Job Hunting Tips

How Can I Get Local Job Experience if I Can’t Get Hired Without It?

Lisa Johnson Posted by Lisa
min read

Today’s post is inspired by a recent comment from an immigrant that was struggling to find work since moving to the country. He’s a qualified accountant and has plenty of years of experience, and they wanted some advice on what to do about their situation. So here is what I would recommend. I met a candidate a number of years ago that had their own terrible story. They had a great job in India (working in a senior financial position) when they were approached by an Australian company that told him to leave his current job and come work for them instead.


The company promised him work, and he wanted to give his family the best possible life, so he left his job and home behind and moved to a new country. He arrived in Australia and visited the company only to find that they were a third-party agency that would sponsor him if – and only if – he was able to get himself a job. He had just 28 days to get work or be deported back to India.


The government cracked down on companies like that not long after he moved to Australia, but it was too little too late for him. He was living in a small apartment in Sydney with his family, desperately looking for accounts clerical work as no one would employ him without any local experience or qualifications. He eventually found a job in tax accounting and built his career back up from there.


The reason I told you that story was to show you some of the difficulties new immigrants have to deal with when moving to Australia and finding work. Our country isn’t so lucky for some people. Here are the main reasons immigrants have trouble finding work;

  • They have qualifications that aren’t recognised locally. This includes degrees and professional qualifications.
  • They don’t have any local work experience. This one is a vicious circle as there’s no way to get local experience if people won’t hire you because you don’t have any.
  • They might have poor vocal communication skills
  • They don’t have a resume that fits the kind of work they will likely get
  • They apply for too many jobs. This sounds counterintuitive but it is true; applying for too many jobs on different levels puts recruiters off.


Unfortunately, there’s no magical solution to the problem. I can’t guarantee you’ll get work by rewording your resume. All I can do is give you the following tips to improve your chances of finding a job;


  • Study for a local degree – or a conversion course – in order to obtain a CPA qualification
  • Build your communication skills – assuming they are the problem. If you speak English as a second language, then teach yourself to talk slower and clearer to overcome the language barrier. Speak English as much as you can, including at home, to practice your speaking skills and build your vocabulary
  • Rework your resume and show that you are “hands on”. If an employer feels that you’ve been senior staff for too long, they may assume you’ve had everyone else get the work done for you. Showcase your ability to do the work by yourself. Understand that you aren’t likely going to find senior work right away with Australia if you have no recognised experience or qualifications.
  • Send applications out at the appropriate level. If you are studying for a CPA, you should try to find a job on the accountant/assistant accountant level.


A Word on Finding Work with No Local Experience

If you have no local job experience, then temporary work offers the best chances of finding employment. Clients will be more likely to consider an overseas candidate if their consultant is confident in them and their ability to handle the work. It will mean that you likely have to work at a lower level than you are used to. After getting temporary work, ensure you work hard at the job and go above and beyond expectations. That will get more temp work in the future and will build that all important local job experience you need for something more permanent. If your skills with Excel are a little rusty, ask your consult for some online Excel training to boost your skills.


Be Realistic

The accounting world has changed. There was a time only ten years ago when it was next to impossible to find a good accountant. Now there are many university graduates that are having trouble finding work. Companies offshore their clerical accounting roles, or they develop vast shared service functions built in one central location which eliminate chances to work in branches or interstate. It can be tough to find a good role, and clients demand more and more for their money. We see accounting roles get lots of applications these days. There’s never been more competition for the best jobs.


It’s getting harder to meet client expectations, but they haven’t learned how to compromise yet. They would rather continue to wait for their “perfect” candidate rather than hire someone who isn’t just right. That makes the recruitment process longer for all involved. The key to succeeding when finding a job with no local experience is to be flexible and be willing to put the hard work in and get dirty – figuratively speaking.