If there’s one question I get asked a lot, it’s about working in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa, also known as WHV. How easy is it to find work? How much do employers pay? should I work in London or Sydney? All of these questions I get asked so often that it’s about time I write a post all about it.
Read on to see how I went from being paid $10 for 4 hours picking fruit, and how you can earn up to $50 an hour with the help from recruitment specialist EST10. Hopefully this post will answer any questions or concerns you might have about coming to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa.
My First Working Holiday Visa: Fruit Picking
Pear Picking in Victoria on my first WHV in 2006
I’ve been on 2 Working Holiday Visa’s before. The first time was back in 2006 when I spent the year backpacking around Australia, working in many various roles such as; in a coffee shop, a bar, a call centre, as a cleaner for a hotel and of course the dreaded three months fruit picking around WA and Victoria to get the second Working Holiday Visa. It was hard, but I after completed the 88 days work, I returned to Australia in 2012 to start my second Working Holiday Visa.
As long as you enter the country before your 31st birthday, you can get a Working Holiday Visa. See here for more details on obtaining the Working Holiday Visa.
If you complete the 88 days fruit picking or farm work, you’ll be able to either continue on for another year in Australia on the WHV or you can come back into the country again to complete the second year before you turn 31, like I did.
Just a quick note not the farm work – you’ll need to complete 88 days work in one of the below fields to get the second visa:
- Plant and animal cultivation
- Fishing and pearling
- Tree farming and felling
I found all of my jobs through Gumtree or you can go to the Backpacker Job Board as well. If you’re interested in obtaining a second WHV, you can find more details on farm work here.I also worked in a call centre in Sydney in 2006 to fund my next destination of New Zealand.
Because I travelled all around Australia in 2006, I just picked up random jobs but they paid incredibly badly. I was paid $15 an hour in a call centre, and the one I really remember was getting paid $10 for 4 hours working in 40C+ temps picking pears. Yep, that’s what I did back then!
How I Saved $20K From My Second Working Holiday Visa
When I came back to Australia in 2012, I stayed in Sydney for the year and went down the admin route as I had gained some skills working in the media doing admin and a bit of PR and Marketing back in London by this point. This time round, I was earning so much more money that within one year I managed to save $20,000 to go on another around-the-world backpacking trip for an entire year! There would be no way I would have been able to save that much in UK and although I had to really watch my spending big time to make this a reality, I made it happen. Thanks to working in admin, I managed to save $20,000 to travel the world for a year in 2013
Just because you’re leaving your country to come to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa doesn’t mean you have be paid less than your worth. When I came back in 2012, I worked on contract meaning I got paid slightly more because you don’t get any holiday or sick pay. This is a great idea if your mission is to purely save.
It can be difficult to get a full time job on a WHV because you can only work for an employer for 6 months before moving jobs. If you have a specialised career, you might be lucky to get sponsored but recently Immigration cracked down on the sponsorship. See here for more information about getting sponsored to stay in Australia permanently.
On my second WHV in 2012, I worked in various offices around Sydney going from 3 month contract to 3 month contract in an admin role. This was actually great because I got to see a lot more of Sydney and meet a lot of people during this time. I also went from being paid that lousy $10 for 4 hours work to suddenly getting paid $30+ an hour for work that wasn’t anywhere near as hectic as fruit picking!Picking pears wasn’t as easy as it looks! Getting paid $10 for 4 hours work. Victoria, 2006
And Now… As A Permanent Resident
(thanks to the partner visa)
All dressed up, ready for work in Sydney, 2017
And recently when we returned to Australia again after our around-the-world trip in 2014, I had to go back to admin work for about 3-4 months until I got my first full time job in Marketing and then as an EA in a big media company. Fast forward three years to 2017 and I now work in Marketing for one of the biggest tech companies in the world. It’s insane to think where I was a few years ago, but my point is, you have to be prepared that it can take time to get that dream job when you move to another country.
Advice for working in Australia on a WHV
My advice would be to sign up to a recruitment company like EST10 who work closely with Working Holiday Visa candidates.
EST10 specialises in admin roles including Reception, Team Assistant, Executive Assistant and general office support. They can secure jobs between $25-$50 an hour which is amazing. Unlike some agencies, they actually look after you too. With a focus on candidate care, I remember applying for a job with them and they brought me in for an interview to identify my strengths and potential. They also have an awesome client base where you could be working for a great company. Check out their list of jobs here.
Another amazing point about EST10 is, they also have a consultant based in London so they’re ready to get the ball rolling before you even land in Australia! If you’re in the UK and have obtained your working holiday visa, you can get in touch with EST10’s London consultant here. If you’re not based in London, it’s best to simply wait until you arrive in Australia. Most employers won’t batter an eyelid when they see your address is in another country. You’ll also going to have to make sure you set up an Australian Bank Account and a Tax File Number when you arrive.
Working in a bar isn’t that easy in Sydney. Photo taken from globalbackpackers.com
I know it sounds all like fun working in a bar, but if you want to work in NSW, you’re going to have to do an RSA course before you can start pouring drinks which is a total pain. You’re also not going to get paid nearly as much and you won’t be able to experience much of Sydney’s nightlife either as you’ll be working in it!
What if you don’t have any admin experience? If like me, when I first came to Australia in 2006, I had just finished university and had only worked in bars. You can however still break into the office job environment as a junior receptionist, or junior admin assistant if you have strong customer facing/retail skills. As long as you’re switched on and proactive, you could have a chance in securing a well paid job.
Because I’ve got a great relationship with EST10, I spoke to their Managing Director, Roxanne Calder who can easily spot a great candidate. Here’s some of her tips on how you could be making good money when you come to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa.
How To Prepare For An Interview
- Dress corporate – that means before you pack your backpack/suitcase, make sure you bring a decent work outfit with you or if you’re coming to one of the big cities in Aus, just go to Zara and buy the appropriate clothing. I remember rocking up to an interview when I first arrived in some sort of monstrosity. I always remember a recruitment specialist telling me to basically change my entire outfit for an interview. I was embarrassed and gutted, but as I’m writing this right now, I’m actually laughing at what a state I was in.
- For guys – make sure you wear a suit, with tie and polished shoes.
- For girls – suit pants or business skirt with a blazer and shirt with closed shoes.
- Interview Prep – Know your CV inside and out. Interviewers will ask behavioural questions which require you to recall a past experience where you had to carry out a specific duty such as “tell me a time when you had a difficult situation at work?” Don’t you just hate those questions?!
How To Prepare My CV?
- Provide an Australian phone number. This is incredibly important. When you land into Australia, Vodafone are usually have a stand, handing out SIM cards for free at the arrivals gate.
- List specific start and finish dates for your previous roles and list these in reverse chronological order.
- Use bullet points to keep duties for each role short and simple.
- Limit the number of fonts in your resume to keep it clean and easy to read.
- Avoid tables, graphs, graphics, custom fonts and special formatting… these can display differently depending on the screen!
- Don’t forget to spellcheck!
- Have a Word version on hand so you can make amendments easily. Many recruiters will also request Word over PDF, not because they change the information but because they need to protect your anonymity when presenting you to their clients
- You’ll also need to provide a TFN number which is sort of like the Aus equivalent to the National Insurance Number in UK. Every single person needs one before they start work. You can get one here.
And lastly, your attitude will be everything. If you honour your commitments and strive to do you very best all day, every day, you can’t go wrong. When I was in Australia on my second year WHV in 2012, I was one of my recruiter’s best candidates because I always turned up to work and never took any time off, because I knew if I didn’t turn up, I wasn’t getting paid.
How have you found work in Australia? I’d love to know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in these posts I’ve also written below: