Each week, I receive at least a dozen CVs from overseas candidates. On paper, the majority of these people are technically qualified for positions I recruit for — and as someone who gets paid when I place a job seeker into a role, trust me, I would love to help everyone. Unfortunately, it’s a tough market right now, and it is particularly difficult for candidates whose experience is mainly outside Australia to get a role here in Melbourne. However, it’s not impossible. Here are some things that have helped me place overseas candidates in structural engineering positions over the last several months:
You are already eligible to work in Australia legally. This is a big one, and is often the largest hurdle for many candidates. While things might look different in the next few years, the reality is that most companies I recruit for are not in a position to sponsor employees at this time, particularly for candidates who aren’t at least at an intermediate level.
When it comes to your CV, working at companies recognised internationally almost always gives you an edge to smaller businesses. But if the bulk of your experience is at a specialist or boutique firm, don’t discount it. Instead, take a line or two on your CV to provide details about the company: its size, the types of projects they work on, or any key facts that you believe would be relevant for a hiring manager to know. Have you used software that’s the same as what’s traditionally used in Australia? Include that!
While teamwork is important, a CV is your opportunity to sell yourself. I want to hear about your individual responsibilities and accomplishments. If you tell me about what “we” achieved, I’m left wondering how much of that you actually played a role in.
Strong communication skills are critical for employers, no matter where you’re from. They want to be confident that you can write reports, lead team meetings, and work with external stakeholders with little supervision. Highlight leadership positions you’ve had or ways in which you’ve relied on your communications skills to get projects over the line.
Working exclusively with a recruiter. I’ve written before about how candidates are compromising their own job search, but it can be especially true for candidates who aren’t in-country. What often happens is that a candidate has already applied to several roles at different levels, usually with the same company or through multiple recruiters. Letting just one person represent you means the consultant can focus on selling your skills and experiences to an employer. If the consultant you reach out to is unable to help you, they should at least be able to provide you advice on how to approach the market.
Finally, your CV is only part of the equation. If you think you’re perfect for a role I’ve advertised, ring me and give me your elevator pitch. Apply for roles you’re a strong candidate for, and then show me why you’d be perfect.
At the end of the day, clients are the ultimate decision makers on whether someone is the right fit for a role. But the more you give me to work with — whether you’re from overseas or not — the better your chances are in finding your next job.