So exactly what sort of overseas candidate does the market look to recruit into Australia and what does the future look like for wannabe expats in digital?
“When I first joined here I was surprised by the number of Poms [Brits] in the market” remarks Marco – “Australians are almost a novelty in this market, it’s bizarre.”
There are signs of this shifting a little though – new immigration laws mean that companies now have to forecast sponsorship quota on an annual basis, rather than ad-hoc and there’s a little more pressure to hire from the Australian market. “This isn’t really an issue in the digital market to be honest” says Marco “There’s too much of a talent shortage for that.”
So what sort of talent are we talking about?
“Candidates need to have at least 1 1/2 to 2 years experience to come over here” says Marco. But why is this?
It’s pretty simple – it’s partly to do with supply and it’s partly to do with money. As discussed in this handy post, you’ll need to be offered nearly $54k basic salary in order to become employer sponsored. To put that in context, Search Assistants with up to a years experience tend to get paid $35-45k and Search Executives (typically 1 to 2 1/2 years experience) come in between $50-60k.
“The market’s filling up from the bottom” observes Marco – “The talent pool is growing to fill the gaps. I don’t think the demand for overseas talent will ever fully go away, but in the future would-be-expats will probably need to work harder to show they are strong enough to justify upseating a local.”
There’s a particular set of skills which are desired over here, meaning that recruitment’s pretty prescriptive. According to Marco, they need to come from a ‘recognised agency’ and be managing clients of significant scale.
Longevity is important here – given the commitment required by employers to sponsor. “You’ll need to have shown evidence of staying in positions for at least 1 1/2 – 2 years to win the confidence of employers here” he adds. “We get a lot of enquiries from self-employed candidates and freelancers, but we tend not to deal with them – the demand just isn’t there from our clients, they can be more selective.”
“We also get a lot of agency candidates from the UK wanting to move in-house or client-side” Marco remarks, “There’s a lot of demand for this from Australian nationals too, so it’d be a lie to say this was a realistic aim if you’re coming from the UK with no similar prior experience.”
There’s still a suggestion of false empowerment with some of the UK candidates – moving to Australia doesn’t unlock the door to positions otherwise unobtainable in the UK, the UK experience isn’t worth enough on it’s own.
So square pegs, come over – it’s a great market. Stars, triangles, circles and that funny wiggly one you might need to go fetch the chisel.
* Marco told me to write that. In Australian, a ‘gun’ is someone who excels in their field