full-time employees work 38 hours per week. They have a legal right to holiday pay, four weeks of paid annual leave, ten extra days of paid personal leave (e.g. in case of sickness), and two days of paid compassionate leave per occasion (e.g. if a family member falls seriously ill or dies). If an employer wants to lay them off, they have to be given notice one to four weeks in advance, depending on how long they have been working for the company.
  • Part-time workers work fewer than 38 hours per week, and both their pay and their leave are adjusted pro rata. If they work, for instance, only for 19 hours a week, they get paid half the wage of a full-time employee, and have merely two weeks of paid leave per year.
  • Casual employees just work on a daily or even hourly basis. They have no regular or even guaranteed working hours, no annual leave or sick leave, and they can be hired or fired immediately, without a notice period.

In addition to the annual paid leave, there are also 13 public holidays in Victoria, including the territory specific Labor Day and the Melbourne Cup.

Support for Working Parents

Expats with kids might be interested in the regulations for working parents in the state of Victoria. For babies born after January 1, 2011, the Australian government introduced 18 weeks of paid parental leave. During this time, the stay-at-home parent receives the national minimum wage. From January 1, 2013 onwards, this scheme also includes an additional two weeks of Dad and Partner Pay for new fathers or working parents who aren’t the child’s primary caregiver.

Some companies offer employer-funded schemes for parental leave as well. In this case, the pay you receive while taking care of your child may be higher.

Furthermore, parents who have been working at least twelve months for the same employer can request up to twelve months of (unpaid) parental leave as well as so-called “flexible working arrangements”. This can mean working fewer hours, starting and leaving earlier, job-sharing, or setting up a home office.

If you would like to know more about working conditions in Australia and/or Victoria, look at either the Australian Government website or the Victoria state website.

Australian Business Culture

Beyond working conditions, you should also prepare yourself for adapting to Australian business culture. Of course, the tips below cannot replace an intercultural workshop or seminar, but they can give you a few hints of what to expect when you begin your new job in Melbourne.

Australian workplace culture is fairly casual and egalitarian. You will soon be on a first-name basis with your colleagues, and you may notice an overall appreciation for hard work, modesty, and a down-to-earth attitude. Aggressive negotiation techniques or boasting about your own achievements is rather frowned upon. This mindset is also known as “tall poppy syndrome”. You will rather be expected to prove your competence through hard facts and positive results.

However, behind the informal façade and the collaborative approach to problem-solving, Australians are also results-oriented and appreciate clear hierarchies for decision-making. Still, socializing with your workmates (including your bosses) is common. Although people voluntarily work overtime to complete a project or keep a deadline, there is a distinct sense of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. So, if you too value meritocracy, openness, directness, and a slightly informal atmosphere, you will feel right at home in your new Melbourne office.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: August 30, 2016
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