Due to the high cost of living in Australia and New Zealand, backpackers are forced to look for a job during their stay. These are usually seasonal or short-term jobs, usually lasting between 2-3 weeks and half a year.
These short-term jobs are ideal for backpackers to fill up their travel funds and save for the next adventure, but also to make new friends, improve their English skills and get in touch with locals.
In this article you will learn what you need to know about the job search, how to apply and where to find vacancies and job postings.
Content of this article:
Preparing for the job search
The Working Holiday Visa for Australia or. for New Zealand is the basic framework of your working life, because without it (or another visa with work permit) it is of course forbidden to start a working activity. With the WHV you can work in all kinds of jobs and work up to 12 months in New Zealand. In Australia, however, there is a regulation with the WHV, by which you may only be hired for a maximum of 6 months with an employer.
In addition you will need a New Zealand or a. Australian tax number, which is comparable with the German tax ID. In Australia this is called Taxfilenumber (TFN) and in New Zealand IRD number.
In addition, you need a bank account so that your employer can transfer your salary to you. Theoretically, he could also send the salary to a German account, but this would not be possible in 99.9% of the cases are not done because of the high costs of an international transfer.
What you need to know to open an account you can find out here:
Application documents in Australia and New Zealand
The application process Down Under varies from job to job. For a job as a harvest worker you usually don't have to write a formal application, nor do you have to go through a job interview with the future employer. Instead, a short phone call is usually sufficient here or. a spontaneous interview on the spot to be able to start the job in the near future. For most other jobs it is similar to Germany, you write an application, have an interview and then you are either hired or not.
The application documents look somewhat different in Australia and New Zealand. For example, the resume/CV is not written chronologically as we know it, but the other way around, so that the most recent job is listed first. Also, unless otherwise requested, an application in OZ and Kiwiland consists only of a cover letter and the aforementioned resume.
The Cover Letter
In the cover letter, you should be specific about the position you are applying for. This means you can take the requirements mentioned in the job description and relate them to your previous work experience. For example, if customer contact experience is required, you can write:
For the past two years I have worked as a sales assistant at a busy shoe store, where I have developed my customer service skills.
You should also repeat and briefly explain the most important details of the resume:
- time management and strong organizational skills
- high-level customer service
- cash-handling and sales ability
- motivation and dedication
Of course, mentioning the company you are applying to always goes down well and shows interest in the job and that you have already informed yourself about the future employer. The cover letter should not be too long and should fit on one page at best. The cover letter does not have to be too formal, but you should not let the formulations sound too loose and appear serious in the overall picture.
I have provided a sample template for the cover letter for you to download here:
Like the cover letter, the resume in New Zealand and Australia should not be too long and at best fit on two pages. This is not written in the usual chronological order, but the other way round. So you start with the most recent one or. about the last job you did.
In order to make it a bit clearer, the resume is usually divided into the following sections:
Previous employers and job title are listed here. In addition, for each individual employer, brief information is given about what activities you have performed.
In this section the school education is discussed. You don't have to go into too much detail here, no one will be interested in what elementary school you went to or what your math grades were.
Ideally, skills that are thematically relevant to the job offer and that make you stand out from the crowd should be listed here. If you have already listed all your skills in the "Employment History", you can also list your interests and hobbies under "Personal Interests" instead of "Skills". These should of course also fit the job offer in some way and underline your suitability for the position. Team sports such as soccer, for example, indicate team spirit, while a car enthusiast indicates technical understanding and mechanical skills.
This lists previous employers including their contact details. Alternatively, you can attach letters of reference from former employers to your application, which should of course be written in English and say something positive about you. If you have neither letters nor contact details of your former bosses then you can simply omit this section of the resume.
If you haven't had much work experience yet (e.g., you've been in New Zealand for a long time).B. if you flew to OZ/NZ right after high school), it is recommended to design the resume rather differently. Since you can't really write much in the category "Employment History", you should rather emphasize your skills instead of your work experience. The best way to do this is to list the skills section before the former employers and go into a bit more detail here.
So that you can get a slightly more accurate idea of what this looks like approximately, I also have a sample resume for download here:
For everyone else who has had a little more experience in the working world, I would rather play the experience card and design the resume as in the following sample:
Another difference to the application procedure in Germany is in Australia& New Zealand, that you don't have to wait for the employer to get in touch with you. It is quite common to call the employer again and ask how it looks like. This shows interest in the vacancy and can help to convince the employer of your skills.
So, don't be shy, something worse than a "Sorry, we have already decided on another applicant." can not come out anyway. Then at least you can cross this company off your list and focus on other employers instead of waiting for a response.
How and where to find a job in Australia/New Zealand
What you need and how the application documents have to look like we would have clarified. The question of how and where to find suitable job offers and. which alternative possibilities there are to get a job is still open. In Australia as well as in New Zealand it is no longer as easy to find a job as it used to be and you often have numerous other backpackers as competitors when it comes to landing good jobs.
For this reason, I would like to share my own experience here and show ways that have worked quite well for me. Of course I don't give a guarantee to land a job by my approach, but theoretically you should find it within 3 weeks in any case.
Job fairs (online)
My first port of call when looking for a job was mostly online portals with job ads.
Australia: The biggest Australian job board on the net is Gumtree.com.au where hundreds of new job ads appear daily. Here you can select "Jobs" at the top of the categories and filter the search results specifically by industry and location. Then I look at the first few pages and if I am interested I either send an email or if a phone number is given I call directly and ask if the job is still available.
If I don't get anything out of it I'll put my own ad in online. I write it short and crisp (5-6 sentences) with the following content:
- First name, age and gender
- What I am roughly looking for (e.g.B farmwork, bar work, office job, etc.)
- whereabouts resp. how far I am willing to travel for a job
- Search matching work experience in Australia/Germany
- Short highlighting of my skills
- If needed: Certificates (RSA certificate, White Card), if I have my own means of transport, if I have PPE (work clothes), etc.
- Contact option (best to include Australian cell phone number)
Usually you will get a few calls from potential employers looking for employees over the next 2 days. They usually ask some questions about experience in the respective industry, or whether you have done this or that before. Of course you can also ask questions, for example about salary or working hours. If it suits both sides, I make an appointment to introduce myself in person or to do a trial work day.
This whole procedure, i.e. searching through ads and placing one of my own, is repeated every few days, of course, if it didn't work out the first time.
Other portals to search for jobs in Australia are:
New Zealand: In New Zealand there are also some job boards where you can search for work
can. For backpackers the site Backpackerboard is very interesting, because here are mostly short term jobs offered. Also worth a look is Seasonaljobs.co.nz and Seasonalwork.co.nz. For long term offers I would rather look on Seek or Trademe.
The procedure is the same as in Australia: search the first few pages, find interesting offers and then either write an email or if there is a phone number, call directly.
The only drawback is that you cannot place your own ad anywhere. At least not without paying money for it.
The next step in the job search is to print out a few resumes, stroll around the city/town/village/area and inquire directly with potential employers about job openings – so-called doorknocking.
The only thing you need is a few printed resumes, a smile on your face and a few hours of your time.
Depending on where you are, this method makes more or less sense. In a big city there are of course many more companies where you can drop by than in a village with 300 inhabitants in the countryside. However, I can also imagine that due to the lack of competition it could also work there.
Even if the company in question is not looking for employees at the moment, you can still leave your resume there. Especially in the catering industry it can happen that someone is needed again or another backpacker quits at short notice, so that a position becomes available at short notice. If your resume gets through to the personnel manager, you might be lucky and get a call. In any case it can not hurt.
Job agencies& Working Hostels
If searching for jobs on the internet and asking directly really doesn't bear fruit, you can always contact job agencies or check into a working hostel. I'm really not a fan of the latter, but for the sake of completeness I'd like to include it here anyway. I would also keep away from job agencies that demand a registration fee or enrich themselves in any other way. In my opinion, the better choice are agencies that are paid by the employer to look for employees for them, but that's something everyone has to decide for themselves.
Job agencies are, so to speak, intermediaries between employer and employee. Various employers commission the job agency to find them suitable employees. These can be companies of the most different industries, from the building trade over the catering trade up to the agriculture and the tourism trade everything is represented here. So the jobs offered range from harvest worker to marketing manager, so there should be something for everyone.
For example, I found my job in the mango season, which I used to complete my days for the Second Year Visa.
Some job agencies are also specialized in certain industries or mediate only offers in certain areas. Here you have to know what you are looking for and look for the special agencies.
As a rule, the whole thing goes something like this:
- The employer hires the job agency
- The job agency is looking for suitable workers
- You register with the job agency
- Placement of the job by the job agency
- You work for the employer
- Payment is made by the job agency or employer
Actually a great thing, if there were not a few black sheep among the agencies. There are also some that charge a registration fee and then do not take care of the placement. This fee is often in the lower three-digit range. For this reason I can only recommend to stay away from such agencies. to look for those that are free of charge for the employee.
Working Hotels work a little bit different, but also act as an intermediary between employer and employee. The difference is that they are completely focused on backpackers with a working holiday visa and provide accommodation as well as job placement. The accommodation is typical hostel, so shared rooms, showers, lounge, kitchen and so on are shared with other backpackers.
Besides, working hostels are mostly found in the countryside and hardly ever in cities. This is due to the fact that the hostels usually only offer jobs as harvest workers or similar, and these jobs are known to be found only on farms.
Why I personally advise against working hostels:
Admittedly, the idea of a working hostel does not sound so bad. You live together with other backpackers and improve your travel budget by working on the surrounding farms, on weekends there is a party or you go somewhere with the people from the hostel and start something. Sounds pretty cool at first, doesn't it??
True, but in reality it looks like this:
- To get a job from the working hostel you first have to pay a placement fee. This fee can sometimes be in three digits.
- Of course you have to live in the hostel to work there, otherwise the hostel wouldn't make a profit. Here you usually pay a rather high weekly rent of up to 270 $ (e.g. in Tolga, Queensland, Australia)
- Getting to work = transport costs of up to $10 per day
- Accommodation: run down and not quite as comfortable as expected
- Start working directly? Also often wrong. The hostel operators like to stall you to collect an extra week's rent. In the worst case you have to wait until you have enough and move out again. Then you have spent a few hundred dollars and not earned a cent.
Of course this is not the case for every working hostel, but if you are unlucky all these points apply.
A negative example of a working hostel is for example Don's hostel. A known scammer from Mildura in Australia. Why he is still allowed to run his business is a mystery to me, but just have a look for yourself:
Don's Backpackers is an exception and the worst case scenario, but even if it is "only" a high weekly rent& the transport costs to work are almost not worth it to work in a working hostel anymore. Because own expenses for food, phone& Of course, activities on the days off have to be financed as well. If you are paid per unit instead of per hour, you can't put aside any of your wages.
Finally, I would like to say that there are also very good working hostels that do not charge horrendous weekly rents, where there is no agency fee and which try to find you a job as quickly as possible. In Australia they are a bit rarer than in New Zealand, but if you inform yourself beforehand you should be able to find them.