Gap year job info. How to find jobs on a working holiday or gap year.
A working holiday visa gives the chance to make some money while you’re away. More money means a longer trip, more friends, more good times and overseas work experience can add value to your CV or resume. Below are some general thoughts and ideas about working abroad and how to find gap year jobs. Time spent preparing now will pay off when your trip is underway.
Finding a gap year job in 15 seconds
- Decide what you want to achieve from working abroad
- Don’t be too fussy about your choice of job; have realistic expectations
- Casual work (cafes, bars, restaurants, shops, harvesting, etc.) is easiest to find
- Approach employers face-to-face by visiting places in person
- Make sure your travel insurance will cover the type of work you will do
- Career work is possible, but needs more preparation (see Hospitality Internship Australia)
- Work abroad companies and job clubs can help but check their services before paying
- Train abroad and then use your new skills to get a job
To get the most out of your trip it helps to know what you want to achieve from the work abroad part of the adventure. Different people have different expectations; we’ve put together some questions to help you recognise how important finding work is to you.
- Do you need to work? How soon after arrival – how long will your money last?
- What sort of job do you want to do?
- What sort of job can you do?
- What sort of job are you prepared to do?
- Is work experience an essential part of your trip?
Next you can think about your approach to job hunting. We’ve identified three categories of job hunter on a working holiday (although there may be more). Knowing which type of person you are will help you to prepare:
- Casual – you’ll take work if it comes your way but won’t spend much time actively searching. You’ve got enough money for the trip already.
- Essential – your trip is dependent on you earning while away. You will look hard, and take any job. If you don’t get a job you’ll have to come home early.
- Professional – you are only prepared to take career related work to enhance your CV/resume; you will have a professional approach to your job hunt and already appreciate that finding the right job may take time. [Back to the Top]
Generally there are very few restrictions (check specific visa regulations for any limitations, this will vary from one country to another). However, it will be a competitive job market so the more preparation you can do before you leave home the better. If you are a Casual or Essential job hunter you need to consider casual employment. We’ve given some ideas of the types of job you can look for in the next section.
Check your travel insurance carefully; make sure it covers the type of work you will or could be doing. Employers liability will not cover for international needs like flying you home.
The most opportunities will come from jobs where there is high demand and high staff turnover. These include bar work, waiting tables in restaurants & cafés, retail shops, hotel room attendants (chamber maids), shelf stackers, night porters, night security, theme park ride operators, telephone sales/canvassing, street canvassing, lift (ski) operators, harvesting and crop picking.
Other popular jobs include ski-instructing and lifeguarding but these require specific skills and are only available to those with appropriate qualifications.
Before you leave home prepare different versions of your CV/resume to match the styles of work you could do. Keep copies online so you can update .
Try and get relevant work experience before you travel. This is especially important if you haven’t had a job before. Your chances of getting work will improve significantly if you can show that you’ve done something similar before.
How to find casual work
It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. Employers are normally trying to fill a vacancy for an immediate start and it is unusual for casual jobs to be offered to people before they are actually in-country. You can start your job hunt using the usual resources of online agencies & listings, recruitment agencies, national and local press.
However, the most successful way of finding jobs in these areas is to approach companies directly, face-to-face once you’ve arrived in your destination. Pick a high street or retail park and approach each shop, bar, restaurant, café or hotel and ask if they need any staff. Its a perfectly acceptable way to find work and you don’t need to feel embarrassed. You will need to remain positive as it may take several days of approaching companies before you get your job. But don’t get disheartened, a job will come.
A few tips for face-to-face job hunting (apologies in advance if they are obvious):
- Always be well presented
- Make sure you have your mobile number on your CV/resume
- Leave your CV/resume with anyone you meet. Where possible send a follow up email along with a soft copy of your CV
- Choose your time; don’t approach bars and restaurants when they are at their busiest
- Always speak to the manager
- Be positive and upbeat. You won’t get a job if you are miserable!
- If there aren’t any vacancies, ask whether they know any other places that are hiring
- Some companies (for example larger hotels) may have an online or written application process; follow up your visit with a trip to the internet café to make the online application
- There’s no harm in visiting the same place more than once – if there’s a particular store or restaurant locally that you’d like to work in make sure you are a regular visitor!
The most important thing for the casual job hunter is to take anything that is offered to you. Don’t be fussy. Get a job start earning some money and if the job is awful, make sure you keep looking for an alternative.
If you already have work experience from home or are pursuing a career the temptation will be to look for similar work when you are away. This makes sense. However, trying to find something that ticks all the boxes could take time. Start your job hunt from home using some of the following ideas:
- Take advantage of contacts (teachers, lecturers, family friends, etc.). Does anyone know of any opportunities or useful leads that you can follow up on?
- Check your current and previous employers to see if they have overseas offices or partner companies that they may be prepared to introduce you to?
- Have you worked through an employment agency before? Do they have affiliate offices and could they provide you with an introduction and reference?
- Use the internet to identify industry specific agencies and sign up for job alerts.
- Use online directories to find potential employers and send them speculative emails (if possible personalise the email to each company). You may not get any firm job offers and only a few will reply; however, keep track of the emails you send and follow them up once you are in-country. Employers will be more receptive if you are in-country and in a position to start work.
Be realistic, finding this kind of work can take time. Our recommendation is that you look for other work at the same time so that you have some money coming in. Then you can spend longer trying to get something more appropriate. [Back to the Top]
Qualified teachers can have good success on a working holiday. However, you’ll need to do a little research. Will your qualifications be recognised? Do you need any additional screening?
We recommend that you apply for temporary or supply work in which case your best approach is to register with specific teaching agencies. Longer contracts may be hard to secure on a working visa and will restrict your ability to travel around and explore. [Back to the Top]
Working in exchange for your accommodation or meals is a great way to enjoy a country without spending too much. When you are staying in backpacker hostels always ask if they need any help. A couple of hours work in the morning or evening in exchange for a free night can be useful. You can also look at farm work where you help out for a few hours and get to enjoy a rustic rural experience. This is particularly popular in Australia and New Zealand but there are opportunities throughout the World. Check out Wwoof for more information. [Back to the Top]
Unless you are highly skilled or work in a specialised role it is unusual for employers to make a firm job offer before meeting you in person (exceptions would include chalets staff, aupairs, camp counsellors and our own Hospitality Internship Australia programme) . You can offer to have an online meeting (make sure a SKYPE address is on your CV/resume), but in most cases they will want to know you are in the country and will want to meet face-to-face to be sure you are a serious about the vacancy. [Back to the Top]
One option is to start your trip with a training programme which will lead in to a job. Ski and snowboard instructor courses are increasingly popular and many offer employment on completion of the course. The earning potential is unlikely to off-set your initial investment but you will have something to show for your time abroad.
Hospitality courses are also an option and some offer silver service appointments to course graduates.
Barista (coffee) and bar courses are also useful and will enhance your options for employment. Search for them at home or in your destination country. [Back to the Top]
There are some products available which offer access to online resources and guaranteed jobs. The quality of these services can vary dramatically and in general terms their benefit to you is their ability to collate existing job leads and vacancies in one place. If they guarantee work, make sure you find out what the typical type of job will be. You may feel it is unsuitable. They do offer convenience, but you shouldn’t rely on the leads that they provide and we stress that the best way of finding casual work is by approaching employers directly face-to-face. If you pay to join a job club make sure you know exactly what’s being offered and that it is of value to you. [Back to the Top]
There are 100’s of companies offering to help arrange your working holiday for you. The support that they offer can vary from simple job advice, to more comprehensive help with placement, visa application, flights and insurance. Some make sweeping statements regarding finding you a job; research this before committing to anything and make sure that the service offered is of value to you. Offering a guaranteed job as a fruit picker may not be what you’d expected. Additionally, find out who will be providing the support services. Is it part of the organisation or via a third party? You can pay a lot of money to a service company and you need to know what you are getting for your money.
However, in general terms, for an anxious first time traveller the support can be reassuring and just what you need to help you take the first steps on a working holiday. Better this way than not at all!
For those heading to America then the US J-1 visa regulations require that you go through a sponsor organisation to get the visa. You can’t get a working holiday visa independently and the whole experience is highly regulated. The good news is that the sponsor will help you with the visa application and in some cases will be able to help you to find a job, insurance, flights and so on. Shop around to find an organisation that best matches your needs. [Back to the Top]