“I’ve only worked in a restaurant, how do I find an office job?”

Friends often came to me saying “I’ve only worked in a restaurant, how will I demonstrate in my resume that I am qualified to do an accounting job?”. This is just one of the many questions that international students are seeking answers to.

I sat down with Patricia, one of Monash Professional Pathways’ expert placement consultants to answer burning questions that international students may come across during their job search.

cafe workers

1. I've only worked in a restaurant, I don’t know how to address the Key Selection Criteria on the job advertisement. How should I address this?
You have to be prepared to enter at an entry level role. Look at your transferable skills. Even at the restaurants you have worked for, you would have some transferable skills you can match to the key selection criteria. Say if you haven’t done four out of the six selection criteria, don’t emphasise the fact that you haven’t done the four. Perhaps you have used a similar software and that you picked up quickly.

“Never lie, never fib and never say something you have never done!”
Perhaps do a crash course online and say that you do not have practical experience in using the software but say you have done a course on it.

2. I am an international student holding a temporary visa. If the job specifies me to be a Permanent Resident but I am only a Temporary Resident, should I apply for it anyway?
Yes, you should! In anything, you have a 100% chance of not getting a job if you don’t apply for it. You have a 50-50% chance if you apply for it. You want to take the chance and give yourself the opportunity. If your residency comes up during the interview, you can say that you have working rights* and there’s nothing stopping you from working. Be transparent about it.

*Check your visa conditions.

3. Is the career objective section on the resume important?
One sentence is all you need and it has to be tailored to each company and be aligned with the industry and the job you are applying for. It is not a necessity but if you are including it, be short sharp and sweet! It has to be straight to the point.

Woman working on resume

4. As a fresh graduate, I don’t have the number of years of experience for the job I am applying for, how should I approach it?
The right approach is to apply for entry-level roles. Say what your skills set are as a fresh graduate. Look at your transferable skills from your volunteering or previous work experiences and match the skills that you have gained from there to address the key selection criteria. Be more realistic about the jobs you apply for and don’t apply for managerial roles.

5. Do I have to cater every CV and cover letter to every application?
Yes, absolutely! You want to tailor your CV and make sure it stands out. If you don’t tailor it you might miss potential jobs. There are often 3 piles to every job applications: yes, no, maybe. You want to get to the yes pile. In your application, try to speak their language or use the words that is advertised on the job.

6. How can I leverage the fact that I am an international student rather than a disadvantage to a company?
Australian employers are still new to opening up to international students. My advice would be to look up on their website and see if they have an office in your home country. Then speak to the fact that you may have the language and cultural benefits you could bring to the role. Nowadays, companies are big on cultural inclusion and from a human resource perspective, there’s a push towards more diversity in the work environment. Remember to take it back to your skills, capabilities and passion to perform the role and being the best person for the role outside any other descriptors.

If you are job searching, build your confidence and find out what your transferable skills are. These are the knowledge acquired through personal experience that can be used in future employment or in future business. It can be any talent that could be used for your future job, be customer service, communication skills or teamwork! The fact that you have worked (even in a restaurant!) is already a start.

By Jesslyn Lan, Marketing Coordinator at Monash College.

Contact: Professional Year admissions team

Phone: 03 9903 8788

Email: enquiries@monashprofessional.edu.au