Job Hunt

Job Hunting for International Students

Living in Sydney is in no way a cheap proposition. Once you’ve gotten over the initial excitement of arriving in a brand new place and the shock and awe effect wears off, real life sets in. It feels like you’re paying to even breathe. For most international student, its a struggle finding a decent job which supports a half decent lifestyle and allows them to save up.

Here’s what you every international student NEEDS to know before they start applying for jobs:

  1. Australia’s minimum wage is $15.96 per hour but that does not mean that you will get that every time. If you’re getting paid anywhere between $14-20 an hour, you’re working your butt off for it. Anything less is unacceptable and your employer will move on to someone who is willing to put in the work.
  2. International students CANNOT work more than 20 hours a week while their college/university is in session but work full-time (38 hours a week) or unlimited number of hours during holidays.
  3.  You will need a Tax File Number (TFN) and/or an Australian Business Number (ABN) before you can start working. Most employers will ask you for your TFN before they even consider employing you.
  4. Generally employers hire people who are Australian citizens or hold a Permanent Residency (PR) but there are exceptions where employers may sponsor you. Be ready to pay quite a bit of money in legal fee as not all employers will cover that unless you give them a very good reason to do so.
  5. Odd jobs usually don’t pay high hourly rates and its hard work, Usually requiring manual labor and long hours. I have friends working 3 jobs to pay their bills and save money as well, but that’s not always the case.
  6. You only pay tax if your annual earning is over $18,000 while working on a TFN. If you’re working on an ABN, you are responsible for filing your own tax returns. Be very careful about following these rules.
  7. Most employers offer training so that’s a positive. Its not always easy to pick up on new skills but training certainly helps.
  8. Its easier to get a job via a reference, most people I know including myself get jobs by friends telling them about available shifts and getting your foot in the door. THAT is the most important thing, getting your foot in and then make them want you.
  9. Service stations, grocery stores and cafe’s are the most attractive options for international students simply because its casual and/or part-time work allowing a decent work life balance.
  10. You need to have a license to work in many casual jobs. Look into these certificates:
    1. Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) required to work in establishments which serves alcohol.
    2. Responsible Conduct of Gambling (RCG) required to work in establishments that allow betting.
    3. White Card required for doing construction work.
    4. First Aid gives you basic medical skills which is always helpful.


  1. Make a resume and cover letter that is made to impress. Generic cover letters and resume’s won’t work. Tailor your resume and cover letter to the job you’re applying too. Make sure you cover key criteria’s mentioned in the job description. Employer’s don’t bother with applications that don’t have the relevant experience.
  2. Wake up early and check websites like Gumtree and SEEK for latest job posts. CALL the employers, find out about the job and what kind of experience they’re looking for, what are the work hours, what the job requires, If they have any specific requirements and/or any other questions you have.
  3. Ask for help from friends and relatives about leads. Follow up every lead.
  4. Try and pick up tasks to do for people that don’t take too long but will get you anywhere between $20-$200 in a day. Websites like Airtasker have people post tasks they want done and they prices they’re willing to pay for them. I’ve used it and made decent money off it.

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