How To Tips: Working In Australia

by Regina Petrel

Have you been dreaming of working in Australia as an expat? Australia’s business climate has a lot to recommend it – in addition to having a reputation of being fair and efficient, Australians also place great value on maintaining a healthy work-life balance. When it comes to hierarchy in the business world, these days more emphasis is placed on performance than seniority in many companies. Sound like a great working environment for expats? Read on for tips on how to find a job in Australia.

Watch out for kangaroos on your way to the office!
Watch out for kangaroos on your way to the office! Photo by Troy Peden

The Job Search. When searching for jobs overseas in Australia, the first step is to register your educational and professional experience in the government’s SkillSelect database. This database allows the Australian government to ascertain which professional fields and geographical regions are experiencing a lack of skilled workers. After you have registered, you will gain access to Australian JobSearch, Australia’s largest free online service for job seekers and employers which is ran by the Australian government. There are also other online search engines which specialize in listing job vacancies for prospective expats.

Applying for Positions. Once you have found a job which interests you, you will need to write a cover letter and CV. Before you begin, be sure to look at some sample templates online. The structure, format, and tone could very well vary from your native country, and you want to make as good an impression as possible through your application. In Australia, CVs begin with personal information as a header on each page. This personal information should include your name, address and contact information. Then list your professional experience in reverse chronological order followed by your educational degrees.

All business is conducted in English in Australia, so in order to receive a work visa, you will need to prove that you have adequate English skills according to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). However, being able to speak other languages is often an advantage and will increase your chances of getting some jobs. Be sure to also include this information in your CV when it is relevant to the position you are applying for.

*Tip* Before sending in your application, make sure to have a native English speaker (preferably someone who has worked in Australia) proofread your application.

Working in Australia. Once you’ve found a job and moved to Australia, you will need to apply for a tax file number, which will be used when filing taxes and for other administrative purposes. You can do this online via the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website.

In order to open a bank account in Australia you will need your passport, visa, another form of identification (such as your driver’s license), proof of address, and tax file number.

*Tip* It is best to open a bank account within 30 days of arrival, otherwise you will have to meet stricter requirements. 

Pension. Australia’s governmental pension is called the Age Pension. To be eligible, you must meet certain age and residency requirements. Generally, you will only receive an Age Pension upon retirement if you are a permanent Australian resident and have worked in the country for at least 10 years.

If you are working in Australia on a temporary visa, you should check if your country has a social security agreement with Australia. If you are from one of the 29 countries which do have such an agreement, then your time working in Australia will count towards your state pension and benefits in your home country.

Retirement. While you are working in Australia, part of your salary will be paid into a retirement savings account called a Superannuation Fund. Employers are required to pay at least 9 percent of their employees’ salaries into this account. If you work in Australia on a temporary visa, you can request the money you have accrued in your Superannuation Fund through an online form on the ATO website after you leave the country.

Social and Business Etiquette. So now you’ve moved to Australia and started your new job.  How should you behave at work and how do you get to know new people? Australians are a sociable bunch, and usually very open to foreigners. A great way to get to know your new neighbors is to host a barbecue, locally known as a “barbie” at your new home. It is a common practice for guests to bring their own meat and beverages to such a gathering.

At work, how formal your work attire should be depends on the company. When meeting someone for the first time, a firm handshake is an acceptable greeting. In the Australian business world, it is common to use people’s first names through all levels of a company and also among business associates, but you should always err on the side of caution and let the native Australian take the lead.

During meetings and other interactions with colleagues, it is appropriate to speak in a direct manner, but you should always remain respectful and polite, and take pains to never come across as arrogant. Punctuality is important, as is making good eye contact during conversations and meetings.

In Australia, colleagues will often go out for a drink together after work, especially on Fridays. Unless you’ve received an explicit invitation from another colleague, you will probably also be expected to pay for a round of drinks, called a “shout” in Australia. 


InterNations is the largest expatriate network in the world. It was created to help members meet other high-profile expatriates from around the world living in their city and connect with them, both online and through events and activities. InterNations also offers its members the know-how and support to make moving abroad more manageable. InterNations was founded in 2007 and now has over 900,000 members in more than 360 Local Communities around the world.