One of the first questions I ask prospective OBP Australia clients is, ‘What sort of work are you looking for?’
If the answer is, ‘I’ll do anything’, or… ‘CPA, Accountant, Assistant Accountant, Bookkeeper, Admin… I don’t care,’ then I begin to worry. Obviously people are anxious to find employment, particularly as they can see their savings rapidly diminishing as the period of unemployment extends beyond their original expectation. However, this desperation puts you at a distinct disadvantage, for several reasons.
- You lose power in any conversation with an employer or recruiter. As a professional, you need to come across as decisive and in control of your destiny, even though the reality may feel quite different to you. People will not respect you if you are not sure about what you want. They will think you lack confidence to find a suitable role – perhaps assuming that you mustn’t be very good at your job if you are willing to consider options so diverse in profile and responsibility.
- You lose focus. You should be focusing on suitable roles, but you become distracted by other jobs that you think you could do, even though your experience is not directly related. It is OK to consider multiple options, but you need to be clear about what is required for each role. Just because you are a CPA, doesn’t mean you will be a better admin candidate than someone without a tertiary qualification but with years of experience navigating the MS Office suite.
- You’re simply not applying for the right jobs. The best advice I can give is to seek a role which is as closely aligned to the most recent position you held overseas. Applying for jobs in the same industry can also be useful for establishing commonality, particularly where unwanted emphasis is being placed on your lack of local experience. Or, if Selection Criteria One states that you ‘MUST have 5 years’ demonstrated experience working with the Fair Work Act (2009) in a Victorian legal practice’, and you don’t, then move on – leave this job and apply for something else. Don’t think that your experience at Ernst & Young in Singapore can somehow be shaped into satisfying this criterion – it can’t.
- You leave your destiny in the hands of a recruiter to determine which position he/she thinks are appropriate for you. You need to have conversations with the employer about the role and your ‘fit’. Do you have access to speak to a technical person or hiring manager about the role? Can you ask the employer questions to ascertain whether it is a position worth applying for? It is sometimes easier if a recruiter is not part of this equation. Being selective (not arrogant) can actually raise your status in the eyes of an employer. Remember, there will be local candidates making that same phone call to glean more information about the job, to make a decision as to whether the advertised role is worth leaving their current employer. Frequently, my clients have been referred to employers to attend interviews for roles that are clearly a poor fit. This has either occurred because the recruiter is not entirely clear about the job role or your experience, or just thinks it’s worth a shot, as the job is somewhere in the ball park. You need to improve the quality of your applications and find out what the job actually involves in order to increase your chance of success.
Remember, how can you convince an employer that you can do the job if you don’t understand what the job involves? Make that pre-interview call (and the interview itself) a discussion about the job and ‘the fit’, as opposed to desperately trying to respond to their questions with ‘winning answers’ – you could be saving everyone a lot of time.
Not everything mentioned above is black & white. That’s why it is important to seek counsel so you can calibrate your job seeking approach in your new country. Just as with everything else in the settlement process, finding employment is about navigating the cultural nuances and eventually feeling more confident with your decisions.