Square pegs for square holes

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?

It was time to get an Australian eye’s view. I needed to talk to a digital recruiting gun*. Marco Villella from nuclei recruitment, I choose you.


“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.

Square Pegs

* Marco told me to write that. In Australian, a ‘gun’ is someone who excels in their field