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Things I wish I knew about finding a job in Australia when I arrived


Dugong

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no worries :) 

 

This is a good video to watch - its about 17:40 min but really worth it, and it will give you some good insights into the job market, especially the concepts such as the "hidden job market".

 

I didn't buy any of the products, but it gave me a great start to understand some things. There are several of these, some with different views, so its worth doing your research to make sure you are fully prepared.

 

http://nadinemyers.com/about/

 

Also there are many many sites that show you how to write a CV in Australian style. This is just one example that illustrates the points I made

 

http://www.businessinsider.com.au/why-this-is-an-excellent-resume-2013-11

 

Finally you will need to have at least 3 documents perhaps 4 so get them prepared and ensure that they are in agreement;

 

1) CV - as discussed above - 3-4 pager detailing your experiences in reverse chronological order

2) Cover letter - this is a less formal 1 pager which should provide some insights into who you are and create a story about why you are the right person for the particular job

 

Both of these documents should be tailored to each job that you apply for (1 & 2) - Don't do a generic CV and Generic cover letter and send that to each job application. You really need to read the job requirements and adjust your CV and Cover letter accordingly - remember the auto bots reading for key phrases and the 10-30 second scan .....

 

3) Bio - I have been asked twice for this but it isn't something that everyone asks for - remember that these are in the third person and again there are lots of resources on how to write a good Australian BIO

4) - LinkedIn - in todays market its a real must. There may be other sites/networks but this is the most popular. Again there are many articles online about how to maximise your LinkedIn profile.

 

Again, please do your own research, but the principle of less is more is the way to go.

 

Edited by Lion King
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Interesting read @Lion King.  If you don't mind me asking what industry do you work in and do you think that would make a difference to the recruitment process?

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AlwaysThankfull

Thank you VERY much for this valuable info,  may i ask in which industry/profession you are in?

 

Kind Regards

Andre

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I am sure that the industry would make a difference to the process, so please always do your own research. I would imagine that having a good CV and cover letter is probably common across most professions and that the approach/attitude would also be fairly similar. Perhaps things like the size of your network and number of coffees and if you have a linkedin profile or not may differ :) 

 

I work mostly in financial services but have worked across various sectors in finance, technology, operations, projects etc So perhaps a good description would be a corporate role? 

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WayneAndMel

If I (Wayne) may add two strategic things to consider to this I'd say focus on highlighting the skills and experience that make you stand apart from the sea of generic workers, while also considering how to get around the psychological biases many recruiters have. Similarly don't dismiss recruiting agents out of hand.

 

For example, I've recently gotten a job as a system accountant that obviously isn't your stereotypical accountant. To this end I highlighted my IT/Business Intelligence and project experience for this as I quickly realised I was otherwise going up against a sea of other accountants who knew Australian tax and legislation far better than me when it came to conventional accountant roles. It does appear to be wrong to do so at first as system accountant roles are notably less common than the normal accountant roles - but then I realised that the number of true system accountants with such experience is far rarer so suddenly the odds improved as my competition narrowed. 

 

In turn try apply that thinking to yourself and your skill/trade.  

 

When getting around psychological biases in recruiters I'm referring to what I believe is a subconscious bias on the part of many Australian recruiters and instead trying to focus on where other migrants are involved with the hiring decisions/process, whether they are hiring agents or the decision maker(s). My hit rate on getting to the interview stage was much higher when another former immigrant was reading my CV and cover letter and I believe it's because they have been where you are now, having more subconscious empathy and are therefore more willing to consider your experience fairly.

 

Melissa also noticed the same leading up to her interview and we believe it applies whether they are ex-South African, ex-Indian or ex-British from my experience and likely other former nationalities.  Of course sometimes the recruiter is faceless at the initial stages so it means you should still apply to numerous roles.  

 

As for recruiting agents I personally favour going through them. Some of the hidden job market spoken about it is roles they receive requests for and match immediately against their databases of registered candidates without ever going onto Seek/Indeed/LinkedIn. So cultivating the relationship with the right person at the right recruiting agent (e.g. Michael Page) is crucial to this tactic - which again worked for me. 

 

 

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Thank you for sharing your deep insight @LionKing

We are starting the job search from SA, but will be making the move, jobs or not, by the end of the year. Have already started networking via LinkedIn and also targeting companies with South Africans on their leadership teams.

Thank you for the additional great tips @WayneAndMel 

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Your welcome :) 

 

To avoid confusion, changed my handle to Dugong as it seems more fitting to Aus than Lion King :) 

Edited by Dugong
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Just to add a few things that aren't really spoken about...

 

Adjust your expectations in Australia. I worked with a guy from Russia who managed quite a sizable IT operation back in Russia. In Sydney he is managing an operation about 1/4 of what he was managing back in Russia. The reality is, he needed the big job in Russia to afford to migrate, but Aussie is a much smaller country than Russia. An IT operation that size is rare in Australia, but highly skilled migrants aren't.

 

Nobody likes a highly skilled migrant. Australia makes it's money off mining, migrants and educating foreign students. In most industries there are only 2 or 3 key players. So, there isn't a lot of competition for the best staff. Few companies are trying to be the next Amazon or Google. So, Aussie companies will often promote from within to reduce staff costs. Add to that nobody wants to work with my ex-colleague from Russia. To get his kind of work experience in Sydney is difficult... so his colleages are worried he will get all the promotions.They will interview him and label him, "overqualified" or "unlikely to stick around".

 

Nobody likes recruitment agents. There is an oversupply of recruitment agents here in Australia. So, most of them try to game the system. For example, they will put forward the first resonable CV they find. If the recruiter spent a few more days finding the best possible candidate, then the job would be filled already as  other recruitment agents would have submitted there CVs and the company would have chosen someone who is "1/2 decent" allready.. Companies just don't expect recruiters to find the best possible canidate, so companies just pick the 1st decent guy/gal they interview.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jacques Voogt

Probably the most comprehensive piece of advice I have ever seen. This should be a sticky.

I totally agree with the networking. Almost everyone working at my employer had worked with each other in some form or way in the past, be it as co-workers or service provider-client relationships.

LinkedIn is not enough, networking means you need to have some form of a relationship with those in your network.

 

Companies will get in a new leader from outside and he/she will slowly restructure the company from the people they know, trust and work well with.

 

It is politics.

 

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  • Mara pinned this topic

Noted.. I have pinned the topic.

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I agree with the comments on the type and size of role you may find in Australia. Although some folks move across with similar or better roles than in SA, and some find them quickly, many people I have spoken to have taken longer and had to take a lower role and a lower relative salary and then work their way back up.  Similar experiences for mates who went to NZ.

 

Several people ( not just from SA) have told me that they had to take a role at least 2 levels lower in responsibility to get into the market but then worked through the ranks quickly over 3-5 years. If you take a view that you will be flexible you may find something workable sooner. 

 

Really key to giving you the best chance when applying is to tailor your CV and cover letter to every job and specifically highlight how you match with each of the criteria in the job description , point for point - it isn't about how good you are or what you have done, but how well you match the job vacancy. 

 

Again I am not suggesting that this will be the case for  everyone, but it is better to be prepared and do your homework so that your planning takes into account the "what if" scenario. 

 

There are 100's of jobs posted weekly on various job boards so you will find something :)  - the less fussy you are the quicker it will happen.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...
JackoFam

Thanks @Dugong this is a very comprehensive post. I thought I would also had my recruitment process in case it could be of use to anyone. I have been through this very recently as I got my first Australian job this Friday! Yay. We are based in Melbourne.

 

We were fortunate to arrive in Australia in January with my husband already having a job which was a huge help and we decided that I should not work for the first few months in order to get us all settled (I have 2 kids in school - one of which is a teenage girl who has battled to settle in school) We have also had my mom visiting us from SA for the past month so it was a cherished time with her.

 

1. While waiting to start the formal job search process I spent sometime getting my linkedIn spic and span. In South Africa I ran my own business as an independent database consultant so  spent ages adding details of the projects I had worked on etc. I felt this was important as I had been out of the formal office sector for 18 years - I only worked part time in South Africa. I also periodically looked at what jobs were out there and familiarised myself with the different terminology - I found this very important as the same job will very likely have a different title in South Africa and Australia.

2. I also converted my CV to an aussie style resume - kept it to 2 pages with a link to my LinkedIn in big bold letters as all my CV detail was on there. I did the conversion myself and I used the format examples online. I found a couple of nice articles on Seek that steered me in the right direction.

3. When I was ready to apply I also started reading up on what makes a great cover letter and I created an individual cover letter for each application. Some job postings have key selection criteria which I would address in the cover letter - giving specific examples on how my experience and qualifications addressed the specific criteria. This takes quite a lot of effort but I think it is what is required. I also feel (not sure how accurate this is) that expressing yourself well on paper puts you ahead of other candidates.

4. Ironically I received the first job I applied for but in the meantime I had submitted quite a few other applications and received quite a high hit rate of interviews which I think was due to the quality of cover letters.

5. My timeline went as follows: 3 days after application end date I got a phone call asking me to come in for an interview. Went for an interview last Friday - I was the first interviewee. Didn't think the interview went very well as it was my first job interview in 20 years! At the interview they outlined the recruitment process. They told me that I was the first interviewee and they were interviewing lots of candidates until the following Wednesday and they would be in contact on the Thursday or Friday after the interview ended. They also mentioned to me that I should feel free to contact them if I had any questions. So I took a chance and emailed them the next day with a few points that I felt I had not elaborated very well in the interview itself since I was so nervous. They emailed me on the Thursday late afternoon to say I had been progressed to next stage and could I supply referees. I did so and I got a phone call on the Friday morning to say I had secured the job.

6. All in all I only went to 2 interviews (1 of which I got the job from and a second one which I was told the next day I had moved to next stage of the process) BUT both interviews followed a very similar pattern and had similar questions. They started off asking me to tell them about myself and my experience which would make me a good candidate for the job in question. Here I would highlight that I had a PR visa and then explain my career path up to now highlighting anything relevant to the specific job. They then proceeded to ask me a series of behavioural questions. I.e. outlined a work situation and asked how I had reacted and/or resolved it. Surprisingly for IT jobs the questions were very much slanted to people and teamwork. My technical skills are definitely not up to scratch as I have let that side of things slide a little with only working part time in SA and I was honest about that but they did not seem too worried about that and said I would receive training on any systems they use. Both jobs seemed to want me for my extensive project management experience which I found quite surprising as I assumed I would really battle to find a job as my IT skills are quite outdated to say the least. The interviews ended with a little personal chit chat between us which also surprised me.

 

All in all I am excited for this new challenge.

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Congratulations @JackoFam  Delighted when I hear of people making progress. Thank you for re-routing me to this topic which is super helpful @Dugong .

Thanks also for answering some of my specific questions. One thing my husband highlighted to me today is that we may be starting too early with the job search. We both have Skype interviews scheduled this week and I know the "when do you arrive in Australia" question is going to come up. Feel quite conflicted because at this stage a job is a huge priority. At the same time, our kids have to finish school this year (daughter in matric - will pm you about how your kids are settling). We are open to one of us going ahead to set up and estimate that the earliest we would be willing to do this would be in August - purely from a not being apart for too long perspective. Both my husband and I are in quite specialized careers, so when a great job comes along, we don't want to miss out on the opportunity.

Excuse the long explanation. My question is, are we starting too early or is this a good way to start networking? 

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DXB2OZ

Husky, you may be starting the job search too early, but networking is good. Be upfront about your timeline and you may be pleasantly surprised.

 

Am going to add something to the job hunt - remember you don't have to stay in the first job you take. Trial periods are there for a reason. It is advisable to give it a suitable amount of time to adjust (and it is an adjustment), but remember you are not stuck. But if you do move, don't burn bridges and try to be tactful - people talk!

 

I am in my third job (first one 15 months, second lasted only a month (it was not a good environment). Am now 7 months into the third job and absolutely loving it. I have friends from the first job and meeting my ex boss for coffee next week.

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On 2/28/2017 at 8:25 PM, Dugong said:

 

I agree with the comments on the type and size of role you may find in Australia. Although some folks move across with similar or better roles than in SA, and some find them quickly, many people I have spoken to have taken longer and had to take a lower role and a lower relative salary and then work their way back up.  Similar experiences for mates who went to NZ.

 

A question about taking a lower role.  I have absolutely no issue with taking a lesser role than what I am doing currently.  But how do you address that in job applications where, by listing all your qualifications/experience, you might come across as over qualified?

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Then don't list all your jobs and qualifications. A cv has to be accurate but not necessarily comprehensive in covering everything you've ever done. Tailor your cv for what you want. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
arabella164

I can add more thing "Australian" thing about job hunting: negotiate!!!

Unlike South Africa, where you are offered a job, then take it or leave it, in Australia for most jobs it is expected that you try and negotiate.

For example, ask for a higher job title, more money (don't be embarrassed), extra day off, flexible hours, etc. etc. Chances are good that you will get something.

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I have never negotiated for a job. But I am sure you could depending on the job. If you are working in a warehouse packing boxes, then trying to negotiate might mean you will loose the job. But if you are working as a salesman, then negotating might even help your cause.

 

But some advise I got was... ask for things that they don't have to give everyone. For example, "I need to be at day care by 6pm on Wednesdays. Could I get in early and leave at 4:30 on the days when the kids are in day care?". That way they don't have to let everyone leave early as that would be difficult to manage. People are very quick to complain when their colleagues abuse priviledges here. I worked with a guy who did 4 hours of support on a customer's IT system till 2am. He got into work at 11am and yet someone complained to his boss! His boss had to tell him to just work from home on the days when he was up till 2am helping customers. That way nobody would see him walk in late or go home early.

 

Another peice of advise is talk to recruiters and use them as a source of information. For example, if a recruiter rings you about a job that sounds terrible... just ask for an extra 5% in pay. If they don't seem concerned about the higher figure, then you can tell there are at least some jobs where you could be asking for more pay. Or you be even more cleaver and say, " well it is far from home... so I would have to say $90 000 plus super!" That gives the recruiter the chance to say, "well.. $90 000 is more than they are considering... what about we find you something closer to home?".  And always, "so, what does the company particularly like about my CV?". I have found that recruiters often miss understand my CV. I have tweaked it several times to make it easier for recruiters to understand.

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  • 1 month later...
danofotiadis

Awesome post! Daunting if one is not naturally a wheeling, dealing, networker, but one must do what one must do! :)

 

Thanks for the great insights and viewpoints @Dugong

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  • 5 months later...
SurferMan

So true,

 

I don't use Seek at all anymore. All my work is now 100% reference and/or word of mouth style It took almost 7 years but hey, now it is clear to me that it was well worth it. And no, I didn't go boozing on Fridays, no golf games etc. Just bloody hard work and delivery!> Boring I know! :P

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On 24/02/2017 at 6:42 AM, Dugong said:

Haven't posted for a while, but decided to write up our experiences in the hopes that it helps others. Obviously these are our experiences and views and results may be different for others :)  I hope they are helpful but please remember that there are always many ways to achieve a result and what works/not for one may/not work for another - so please do your own research and always make up your own mind about what is right for you/your family/situation. As with all things in life, the more you are prepared to put in the more you will get out. 

 

OK ..... sorry, this may be a long post :) 

 

We arrived in country without any jobs and started to look for them here. It has taken me over 7 months to find a job and having spoken to may agents and people over this period, I would like to share my observations and experiences.  These are the things that I wish I new before starting to look for a job in Australia;

 

1. Be humble, be prepared to learn and help others  - In my experience these three things are absolutely key to finding work and expanding your network! Park your ego at the door and adjust your approach to be much more humble, less aggressive, more accepting and more willing to learn. Accept that you are not entitled to anything (no one is) no matter how good your CV is or what you have accomplished or what level you have reached. Remember that you are now competing in an open economy against many great local and international candidates for a limited number of vacancies - be respectful and show good form.

 

2. Ensure that you have enough resources to sustain you while you settle/look for a job. We all hope for the best and while it is possible to arrive with a job and/or find one within weeks of arrival, this may not always be the case.  So have a plan "B" to ensure that you are covered in the event that things take longer than you anticipate. I have been told by several agents that it can take between 6 and 12 months to find the right job and this was the case for us. So, hope for the best, but be realistic with your planning and ask yourself the tough "what if" questions  Your plan doesn't have to be all about cash savings it could include taking lessor jobs while you look for the right opportunity, work from home/online, start a business, do volunteer work, arrive at different times, transfer within your company etc Important thing is to think about it and have a plan so you are not caught of guard.  

 

3. Australia works on networks - Every video you watch or agency you talk to will tell you the same thing. Only 15%-20% of jobs go through the formal agency market and over 80% of jobs are filled through networks or by the company directly. So start building your network now. You can do this before you arrive in Australia. Don't underestimate this aspect. I looked at it as "planting seeds" that may take time to grow, but when they do ....... Tools like LinkedIn or professional bodies in your line of work or colleagues from previous companies in the Australia branch etc are really good ways to start this process. Look up people in your own network that are in Australia and reach out to them. The best thing that I found was having connections introduce you to others in their network. Don't be shy about growing your network, but please be respectful and don't troll people :)  Just a hint - a 5 person network isn't enough. Also this network is a "business" network not a mates network. Of course mates can help and you should reach out to them, but focus on growing your business potential network.

 

Ok, one last thing on networks is to treat people with respect and how you would like to be treated. I know everyone says this but it really is important here. This is a small market and so you will find that people here are generally more helpful, more humble, more accommodating, more tolerant and less direct, less self absorbed and less entitled. The reason (yes because its good form) but also because this is a small market and everyone knows everyone, so you should treat each interaction with integrity or you may find your network dries up quickly. 

 

4. Meet and Greet - Sitting at home relying on email alone will not land you a job because there is no emotional connection to the person on the other end. Most Seek or Indeed jobs advertised get between 300-700 applications! So, before you arrive expand your network as much as you can and arrange short Skype sessions with as many people as you can. My experience is that if you approach people to learn about the market, about a company, about who you can speak to etc you are much more likely to be engaged that if you hardline them for a "job". Once you are here arrange to have meetings and continue to expand your network. One local person told me that a boss once told them that " ... if you want a new job, then you are at least 100 coffees away from that new job...". Coffees are a thing here, so set up as many as you can. Again, these are short, humble, learning experiences to grow your network and obtain further introductions. I am not suggesting that this is the same/will work for every person/situation or industry its just what I did and the advice I got from others.

 

5. Diversified approach - Use all the tools available to your advantage! I suggest that you (1) Reach out to the big agencies in your field - find out who they are by looking at various job adds and then seeing who posts most of them - build a personal relationships with them (2) Go onto job boards like Seek and Indeed and LinkedIn (3) Leverage your networks as noted above (4) Pick a small number of company's you may want to work with and approach them directly - I have had the best results this way (5) read the financial papers as many jobs are still posted here, especially government jobs. Again and I can't emphasise this enough - you need to call, meet and Skype with people directly. Sitting at home and relying on a few job applications only and some emails alone will not build your network or land you a job. You need to do a number of things combined.

 

6. Prepare before you arrive - There are many things you can do to prepare before you arrive. The first is to decide when you will be in country as you will need to communicate this to the people you are going to talk too so that they know. I would suggest that you then create accounts on the various boards, post your CV, reach out to networks, reach out to agents and send them your CV etc. That will get the networking/introduction part going even if they tell you they can't help you until you are in country - they at least know who you are :) I would also suggest  setting up a number of meetings with key agencies and some of your network for the second/third week you are in country. So give yourself a week or two to settle and then get straight into building your network. The quicker you start this the better. So basically get all the admin done before arriving and start the networking process - once you here you just continue with that process. 

 

7. CV's, LinkedIn, job boards and other tools - This topic is to big to cover in this post but I will cover a few basics just to get you thinking. There are a number of resources on this site and also on the web about "Australian" style CV etc. All these things are your "advertisements" or "calling cards" so ensure that they are (1) aligned - nothing worse than CV and linkedin dates don't align etc (2) appropriate - contain the right content (3) honest and right - include the right dates and titles etc look them up if necessary  (4) relevant - tailor it for the job you are applying for. OK a few things on CV's that I have learned from agents directly (this is not an exhaustive list);

 

a) Your CV should be about 3-4 pages maximum and should not have any personal information (nothing about religion, gender, age, marital status, children, hobbies, interests, address etc) 

b ) include your email and phone number (ensure your email is something professional and not something like HotFluffy@......)

c ) Lots of white spaces, don't go smaller than size 11 font and don't cram large amounts of text or bullet points in. Less is more! Your looking for 3-5 bullet points for each job and they should cover major achievements, not all your responsibilities etc

d ) People here don't know many of the companies you have worked for so included a short 2-3 liner on who they are, what they do, size (like number of people or profit)

e) Only include details on the last 10 years of your work history - The rest summarise into one liners just to complete your job history

f) Only include the most relevant qualifications

g) Don't include all the "buzz words" like "detail oriented" or "strategically focused" or "dependable" etc Every CV has these and it doesn't work - rather focus on what you have achieved instead of describing who you are - so things like "developed XYZ" or "built ABC" or "improved XYZ by x%" etc 

 

So things that agents have told me about job postings and reviewing CV's. Many jobs advertised get well over 500 applications both locally and internationally.  Obviously this means that agents do not have the time to read everyone one of these. Many use "automated bots" to scan your CV looking for the right phrases and words - so ensure that these are in there.  Also they will personally only scan 20-30 seconds through the first page of your CV and if they like what they see they will go further - otherwise its on the "too much effort" pile or "to difficult" pile.  Statistically speaking they will find 5-10 good CV's way before going through 500 submissions and will never come back to this pile again. So you need to ensure that you capture their attention in the first half a page of your CV. 

 

8 - DON'T GET DESPONDENT - Always remember why you are here. Don't take things personally. I have applied for over 100 jobs in 6 months and only heard back from less than half of them. Sometimes it took 2 -3 weeks to hear back and the answer was "Dear John, we regret to inform you that ......" others I just never heard back. This is a numbers game, so don't just apply for 2 jobs and then sit back and hope you get one of them. While if is of course possible for this to happen, for may people you need to try many times. So may advice here is that if things seem tough, if you have applied for may jobs and not heard back or been rejected for many - DON'T start second guessing yourself or doubting yourself. Ensure you have prepared properly and just keep at it - things will turn around :) 

 

OK, this is a very long post and I hope that it helps. Again, these are my experiences and observations. Its not about right or wrong just my thoughts and insights. Others may have different views so please don't place any reliance on my experiences - do your own research and make the right decision for you. 

Thanks so much for the explanations it has helped tremendously.

 

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  • 3 months later...
JayAySon

Thank you for the insight and help provided in this thread.

 

I am an architect, and I will be moving to NSW in a few months.
I am still looking for a job, and was wondering if anyone could recommend some recruiters I could contact?

 

Many thanks in advance.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We have just moved to Adelaide in January and my first visit to a recruitment agent was a junior person at Robert Walters who basically told me that my degrees and 23yrs experience outside Australia, meant nothing and i should apply for receptionist roles.  I felt sick, like the sky was falling.  The 2nd recruitment agents were better, but no results, no phone calls, no interviews.  Feeling very despondent at this stage, I have applied for so many junior roles and have watered down my cv.  Until you have Australian experience they ignore your applications, there is a lot of competition.  Praying for a miracle, and adapting my cv for every role.  Thanks for all the tips

 

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