I’ve written a lot on the topic of working holidays in Australia.
I’ve spoken about the preparations for coming to Oz. I’ve elaborated on the process of getting your second year visa. I’ve answered all the confusion surrounding starting work. I even went into detail about how to process your tax return.
For a complete list of all my posts about living and working in Australia, head here!
But one thing is missing.
How is it that you actually find work once you get here?
Well, the time has come for me to share all that I have learnt on the topic in the past year. This post will provide a comprehensive list of websites, organisations and social media groups that will hopefully help to find you that elusive job.
I hope it helps!
A few notes to begin
Before I jump right in with the website recommendations, there are a few things to note when looking for a job as a backpacker.
Location, location, location
First of all, it is simply not always easy to find a job in the bigger cities like Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.
It depends on the time of year a lot, as places are inevitably busier in their tourist season. And there is a high level of competition, because more and more people are moving to the cities to find work – Australians included.
The fact of the matter is, if you really want to find work, you may have to cast your net wider. One of your advantages as a backpacker is your ability to move at short notice – so make the most of that!
(This is not to say that it’s not possible to find a city job – it just might take a bit more perseverance is all!)
Play to your strengths
The second thing is that you have to play to your experience. Employers are very well aware that backpackers can only work for them for a maximum of six months, so it’s in their interest to get the best qualified person they can.
If you have no experience in hospitality whatsoever, it’s probably best not to waste your effort on trying to get into the industry.
Especially because here in Oz, hospo is not just a job, it’s a way of life.
If all your work experience is in retail, target the retail industry. If you’re an admin whizz, look into that area. It’s the same here as it would be in your home country – in general, people aren’t looking to hire people if they don’t seem qualified.
Time is of the essence
Another thing to note is your time frame.
It’s a sad truth that a lot of backpackers lie (or at least exaggerate) their way into a job. Maybe they know that they only have three months left on their visa, but they still need to work for that time. So they say they are going to be there for six months in order to get hired.
I don’t exactly advocate dishonesty, but sometimes you have to embellish the truth a little. If you won’t, somebody else will. And again, no employer wants to hire someone in the full knowledge that they will only be there for two months. Unless that is part of the nature of the job, of course.
Get the right qualifications
Australia is nothing if not meticulous when it comes to workplace training.
This means that for certain industries, you will be obliged to undertake a course in order to work.
The most common ones are the Responsible Service of Alcohol course (RSA), for work involving the service or sale of alcohol, and the White Card for construction. Another qualification that might be relevant to backpackers is the Responsible Service of Gambling (RSG) course.
Basically, read up on what certificates you might need before you start work, or you will end up being delayed later.
Check out this government approved list of Registered Training Organisations to find somewhere to do your training that you know is legit. This is very important!
RSA & RSG
In some states the RSA/RSG can be done online, but for others you need to do it in person, in a classroom course. Make sure to check this before you pay for a course, otherwise what may seem like a cheap deal might actually be a waste of money!
Also bear in mind that not all states accept qualifications from other states. Sometimes the alcohol laws even differ between territories. So, think about where you want to spend your time! If you think you are likely to travel around a bit, it could be worth doing a course which covers you for multiple states, where possible.
For example, I did my RSA in Victoria (for about $40 in a classroom course). I then paid an extra $10 or so to add all other states barring NSW to my qualification. I just had to take a quick extra test at the end – no sweat.
More information on individual state rules for the RSA/RSG can be found on the state government websites:
A white card provides proof that you have undertaken a general construction induction course.
White cards should be valid in and transferable between any states of Australia, as the training has now been standardised to a large degree. But again, this is dependent on you doing the training with a government-approved Registered Training Organisation.
So do your homework!
This page from the NSW government website is pretty useful in giving an idea of what cards are accepted. Though of course, this might not be exactly the same in every state.
Casting a wide net
Okay, now let’s get down to the specifics.
Your first port of call when it comes to the job search are the generic job websites. A good starting place, for sure, but also the places where everybody else will be looking!
First, take a look at these three main job sites:
Make sure you read the fine print of each advert, as some places specify that they don’t want working holidaymakers to apply. It is also worth noting that a lot of these online job ads have a long deadline – so prepare to fill out a whole bunch of applications, and hear from nobody for a while.
And remember, the competition will be fierce.
Then there are lots of smaller job websites to look at. These might have different vacancies displayed to the main ones mentioned above. Some of these are tailored to specific industries, and they will often also advertise on hubs like Seek or Indeed.
There are more sites like this out there – this list isn’t exhaustive – but it’s a good start!
The next step I would suggest you take is hitting the streets with an armful of CVs. Plenty of places want you to apply in person anyway, and lots of places don’t even bother advertising online.
Check in shop and restaurant windows for vacancy notices, and if you’re looking for bar work, just go in and ask every venue you can find!
Depending on the time of year you might also be able to find temporary work during a busy period, for example as a Christmas casual. Lots of places will advertise for Christmas temps in store, but encourage you to apply online through the store’s website. You might also get lucky by looking through the ‘careers’ or ‘work for us’ section of a company that you know has branches in your location, and seeing if they are looking for people.
There are some advantages (!) to being a backpacker when looking for work. Backpackers are an ingrained feature of Australian life, and this is reflected in the job market. Sometimes employers specifically set out to employ working holiday makers, especially for short-term work. This is particularly true of jobs like au pairing, as well as sales and fundraising jobs.
There are a few places to look for this kind of employment.
A couple of good websites to start with are:
And then try your luck in your hostel:
Often hostels have their own job shops to help out those who stay with them. Two examples of this are the popular Nomads chain, as well as the well-known YHA hostels. You may have to pay a fee for these services, but it’s up to you if you think it’s worth it!
It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on notice boards in hostels, as sometimes employers will advertise on these.
It goes without saying as well, word of mouth can be a great way to find out about opportunities you might otherwise have missed. Make some pals and ask around – someone might know a friend of a friend who is leaving their job, whose spot you can slide right into.
Notes on hospitality
Hospo is one of the key areas backpackers look to find work in. As mentioned above, handing out CVs is often the best method of getting a foot in the door here.
However, a little prior research doesn’t do any harm…
For starters, if you are looking for bar work in Melbourne or Sydney, the bartender exchange Facebook pages are absolute gold mines.
You can also easily sign up for these two job sites, even while you’re waiting to hear back from other places:
Recruitment agencies can be a good idea if you aren’t having any luck with finding your own work.
Have a look at these for a start:
I went through how to look for regional work in my complete guide to the second year visa, but the advice bears repeating here!
If you are struggling to find work, even if you’ve already done your 88 days, it might be worth looking into doing a few months of manual labour to save up those pennies. It can be pretty lucrative if you time it well. And I personally really enjoyed working on a farm for a few months!
One starting point you could take is calling the National Harvest Labour Information Service on 1800 062 332. They will provide a list of vacancies. Ring regularly to check what’s coming up.
Regional work websites
There are a few sites that specifically focus on regional work. Try the following:
Fruit picking jobs (links to Facebook Group, mentioned below)
Large farming companies
Another good option is to look for work in a larger company. They will need a lot of seasonal workers, and they are more likely to be totally above-board with wages and working conditions. They may also have multiple branches, so you have the option of transferring to another location if the season slows down.
For example, Costa Berries have locations in four different states: Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and Western Australia.
Sundrop Farms are another large producer, based in South Australia.
Working hostels are a great way to take all the effort out of job hunting. Just show up, and let someone else do the searching for you.
Or, more sensibly, phone or email in advance to see if there is any work available, and then show up.
It’s pretty easy to find working hostels through a quick search online. Just Google your area (or even your chosen state) + working hostel and it should pop right up.
Oftentimes, the best way to find work is to physically go looking for it. This is particularly true of farm work, which might come up on a weekly or even daily basis.
Pick a farming area and go there! Drive round to all the local farms and see if they need any workers. Knock on doors. It’s a quick way to find out where the work is – and even if there isn’t anything at the first few you visit, they might be able to point you in the right direction.
And once you’ve found yourself somewhere to look for work, don’t limit yourself. Ask everywhere!
The Tourist Information centre might have contact details of employers. Community centres sometimes put adverts up. Centrelink might be able to help.
Explore other options
Don’t just look at fruit picking! Regional work doesn’t just mean farm work. Construction, mining, forestry and fishing are other types of work that count towards your second year visa. Plus these might be less crowded than other industries, depending on the season and the area.
There are also pleeeenty of Facebook groups brimming with opportunity for farm work (amongst other things). For starters, take a look at
The wonders of the internet mean that there is this extra little resource you can use to find leads for employemnt.
It’s called Facebook.
There are absolutely tons of different groups out there full of backpackers with wisdom and insight (and also idiocy but that’s another issue). Use these to your advantage!
The big mamma:
And all the rest:
There are also way more groups for more local areas – but it would take many words and many hours to document every one. So just use the facebook search bar to look for ‘your location + backpacker’, and see what comes up!
Now, out of all of those options, SURELY something will come up!?
Let me know if this has helped you – I’d love to hear. And if you’ve got any suggestions that should be added to the list, leave me a comment below.
Happy job hunting!