By Grace Brennan

15 January 2024 - 11:08

A city view with buildings and a bridge over a river in Australia

If you have decided to move to Australia, find out how to get a job in Australia for foreigners. Discover visa options, job search strategies, and networking tips for success.

In this article:

Known for its stunning landscapes, vibrant cities, and high quality of life, Australia is an attractive destination for people seeking new job opportunities and a change of scenery. The appeal of Australia as a work destination lies in its robust economy, excellent work-life balance, diverse job market, and one of the highest minimum wages in the world. So, it’s no surprise that lots of people wonder how to get a job in Australia for foreigners. 

The country offers various visas for workers, entrepreneurs, and investors, with options for both temporary and permanent residency. In fact, recent years have seen a significant rise in visa applications in Australia. One of the first steps for a successful visa application that can help you relocate to Australia is an English language proficiency test.

Learn more about working in Australia

But before starting your visa process Down Under, you’ll need to know how to maximise your job search. Here’s all the information you need: 

How to get a job in Australia for foreigners

1. Get your paperwork in order

Like any bureaucratic process, your paperwork is your pathway to success. Pay careful attention to the documents you need for your preferred work visa, and remember that these specifications about these documents can change – so regularly check the Home Affairs website. Each visa will have its own criteria, but the majority will ask for the following paperwork.

  • Visa application form: this normally includes your personal details and motivation for applying for the visa.
  • ID documents: copies of your passport and birth certificate, all of which need sufficient validity to cover the duration of your stay in Australia.
  • Skills assessment: documents that confirm your qualifications and work experience for a specific visa type.
  • English language proficiency test: proof of exam results that meet entrance requirements. IELTS, TOEFL, or PTE tests are generally accepted.
  • Employer documents: a nomination form from your employer in Australia will be necessary for employer-sponsored visas.
  • Character assessment: police clearance or a background check from countries you’ve lived in long term. Some visas may also ask for a character assessment from a family member, friend or colleague.
  • Health insurance documents: confirmation that you can afford health care in Australia. You may also be asked to provide proof of a doctor’s consultation stating that you have no pre-existing health concerns.

All your paperwork should be formally translated to English if the original copies have been issued from non-English-speaking countries. It’s also worthwhile getting a legal professional to review your paperwork before you submit your application, to ensure that you have the right documents, and they are correctly completed.

2. Network and build connections

You might be wondering how to get a job in Australia as a foreigner, without your network of connections in your own community. However, there’s good news. In the digital age, you can tap into online groups, platforms, and programmes from afar. The result is that you uncover more job vacancies, plus get insights into the local job market and culture.

Start by joining online social media groups specifically for expats working in Australia. Post that you’re job hunting, the industry you’re targeting, how long you plan to be in Australia for, what experience you have, and your preferred salary. Ask people for their advice on how to get a job in Australia as a foreigner and for recommendations on job hunting in different cities. Be flexible with your preferences – you may not find exactly what you’re looking for, but you could come across other opportunities.

Universities and higher education institutions similarly curate online groups and events for job hunters. If there’s a school that specialises in your field of work, contact them about networking opportunities. Even if they don’t have a designated event, they’ll likely have a valuable list of contacts for you to leverage.

Message professionals on LinkedIn who are already based in Australia and ask them for a quick meeting about how to navigate the market there. They’ll be flattered to be positioned as an expert, and you can get an on-the-ground perspective on how to get a job in Australia as a foreigner. Don’t be afraid to ask them for introductions to other professionals that could help you find a job.

3. Certify your language skills

If English isn’t your native language, you’ll need documentation that certifies that your level meets requirements to work in Australia. Not only does this certification ensure that you can understand technical terminology in English, it demonstrates that you can integrate into the Australian workforce.

You’ll need to show your English proficiency with an official test like IELTS, where your speaking, listening, reading, and writing in English will be assessed and you’ll be given a standardised score. The score you need will vary according to the type of visa you apply for.

Australia accepts IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, OET, and CAE tests for proof of English proficiency. You’ll have to study and prepare for the tests in advance to secure the best possible score. The format for the IELTS test is as follows:

  • Listening, Reading, and Writing sections are taken consecutively on the same day.
  • The Speaking section is held on the same day (but separate to the first three sections), or seven days before or after that.
  • Listening, Reading, and Writing sections are conducted at IELTS test centres; the Speaking section can be taken in person or online with a certified Examiner. The test in its entirety lasts no longer than three hours.

It’s important to note that Australia’s Home Affairs does not accept ‘at home’ tests. It states that all language proficiency tests must be taken at secure test centres, under controlled conditions.

4. Speak with recruitment agencies

When planning to relocate to Australia, recruitment agencies are an important part of how to get a job in Australia as a foreigner. These agencies are familiar with different work industries, locations, and local trends, and they have extensive networks that can support you in your job search.

Recruitment agencies can additionally show you vacancies that aren’t publicly available, so you can apply to more ‘hidden’ positions. They can assist you when writing your resume and cover letters too, tailoring your application according to norms in Australia. And they can match your experience and skills with appropriate work in the country, meaning that you spend less time on misaligned applications, and have a greater success rate.

Specifically for foreign workers in Australia, recruitment agencies can offer guidance around visa requirements and immigration processes. Agencies tend to understand the complexities of working abroad, and can share how other people have overcome obstacles, as well as connect you with fellow expats. 

The above information is a basic rundown of how to get a job in Australia as a foreigner. Once you have these steps sorted, you’ll have a good foundation to apply for a work visa. Remember to research the details of the visa you want, and to have a legal professional review all your documents before submitting them.

Along the way, maintain momentum with your English and IELTS study. Prepare for the IELTS test with IELTS Ready.

Personalised study-abroad matching – based on your preferences

Thanks to an exciting new partnership between British Council IELTS and ApplyBoard, when you take your test with us, you’ll get access to customised study-abroad options based on where – and what – you wish to study.

With ApplyBoard, you get the option of accessing personalised recommendations based on either your chosen study destination or your preferred programme of study. When you find a programme that suits you, you can easily apply there and then.

That means you can instantly match with the right programs for you directly within the IELTS site. Plus, you’ll get access to travel advice and exclusive offers on fees and flights.

Go to ApplyBoard