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Essentials to Job Opportunities in Australia

newspaper job ads for backpackers with the text Essentials to Job Opportunities Backpacker's Guide

There are so many great job opportunities here in Australia allowing you to earn great money to fund your next travel adventure and enjoy the great lifestyle while working here in the Land Down Under.

But there are some common errors many first-time travelers to Australia make.

So I have created this guide with all the essentials you will need to make it simple to find a job and spend more time enjoying Australia.

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Top Seven Important Essentials for Working in Australia

Here are my top six steps to make it easy and simple for you:

1.1 Visa

You will need working rights to work in Australia, getting a Working Holiday Visa is one of the simplest visas to obtain that is relatively cheap and enables you to work and travel in Australia. The initial period is for one year however this can be extended easily for up to three years if you complete your eligible visa days. I have provided full and detailed guides on how to obtain and Extend your Working Holiday Visa easily yourself.

1.1.1 Other Visa Types

If you are not eligible for a working holiday visa, don’t stress there are many other visa options available that allow you to work and live in Australia. See our full Work Visa guide for more details.

1.2 Tax File Number (TFN)

Once you have secured your working holiday visa (or other eligible working visa) the next essential step is to apply for a Tax File Number (TFN). A tax file number is required to pay taxes here in Australia on any income earned. The tax rate for most backpackers is 15%  if your income is below $45,000/year which is relatively low given the quality of services and infrastructure that is available.

Without a tax file number, you can still apply for jobs and work, as many backpackers do while they are waiting for their TFN number to be processed. However, do be aware that you will be paying a tax rate of 45% on every dollar earned until you supply a tax file number to your employer. Ouch!

You can claim back overpaid taxes at the end of the financial year however it is much better to have the money in your pocket to enjoy rather than waiting up to a year for your tax return.

I have created a simple guide to getting your Tax File Number easily yourself or you can watch this video.

Tip

The Tax File Number (TFN) is usually processed and sent out by mail to the address you provided. However, to get it more quickly simply ring the ATO and ask for your number. One from my team took 3 weeks to arrive by post but he called 1 week after applying and they gave his number over the phone, a lot faster than waiting for the post to arrive.

1.3 Get An Australia Bank Account

You will need an Australian bank account to receive payments from your employer, pay for groceries, rent, and basically everything in Australia. Although, you can still use your foreign bank card for payments and withdrawing cash but, you will lose a lot of money in foreign currency fees. I definitely wouldn’t recommend that as you can use that money to enjoy this country more.

So open a bank account in person or online as soon as you can. 

Here’s a video that briefly explains how to set up a bank account in Australia.

1.4 Training & Certificates

Australia is a country that likes you to have the necessary training and certificates before you carry out many jobs. Don’t stress, the courses usually only take a few hours to complete, are easy to pass, and are cheap if you do them online.

Having the required Certificate will help you secure a job much easier and quicker and may be the key difference in you getting chosen for the job over another person who doesn’t have the required certificate. So you must get started on them straight away.

The most essential courses I can recommend are:

Tip

Hospitality and Construction can count towards your Eligible Visa Days. Both are well-paid and fun jobs, offering a great way to get your eligible visa days.

I have created a full guide on completing RSA, RSG, and White Card courses easily.

1.5 An Up-to-Date Australian Resume (CV)

Having an up-to-date, Aussie-ready resume is crucial to finding a job and something that many backpackers tend to overlook. The Australian Resume looks a lot different from European and North American resumes. So make sure you know what to include and exclude to get yourself noticed.

I have once worked with recruitment companies, and from that experience, I can offer some valuable tips to make your Australian Resume truly stand out.

  • Australian Phone Number: Include an Australian phone number at the top easily visible so the employer can contact you. Quite frankly if you have an international number you won’t receive a call or message and your resume will likely be put in the trash.
  • Include an Australian Address that is close to the place you are applying for work. The employer wants to know that you can get to work easily and on time. Update your resume as you travel throughout the country.
  • Emphasize the experience you have for the type of work you want to do, rather than your most recent experience in an unrelated industry i.e. don’t include an office job if you’re applying to be a bartender. You can do this by having a “Profile” written in the third person at the top of your resume.
  • Tailor your resume. A generalized resume is a bad idea. Do your own research or if you have an Aussie friend, ask them to look it over or ask a recruiter to look at it and tailor it to Australian employers.

I recommend opening a bank account, either in person or online, as soon as you can. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. To assist you, I have created a guide on how to open a bank account in Australia.

Backpacker Survival Guide to Job Hunting in Australia Ebook preview

1.6 Get an Australian SIM Card

Potential Employers are going to contact you on an Australian Number either by Text message or Phone Call. Prepaid SIM cards are relatively cheap and can be purchased in places like supermarkets, kiosks, or shopping centers. It is also handy to have mobile data while you are out exploring a new city or sightseeing in Australia.

Tip

If you are planning on living and working in regional Australia, you should buy a SIM card that gives you access to the Telstra network, as they have the best Australia-wide cell coverage. While Telstra SIM cards are relatively expensive can only be bought at Telstra stores, you can purchase SIM cards from resellers that typically charge less but still give you access to the same network.

Check my Before you Arrive guide for more details on SIM cards and other essentials that will help you be better prepared before embarking on your Australian adventure.

1.7 Be Well Prepared For a Job Interview

With any job in the world being well prepared for a job interview will make a huge difference in how the interview goes and how successful you are.

Tip

Do your research: Knowing about the company makes you stand out and provides a great impression for the interview. It can be very simple and fast to quickly search a little about the company and make notes. Asking questions in the interview shows interest and employers hire people who care about their business.

For Example: If you are going for a hospitality job, read the menu for food and drinks, see what they offer, and make note of something that catches your eye, being a specific dish, cocktail, or wine from your country of origin, etc. Bring this up in the interview by saying something simple like “I noticed you have this (dish/cocktail) on your menu, it sounds really delicious, I love that type of food/cocktail and I would love to try it”. This will show you have put some thought into the restaurant and are experienced in their menu offerings, it will open conversation about the menu and leave a great impression on the interviewer.

I have created a video below that provides you with top 3 resume tips for interviewing well

Insider Backpacker Tips

After following the essentials above on how to get a job, you’ve now got the means to earn money and fund your travels around Australia.

The essentials covered in this section are not critical to finding work in Australia but will definitely put you ahead of other backpackers, help you land a job more easily, and make better connections with the locals.

2.1 Get Some Aussie Culture, ya mug!

If you’re going to be living here, it’s important to know a little about our culture. Most Australians are down-to-earth, modest, and have a good sense of humour. We tend to be more matter-of-fact and direct than what you’re used to, which is a lot different from the Europeans and North Americans where more polite language is typically used.

2.1.1 Slang words

Australians love to use slang words and phrases, some of these may be confusing at first but you will probably find yourself using them in no time. Here are some examples.

Shortening of words and adding an O, A or Y – Australians love to shorten words and add an O, A, or Y at the end. For Example:

  • Service station = Servo
  • Bottle Store = Bottleo
  • Afternoon = Arvo
  • Avocado = Avo
  • Australia – Straya
  • Mcdonalds = Maccas
  • Schooner (beer) = Skewy
  • Wine = Wino or vino
  • Beverage – Bevy
  • Chicken Schnitzel – Schnitty
  • Barbecue – Barby or barbie

This also goes for names Dave = Davo, Shane = Shano, Barry = Bazza, Tom = Tomo, John = Johno.

You may get your name shortened but think of it as endearing.

Sometimes the words aren’t shortened and an O is just added for fun like Train = Traino, Bus = Buso

Other Popular Slang Words:

  • How ya going – simple greeting meaning How are you? Often said quickly that it sounds like one word. The most common reply will be “Yeah good”
  • Fair Dinkum – That seems fair or can mean you can’t believe it but you agree (if said with a surprised tone)
  • Ta – Thanks
  • Good On ya or On Ya – Good on you, you’ve done a good job
  • Brekkie – Breakfast
  • That’s it – Used as a positive way of confirming a point in conversation.
  • How Good – Used to confirm that you like something or that it’s a great outcome
    That’s great – Same as above, can actually be less strong than how good if said without strong emphasis
  • Heaps – Used to emphasize a lot, heaps good, they gave me heaps, I have heaps to do
  • As – similar to above but used at the end of the word. It’s hot as, cheap as, sweaty as.
  • Not – Used a lot in Australia to describe something negatively but vaguely, not good, not much, not far, not cheap, not long now

This can be confusing at first but if you listen to what the locals say and try to use these words you will be more Australian and well-liked.

2.1.2 Forget the Stereotypes

Especially in the big cities! We’ve all heard about the typical Australian stereotype (and it’s best to forget about those Crocodile Dundee movies you’ve seen – for the most part!) Australia is a very diverse and very multicultural country, so an open mind is essential.

Always Remember

Australians don’t drink Fosters, or like when you say “throw another Shrimp on the Barby”. We have prawns here, we put prawns on the Barby, the word Shrimps was added to the movie for the North-American audience.

2.1.3 Australian Sports

Australians are sports Mad! With ‘footie’ AFL being the most popular although if you are in Queensland or Northern Territory ‘footie’ could mean NRL.

Having a little knowledge of what’s happening in the AFL or NRL may be what wins you over with a potential employer – it’s definitely a conversation starter! Many of Aussies are also big cricket fans.

Tip

You may get asked who you support, choose a team that is popular in your area unless you really care. In NSW they support NRL (Rugby League) and a bit of AFL. In QLD mostly NRL (Rugby League) and has much fewer AFL fans. The states have major rivalries with one another.

2.1.4 The ‘Have a go’ Attitude

A lot of Australians will give something “a go” or “have a crack” at something they don’t necessarily know about. Australians respect anyone who is willing to ‘Have a Go’ or ‘Give it a Fair Go.’ The more you are willing to try your hardest, the more impressed your employer will be – even if you fail, it doesn’t matter as long as you ‘Have a Go’.

If asked to do something you’re not quite sure about you can say “yeah, I’ll give it a go”.

If you fail it’s common to say “ah well, I gave it my best go” or “I had my best crack at it” and a lot of respect is given even if you’ve failed.

2.2 Have Your Own Transport

Flexibility is a big factor in your ability to get seasonal work. Having your own transport will give you more opportunities to find seasonal work than not having any. If you’re traveling with a friend or have made friends in Australia, car–sharing can be a great way to save money and have your own transport.

Obviously, this isn’t as important in big cities like Sydney or Melbourne. In this case, you really need to have a good knowledge of public transport and how to get from one end of the city to another. You should try to plan where you’re going to live, around where you work and how good the public transport is in that area.

I created a guide specifically for backpackers like you on how to Buy a Vehicle in Australia. It includes tips to help you find a good bargain.

Tip

Use Google Maps to get public transport schedules and live updates when using public transport.

Pro Tip

Getting the local transport card makes the trips a whole lot cheaper than paying cash!

2.3 Set up Your Superannuation Account

Superannuation is a pension fund that employers pay for Australians once they retire. Having your own superannuation account can be really useful if you plan on moving around quite a bit and working different jobs. This way you will have all your superannuation money in one account, which will make it a lot easier when it comes to claiming it all back when you return home.

Superannuation is paid by your employer at 11% of your salary, which is set to increase to 12% by July 2025. This is paid in addition on top of your salary, and over time, it can add up to a decent amount and you can claim it back

2.4 Ask Questions about the Job Before Starting

Always know what situation you are getting into. This is highly important especially when you are looking for work in regional Australia. Things like “meals and accommodation” included can make all the difference, but you also need to know exactly what is considered a meal and exactly what kind of accommodation you will be staying in before you go there.

Lodging could mean a shed filled with other backpackers and no air-conditioning, or it could mean a renovated room in a beautiful turn-of-the-century house where you will get home-cooked meals every day and a couple of beers after work. The same goes for meals: for example, “breakfast could simply mean cheap-brand cornflakes are provided every morning or it could mean toast, tea and coffee or even cooked breakfasts.

Here are some essential questions you should ask employers about meals and accommodation:

  • What meals are included and what exactly will those meals be?
  • What type of accommodation is provided? i.e. Will it be a house, a private room in your employer’s house, or a dorm?
  • How many people will I be sharing a room with?

Tip

Asking questions is also a great way to show genuine interest in the job. Ask open-ended questions first, then move on to more specific questions like the ones mentioned above.

Seven Essentials to Attitude

As a backpacker, having the right attitude is crucial when it comes to finding the right job. In the past, some backpackers have given up and gone home, simply because they didn’t have the right attitude. In this section I will explain what having the right attitude means to you as a backpacker.

Remember the work may be a little different and harder than you are used to, but seeing the light at the end of the tunnel having money to travel and an extra year or two visa can make it all very worth it!

These are the most essential points to remember when it comes to having the right attitude:

3.1 Play to Your Advantage

It’s important to recognise your strengths as a backpacker and you should play to these strengths. The huge reason why over 100,000 backpackers come to Australia on a working holiday each year and can find work is due to:

  • FLEXIBILITY – Backpackers are flexible and are willing to relocate to areas for a few weeks or months at a time (seasonal work). Many Australians don’t want to uproot their lives, families to do a few weeks or months of regional work. This is your biggest strength so use it.

3.2 Have an Open Mind

Let’s face it the majority of the work you do in Australia will be work you have never done before (especially the eligible visa days work). Having an open mind about trying new jobs and using the Australian ‘Have a go’ attitude will get you a long way. An infographic of 7 must-have attitudes every backpacker needs

Remember the first few days are usually the hardest, your body and certain muscles may not be used to the type of work you are doing. Just know it will get easier, you will gain experience in how to do things better and more efficiently and your body will get used to the work.

3.3 Be Willing to go the Extra Mile

To be in with the chance of getting the job you want, don’t just follow the crowds of backpackers – this won’t necessarily lead you to the best job, because you will be competing with so many others for the same jobs. Want an unfair advantage? Think outside the box.
Here are some examples;

Example 1: If you want to work in small rural towns try asking around lumber yards, paint suppliers, or the feed and fertilizer suppliers. Simply ask the attendant if they know of anyone who may need help. Everybody back at the backpackers will think you are a genius.

Example 2: If you really want to get a job you could offer to work a day for free – Aussies love this “give it a go” attitude and it could endear you to an employer. (Plus, if they really like you and decide to take you on, they’ll probably pay for that day’s work anyway or you will get a reference for your resume.) Beware though, you will not be covered for injury or anything else that may protect you.

Example 3: A little more out of the box but in regional towns sometimes there is one bar that everyone goes to. Make friends with the locals over a few drinks. You will be the outsider from a different country who is immediately interesting to them, everyone will want to talk to you. Let them know you are looking for a job. Everyone knows everyone in the small towns so they will put you in contact with a local who has work and sometimes cheap accommodation. This has worked for me and my friends a lot!

3.4 Be Persistent but Patient

It’s more than likely that you’re not going to get the first job you apply for, so persistence is the key. It’s also important to follow up on job applications and interviews if they don’t come back to you within 2 to 3 working days.

Having patience is also a key, as it may take some time to find a job.

3.5 Be Able to Network

Talking to people and establishing contacts is another great way to find work. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know. However, this can work to your advantage as a backpacker as most backpackers are usually very social and willing to help one another.

Being social has a very high level of importance in Australian culture and if your employer feels that you are not getting along with co-workers it is a possible reason for dismissal.

Tip

Let everyone you meet know that you are looking for work, you never know who they might know especially in small towns.

3.6 Flexibility

You will be at a distinct advantage if you are willing to be flexible and work weekends and evenings.

This is usually essential for Hospitality as it’s their busy period. Bonus they pay higher rates and you get better tips on the weekends.

3.7 Have a Positive “Can Do” Attitude

Australians love a “can do” or positive attitude – they tend to dislike people who moan and have a negative attitude. Aussies also love a good sense of humor. Basically, the more fun you have looking for work, the more jobs that will come your way. Wait did we just say that? You are in Australia – of course, you are having fun!

Tip

If you have to complain about your job let’s face it you are allowed to have a bad day, Don’t do it at work, even on breaks. Do it outside of work away from your bosses and other workmates with people you trust! Bonus if you can do it in another language.

Be careful in small towns! Everyone often knows each other, complaining to the store attendant may seem harmless but she may know your employer.

Top Ways to Find a Job in Australia

There are many ways to find a job in Australia. These are our top ways:

Final Thoughts

No matter how you go about finding a job, using the essentials in this guide will definitely help you a lot! Getting a job quickly and easily can allow you with more time and money to enjoy and explore our beautiful country. Be sure to check out our other articles on Jobaroo for more great travel and backpacker guides. We have done the research and put it all together in simple and easy-to-follow guides so you can spend more time enjoying Australia.

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