Settlement Guide

Settlement Guide: how to job search

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Job searching is often a frustrating experience for new migrants. A lack of Australian experience and cross-cultural misunderstandings can provide additional barriers. Using "Jobactive", the Australian Government's initiative connecting job seekers with employers, is one way of finding employment.

Getting your foot in the Australian job market can be very challenging, especially for those who arrive here as migrants or refugees. 30-year-old labourer Bob came to Australia four years ago. He is from Tanzania and works in the construction industry. He says there are several reasons why it’s hard for new arrivals to get employment.

Bob came from Tanzania and works in the construction industry. He says there are several reasons why it’s hard for new arrivals to get employment.

“The first reason would be the language, even if you used to speak English when you were at home. I mean the accent, the way of communicating; it’s different when you apply (for a job) at home. So that makes things a little bit hard. But apart from that is the issue of culture as well, so for that reason it is hard to go and hunt for a job.”

After many knock-backs from employers, Bob decided to join a job agency that provides employment opportunities.

However, Bob admits that the jobs he gets are mostly casual and always below his professional qualifications. He says that is a very frustrating experience.

“You are going to apply for a job with so much expectation. First of all you want a job that maybe you think is the one that you should be doing – for example a job in an office – the one I was expecting when I came here because I have not a bad level of qualification. But you find that the level of qualification you come with, if you compare that with an Australian qualification, you find that yours is a bit lower. They (the employers) want you to upgrade the qualifications. It’s like you have to start again for a few years or a few months just to adjust yourself to the level Australia wants.”

Secondary-school teacher Alessandro Miccichè experienced similar difficulties when he first tried to find work five years ago.

"I need to say it was very challenging at first, it´s quite different to my country. And I guess here it depends on your profession as well, that's what I noticed. The very first challenge for me was to create a resume which would be good enough to get a job. I had to write resumes in different ways. And as my profession was the profession of a teacher, I had to address every single criterion in a different way and write something which would be interesting to the people that were considering my application."

Alessandro says the very first challenge was to create a resume which would be good enough to get a job.

Most job seekers like Italian-born Alessandro rely on support which can be obtained from various sources. "Jobactive" is the Australian Government's initiative to connect job seekers with employers. A network of so-called "jobactive providers" operate across 1,700 locations. Victoria State Manager Adrian Jenkins explains the program.

"Jobactive" is the Australian Government's initiative to connect job seekers with employers.

"Job seekers come to us generally through the Centrelink system, so most of the job seekers will be on some form of income support. And the level of service depends on the circumstances of the individual. Generally speaking, when a job seeker comes to us they will sit down with one of our consults to do a Job Plan. And we will look at a whole range of possibilities to assist them. In some cases that may be as simple as assisting them with their resumes, also educating people about how the labour market works at the moment."

Job seekers will receive help to look for work, but also targeted training that includes writing resumes and preparing for interviews.

Potential job offers will then be directly transferred to the job seekers. However, the support is connected to service expectations and mutual obligations. This includes demonstrating regular job search attempts (20 per month) and attending  information sessions organised by the jobactive provider. Teacher Alessandro Micciche says there’s one thing he learned and that’s to be strategic and tailor his resumes to every employer’s requirement.

The Department of Human Services assesses the circumstances and eligibility of those trying to access the jobactive program.

"I would say you should change your resume for each single job that you´re going to apply for, because every single job has different criteria, different expectations and you need different skills for different jobs. You really need to try to write something very very very precise."

The Department of Human Services assesses the circumstances and eligibility of those trying to access the jobactive program. It is generally available for those on income support. If not, someone may be able to volunteer for jobactive services when that person has obtained working rights in Australia. Adrian Jenkins says job seekers using the program come from a diverse background.

It is generally available for those on income support.

"31 per cent of our job seekers come from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. 29 per cent of our job seekers at the moment have some sort of disability, 8.2 per cent have a refugee status, homeless 8.1 per cent."

The jobactive program also addresses employers, who are looking for staff. They will receive tailored recruitment services.

State manager Adrian Jenkins outlines the current transition the job market is facing.

"It is difficult at the moment with the labour market. There is an increase in the number of part-time and casual jobs. The workforce is still becoming casualised, if that´s the word. And the number of full-time jobs is decreasing. Some industries are diminishing, the manufacturing sector... There are however opportunities, there are some growth industries. Food processing for example is one area there is some growth in employment. Obviously the health care and community services sector is another growth industry. Aged care facilities, gardeners, maintenance people, so there is opportunities out there."

Almost a third of all jobs are not necessarily advertised, it is word of mouth. So it´s important for people to understand that their own networking is really important.

He says something that most job seekers are not considering is the importance of a wide network when it comes to job opportunities.

"One thing that we try and coach people in is that almost a third of all jobs are not necessarily advertised, is word of mouth. So it´s really important for people to understand that their own networking is really important. Often it is a friend of a friend of a friend who recommends someone to a job that´s not advertised. The longer you are unemployed one thing that happens is your network starts to diminish, it becomes almost a catch-22."

As the employment market remains difficult for new arrivals, Tanzanian migrant Bob is not giving up on his Australian dream. He vows to put in the extra hours to upgrade his qualifications to finally be rewarded with the job he thinks he should have.

“It’s up to you. You have to adjust and come up with something that pleases the employers to give you the job you most desire. That means you have to open up the books and study harder but time will come and you’ll get the job you think you need. So I have not given up, I’ll get something better.”

Translated factsheets are available in 15 languages for job seekers.

To learn more about the program visit The Department of Employment or head to Jobsearch.