Getting a Job: Sydney Edition

By Claire Muller, University of Sydney, Australia 

Hey guys!

So, I wanted to talk to you guys about a few things concerning getting a job in Australia. I arrived in Australia in July and started looking a few weeks after I had settled in. However, it took me nearly 2-3 months to finally get a job. I’ve learned a few tips and tricks along the way, so I thought I should share them with you.

  1. Getting your TFN

A Tax File Number (TFN) is pretty much the same as a National Insurance Number. You are required to have one before starting any type of job, for tax purposes, and sometimes, some places won’t accept your application if you don’t have one. You can apply for a TFN online and before arriving in the country, particularly if you already have your accommodation sorted out. They take about 28 days to review your application and if it exceeds that, you can call them on a particular number and get your TFN over the phone. By applying online, before coming into Australia, you can rest assured that when you arrive, your TFN will be ready and you can start looking for jobs, instead of waiting and wasting time.

Here is the link to the online application form:

  1. Visa restrictions

When you are applying for a visa, you will likely be applying for the Student Visa Subclass 500. One problem to take into account is that there are restrictions on your visa when it comes to working in Australia. During the semester, you will only be able to work a maximum of 20hours a week (40hours a fortnight) and during the rest of the time, you can work an unlimited amount of hours. Therefore, when looking for jobs, it’s probably best to look for part-jobs that only require 20hours a week. Some establishments won’t accept the Student Visa, because of the expiration date.

Here is the link to the Visa specifications:

  1. Serving alcohol in Australia

If you are thinking of becoming a bartender as a part-time job option, you will likely be faced with the issue of the RSA. The RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) is a certificate that is required for you to serve alcohol in an establishment. The laws for alcohol are quite strict in Australia and therefore, bartenders are required to get extra training in order to prevent drunkenness, alcoholism and possibly future violent disturbances. There are rules and restrictions related to working when in Australia including when there on the Student Visa Subclass 500. You could seek advice from your partner university as well, but when it comes to the visa, you are responsible for your actions!

  1. Gumtree is your best friend

The main online options for finding jobs in Australia are through Indeed, Seek, Jora and Gumtree. I naively believe that I would probably find a good job on Indeed or Seek. However, the problem with these jobs is that they are mostly full-time or ‘long-term’ jobs that aren’t particularly accommodating for students or the Student Visa. Most of the job listings also have a long processing period. For example, I applied for a job as a secretary/kiosk assistant at a local pool in Parramatta, however, I only received a reply back about TWO MONTHS later through email, basically rejecting my application. Therefore, I would recommend using Gumtree, because most of the small businesses looking for staff use this website (it’s free and easy to use).

Side Note. I was so exasperated from being rejected by multiple companies (I mean even McDonalds rejected me, probably due to my age, but still, I’m bitter), I decided to look online for tips and advice for jobs in Sydney. I came across this blog that was giving advice, and one of them was using Gumtree instead of the other websites. I decided to give it a try and sent in my application to multiple job offers. Literally, 20mins (and I kid you not) within sending my application to one of the job offers, the boss of an Italian restaurant called me and asked whether I wanted to go through a job trial the following day. I went to the job trial and I’m still working there till this day.

Here is a link to the Gumtree jobs website:

  1. Careful of potential parasites

There are multiple jobs offers on Gumtree for a variety of jobs, from waitress to barista to bartender. One issue to keep in mind is that you have rights and are required to be paid a certain amount depending on what type of job you are doing (e.g. if you are doing a casual shift-based job, you are meant to be paid around $23.66 an hour. If you are doing a part-time, you are meant to be paid around $18-19 an hour). Therefore, you should pay attention to what time of job you are doing and how much you are getting paid because there are some parasites that try to take advantage of clueless foreign students in order to keep a few bucks.

Here are a few links to look into this further if need be:

  1. Look outside of the box

Sydney is pretty massive for a city, you could drive an hour or two and still be in Sydney. Although it would be particularly practical to find a job relatively close to your accommodation, due to competition the closer you get to the city, you might not be lucky in finding a job (unless you are one of the lucky ones, to which I applaud you). Therefore, it would be beneficial to look outside of the main city area and look further into the suburbs in order to find a part-time job and be willing to travel to and fro. For example, my job was located in Blacktown (which is about 45mins by train from Central). Another positive to working in the suburbs is that you get to interact more with the local Australians, instead of tourists or foreigners (if that is what you are interested in).

Okay, well that’s all I have for you guys! Hope it helps you in the future!

See you later,


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