My Job Hunting Experience
One of the greatest challenges that we will encounter as migrants in Australia is job search. There is no exact time frame in landing a job – some secured roles within weeks upon arrival in Australia, while others waited as much as eight months…or more. It largely depends on several factors like profession, market condition, local experience, CV presentation and most importantly, interview performance. It is indeed a journey itself. As a new migrant having arrived in Sydney on January 2017, let me share my experience with you with some tips on how to successfully land your first job.
I am an auditor by profession – eight years as an external auditor and 2 years as an internal auditor, the latter being my most recent role. Upon arrival, I targeted internal audit jobs. After 3 months of job search, I finally landed a job offer I accepted. Here’s what I did:
- Update your CV – Does CV format matter? Sure it does – but only for visualization. You don’t want your CV to be cluttered. Keep it simple and organized. The most important thing in CV writing is to showcase your skills and experience. Mine is a 3-page CV highlighting only my skills, experience and achievements. I have excluded sections such as career objective and educational background. I personally think these entries don’t count and merely takes up CV space. Use the limited space to present valuable information. Also, be sure to use keywords that recruiters look for. For auditors, examples would be IFRS, consolidation, COSO, internal controls, data analytics, project management, etc. You may also want to prepare a cover letter as it is sometimes required by recruiters.
- Create a job profile – I wasted no time in creating my candidate profile on several job portals like Seek, Indeed, Careerone, Jorah, Jobactive, RobertHalf, Hays, Charterhouse, etc. But to be honest, out of all of these job sites, I found Seek, Indeed and Jorah to be the most useful. I spent 2 to 3 hours every day browsing through these websites and sending my applications out.
- Email recruiter directly – Most of the time, the job posts disclose the contact information of the recruiter (name, email, contact number). As a second step, I directly sent emails to the recruiters with my CV attached.
- LinkedIn helps, too – I also upgraded to LinkedIn Premium account and sent Inmails directly to recruiters in #3. You can only send up to 5 Inmails per month, so I sent messages related to the jobs I really like and where I feel I have the greatest chance of being interviewed. I have to mention at this point that I landed my job through LinkedIn. =)
January (month of arrival) – I was interviewed twice.
- BIG4 audit firm – Advertised through SEEK, applied directly on the company website. Very challenging technical questions asked by the partner. I was offered a contractual role for 3 months, which I declined.
- Aviation company – Internal audit role, applied through SEEK, and landed an interview with an IA Manager and Head of IA through a recruiter. The questions were more situational and personality related. Unlike the BIG4 interview, this one had an informal setting. I felt like I was just having a chat with the interviewers without any pressure of scrutiny. Unfortunately, this one was unsuccessful because they were looking for data analytics skill which another candidate had more experience on.
February – Quiet month. I sent countless applications and received loads of rejection letters. I received calls from recruiters but never landed an interview. At this point, I was getting worried and considered applying for external audit jobs.
March – I had 3 interviews:
- Consulting company – Internal audit role, applied through SEEK and sent an email directly to the recruiter. I had 4 levels of interview. Questions were a mix of technical and situational cases. Unsuccessful.
- Government company – Internal audit role, applied through SEEK. I had an interview with the Head of Department. Questions were mostly situational and personality related. I received a job offer but declined.
- FMCG company – Internal audit role, advertised through SEEK and applied directly on the company website. The interview was with both heads of HR and IA. Questions were mostly situational and personality related. This was the ideal job for me. Positive results. However, from a start date of April, they moved the same to August. This was too much waiting time, so I had to apply again.
April – Internal audit role in a mid-tier firm, applied through LinkedIn. The interview was with a Director and questions were mostly situational and personality related. Thankfully, it was successful and I finally accepted the job offer.
Interview performance… make or break!
I have to make a separate section for interviews as it is the most critical part of the entire job hunting process. Your performance during the interview will dictate whether or not you’ll be accepted by the employer.
It is normal to get nervous during the interview especially as English is not our native language. You’ll probably get intimidated by how confident and fluent interviewers are, but don’t let this get into your head. My advice is to practice a lot. Before going to interviews, you need to have your script ready especially on questions like “please tell me about yourself”. Anticipate questions and have a response already prepared. That way, you will be more ready and feel more confident. As you go through attending several interviews, you’ll notice that questions are very much alike, hence, you’ll be able to adjust more and build up the confidence that you’ll need. You will just get better and better at it as you go along.
It is also noteworthy to mention that if the interviewers are Directors or partners, talk to them as if they are peers. Back in the Philippines, we are normally accustomed to addressing our bosses “ma’am/ sir”. In Australia, we just need to communicate with them on a first name basis. It would help to search for the interviewer’s Linkedin profile beforehand. This would give you an idea of that person’s background.
Another tip that might help is that do not be overly formal and business like. Yes, it is important, but they are also looking for someone who could easily get along with other people, hence the personality related questions. So, have a proper balance.
For my colleagues in the audit profession, most of the questions were situational and personality related. In all interviews, they never failed to ask about data analytics and report writing skills. I guess more than the technical aspect, they look into how you conduct yourself in various situations. Tip: If they are not asking about technical matters, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to share. Even if they don’t ask, be proactive and showcase your skills and experience. Remember, getting an interview is challenging. So, once you schedule one, go all-out.
Other bits and pieces…
- There were a lot more external audit jobs in the market compared to internal audit. So that is an advantage for external auditors.
- On local experience. It is true that a lot of companies require local experience. On these types of job advertisements, I sent my CV anyway. Try your luck. Who knows, they might find your CV really impressive and arrange an interview.
- When traveling to interviews, give yourself at least 30 minutes allowance just in case you get lost along the way. I was always 30 minutes to 1 hour ahead of my scheduled interview and I used this time to review and practice. Oftentimes, I just stay in the lobby, coffee shop or a nearby park while waiting.
Last and definitely not the least, don’t forget to pray and seek strength and guidance from our Almighty Father. He will always provide at the best time for us.
Well, there you go. I hope I was able to share some insights and impart useful tips to everyone. I wish you all the best in your job search. Cheers!