For international law students aspiring to secure their first job in Australia, there are several proactive steps they can take to enhance their chances of success in a competitive job market. Here are some valuable strategies to consider:


Research Visa Requirements and Work Eligibility

Before embarking on a job search in Australia, it’s essential for international students to familiarize themselves with visa requirements and work eligibility regulations. Understanding the various visa options available for working in Australia, such as post-study work visas or skilled migration pathways, is crucial for navigating the legal requirements associated with employment in the country.

Make your visa conditions clear on every job application:

“My visa is class 500. I have 20 hours work rights between March and June + August and November. Outside of these study periods I am available to work 40 hours per week.”


Network Effectively

Building professional networks is integral to accessing job opportunities in Australia’s legal sector. International law students can leverage university alumni networks, industry events, career fairs, and professional associations to connect with practicing lawyers, legal professionals, and potential employers. Networking provides valuable insights into the local legal landscape, enhances visibility within the legal community, and may lead to internship or job opportunities.


Use professional network groups with members from your home country. As an example, it’s easy to use linkedin to search for professionals based in Melbourne who are originally from Malaysia. Write to these professionals offering to buy them a coffee to learn more about their professional journey in Australia. 


Gain Local Experience Through Internships or Volunteering

Securing internships or volunteering positions within Australian law firms, legal organizations, or community legal centers can provide international students with valuable local experience and exposure to the Australian legal system. Internships offer opportunities to develop practical skills, expand professional networks, and demonstrate commitment to prospective employers. Additionally, volunteering provides a platform to contribute to the community while gaining relevant experience and building relationships with legal professionals.


Contrary to this, obtaining SOME form of paid employment in Australia is a wise move even if its not a legal job. A legal industry employer may be reluctant to hire someone if they have never worked in Australia. Get a Tax File Number!


Tailor Applications to Australian Standards

When applying for legal positions in Australia, international students should tailor their resumes, cover letters, and job applications to align with Australian standards and expectations. This includes highlighting relevant academic achievements, legal skills, and international experience that demonstrate their suitability for roles within the Australian legal context. Additionally, familiarizing oneself with Australian legal terminology, citation styles, and industry norms can enhance the professionalism and relevance of job applications.


Key Tip – include your full education history – High School (Even if Overseas), University (Overseas), University (Australia) in reverse chronological order. Australian employers want to know what high school you attended.  Don’t hide this information because you think that it may deter potential employers. Be transparent.


Seek Guidance from Career Services and Advisors

International law students can benefit from seeking guidance and support from university career services, faculty advisors, or legal professionals with experience in the Australian market. Career advisors can provide valuable insights into job search strategies, resume writing, interview preparation, and navigating cultural nuances in the Australian workplace. Seeking mentorship from experienced legal professionals can also offer valuable mentorship and industry-specific advice.


Develop Language and Communication Skills

Effective communication skills, including proficiency in English language proficiency, are essential for success in Australia’s legal sector. International students should actively work on enhancing their language skills, particularly in legal writing, speaking, and comprehension. Participating in language courses, workshops, or language exchange programs can help improve language proficiency and confidence in professional communication settings.


Key Tip – If you have obtained strong marks in IELTS or related testing, list it. Don’t leave any achievements off your professional records!

Stay Informed About Legal Trends and Developments

Demonstrating awareness of current legal trends, developments, and issues relevant to the Australian legal landscape showcases initiative and engagement with the profession. International students can stay informed by attending legal seminars, workshops, and conferences, subscribing to legal publications, and following reputable legal news sources. Keeping abreast of industry developments not only enhances professional knowledge but also positions students as informed and proactive candidates for legal roles in Australia.


Key Tip – More than 40% of all Australian litigation lawyers work on insurance matters. Insurance firms are a key client of many Australian law firms and these roles in areas like insurance claims can indirectly lead to law firm opportunities long term.


By implementing these strategies and actively engaging with the Australian legal community, international law students can increase their prospects of securing their first job in Australia’s dynamic and diverse legal sector. With perseverance, adaptability, and a proactive approach to professional development, international students can navigate the challenges of entering the Australian legal market and embark on a rewarding legal career in the country.


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International Students Career Advice Tips (#14)