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Helpful Hacks for Getting a Gap Year Job in Australia

Bartender in Australia

Working abroad in Australia is really like a dream come true… if you do it right! Whether you’re more focused on the working to gain professional experience, or the holidaying to see as much as possible of this diverse and fascinating continent, the following hacks will help you maximize your time and experience in the land of crocs and ‘roos!

Job Search Hacks

Search for Temporary, Contract, or Casual Jobs

On the Working Holiday Visa, you’re limited to working a maximum of six months at any one employer. Obviously, this can make finding a job a little bit more difficult. But not if you’re looking for the right jobs!

When searching on job sites, like seek.com.au, try searching specifically for temporary, contract, or casual jobs. You’ll have a much better chance at these jobs since the time limit likely won’t matter to your potential employer -- that's not their priority!

Wait Until the Interview To Reveal Your Visa Situation

It may sound deceptive, but you may want to avoid mentioning your visa status on your resume and application. An employer might see it and immediately chuck your resume, whereas if they otherwise took the time to browse through it they may really want to interview you -- and if they like you enough they might decide to hire you anyways!

Some backpacker jobs even include travel around the country -- does it get any better than that?

Of course, the flip side is you may find yourself wasting some time by going to interviews and then finding out they won’t hire you because of your visa. If you aren’t getting any responses, though, it may be worth a shot.

Flexible? Find a Backpacker Job!

If work experience isn’t of as much importance to you, go for a backpacker job! You can find these posted on sites like Gumtree or even posted up in hostels. These jobs can range from telemarketing to fruit picking, but they tend to be very flexible -- perfect if travel and enjoying the Aussie lifestyle is more what you’re after! Some backpacker jobs even include travel around the country -- does it get any better than that?

Need Work Experience? Use Your Networks.

If finding a job that aligns with your future career goals is important to you, then backpacker jobs may not cut it. Instead, use your networks to find something better suited to your skills and goals. You'd be surprised what kinds of connections you can make by simply asking around, looking at connections on LinkedIn, and generally putting yourself out there.

Ask for informational interviews. Set clear goals for yourself. And do research on the people you're meeting. If this doesn't work, you may also want to consider signing up with a temp agency. They'll be able to connect you with companies that are outside your immediate networks.

Housing Hacks

Apartment in Sydney
Get Creative With Your Housing Search

Housing is expensive in Australia. One good thing to be aware of right off the bat: those rent prices you see? Those are per week, not per month. So if you think that $400 rent for a room is a steal… well, that’s actually $1600/month!

Outside the big cities will likely be cheaper, but in the big cities your best bet will be to squeeze yourself into a room with a few other people if you want to pay the lowest possible rent. You’ll often see these kinds of housing situations posted up around the city, in hostels, or on sites like Gumtree.

Be Prepared for Move-in Expenses

On that same note, be prepared to shell out a lot of money when you first arrive and find a place. In most cases you are going to be expected to pay some kind of “bond” (basically a deposit) which is typically 1-4 weeks’ rent. It’s a lot of money right off the bat, so make sure you come with enough in your bank account and save up before you go!

Be Aware of Scams

Chances are you are going to be looking for a sublet or already furnished apartment, which is why Gumtree is such a great choice. However, especially if you are starting to look for a place from home before you are in country, be aware of scams. Most places that look too good to be true...are. If you can wait until you're in Australia and line up a hostel for your first week or two, then do that. You'll likely have better luck getting a place once you're in the country anyway.

Money Hacks

Figure Out How Much You'll Actually Make First

Do your due diligence when you’re talking wages. First, the minimum wage in Australia is $16.87AUD/hour or $640.90AUD/week as of July 1, 2014. This probably sounds awesome, but the cost of living is also much higher than what you're probably used to. Almost any job should pay more than this.

Keep all that in mind and figure out what your paycheck will actually end up being before you accept a job.

Also, be aware if the wage includes superannuation (basically the equivalent of social security). If it does include super, that means that you will actually be getting less as that percentage will be taken out before you ever get your pay. You’ll also be kissing goodbye another big percentage to taxes, so be prepared for that. Keep all that in mind and figure out what your paycheck will actually end up being before you accept a job.

Open an Australian Bank Account

You’ll need to open an Australian bank account to get paid. Do your research, as some Australian bank accounts may have decent interest rates (and that will end up earning you a nice little fund once you start raking in the big bucks). You also want to be sure it’s a bank that has a lot of ATMs, and is all over the country if you plan to travel.

A few major ones to look into
  • ANZ
  • Commonwealth Bank
  • National Australia Bank
  • Westpac
Pay Attention to Exchange Rates

Seriously guys, don't slack and keep an eye on those exchange rates. The American and Australian dollars tend to hover around 1:1, but there’s definitely some variation. Some days the money you’re making in Oz will be worth more than others -- to the point where you may want to consider transferring some money home, or using your home bank account at certain times.

You also might need to be aware on what the exchange rate is if you’re putting any big expenses (plane tickets, car rentals, etc.) onto an American credit card. And hopefully you are using an appropriate American bank and credit card that don’t charge you crazy fees for use abroad!

Travel & Leisure Hacks

campervan in Australia
Know Your Budget Airlines

If you’re going to be flying anywhere, Tiger Air is always going to be the cheapest option. HOWEVER, they are notoriously unreliable (flights delayed sometimes for days or flatout canceled). They will charge you for every little thing and they very likely might weigh your carryon bag since everyone is trying to avoid the checked bag fees. Jetstar is a slightly better budget option. Try webjet.com.au to compare flight prices.

Consider a Campervan

If you’re really looking to travel, renting (or buying) a campervan is a popular option. If you’re on your own, try hostels or gumtree to find other people who might be looking to go in on a van and have similar travel plans.

Roadtripping is an incredible way to see this huge, gorgeous country -- and it’s relatively budget friendly! You can sleep and prepare meals in the van, and a book called CAMPS can be found just about anywhere, which lists free or cheap campsites across the country.

Also, if you’re just trying to get from point A to point B and are flexible with your dates, you can sometimes find rental relocations for as low as a couple dollars a day (with a number of limitations on time and distance). Good sites for this are standbyrelocs and Apollo.

Learn to Love McDonalds

Especially while you're living out of said campervan, we have a feeling you'll have to cave on this one every once in awhile. Go in for a 50 cent ice cream cone and enjoy heaps of free wifi!

Consider Your Work Abroad Experience Hacked!

All in all, working abroad in Australia is a great choice and you will have no regrets no matter what you do! But with a few of these hacks you can get the most out of your time and jump right into an awesome experience of working and holidaying around the Land Down Under. Now get out there and be sure to send us an Instagram shout out or three!

So you've got the hacks, but how about a gap year program in Australia?

Photo Credits: Scootie, Sydney Apartments, and Campervan.
Rachael Taft

Growing up in the Midwest, Rachael couldn't wait to get out and see the world. She's studied abroad in Italy and Thailand, interned abroad in Sydney, worked abroad in Australia and Fiji, and traveled to 30+ countries, including backpacking solo across South America. In addition to working in international exchange, Rachael obsesses over all things her blog Girl, Unmapped.