Career Advice

Overcoming employment challenges on a working holiday visa

Posted by Samantha
min read

As someone who is currently on her third Australian visa, I am often asked about the challenges of finding work as a foreign resident. I meet many people each week who have landed in Australia and are having trouble securing a job. In case anyone reading doesn't already know, a working holiday visa 417 allows an employee to work for a maximum of 6 months with one company, and then they must find another job with another employer. First of all- and I’ll be blunt- don’t expect to come to Australia and get a job in an area where you do not have any experience, especially on a temporary visa. In addition, if you are degree qualified, you may notice that you still have challenges securing a role, as many companies do not want to hire someone limited to working for 6 months, at a more qualified level. My advice for someone on a working holiday visa with minimal experience would be to look into hospitality work. 

My first job in Australia was working at a café in the CBD. I have found that many bars and cafés are happy to employee foreign workers, as they often have a relatively high turnover. Let’s be honest, in hospitality, you are replaceable. A manager is happy to take the risk of employing you, because they will be able to fill your position quite quickly, if you decide to leave or move on. Of course, there are also hostels, resorts, hotels, and even retail stores that will happily employee working holiday makers. From my personal experience, the hardest part is getting in the door. If you are just emailing your resume to an employer, chances are they will look past it because they will notice that you are on a working holiday visa. Some of them may not understand what work you are legally able to undertake. This is of course different with recruitment agencies though. My suggestion is to print off a stack of resumes and apply in person. 

I was walking through the shops and saw a ‘we’re hiring’ sign on the window of a retail store. I walked in to hand in my resume and as luck would have it, the Area Manager was there and took me for an interview straight away. I ended up starting work the following week. I strongly believe you have to go in there and show the employer why they should hire you over an Australian citizen. When you send your resume by email or online, you are just another working holiday maker applying to a job. If you’re looking for work in other areas where you have to apply online, you have to do something to make yourself stand out. 

For example, I applied for my current position with people2people on a student visa that was 2 months from expiry, a huge red flag to potential employers. I applied online and called in because I wanted to know who I could email my cover letter to. This conversation lead to me being invited in for an interview. I don’t know what would have happened if I had just sent in my resume and left it at that. I honestly don’t think I would be sitting here right now if I didn’t! As I wrote earlier, it is different with recruitment agencies. At people2people, we have many consultants who specialise in temporary and contract recruitment and their job is to get working holiday makers, working! As a side note: from working in recruitment, I have noticed that companies are happy to employee minimally experienced administrators/receptionists in temporary or contract roles. This can be for a couple of reasons. 

A main one I believe, is because working holiday makers are typically, immediately available and eager to work. If a company is looking for a temporary receptionist to start tomorrow, a working holiday maker is often able to do so. If you are available and looking to secure work on your 417/462 visa, then please don’t hesitate to contact us here at people2people. We would love to hear from you!