What if I don't have Australian Work Experience

This article looks at Why you must rely on your South African Work Ethic, but not your South African Work Experience in Australia…

I have so much respect for South African immigrants who pack up everything and leave all that is familiar behind when they move to Australia. For many of you, this move is your first overseas trip. It is not an easy journey. I know, I have been where you are.

That is also the reason for this article because I have noticed that many immigrants expect that their work experience in South Africa should weigh quite heavy, but in my experience, it does notWhat matters is the work ethic that you bring and how you integrate that with the Australian work experience you get.

Things Are Not The Same As ‘Back Home’

  • Let me explain it to you: The financial field is one such example. Many immigrate to Australia with high profile positions in the financial sector to discover that those jobs are not available in Australia. If they are, the regulatory guidelines are so different, that it is tough to land that initial job in that particular sector.
  • Another example is one of tradespeople. Many boilermakers, fitters, turners, and millwrights have all their licenses in South Africa, but find that they have to do various courses to qualify to do the same job they did previously when they arrive here. They often have to go back on the tools before getting the supervisory positions they were used to.
  • Lawyers are another example. You almost have to redo your degree in Australia to practise law again.
  • Many engineers have to resubmit their professional applications and redo their portfolios of evidence to register as professional engineers again.

The list continues.

How Do I Then Gain Australian Experience?

What then must you do to Land a job in Australia and Get the highly sought after Australian Experience?

1.     Landing a job in Australia

Connect with people. Tell at least ten people every day that you are looking for a job. To tell at least ten people a day you are looking for a job, you have to meet people. Meet them on Facebook and connect with people on LinkedIn. Go to networking events. Get out and meet people. For more tips, go to the Article on How to Land a Job in Australia.

2.     Evaluate your skillset

While still in South Africa, find out if there are any conversion studies you need to do for your particular job. Do it while there, and do it through Australian institutionsAustralian qualifications will count to your advantage. I know you thought you were done with studying, but do it and get it over with, while you have an income. When you arrive in Australia, the South African Rands do not last very long, and you do not want to spend it on conversion courses.

3.     After evaluation of your skillset, see how you can reinvent yourself

The beauty of Australia is that you do have the ability to reinvent yourself. Do some research about how your skillset can be applied to other positions. You have gained so much knowledge and experience throughout your career, and this may open an avenue that you may not have thought about before. I initially looked for accounting work, yet I followed my passion – a career in marketing and social media.

I know that what you do not know now, you can always learn if you are willing to step outside of your comfort zone.

4.     Be a smart networker

As a new arrival in Australia, you will find that the adage “It is not what you know, but whom you know,” has never been truer.

Be very strategic in the networking groups that you join. There are many networking groups, and you are bound to find a few South African Networking groups. Find out where they meet and go to those meetings, in addition to your industry networking opportunities. Networking will take various shapes – find one that you are comfortable with.

A word of caution – do not expect to walk away with a job at your very first networking get-together. Often, you will find that the ex-pats who have been here a while will steer you in the direction of people they know in your field, but it is of vital importance that you build relationships with these people.

5.     Be social media savvy

More and more employers are starting to have a look at potential employees’ social media pages. You have to understand that the image you portray via your social media presence is of the utmost importance. If your posts are extremely political or controversial, please ensure that your privacy settings are such that it is not visible to the public. One moment of indiscretion captured on camera may convey a negative view of you. Think twice before you post.

6.     LinkedIn presence

Speaking of social media, let’s talk about your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is my passion. Do you want to know why? Because I have seen the success stories that have happened because of a comprehensive LinkedIn Profile and knowing HOW to use LinkedIn.

Think of LinkedIn as your Online Career Page or Brand. This is your Job seeking real estate, and a means to establish yourself as an authority in your field. Once you have established yourself as someone willing to share their knowledge and speak with authority about their area of expertise, people will trust what you have to say.

Top 3 Tips for building LinkedIn Presence

Here are my top three tips for building a LinkedIn presence:

  • You have identified the company where you would like to work, and now you need to get to know the company’s staff. If you know them personally, connect with them on LinkedIn. If you do not know them personally, get someone that you know to introduce them on LinkedIn.
  • Join Australian industry groups on LinkedIn in the fields that you are looking for a job. Make regular and worthwhile contributions to these groups. Learn the Australian industry jargon and comment on articles and posts. The best would be to post your own articles to the group.
  • Build relationships on what you can do for people and not what they can do for you.

For further information, also read my article How to uncover a job on LinkedIn

Once you have landed a job in Australia, what then?

Many ex-pats will tell you that they were given very basic projects to work on when they were appointed. Many engineers have reported how they were given projects that would have suited very junior engineers. Tradespeople, accountants, lawyers, etc. often share the same story.

My advice?

Your work ethic is the one thing that will precede you. Put your head down and work hard. Do not complain about the jobs you get to do. In other words, ‘Don’t be precious, mate.’

Be willing to do what it takes. Volunteer for those projects that no one else wants. Remember that no experience is ever wasted. Think of it as another addition to your LinkedIn summary and experience section. We all had to start somewhere, and your attitude will be a major determining factor in where your journey takes you next.


While I am busy giving advice, please take special heed of the following:

Just because someone lives overseas, it is not to say that the service he or she provides, whether it is drafting of Resume, assisting you with tailor-making your LinkedIn presence, or coaching you to ‘get a job’ overseas, will be relevant to the country of your choice. If you have decided to immigrate to Australia, using the services of people who live in Australia and who have the Australian Experience and networks in Australia will benefit you. Ask for referrals, and when you receive those referrals, continue to do your research on your service providers.

If you have read this post and you have any questions, please feel free to share, or comment. If you can add ways of getting the much sought after Australian Experience and Landing a job in Australia, please add those ideas in the comments.

If you require help with creating a resume that highlights your Australian value proposition, or assistance with recruitment or setting up your LinkedIn profile, please feel free to contact me. Don’t hesitate to connect with me on LinkedIn and keep up with my frequent updates on both LinkedIn and  Facebook. You can easily reach me through a LinkedIn message or by finding my contact information here. 

#JobsInAustralia #Migratingtoaustralia #Migration

About the Author

Having relocated twice from South Africa to China and then to Australia, and also moving from Queensland to Western Australia, has gained valuable insight into the intricacies of job searching in Australia.

Chaleen, who graduated from the University of South Africa with a background in accountancy, decided to embark on a new journey and discovered a passion for assisting others in their job search. Since 2012 she has played a pivotal role as a job coach, developing LinkedIn profiles and coaching job seekers.

Chaleen was eventually offered a position as a recruiter at a specialised recruitment company and later at an outsourced HR firm. It wasn’t long before she discovered that she had a passion for the recruitment process. Chaleen obtained her recruiter’s license and subsequently established her own recruitment company.

Chaleen enjoys reading, staying fit, and spending time with her family and their two furry pets when she is not working.

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