Find a job or an executive career for newcomers and expatriates in Australia
By Sue Ellson
On 2nd March 2010, I attended the launch in Melbourne of the 2010 Executive Career Monitor Report as a guest of Six Figures. It was a very interesting presentation where Phillip Tusing frequently commented on how many executives, whilst they may claim that they are looking for companies with a good work/life balance and corporate culture, will actually change jobs as a result of higher financial remuneration.
What was perhaps more interesting as the Founder and Director of a website for newcomers and expatriates, was the fact that so many executives are willing to relocate either internationally or domestically for their next career move. But like so many other aspects of our lives, it seems that the traditional methods for top executives to find a new position are starting to shift – to online methods.
Ten years ago, most executives would have been using Recruitment Agents, newspaper advertisements and their personal networks/referrals. What surprised me in today’s presentation was the huge list of options executive research survey participants were asked to choose from and these included:
. Recruitment or Search Firms
. Personal Contacts or Network
. Referrals (Someone referred you)
. Internal Promotion
. Job Boards (Generalist)
. Print Media/Newspapers
. Job Boards (Niche or Specialist)
. Employer Website
. Cold Calling
. Social Networking Sites (e.g. LinkedIn)
. Alumni and Professional Associations
. Job and Career Fairs
. Head Hunted (approached by company)
. Social Media (e.g. blogs)
It is also interesting to note how executives need to develop their own personal brand – which includes a senior level education (post graduate or masters qualifications – the PhD recipients were not necessarily in the highest income bracket). I would also add that this would need to include a range of quality employers, professional memberships, significant achievements and overall cultural style.
What does this mean for newcomers and expatriates looking for work in Australia?
After helping hundreds of people in their job search process in Australia since 2001, I still go back to my original suggestion that the job search process needs to begin BEFORE arriving in Australia. That is why I originally wrote the Pre Departure Jobs Kit that has now been revised and republished.
I have also stated for many years that firstly you must know what type of job you want (if you don’t then please pay and get some help to find out what you do want to do with a Career Development professional either in an Outplacement firm that specialises in your industry or with a member of the Career Development Association of Australia) and then you need to find a suitable mentor or advocate to help you find it (this may include paying a professional to assist you – but make a good effort to source a good quality package if you go down this path).
What I have also found works particularly well for new arrivals though is to:
1) Revise your resume/curriculum vitae (CV) to meet the Australian market expectations (this can take several attempts and can require industry specific adjustment from a qualified professional)
2) Gain some relevant Australian experience (this may include doing some short term voluntary work – but aim to have it in either your preferred career role or industry) – do not worry if you are not earning money or working at the same level you have previously, you can just reduce the ‘gap’ in your resume by getting some Australian work experience
3) Develop your work and personal networks in Australia but also keep in touch with your overseas networks. Quite often, referrals made through people, wherever they live in the world, lead to better quality outcomes than what you know or who you know. The person who refers you already has a well established relationship with the person and this can then transfer an implied quality when they hear from you.
4) Establish multiple job search strategies. It is not enough to wait for the right job to be advertised and then apply using your standard resume. You need to have your well written resume with as many key words as possible loaded into relevant databases (like industry/career relevant recruiters, and professional networks), you need to subscribe to job alerts from major and niche job boards and preferred employers, you need to get out and about and attend relevant events and you may also need to gain some Australian qualifications on a part time basis.
5) Understand that whilst you may have been earning a significantly higher income in your previous location, the local market rates in Australia may be lower. Do your research and find out what is a similar type of role and if necessary, consider a position that may be less than your previous role, not because you cannot do it but because you will need some time to learn the Australian workplace culture (which is significantly different despite the fact that we are an English speaking country – and it is also very dynamic as we are also developing a more multicultural workforce). You may also find that the culture differs each time you move to a new employer. Most people will find themselves in a similar level type of role within two years of arriving in Australia.
6) If you are not successful in your search for a role similar to what you have done in the past, consider the option of changing careers or starting your own business. Newcomers and expatriates, by their very nature (being willing to move) are proactive people who are ready for a challenge and are often extremely successful at setting up their own enterprises in Australia, particularly when they complete good quality market research and bring new services or products to the market (but usually if they start off small and do it gradually over time).
7) Meet as many Australians as you can and ask questions to find out how they have found jobs, been successful in their careers or managed their personal lifestyle. If you ask a variety of people, you are more likely to be able to make an assessment of what may work well for you and your personal style. Also connect with other people from your location of origin – that way you can share stories, food and information about your past locations – most people enjoy reminiscing about their past every now and then.
8) Be ready to complete further work based training, coaching and performance review once you are in your new role. Remember that it usually takes at least six months to start feeling comfortable in a role and the report today indicated that most executives are moving on every two years.
9) In the initial phases, observe body language, tone of voice and general interest and if you feel people are either not listening, finding your conversation overwhelming or possibly even threatening (because they realise you are smarter than them and may ‘show them up’ on the job), decide how much information you will reveal now and how much you can reveal later (keeping your ‘cards’ close to your chest). Also be careful about how much personal information you share as some people have had this used against them.
10) Smile. It is a universal language that everyone understands. You may need to smile at your situation even – because it can be challenging to cope with disappointment if you are unsuccessful in securing the work you are seeking. Do some fun things but remain focused on finding work – allocating at least one hour every work day to finding work or doing something that will lead to work in the future. Do not get trapped on your computer, in front of the television or taking care of household matters.
The above advice applies to both men and women, younger and older, living anywhere in Australia. Our population is much smaller than many countries and it is really important to have a good strategy because you can quickly gain a bad reputation as many people know one another in particular fields. Thanks to the internet, there is a wealth of information available online and government websites traditionally provide very good quality information. In the beginning, see if you can attend some free events so that you can ask people questions in person. If you are concerned about the quality of your English speaking, just talk more slowly and ask people to repeat something if you did not understand it the first time.
In Australia, when people say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ it usually means ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ I am aware in other cultures, it is often customary to never say ‘no’ or even if you do say ‘yes’ it may not mean ‘yes.’ This can be very frustrating to an Australian born person. In most cities of Australia, if they say to meet at 10am, they mean 10am – so allow plenty of time to arrive and find the relevant office (allowing for any delays in travel times).
Finally, I hope you can treat the whole job hunting process as an adventure – a new terrain to be explored and that you can laugh at the funny moments and not be too disappointed by the more frustrating issues. Remember that you are in the company of many other new arrivals who have gone through the same trials and tribulations – but as Bill Lang says, you will not remain ‘unemployed forever.’
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