Job Sponsored Visas and Finding a Job in Australia

Please note: The information in this article is over 12 months old.

by Sarah Muxlow

Having chosen to do what is known as skilled migration, my husband and I enlisted an immigration agent to submit our visa application. In enlisting the help of an agent only to advise us and submit our application for a visa, we did a very independent move. The process cost 5000$AU and took two years and once we got here the real work of finding a job started.

For many, like yourselves, two years can be a long wait particularly as you don’t know if your application is going to be successful or not. The alternative is a job sponsorship visa. This is by far the quickest way as the process can take as little as 4 weeks and having a job to come to solves all the waiting and job-hunting stress.Whilst based in Switzerland we tried to get directly sponsored by an information technology company, (my husband’s profession), but in our experience they weren’t in themselves very forthcoming. Since living here we have found that most companies outsource their overseas recruitment.

There is a skills shortage here, particularly, but by no means only, in the medical profession and trades. Listed on the official Migration Occupations in Demand are, to give a sample, Anaesthetists, Civil Engineers, Dentists, Hospital Pharmacists, OT, Bricklayers, Plumbers, Welders, Plasterers ……the list goes on.

With trades there is a shortage of apprentices and few home-trained skilled workers growing up in the trade profession, due to the way the training is organized. So if you are exceptionally skilled but 45 or over this is a good visa option. You could come and train tradespeople. There may be some options available to you under the Employer Nomination Scheme. What happens here is that with the help of a specialist migration company you are matched up with an employer who is seeking to recruit someone with your type of skills (trade). The employer may well be able to sponsor you to migrate.

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Skills assessment forms and sponsorship assessment forms do tend to frighten people off, as with all visa types, but selection is based on experience or qualifications or a mixture of both, depending on the nature of the job. It is possible to cross over on several categories and produce a mixture of supportive application evidence. For example, a plumber by trade may currently be working in another job but can apply using all his experience. In a portfolio demonstrating ability, evidence can range from customer recommendations, to photos of jobs done, as well as written references, depending on the nature of the employer/industry you are hoping to be sponsored by.

As with all visa types ask for advice and keep an open mind. Give as much information about the nature of your experience, background and knowledge of your skills as well as qualifications. Formal qualifications aren’t the only way for all professions.

Talking to an Immigration Agent, it is clear that companies struggle to get themselves ready to sponsor people, even though they desperately need to bring in skilled workers. To sponsor someone companies need to: offer a good salary, provide a moving package, write a good solid contract with a job outline and description, prove their commitment to training existing Australian residents, produce various information about themselves as an organization and be of a certain size. For many, this has been hard work in the past but is now becoming essential and an easier process.

Looking for Work Once Here

One of the problems independent new immigrants encounter is finding work once here. I picked up a job teaching (the field of work I’ve been in for 5 years) in an institute of higher education, without too much trouble. It does on average, however, take up to six months to get a first job here.

To avoid too much disappointment it is worth enlisting with as many recruitment agents as possible, as well as checking job ads in the papers. When searching for general work, Job Network is the government agency for job searching and there are also Saturday newspapers advertising jobs (The Courier Mail for Queensland). The best website we’ve found for professional, trade and general local jobs is ‘Careerone’ www.careerone.com.au and ‘Seek’ www.seek.com.au.

Getting the Job

Having overseas work experience recognized by local employers can be difficult at the start. Something we realized is that there are different ways to build a career, some countries enable you to specialize in job function and expect more general experience in terms of industry knowledge. For example, an IT project manager in Europe can work for a Digital TV company, then consult for a Government Agency and then work in telecommunications. Transferable skills are software engineering, architecture, methodology and project management skills. Here in Brisbane, however, it was deemed important to be specialized in job function and industry e.g. an IT manager in the Mining Sector or telecommunications. This is worth being aware of but don’t be put off – sell yourself on your ability to adapt.

It is important to present a competitive C.V and take on tips about how to prepare for a job interview and ways to best present yourself. The style and expectations here could be different to where you are from. Be willing to answer questions that may hint at your lack of local business/industry knowledge. A German Credit Analyst found himself hearing, ‘You don’t know our local customers, area and business.’ This was frustrating as in his work history he had regularly worked with ‘international/unknown’ customers overseas and in offshore operations. Again, emphasise your adaptability and demonstrated experience of working with unknown/new customers.

Another typical problem is that recruiters for Australian companies don’t necessarily know the companies you’ve worked for in your home country, even if they are big names. These obstacles can be overcome and responded to assertively in the interview or, if feeling deflated, with a follow-up email.

There is a very exact way of writing a local C.V suited to catch the eye of Australian recruitment staff. It tends to be detailed with keywords, positions and responsibilities and any budgets for which you’ve been responsible. Middle and senior management in many sectors are very involved with budgets and finance.

Since, even locally, most companies now outsource their recruitment to agencies and work on contract and subcontract basis, the best way to approach independent job hunting is to register with and meet as many recruitment agents in your field of work as possible (they don’t charge you a fee). Get help with tailoring your C.V. The best way to do this is to find a local recruitment agency that specializes in helping new immigrants or in your field and will take the time to help you.

It’s normal to have several interviews, both with the recruitment agency and the company that is hiring. My husband took a job on a short contact to get his foot in the door. The first step was a step down the career ladder but, once he had more local knowledge, confidence and ability to build a network within his industry, he quickly got back to where he was.

Qualifications Recognition

It is worth some professionals having their qualifications formally recognised/translated into the Australian equivalent. It can improve your chances of working in the profession in which you are qualified e.g. teaching, nursing, electrics, engineering, IT.

If you have trade qualifications in engineering, construction, metalwork, electrical or catering, the Trades Recognition Australia for Overseas provides this service. Trades Recognition Australia: GPO Box 9879, Canberra ACT 2601, Tel: +612 6121 7456

For tertiary qualifications, the Australian Education International-National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition (AEI-NOOSR) provides information on how to have post-secondary overseas academic qualifications recognised in Australia. The Queensland government provides a free service for assessment of all overseas professional and technical qualifications – their website is worth a visit.

Settling In & Networking

With one in four Australians born outside of Australia, there’s a lot of people here who have made the big move or are currently in the same boat doing the same journey. This makes getting started easier and building a network simpler. In addition, there is continual positive propaganda to encourage multiculturalism and acceptance of newcomers into Australian society.


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