It’s been 1.5 years now that I left Germany for good.
During this time I travelled as a backpacker in Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, settled down in Sydney and started working for a bank again. I also managed to get a visa that allows me to stay and work in Australia for 4 years.
Sometimes I get asked if I miss Germany. And I must confess that I do miss my friends and maybe also the good old German Bauernbrot, the proximity to other countries and maybe even the snowy mountains. But none of those things would make me consider to go back any time soon and trade my sunny and relaxed life down under for a life that lacks a healthy work-life balance.
Speaking of work – A few months ago people I know from Germany started to ask random questions such as “What do you do over there?”, “How did you manage to get a job?”, “Is it easy to get sponsored/to get a working visa?”
I can totally understand the excitement in these questions as living in Australia is like a dream coming true. However, instead of responding to all of these messages individually, I decided to publish a post on here.
In case you’re wondering why I switched from writing in German to English – I just noticed that it got easier for me to communicate in English. But also because I’d like to give some advice to my new friends over here as well as to other people from around the world who want to make a living in Australia.
So if you are considering to move long-term to Australia and to work as a professional, here’s what I recommend to do:
1. Organise a visa prior to your arrival, ideally one with working rights. As a German citizen under the age of 31 I was eligible for the Working Holiday Visa which is valid for one year and which allows you to work for up to 6 months for the same employer.
2. Quit your job or agree on a sabbatical with your company if you’re unsure if you want to live abroad for a longer period of time. I managed to get 15 months off with the allowance to work anywhere except for another consulting company.
3. Arrive at your destination and soak in the beauty, the cleanliness and the friendly and relaxed people around you.
4. Find yourself a home. Don’t be surprised by the horrendous rent prices in the major cities (Sydney is one of the most expensive cities in the world). Get used to the idea of sharing your house or apartment with a couple of other people. And to be honest, this is so much more fun and it’s a good opportunity to make new friends.
5. Start searching for jobs. The common websites for professional job hunters are seek.com.au, au.indeed.com and www.careerone.com.au (just to name a few). However, in Australia it’s all about connections and referrals from people you know or used to work with. Also the more years of relevant work experience you have, the better.
6. The Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa would cost a company some thousand dollars. So it’s reasonable why most companies in Australia won’t easily sponsor anyone who’s never worked for them before. Nevertheless, being on a Working Holiday Visa gives the company the chance to see if you’re suitable for the position and worthy of getting sponsored after a few months of working for them.
7. Be prepared to go through a very frustrating period of time. I know a few people who have been in Australia for months, even years and who are still looking for a job. After a few months of failed job applications (as I was looking for permanent positions only) I started searching for temporary project coordination roles (most of them are advertised by agencies). With success. I was immediately sent to an interview with the bank I’m currently working for and got a job offer on the same day of my interview. Also the agency reassured me that I’ll be sponsored by them once the bank wants to extend my contract – which happened after 4 months.
8. After all, you have to have luck and be in the right place at the right time with the right skills. And even though the job searching process can be extremely frustrating, don’t give up on yourself as tomorrow your life can completely change (you just don’t know it yet).
Please note that there are many other ways how this might work out, e.g. through a student visa, a de-facto visa (being in a relationship with an Aussie) or starting your own business. Nonetheless, the most common way is to be sponsored through a company and getting the so called Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa (subclass 457).
So far, I really enjoy working in Australia even though I struggled with a few cultural differences at the beginning. But this is another story – worth writing about in my next post. Stay tuned.