Careers advice in Australia blog

No local experience in Australia?

Some recruiters and hiring managers will not shortlist you unless you have Australian experience (local experience in Australia). Local experience in Australia shows:

  • You are versed in Australian workplace culture
  • You understand specific processes and procedures unique to Australia
  • You have the right work visa
  • You possess the right communication skills

Local experience in Australia is particularly important in industries such as Accounting (tax), Engineering (Australian codes), Law and Medicine.

Unfortunately, this can feel unfair as it does not meet a real representation of who you are and what you’re capable of. I.e. if you’ve developed software overseas, constructed bridges overseas, or even have over 10 years’ experience overseas you could struggle landing a job in Australia.

Don’t worry, though, because there are ways to convince recruiters and hiring managers that you are “the right candidate” for the job – even if you don’t have local experience in Australia.

The key to overcoming no local experience in Australia?

The key to finding a job in Australia and overcoming having no local work experience is: Proving Yourself.

  1. Your resume and cover letter need to convince the reader that you have the skills, experience and ability to do the job they want.
  2. Recruiters need to believe that you are better than the competition (who have local experience).
  3. You need to prove you are “the right candidate” for the job, by building relationships (networking) with recruiters and key decision makers in the companies you want to work with.

If you can prove yourself in this way, you will overcome having no local work experience.

No local experience in Australia? No worries

First, you need to show how your current experience is relevant and equivalent to what the job asks for from candidates.

You can do this by creating an outstanding resume and tailoring your cover letter for each job. This is important!

You cannot give recruiters any reason to dismiss you. A terrible job application, which includes a poor resume, generic cover letter and a lacklustre LinkedIn profile, will make or break you.

Get your resume and cover letter right because they’re crucial to landing a job in Australia

Furthermore, employers will turn away from you if:

  • You have poor verbal communication skills
  • You can’t write well (poor cover letter and resume)
  • You have no PR or lack an explanation as to when you’re getting it
  • You do not understand the local culture or Australian workplace etiquette

So make sure you have a clear grasp on Australian workplace culture and language – which you could show in your resume.

Also, learn more about communicating in Australia by looking over the following of our blogs:

  1. Telephone Interviews: How to Succeed
  2. Australian Interview Etiquette

You also may need to consider finding volunteer work or an internship in Australia. Both of which will show that you have local work experience and are committed to working in Australia.

When you have met the above prerequisites, you will be closer to finding your dream job.

Tips to overcome no local experience in Australia?

Start building an Employer List. Search LinkedIn or job sites, such as SEEK, to find potential hiring managers and decision makers at companies you would like to work for.

The goal here is to create a list of people you can build a relationship with and grow your local job network.

From there, you could contact them directly by email, then phone, in order to meet them over a coffee so that they can see the real you.

This will help you prove yourself and allow the person you are meeting with to realise how capable and keen you are to work with them and for their company.

This is an important step to landing your dream job in Australia.

No local experience in Australia? Ask for help

You should now have an idea of what it takes to overcome having no local work experience in Australia.

The methods we listed here may sound daunting, but they are vital if you’re going to stand a chance of beating the other candidates who have local experience. One of the most effective ways to overcome the ‘no local experience’ concern is to undertake a paid (or unpaid) internship.

Many of our clients who have had 10+ years’ overseas experience have undertaken an unpaid internship which has:

1. Led them to a full time paid job with the host company

2. Given them much needed local experience – which has led them to a new job at a new company

3. Motivated recruiters (who previously rejected them) to now contact them about jobs they are advertising

If you’re keen to meet companies for an internship to gain local experience, feel free to contact us so that we can help.

We wish you all the best in your job search!

Careers Team @ ACECIS

10 Responses

  1. Kartik Venugopal

    Dear Naren

    I had 6 years of overall experience with 4 years of SAP FI experience, I came to australia on Oct16th 2016 however i got only 2 calls out of 1500 applications that i put. can you tell me the reason? I got selected in deloitte i passed all the rounds of the interview however after the last round the partner said that i did not have local experience. Please respond to this dismal performance.

    1. Naren Chellappah
      Naren Chellappah

      Hi Kartik,

      Thanks for getting in touch. First – don’t call it a dismal performance. I’m sure you’re working tirelessly to generate interviews and an offer. It’s more of a disappointing result to date – not dismal performance.

      Certainly, 1500 applications for two interviews is well below the 25 applications for one interview strike rate. Depending on your profile i.e. No PR or no local experience, the ratio may extend to 50 applications for one interview. Even with these numbers, for 1500 applications, I’d expect a minimum of 5-10 interviews.

      The Deloitte experience doesn’t add up to me. They would have known about the local experience when you applied. Unless a partner stepped in at the last minute…but I’m not convinced.

      The reality is that some skilled migrants will get a job within a few weeks. Others take months. There are many factors that impact this.

      Two of my most recent clients are perfect case studies. Nash, a BA from Abu Dhabi with 5 years’ experience took about 17 weeks (plus an internship) to get his first offer. He had about seven interviews. Jacob, a Data Analyst from Singapore with two years’ experience took about seven weeks!

      I’m happy to review your profile to give you some insight on where you’re going wrong and how to fix the mistakes you’re making.

      Feel free to send your resume here

      Thanks Kartik, stay positive. You will get there soon.


      Naren Chellappah
      Director & Career Coach, ACECIS
      ACECIS enquiries: 0434 112 581
      Riddell Business Suites, 6 Riddell Parade
      Elsternwick VIC 3185

  2. Lalita Bhasin

    Hi Naren,

    I’m looking towards a professional job since I arrived in Australia. I have several years of experience in Physics Research at a premiere Institute in India.Could you please advise me on my job application?

    1. Naren Chellappah
      Naren Chellappah

      Hi Lalita, thanks for the post.

      Sounds like you have some interesting experience in a niche area of research. You may want to focus on academic or in private sector that cuts both research an industry projects. A lot depends on your previous experience. You may want to look into universities, CSIRO and also private companies engaged in research related projects. Feel free to send us your resume for review.

      Thanks and good luck,


  3. Pratap

    I am an environmental specialist with 13 years of experience oversees and looking for first job in Australia..I have been asked about local experience for all the applications .please guide me thank you

    1. Naren Chellappah
      Naren Chellappah

      Hi Pratap, thanks for the post. Great to hear you’re into environmental science/engineering. Yes, the local experience issue is a common problem people face when they are migrating to Australia and looking for work. Can you please send a copy of your resume via the ACECIS contact form via the contact us page? I’d like to do a full assessment on it to see if there are opportunities for improvement and to identify why you are getting rejected. Look forward to reviewing your resume and getting to the bottom of the issue. Cheers, Naren

  4. Swapna

    Hai Naren

    I have migrated to Sydney in April 2018.
    Have around 2 years of experience in Accounting.
    Yet yo get skills recognised locally, I have completed a certification 3course from TAFE this Dec 2018.

    Since then I am trying to apply for jobs, and attending the interviews, everyone are impressed with my profile and communication skills but unable to clear the final round just because of not having local experience.

    Can you please advise me how can i succeed in my job search?

    Thanks and regards

    1. Naren Chellappah
      Naren Chellappah

      Hi Swapna, thanks for the comment. Yes the old ‘you don’t have local experience’ can be an issue. Here’s the thing – if you are called for an interview, they know you don’t have local experience. This tells me you are doing/saying something negative in the interview which rules you out. And they are giving a ‘lame’ excuse as to why they aren’t selecting you. No doubt the local experience issue, is an issue for some companies, but there are ways around it i.e. through an internship or improving your interview answers to convince them. If you’d like some help, please send us a copy of your resume via the ACECIS website contact form and we can arrange to have a consultation to review some of your interview answers. All the best! Naren, Head Career Coach, ACECIS.

  5. Rashmi

    Hi Naren,

    I am on PR in Sydney since April 2018. I have 5 years of work experience as EA to higher management in IT and 2 years of admin/operations work experience in the banking field in India.
    I have been applying for various similar jobs for more than 5-6 months now and have received a call for only one interview so far that didn’t work out.
    The lack of local experience is resulting in rejection everywhere including the jobs I am fully qualified for. I always update my resume and cover letter depending on the job requirements but to no avail. For now as an option, I am doing work from home freelancing as marketing consultant for a couple of local businesses. But I am unsure if getting a work experience certificate from either one will be of help in my formal job quest.
    Please guide me on my job search.

    Thank you.

    1. Naren Chellappah
      Naren Chellappah

      Hi Rashmi thanks for the post.

      Sounds like you have terrific overseas experience. Yes, it looks like local experience and competition from other candidates is the issue.

      Can you please send us a copy of your resume via the website.

      Once we have reviewed your resume we will give you feedback and come back to you with strategies to get in to the market – including an internship which is the most effective way to beat the local experieince issue!

      Naren – Head Career Coach, ACECIS

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