Securing a Long-Stay Business Visa in Australia

Jeff Nelson

How to turn a vacation into a new life.

When I first came over to Perth and I was looking for a job, I went directly for what I knew—hospitality. I got a job in a café with good hours, close to where I was living. It was convenient, easy and fun. No complaints here!

However, when I realized that I would probably be staying in Perth a little bit longer than intended—with an end date that is still constantly being pushed back—I decided that it was time to find something that would push me a little bit harder. I wanted a new challenge that would add to my resume and prepare me for whenever I decided to re-enter the real world.

On a Working Holiday Visa in Australia, you can only work for a company for a maximum of six months. Although I had been considering looking for a new job for a while and had been sending out the odd resume here and there, it all hit home when my employer came to me two weeks out from my six-month deadline.

“I’m sorry Gillian, I wanted to keep you on longer but my accountant has informed me that wouldn’t be a good idea. We can make an agreement that you start looking for a new job and I’ll start looking for a replacement for you.”

Within a couple of hours he had arranged for a new girl to start training with me. Ouch—just when I had thought myself irreplaceable!

I was now at the point where I had to get serious about my job hunt. I knew I wanted to do something different but what? I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism, which has proven to be worth very little compared to actual experience. Every ad for every position required a few years of on-the-job experience. I was silently screaming the age-old question; how can I get experience if no one will give me a job?

I decided that a good place to start was in admin. As much as I would have loved to jump into a communications or marketing position, my resume was looking weak compared to all the skills these roles required. I had some sales experience that included light admin so with a little tweaking I came across as an admin pro!

So I started spending my afternoons in cafes, milking a cup of tea while I made use of their free WiFi for hours on end. I re-formatted my resume, had it proofread by friends and then sent it to every single admin job on Gumtree and SEEK. Then I sat back and waited.

I wish I could say the offers poured in. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Email after email came back with the heartbreaking generic message informing me that unfortunately on this occasion I had not been successful in my application for the role.

But I persisted. I wasn’t going to settle for any job this time—I wanted an admin job. It was time for me to stop falling back on hospitality and strive for something different.

Luckily I had some savings and an amazing boyfriend who helped me get through the month and a half I went without a job. Every single day I sent email after email, tweaked my resume and cover letter dozens of times to suit each role. By the end I didn’t even know what I was applying for anymore!

Then finally, after a few weeks, the calls started to come in. I had a few unsuccessful interviews—either the role wasn’t what I had hoped or I guess in some cases I didn’t suit the role. But then finally, one day, I got a call from the company I work for now. The role sounded better than I could have hoped for and I knew I needed to get this job. I spent time researching the company, searching bus routes, went in and nailed the interview.

Over a year later I am still with that company and have recently been promoted to a sales position—with a company car and everything! I am also now on a Long Stay Business Visa, which allows me to work with the same company until the end of my visa in August 2017.

The job hunt was extremely painful and I don’t envy anyone going through that right now. But on the positive side, I learned a lot while going through that process; about selling myself and my abilities, about standing out in an interview and about standing my ground when I wasn’t offered enough or the role wasn’t as advertised. (I also learned a lot of new recipes and trained to run a 12km race with all my free time, but that’s beside the point.)

Even though unemployment was tough and the job hunt pushed me to the limit, I have absolutely no regrets. I am now working for an amazing company, with an amazing team, in a role that challenges me every day. It doesn’t get much better than that!

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Gillian Arfin

Gillian Arfin is from Oakville, Ontario. After years of travelling and backpacking and constant itchy feet, she has found herself settled in the most isolated city in the world--Perth, Western Australia. Curious what it’s like to live on the other side of the world? Read what Gillian has to say about it.

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