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How to succeed as an expat – the essential guide for professionals looking to move to Australia, New Zealand or London
At PageGroup, we often receive enquiries from candidates looking to move overseas for work. We share our insights on how to make your relocation a success.
The most important thing about moving overseas for work – and the one thing that will have the greatest impact on whether your move is a success – is preparation. We often hear from candidates who say “I want to work in Australia. I’m happy to work in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, or Melbourne.” For us, naming a variety of cities in that manner highlights that you haven’t done your research.
As part of the PageGroup Global Opportunities team, it is our role to act as the first point of contact for candidates in search of a good role in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. We provide advice on salary rates, the current employment market, and information on what it’s like to live and work in various cities throughout the region. We also arrange interviews with consultants upon arrival at the candidate’s new home (or before, via Skype if appropriate).
Here is our advice for how to avoid the common pitfalls that can come with an international career move.
Preparation and timing – what to do before you leave
It can take six to nine months for an international candidate to settle into a new country and job role (including the time to save money for the move and give notice to your current employer). But there are a few things you can do to speed up the process, such as:
Structure your CV according to local standards
We usually need to make a few tweaks to candidate resumes so that they meet expectations in the local market. For example, a CV in Australia or New Zealand is fairly short (a couple of pages) and strongly geared towards listing achievements in addition to responsibilities in a role.
Look into whether you need to transfer your qualifications to the new location
Financial planning, for example, is one area where overseas credentials are not recognised in Australia and further study will be required. CIMA and ACCA qualified professionals will also need to look into further subjects they may need to undertake to be CPA or CA recognised
Make sure you have work rights in the country you are looking to move to
The PageGroup Global Opportunities team can provide general guidance in this area. You can contact us via our website if you’d like to speak to our team. However, it’s generally quite simple to get a visa if you meet the eligibility criteria. The most common visas, with links to further research and applications, are listed at the end of this post.
Decide when you want to arrive in your new destination
A lot of professionals move to Australia in the summer on a working holiday visa, however December and January is typically a slow period for hiring in the local market as many companies shut down for Christmas. We usually see hiring activity picking up in March. For the UK, the summer months of July and August tend to slow down as it is peak holiday season, although we do see a lot of Aussies and Kiwis heading over during this time. There can be a spike in temporary work across secretarial roles to cover while employees take their annual leave.
Additional things to consider include:
• The time it takes to ship your personal belongings to your new location (anywhere between 1-3 months)
• Whether you will rent or sell your current home
• Changing your mailing address
• Purchasing travel insurance
• Setting up a local bank account and tax file number
• Researching the best superannuation fund (for those moving to Australia). You can redeem the super you have accumulated upon leaving Australia (which is something a lot of candidates don’t know!)
• Applying for an international driver’s licence
You can find out more about these and other priorities in the PageGroup Global Opportunities City Guides.
The role of the PageGroup Global Opportunities team is to act as the first point of contact for candidates in search of a good role in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
Focus your job search
In the current job market, there is no shortage of strong local candidates. As an expat, it can be difficult to outperform professionals with a background in the local market. However, a focused job search and a lot of patience will go a long way. Some things to keep in mind include:
Research the market.
When you arrive at your destination, which companies do you want to work for? And where do you want to live? Will it be suitable for your family? Where is your industry experience most in demand? What is the public transport like? We can help provide this kind of information via our online City Guides.
Prepare to be flexible when it comes to role and salary.
Most overseas candidates take on contracting or interim roles before finding permanent work in the local market. This allows the professional to get a foot in the door and gain local experience, therefore becoming more competitive.
Use your existing networks
Register with a maximum of three specialist recruiters who know the market.
A word of warning:
it can be difficult enough landing a role in a foreign country, let alone managing a simultaneous career change. We see a lot of candidates thinking they will be able to shift careers as well as country easily. This will be very unlikely to be the case.
To find out how PageGroup’s Global Opportunities team can assist you in your international career move, or for any more information, visit our Global Opportunities page or join our group on LinkedIn.
General advice on working visas in the UK, Australia and New Zealand
The Working Holiday Visa in Australia and New Zealand, and the equivalent Youth Mobility Visa in the UK, is usually the easiest option for people under the age of 30 to obtain.
Skilled Visas in Australia are available to candidates coming from a variety of professions. A full list can be viewed here.
For more information regarding ways to obtain a working or residency visa for Australia, please visit The Department of Immigration website, or contact your nearest Australian High Commission or an immigration consulting firm in your home country.
For information regarding ways to obtain a working or residency visa for New Zealand, please visit the Immigration New Zealand website or contact your nearest New Zealand High Commission or an immigration consulting firm in your home country.
For the UK, click here.
- Structure your CV according to local standards, which might be different from your home country
- See if your qualifications need to be transferred to your new location
- Ensure you have working rights in the country you're looking to move to