A Guide For Moving To Oz
After a successful time recruiting in the UK, Resources Group’s Gemma Hughes moved ‘Down Under’, to join our Sydney office. Gemma gives an account of what it was like to move, the process and the lifestyle which we hope will be useful to others contemplating a career move to Australia.
Gemma writes: “I moved to Sydney for a personal and professional adventure, a new experience, a new perspective and some sunshine. Eighteen months later I’m still here with no regrets, no homeward bound ticket and a first-hand experience of the practicalities of making the move coupled with a useful over-view of both the UK and Australian MR markets.
The intention of this article is to give you some insight in to how you might also make the move and what you'd expect to find when you arrive. Whether you're already sold on the idea or just toying with it, here you'll find information on visas, salaries, the agency landscape and the job market:
Securing a visa is crucial and there are a couple of different routes you can go down.
The WHV (working holiday visa) offers a practical solution to anyone under 30 who has made up their mind they are coming to Australia and are willing to secure the job on the ground. It's a quick, no fuss, online application process that if successful means you can arrive in Australia with 12 months to secure a role. Being on the ground means you allow yourself the opportunity to get to know the market, meet potential employers face to face and make an informed decision on what fits best for you. The goal is to start your new role on your WHV with sponsorship at the end of your probation period – a try before you buy of sorts, for both parties.
The only downside of this visa is there is no guaranteed job on arrival and it can be harder for less experienced candidates to be selected over local talent. It is entirely achievable and really just depends on timing, tenacity and your profile.
For those of us who have already hit this milestone, Australian businesses will offer sponsorship (457 visa) to those candidates (usually c4years+) who they feel can add real value and exceptional experience that can’t be matched locally. British researchers are respected here and the general consensus is that we are well-trained as a result of it being a large and leading market. The size means there is a greater capacity to bring more graduates up through the ranks resulting in researchers having a thorough and rigorous grounding in technique coupled with the exposure to best thinking and best practice. Essentially – we’re good, and businesses see the value of going through the visa process (which is timely and costly) for the ‘right’ candidates.
One of the most important things to do to secure sponsorship is to assure potential employers of your enthusiasm, seriousness and commitment. Have you visited Australia before? Do you have friend and family here? What's motivating you to make this move?
The remote interview process is similar although can be slightly longer and typically conducted through a series of telephone interviews and Skype calls where you will 'meet' multiple people and quite likely still deliver some kind of task. Be prepared to be at your best early and late as the time difference means you'll be interviewing at odd times. On occasion and depending on seniority then you can be asked to fly over or potentially meet local counterparts.
Once you have the job offer and a commitment to sponsor, the paperwork follows. You will be taken through this step by step by HR or an immigration partner and just be prepared for lots of form-filling. You will need to be thorough, organised and diligent – scrabbling around in dusty boxes to find old degree certificates, birth certificates as well as acquiring police reports and other official documentation to prove you're an upstanding citizen. It is all worth it when you get the magic seal of approval, which these days isn’t a tangible stamp for your passport, just a green light through Australian border control.
The Australian dollar is very strong at the moment and you cannot just convert Sterling to dollars to work out your market rate. Living is expensive in Australia including the essentials - rent, food and clothing – but the increased wages cover this. Salary is really determined on your experience, the role your applying for and your value to the business. Are you the perfect fit? Are you transferring into a different sector? Do you require up-skilling in certain areas? Are your skills particularly sought after? All these things will affect what salary you can command.
An important difference here is superannuation which is a compulsory part of your package. It is your pension and calculated at c9% of your salary and payable by your employer so make sure you understand if your offer is including super or with super on top as this will make a significant difference.
The market in Australia is much smaller than the UK but no less focussed on innovation and the changing landscape of consumer insights. The market is well fragmented with lots of boutiques making up a big part of the picture but the global players are all still here. As everything is smaller, you will find that everything is more hands-on at all levels both in the small or large agencies.
Small isn't any less well formed, and we have it all - qualitative and quantitative survey research, business intelligence, POS data, brand consultancy, online panels, field and data collection, advanced analytics etc. As the market is more compact, in some ways it feels tighter and more competitive as everyone seeks to make their mark, win pitches and position themselves as unique. The market remains vibrant and friendly with lots of networking events organised by the AMSRS committee such as the YRG (Young Research Group), specialist groups and the annual conference to name but a few.
Sydney (largest) and Melbourne are the main markets likely holding c90% of the market – with the remaining 10% spread across Brisbane, Perth and Canberra etc.
Research is more focussed on Australian brands and services with Asia dominating the international regional research.
The market does follow the UK with the newest trends being around: online communities, retail/shopper & big data. As in the UK – good quallies, commercial seniors and good solid mid-level quant candidates are always sought after.
Although Sydney from London is 10553.06 miles as the crow flies, 9 or 11 hours ahead depending on the time of year and in a whole other hemisphere, it's actually a home from home in the sense that it's English speaking, shares a similar culture and values, infrastructure and politics. There are notable differences in healthcare, taxing, pension etc. but nothing you can't get your head around quickly in the first year and with so many fellow expats on the ground all too willing to share helpful tips, you navigate through the ‘set-up’ phase quite quickly.
Yes, you will be far from home and naturally that comes with some emotional hurdles but the world is smaller these days with free and easy communication readily available. You may be the other side of the world but when it comes down to it, it's only a 24 hour trip of enforced relaxation and back to back movies before you can be back on home soil.
Why do it?
To combine a career move with a lifestyle move, for professional advancement, for the adventure, to travel, to experience a new market, to challenge yourself, to work with different agencies and peers and approaches and for a break from the English climate – both the weather and economy! “
Gemma Hughes is Director – APAC, at Resources Group in Sydney, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Resources Group works across the market research (research, field and DP), information and analytics specialism, across all levels and sectors. Whatever your own motivations, if you would like to make your Australian dream a reality then please contact the team at Resources Group in confidence for further information.