Job Hunting in Australia for Work and Holiday Visa

Inside an Op Shop
Inside an Op Shop

Hunting for a job in Australia on the Work and Holiday visa can be a daunting experience. The ease with which you’ll get a job depends on where you are, what you’re applying for and your experience and skills.

I knew people who had multiple job offers in a day, while it took me a month and a half to become employed. If you are aiming for a job in hospitality, retail, agriculture or the food industry, your chances of getting hired quickly rise dramatically. There are many companies and jobs aimed at backpackers within these fields.

If you’re looking for a more career-oriented job, such as work in administration, marketing or business, you’re going to have a harder time. With the 6-month limit of the Work and Holiday visa, many employers don’t want to invest in training you for a position that you will shortly have to leave. But it’s not impossible, and you might even be one of the few lucky enough to be offered sponsorship to stay and work in the country longterm.

Barkly Square

Barkly Square

Writing an Australian Resume/CV

I highly recommend updating your resume before you arrive in Australia. If you have your resume sorted before you get to the country, you can apply for jobs as soon as you arrive. It takes away some of the stress of job hunting.

First things first, you’ll actually be writing a Curriculum Vitae (CV) rather than a resume. While they are quite similar, a CV is more comprehensive. You should include details about your work experience, academic history and skills. Your CV will probably be about 2-4 pages.

Layout of an Australian CV

Keep the layout of your CV simple and easy to read. Structure your CV to include information in the correct order. A stand out CV will help you get an interview.

Here’s what you’ll need to include and the order to put it in:

  • Contact Details: Name, Address, Phone Number, Email Address
  • Career Overview
  • Key Strengths
  • Employment History
  • Education and Training
  • Awards and Achievements
  • References/Referees

For more detailed information about what to include in each section, check out this post I wrote about creating an Australian CV.

Writing an Australian Cover Letter

You should absolutely include a cover letter in any job application you submit, even if it is not required. Adding a cover letter is another chance to convince the employer to interview you. Make sure to indicate why you want the job and highlight your skills and experience that match the job requirements.

Write a new cover letter for each position that you apply for. Do some research about the company and the position to customize your letter. If possible, the letter should be personally addressed.

Keep your cover letter to one page. For more detailed information about what to include, check out this post I wrote about writing a successful cover letter.

Barkly Square Shops

Barkly Square Shops

Types of Employment

Australian employers will often list vacancies by what type of employment the job entails. The wages, number of hours and benefits of the job will depend on what type of position is offered. Full-time, part-time and casual work are the most common types of employment for working holiday makers.

Full-time employees work an average of 38 hours per week on a regular basis. You and your employer will agree upon your actual weekly hours. Full-time workers are entitled to paid leave and public holiday pay rates.

Part-time workers work on a regular basis, generally working less than 38 hours per week. Part-time employees receive the same benefits as full-time employees proportionate to the hours they work.

Casual employees work on an irregular basis. They can choose which work they want to accept, but they have no annual sick or leave pay. Casual workers also usually have no obligation to provide notice of quitting, unless required via a contract or agreement.

For a complete list of what you are entitled to in your position, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Where to Find Work

Searching for Work Online

You can start your search for work in Australia before you enter the country, but I recommend waiting to apply until after you have arrived. You’ll need to have an Australian phone number for employers to talk with you, and you’ll need to sort your Tax File Number information before you begin working.

There are several options for searching for jobs online. Popular sites for online job hunting include:

You’re able to search by keywords and/or select job classifications, such as accounting, hospitality and marketing. Jobs are listed with a description, application instructions and the date the vacancy was posted.

Try searching for casual, temporary or contract jobs, which might be easier to get on the Work and Holiday visa considering the six-month working restriction. Gumtree is especially good for finding jobs aimed at working holiday makers.

Finding Work in Person

Your best chance of obtaining a job could be to apply in person. This is especially true if the job you are applying for doesn’t require special skills or experience. You also get to explore the city while handing out your CV, so you can focus on trying to get a job in your favorite neighborhood or suburb.

If you’re in the right place at the right time, you just might be successful in securing a job. I got a job like this. I spent a day handing out my CV in person to several different shops and restaurants in downtown Melbourne. Near the end of the afternoon, I decided to head to the Docklands area for a quick visit to Costco. On the way, I passed out my CV to a few shops in the area. I was called in the following week for an interview and got a job at a candy shop that was just opening.

Be sure to dress formally when handing out your CV. First impressions are very important.

Other Places to Look for Work

There are a number of recruitment agencies that have temp jobs for accountants, receptionists, administrative assistants and more. The recruitment agency will interview you. If you are hired, the agency will then place you in temporary vacancies for businesses throughout the city. Positions can be for a day, a few days, a week, several weeks etc. The agency also handles your payments.

Look out for job postings on hostel bulletin boards, in newspapers and magazines. Networking with locals and other backpackers can help with finding job vacancies. I got my second job in Australia working as an au pair, because a friend of mine introduced me to the family.

If you plan to live outside of a city, there are plenty of agriculture jobs throughout Australia. Gumtree is also a great place to find agriculture and farm hand jobs. Talk with other working holiday makers to find good farms to work on and farms to avoid.

The Penny Black

The Penny Black


Once you’ve perfected your CV and applied for numerous job, you’ll need to prepare for interviews. You’ll need to do a bit of research about the organization and the job role. Think about how your qualifications relate to both, and be prepared to describe to the employer how you are an excellent fit for the role.

You will likely be asked questions based on your CV, so make sure you know it top to bottom. Practice describing your employment history, skills, and job responsibilities and achievements. Other common questions include your strengths and weaknesses. Prepare responses to these questions so you can answer fluidly.

Group Interviews

Companies that are recruiting multiple people at once will often hold group interviews. In a group setting, you’ll likely be participating with other candidates in problem-solving activities. You will be presented with situations that could arise on the job, perhaps dealing with an angry customer, and given roles to demonstrate how you would handle the situation.

Additionally, you may be asked to share about yourself and your attributes that qualify you for the job. Take time to research the description of the job, so you can demonstrate your fit for the role. You want to make a positive impression and stand out from the crowd.

Questions for the Employer

It’s a good idea to have a list of questions prepared before your interview. Don’t be afraid to write your questions down and reference your list during the interview. This shows that you took time to prepare.

Ask questions that cover information that has not been provided or to clarify previous topics. Make sure your questions do not ask for information that can be found in the job description or on the company’s website. This is a good time to clarify your wages and benefits if they have not been explicitly listed.

Questions you can consider asking include:

  • How would you describe the culture of the organization?
  • How will my work performance be evaluated?
  • What are the next steps in the hiring process?

What to Wear and Bring

Dress to impress. Wear formal attire that is neat and presentable. Also be mindful of how you carry yourself. Enter the room confidently and use a firm handshake. Smile, sit up straight and maintain good eye contact with the interviewer.

Bring along extra copies of your CV printed on quality paper. You should also have a notepad and pen in case you’ll need to take notes during the interview. Have a list of references on hand and a portfolio with samples of your work if it is relevant for the job role.

Aptitude Test

For jobs that require specific skills, you’ll likely have to take an aptitude test. The test may assess how many words per minute you can type, your alphanumeric data entry rate and your proficiency with Microsoft Office programs. These tests are usually administered by recruitment agencies specializing in receptionist and administrative assistant positions.


Part of your interview for a restaurant job will likely include a trial. Essentially, you’ll be given an overview of the place and then run food and drinks and/or bus tables. The employer wants to see you in action and evaluate your skills. Trials are usually unpaid and last for about three hours. If a potential employer asks you to do a trial for more than one day, move on, because they are likely just trying to get free work.


Some positions will require you to get a certification before you can begin working. Jobs in hospitality often require a Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) Certificate. The certificate allows you to work in a job serving or selling alcohol in Australia. Training for the RSA Certificate includes education on how to prevent intoxication, drunk driving and underage drinking.

There are a number of courses offered online and in various cities for completing your certification. Do a Google search and shop around for the best prices. Also note that some certificates are only good for one state, while other are good for multiple states. Consider which would be the best fit for you when choosing an RSA course.

In some instances, the employer may allow you to begin work if you are in the process of obtaining your RSA Certificate.

Once You’re Hired

After you get a job, you’ll need to give your employer some important information to ensure you get paid. You’ll need to provide your Tax File Number to be taxed at the correct amount. And you should give your bank details for direct deposits of your wages.

You will also likely need to give your passport and visa details, so be sure to have this information on hand. Employers can access proof of your visa through VEVO. Or you can usually just show a printed copy of your visa confirmation email.

If you have a specific superannuation fund that you would like to contribute to, have those details on hand as well. Congratulations on becoming employed in Australia!

What method do you find most effective for getting a job in Australia?