Finding a job will most likely be your number one priority and probably the most difficult hurdle.
I hope our experiences will help you tailor your approach and mindset to make your experience smoother.
The A: Avoid applying for a job from India
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if we moved to Australia with a job offer…
A friend told me that he’d started applying for jobs in Melbourne and would only move if someone would sponsor a work visa. That was three years ago and he’s still in Bangalore.
I’d told him at the time that it wouldn’t happen. There’s plenty of talent and experience here in Australia, why would an employer pay thousands of dollars to sponsor you? Are you someone with a special skill? An Indian chef, perhaps? Are you doing cutting-edge medical research that the country would benefit from?
Unfortunately, the friend in question is three years older now, has two more kids and is likely to face eligibility issues with being three years older.
If you really want to migrate, bite the bullet and apply for your visa. It will take a year or two – depending on how efficient you and your agent are.
If you chicken out once you’ve got your visa, you can choose to not move. Yes, you will lose the money you’ve invested, but isn’t that better than dealing with regret and always wondering if you should have applied when you could?
The B: Be brave
The thing with us Indians is that we have been raised to believe that we need to find a job straight out of Uni, start saving and invest in a house immediately. I’m not saying that’s bad but our successes in society are based on how many promotions we receive and if we’ve bought a house yet – not whether we are happy, or if we are enjoying the one life we have.
Moving to a new country means that there are new opportunities, things you would never have considered back in India. There’s dignity of labour and even the trades (plumbing, carpentry, construction) etc are highly respected. What’s stopping you from becoming a tradie? Worried about what your gossip of an aunt will say back home? Who cares, really!!?? If you enjoy doing it and are earning enough, does anything else really matter?
Then there are jobs that are either full time (5 days a week) or part time. Part time could mean anything less than 37.5 hours a week – so you could choose to do 3 to 4 days a week, if that suits your lifestyle and priorities outside of work. There are also casual jobs and as the name suggests, these are once off jobs or when there is a need. Many students do casual jobs to sustain their lifestyles.
The biggest change for me has been accepting that I don’t need to do a ‘permanent’ job. The concept of a ‘contract’ is relatively new in India and one that perhaps gets looked down upon. The nosy neighbors and relatives will nod their heads in disapproval and ask, ‘But beta, what about stability?’ Because that’s all we know.
When in Rome… remember? If you want to experience another country, experience it completely. Don’t come here and crave for all things India (and then complain).
In May 2018, I decided to quit my ‘permanent’ job and started contracting – thanks to a friend who pushed me to do it. I must say it’s the best career decision I’ve made. I get to choose my work, when I work, what type of work I do, while prioritising my family, home and workouts. Contracts can be as short as a week or as long as 12 – 18 months, paid hourly or a daily rate, which is often 50 – 70% more than what you’d make in a permanent role – by the way, a permanent role isn’t really permanent – you can still get fired.
So, please! Please stop dismissing jobs that are ‘contract’ based and give them a chance if you’ve had a tough time finding a job. I find that I’m more focused, avoid office politics by virtue of getting in, doing a job and getting out, and the immense exposure to different industries as a result of new contracts. Contracting does take some initial effort as you’ll need to network and form strong relationships with recruiters.
The C – Change your mindset
In India, we are part of a rat race. Organisations are structured in a manner that make processes and people management very hierarchical in an attempt to ‘motivate’ and ‘reward’ its people. Thus, career progression is in the form of the team member, team leader, assistant manager, manager, senior manager, deputy general manager, general manager – I don’t even know what comes after this! The fact is we take pride in our designations.
Well, it will do you good to change that thinking if you want to find a job in Australia and be happy. Here’s why:
- The workforce isn’t as hierarchical.
- Designations are kept simple. For example, a project coordinator is not always administrative but could be very similar to a project manager, with a high-level of responsibility.
- The ‘term’ manager has far more high-impact responsibilities than the millions of ‘managers’ in India.
- No one cares what you were called in India. The focus is on the skill you can demonstrate during an interview.
- You will have to prove or demonstrate that you can fit into the Australian workforce. The work culture is very different.
- And of course, fluency with the English language. Your employer will always consider if your role requires you to be able to talk to your clients and colleagues clearly.
After almost 1.5 years of not finding work in Adelaide, I applied for a ‘coordinator’ role in a learning team. Yes, after 12 years of being an L&D professional. The money was good, the load was rather light too. I never worked a minute longer and the stress level was really low.
Many friends are in similar jobs and with lesser responsibilities and enjoy it. They find it refreshing as compared to their super stressful jobs in India, while being able to have a more relaxing life here and spending it with the people that matter.
This isn’t to say that you can’t or won’t find something more suited to your experience. Since I moved to Melbourne, I’ve had the opportunity to work with clients that require my level of skill.
But you know what? I can’t help think of other jobs I’d like to do – many of these have nothing to do with my education or previous experience. They do however require shift work, so I’m going to give that a few more years, wait until the kids need less of me, and then do something completely different! My friend recently told me that she has started driving a tram – how cool is she!!
In summary, if you are planning on migrating or are a new migrant looking for a job, consider lowering your asks and expectations to begin with. The key is to get a foot into the Australian workforce and then things start to look up.
Hot tip! Don’t compare yourself with the folks who seem settled – they’ve also struggled initially and have worked very hard to get to where they are – and you will too.
If you missed an earlier post about jobs, read this one too.
Next time, I’ll share the top differences I’ve observed in workplaces in Australia versus India.