My Life, My Career

Create a better Work Life

My Career Tools

Work in Australia

Relocating to work in Australia, or in any other country, can be challenging and exciting. Use your Career Tools to make your move a success and to find the right job.

Understanding the hidden meanings in Australian Job Advertisements

Finding work in Australia can be a complex and difficult task, especially if you are not aware of the ‘secondary’ meaning of certain phrases used in job advertisements.  Whilst I always recommend networking as the best way to find your first job in Australia, when it comes to looking for your next job after you have gained some Australian experience (paid or voluntary), you need to be able to interpret what is being implied in job advertisements.

Whilst the following examples are extracted in isolation, it is important to read the entire advertisement as the overall message and description could be interpreted differently.

‘Fantastic bonus structure’ – the company provides a very low base salary rate and you have to do the work first before being paid for extra work in either dollars or incentives (products or services) 

‘Fast paced, dynamic environment’ – you may be expected to work really hard, often without breaks.  This may imply that they would like a younger person

‘Ability to multitask and prioritise daily tasks to meet critical deadlines’ – you may be responsible for all sorts of duties, not necessarily stated in the job description and you may be under pressure to support a manager who is busy doing something else.  In the workplace, you may need to be careful not to say yes too often and do all of the work otherwise you may quickly become burnt out. 

‘Have Australian industry experience (essential)’ or ‘solid track record’ – you must have been working in Australia in a similar role in a similar type of company as they want you to be able to walk into the role immediately and take over from the previous person who has also had extensive Australian experience (and possibly also local connections)

‘Fast growing company’ – means that they may or may not have a lot of systems and processes in place so you need to be able to work independently within general guidelines, possibly long hours too 

‘Excellent weekly pay and fast track career growth for the right people’ – they may pay you very little money each week and will only give you more money or opportunities if you meet difficult to achieve targets.  In a sales role, this would mean that you may have to work many hours for no pay.

‘You must have the right to live and work in this location to apply for this job’ – it would be best if you were a permanent resident or an Australian citizen to apply for the position.  However, this is a standard ‘tick box’ when an advertisement is being lodged, so it may be worth making an enquiry if you have a different type of visa – contact the advertiser first before applying to see if your application would be accepted.

‘We work as a team to share the load and support one another’ – this was for a call centre role – you need to remember that in these roles, everyone’s activity is monitored and there is an implied understanding that you will all work in the same way within very specific criteria 

‘Be rewarded for your hard work’ or ‘make a difference’ – this may mean that they would like you to do lots of extra work in your own time 

‘Be commercially focused’ – this may mean that the employer wants you to increase revenue substantially

‘Start ASAP’ – start as soon as possible.  Whilst you may be currently working, most positions enable you to give notice of your resignation immediately but you would normally leave on your next pay cycle (for instance, weekly pay, one week’s notice).  If the position is indicating to start as soon as possible, it usually means that there is nobody in the role at the moment and that they are keen to find people who can start soon.  Do not be put off if you have to give a month’s notice as good candidates for some roles are hard to find.

‘Stakeholders’ – this means that the company would like you to work with people both inside and outside the organization so you need to be confident about your communication skills (this does not mean perfect).  

‘Address the selection criteria or obtain a position description’ – this means that they would like you to write information related to each point of either the key selection criteria or the position description so that they can easily match your skills to the role.  They do not want to interpret the information from your standard resume or a long essay in your cover letter. This will take a lot of extra time and it is important for the spelling and grammar to be correct and for each answer to follow each item.  The questions need to be answered, where possible, with specific and relevant information, data or examples.

‘Reliable and dedicated’ - this may mean that they have had staff in the past who were not reliable (not turning up on time or completing the necessary duties).  In Australia, if you say ‘yes’ employers interpret that statement as ‘yes.’  Our workplace generally takes information literally and encourages people to speak up immediately if a problem may occur. 

Specific industries and professions also have certain educational and licensing requirements.  Some jobs may require additional resources, like your own laptop computer, mobile phone or car.  As with all jobs, do as much research as you can before you apply for a position.  If the position is advertised through a recruitment consultant, see if you can contact them before lodging your application and ask if you can forward your details directly to their email address as well as going through the normal application process.

Some advertisements supplied by recruitment consultants may be for jobs that do not exist.  They review the resumes of the people who have applied for the fake position and if they are currently working, they may contact the current employer and offer their recruitment services to that company saying that they currently have a range of excellent candidates available for that type of role, would they be interested in reviewing some possible candidates (for a fee).  If the false advertisement is for a Human Resources role, they may use it as an opportunity to gain direct contact with the Human Resources staff of that company.  There may also be other false techniques used to attract various candidates for either current or future roles.  If you have any uncertainty about the validity of the advertisement, you may like to do some further investigation before applying for the job.

Finally, be ready at all times with a resume that matches the job description (not just a standard resume that you use for every job application).  Realise that applying for jobs online can be a numbers game, but if you are not advancing to interview stage, you need to review your process as your resume and cover letter are obviously not representing you in the best way.  For more information on this topic, review our article on Resumes and Curriculum Vitaes.


Sue's photo

Sue is the Founder and Director, Newcomers Network and the Convenor of Victoria International Human Resources Management Network, Australian Human Resources Institute. Sue is passionate about helping newcomers to Australia make the most of their new work life in their new country.
Sue has published websites, e-books, and articles in various forums worldwide and is also a proactive networker, hosting a variety of events, seminars and workshops and continually participating in innovative projects with multiple stakeholder groups.

Search by keyword


Browse by topic


Subscribe to Career News

Receive career news updates about latest trends, articles and information.

Follow Worklifegroup on...

All content copyright WorkLifeGroup. All rights reserved

Career Information

Share with your friends