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What To Do When You Have 'No Local Experience'

Author: Dominique Wilson

Published date: 2019/02

Blog Graphic What Do To When You Have No Local Experience

I have spoken with hundreds, if not thousands, of deflated candidates who are desperate to find a job in here in Australia. With this on my mind, I thought I would dish out some of my best advice to those starting their careers in Australia. I deal with candidates with this particular issue on a daily basis, and can also speak from personal experience as once-upon-a-time I had no “local experience” either.

In my career, I meet so many experienced Site Managers, Project Managers, and Engineers that have the dream of relocating to this wonderful country. Most of which have over 10 years’ overseas experience with large head contractors and have delivered projects up to $100m!

With that much experience they should land a job in Australia no problem, right?

Unfortunately, most of these candidates struggle to find work. I see so many candidates that come over to Australia with hopes and dreams of starting a new life, yet many companies will simply not consider candidates without any local experience.

There is no magic answer to any of this. I can’t tell you that by rewriting your resume that you WILL find work.  But here are my best tips to improve your chances:

  • Study a local degree (or conversion course), which will then allow you to use your qualifications here
  • If you are applying for jobs in Australia before you arrive; I am sorry to tell you that you are most likely wasting your time. If you aren’t in the country yet and don’t have the relevant visa requirements, it won’t be an easy task nor is it at all likely to result in a positive outcome
  • Make it easy for clients to understand your resume – try making comparisons to some well-known Australian construction companies, or converting the currency of the project value into the Australian dollar (AUD$), etc.
  • Work on your communication skills (if they are holding you back). If English is your second language, then teach yourself to speak slowly and as clearly as possible to overcome these challenges. Try speaking English as much as possible to get practice and to expand your vocabulary!
  • Rewrite your resume to demonstrate that you are ‘hands on’. If an employer thinks you have been working at a senior level for too long, they will assume you have had other people to do the work for you. So, make sure you detail your ability to get in and do the work yourself.  Understand and accept that you are unlikely to find work at a senior level in Australia with no local experience
  • Aim your applications at an appropriate level, if you have been a Project Manager overseas then try applying for junior/entry level roles just to gain some local experience. Don’t be afraid to step down in the interim to gain local experience. I often see candidates go into labouring roles to get their foot in the door with a construction company
  • Network, network, network! Be proactive on LinkedIn, attend seminars or industry related meetings, or join construction groups on Facebook. In construction, it’s not always about what you know, it’s about who you know.


Further guidance:

Your best chance of getting work with no local experience is by starting in temporary/contract roles.  Clients are more willing to consider overseas candidates if the consultant is confident that they can do the work. This often requires candidates to do work at a lower level than they would have done in their home country.  Once you get temp work, work hard and exceed expectations. Not only does this often lead into a permanent role, but it will give you that much needed local experience for your resume!

I understand this does not contain a magical answer for you to instantly secure a job in Australia, but the truth is – the is no magical answer. The answer lies within you; it’s a mixture of hard work, resilience, and persistence. Apply those to the tips I have given you, and it will definitely put you on the right track to your starting your career in Australia.


Dom Wilson is a Senior Recruiter at Fetch, responsible for Subcontractors in the Construction space. You can connect with Dom on LinkedIn here.

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