Finding a job in Melbourne as an international student

Contributed by Claire Guillemine, European Counsellor/Digital Marketing Specialist, ILSC-Melbourne

Are you planning to study English in Melbourne? Are you wondering what it will be like finding a job in Melbourne as an international student? Are you curious to learn more about the Australian job culture and application process?

If you responded “yes” to any of these questions, we have lots of information and handy tips to help you succeed in the Australian workforce.


How many hours can you work with a Student Visa?

If you want to work and study in Australia, you must follow specific work conditions for student visa holders:

  • You cannot start to work before the official start day of your course.
  • You can work a maximum of 40 hours every two weeks.
  • You can work unlimited hours during official scheduled course breaks

It’s a good idea to respect these regulations to avoid the risk of having your student visa cancelled.


What is the minimum wage in Australia?

The national minimum wage is currently $17.70 per hour. You can visit the Fair Work website to learn about your rights, employee entitlements and more general information for employees.


Do you have to pay taxes as an international student?

Depending on how much you earn, you are required to pay taxes in Australia – they are automatically deducted from your salary each pay cycle. Once you have a residential address in Australia, you can apply for a Tax File Number on the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) website. At the end of the financial year, which falls in June in Australia, you can claim your tax back by filing a tax return.


What is a Tax File Number (TFN)?

A TFN is your personal tax identification number. It is necessary to ensure that you aren’t taxed higher than you should be – almost half of your salary will be withheld if you don’t have one to provide to your bank and employer. Working under a TFN, and depending on your position (whether it’s contract, permanent, etc.), you will be entitled to paid annual leave (holidays), sick leave and superannuation (pension).


What does ‘cash in hand’ mean?

Some employers may choose to pay you by cash. This is not a problem as long as you have given them your TFN, and taxes have been deducted from your earnings (check your pay slip, which will show whether or not it has).

However, ‘cash in hand’ more often than not, describes cash payments where taxes haven’t been withdrawn from your pay – this is illegal and you should always avoid working with employers who operate under this system


How to combine work and study?

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A study and work balance is important as an international student

It can be quite challenging to study and work at the same time. To avoid over-committing yourself you should clearly define which days/hours you will work, and which you will study. It is very common in Australia for international students to have a part-time job (with regular work hours each week) or a casual job (irregular and non-guaranteed work hours), and with a Student Visa you are able to work up to 40 hours every two weeks while your course is running, and unrestricted hours during any scheduled course breaks you have.

Learn more about our flexible study schedule options at ILSC-Melbourne here.


Is it easy to find a job in Melbourne?

Australia has one of the world’s lowest unemployment rates (currently at 5.7%). As the country’s second largest-city, Melbourne is an important business, administrative and cultural hub which offers a lot of good job prospects. The city also hosts many international sports and cultural events throughout the year which provide plenty of seasonal casual jobs for international students.

Your chances of successfully finding a job will depend on various factors such as your prior work experience, the type of job you’re looking for and your English language skills.

What are the common areas of employment for students?

  • Hospitality jobs 
    The food scene in Melbourne is amazing with thousands of restaurants, cafes and bars scattered throughout the city and inner suburbs. Start your job search by exploring the city laneways, you’ll likely find vacancies in roles such as: waiter/waitress, kitchen hand or bartender. Just remember that the RSA certificate (around $40) is mandatory to serve alcohol to customers.
    Did you know Melbourne is the coffee capital of Australia? Lattes, flat whites and macchiato are just some of the popular coffee orders you’ll hear! Improve your chances of finding a job in a café by mastering coffee making techniques.Check out the ILSC Café-Work Skills class and you might find yourself as a professional barista!
  • Retail jobs
    These may include roles such as sales assistant, cashier, stocker at a supermarket, etc. There are many shops and commercial centers around the city, which means plenty of job opportunities. You can also check directly on the websites of larger retailers like Coles, Bunnings, and Aldi.
  • Nanny jobs
    Many Australian families are looking for international students to babysit their children – some may also offer board and lodging. It is a great way to experience Aussie family life and culture! Websites like Babysitters now, Find a babysitter and Rock my baby are good places to start looking. It’s important to know though that you might need to pass the Working with Children Check to qualify for these roles.
  • Food delivery jobs
    Companies like Deliveroo or Foodora are usually looking for casual workers. You’ll just need your own bike!
  • Cleaning jobs
    For private households or companies, it can be a good start if you don’t speak English at all. They are often advertised on Gumtree or private networks.

Finally, if you have already a good level of English, you can consider private tutoring, office administration/reception jobs or call-centers. Many companies use recruitment agencies to fill vacancies. You register directly on their website. The most common ones in Australia are Hays, Randstad Australia or Adecco.

work for international students in melbourne

Find a hospitality job in one of the many amazing cafes in Melbourne


Where to search for jobs in Melbourne?

Part-time jobs and casual jobs are listed in many different places online and offline. Try to expand your job search using as many channels as possible. Visit Australian websites such as Seek, Gumtree, adzuna or Career One. Read local newspapers, check community boards (e.g. at the supermarket, library, etc.) and pay extra attention to the shop windows where owners often advertise job vacancies.


What is the hidden job market?

This expression is used to describe jobs that are not necessarily advertised to the public. The best ways to find these types of jobs are:

  • Networking: let people – friends, schoolmates know that you’re looking for a job. They might know someone, who knows someone, who is looking for a person just
    like you! Facebook is also a great tool to find community groups to build your local network.
  • Cold-calling: try to contact companies directly and ask about job opportunities. Write down what you want to say, be polite and you might be lucky!
  • Another similar strategy is called “door-knocking,” where you walk into shops, bars, restaurants and cafés and hand over your resume. Always ask to speak to the manager so you can introduce yourself and explain your situation.


How to apply?

  • Applying online: you’ll need to submit your resume (CV) and a cover letter online explaining why you are a good fit for the position. In some cases, you might have to answer selection criteria (i.e. do you have previous experience in customer service and how can you apply these skills to the role?). Don’t forget to prepare copies of important documents like school transcripts and diploma certificates before leaving your country as it might be requested by potential employers in Australia.
  • Walk-in application: Apply in person, especially if you are looking for retail or hospitality jobs. Print copies of your CV, ask for the manager, introduce yourself, explain your qualifications and asks whether or not they have any job vacancies. Some employers might even conduct on-the-spot interviews and will tell you to come back for a trial.

If you join us at ILSC-Melbourne to study English, you can join our free Job Club! Learn how to write the perfect CV and cover letter with our English teachers. You’ll also get useful insight and tips on how to successfully prepare for job interviews.

You now have all the keys to find a job as an international student in Melbourne!

Find out more about English classes at ILSC-Melbourne on our website and check our Facebook page to see our cool activities! Feel free to email us if you have any questions!

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