Five career mistakes to avoid as a new migrant in Australia

Five career mistakes to avoid as a new migrant in Australia
By Banji Alo

Achieving career success in a new land can be a struggle.

Thousands of professionals migrate to Australia each year, looking for a better career and life.

These professionals hope to at least replicate the same level of success they achieved back home or have better careers.

Unfortunately, they are surprised and haunted by challenges in settling into their career abroad.

Below are some career mistakes for new migrants to avoid when transitioning into the Australian job market and ways they can achieve their career goals.

1.  Misunderstanding the local job market

Many migrants are guilty of this mistake.

We arrive in Australia with the same mindset and approach we used to land a job in our home countries. We forget that the career landscape is different.

Different countries often employ different resume formats. For example, back home in Nigeria, it is customary to include personal information such as date of birth and marital status on your resume. Employers here in Australia would frown at this approach.

Understanding your local job market will help you:

  • figure out the differences in your new land
  • craft quality job applications
  • develop a strategy you need to win in the job market.

The first step in achieving career success is understanding your new environment and what needs to change.

2. Setting your career on autopilot

Many migrants set their careers on autopilot.

They believe all their challenges have been solved because they have migrated abroad. They imagine they must do little or nothing to achieve career success.

This ideology is misleading—your career requires a lot of intentional planning and work to achieve success.

According to Benjamin Todd, founder of 80,000 Hours, a professional spends about 80,000 hours at work. This is a lot of time to leave into thin air without planning.

As a migrant, your career will not just begin to work itself on autopilot because you are in a different country. You must be committed and decisive about:

  • what you want in your career
  • what type of career path you want
  • the kind of job you want

The best way to achieve your career goals is to actively plan and invest in your career instead of leaving it on autopilot.

3. Not seeking relevant guidance or support

As a new migrant, you don’t have to make the same mistakes others have made.

Achieving your career goals in a new land can be challenging without the necessary support of your network and mentors.

Not everyone can provide helpful information, but you need a network of highly informed professionals who can provide quality advice to help you achieve your career goals.

Sometimes, all it takes is good and reliable information to access the next level in your career. People can unlock this information for you. 

As a migrant, you will most likely find your first job via a referral rather than the traditional online application route. So, the quicker you surround yourself with helpful individuals who can further your career goals, the better for you.

A strong network of professionals will:

  • provide the information and valuable resources you need to unlock certain career opportunities
  • guide on applying for roles and potential mistakes to avoid in your job application
  • refer you to a job opportunity that can be a game-changer for your career.

4. Not adapting to new mindsets

Mindset is crucial for success.

Professional migrants who adapt quickly are ready to unlearn what doesn’t work, integrate into society and develop a winning strategy as quickly as possible.

As a new migrant, sometimes you must unlearn old strategies and learn new methods to achieve your career goals.

You probably had certain ways to land a job back in your home country. This can be how you applied for and interviewed for a role.

When you land in Australia, you must unlearn old strategies that are not working in your new location.

Sometimes, doing away with the old ways of doing things is challenging because they have become second nature. Unlearning what doesn’t work and relearning new strategies is an important skill to cultivate.

To be successful as a new migrant, you must possess a growth mindset that embraces new challenges, persists in the face of setbacks, and finds new ways to unlock opportunities. 

5. Sticking to the survival path

Sadly, many professional migrants begin their career journey on the survival path. When most migrants land in a new country, they expect to quickly find the same job as they had in their home countries. They soon realise it might take some time and pick up any job to make ends meet.

For example, you might be a banker in your home country and find it challenging to get into the banking sector. Instead you make do with warehousing to pay your bills. But should you stick to your warehousing role for years and forget about your banking career?

Many migrants stick to this path for too long through not actively planning their next career move or investing in their career savings account.

As a migrant, you must constantly challenge yourself and move away from the survival pathway. 

By carefully planning and actively chasing your desired career, you can land any role you want. 

Closing thoughts

Achieving your career goals as a new migrant in Australia can be challenging. It takes time and effort to actively plan the career you want.

To succeed in your career as a new migrant, you must understand the new job landscape, actively plan your career, get help from other professionals, develop a growth mindset and get off the survival career path. 

Want to learn more?

Get a copy of my book, The Migrants Career Guide, to learn more about how to achieve your career goals as a new migrant in Australia.

It’s packed with impactful stories using real-life case studies and written in a format that is easy to understand and digest. Get a copy today at your local Brisbane library or order it online on Amazon or 

About Banji Alo

Banji Alo is the Data and Information Systems Manager at Queensland Health*. He is also the Author of two bestselling books, Before Graduation Day and The Migrants Career Guide.

In 2020, Banji received the Distinguished Talent Award from the Australian Government.

Outside of routine work, Banji provides actionable career advice to migrants and data analytics professionals.

*Views expressed in this article are Banji’s


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