Wiping the slate clean

For most people contemplating a move to another country, one of the most daunting things to consider is the thought of starting over again. After building your career from the ground up after finishing university, you’ll have to start from the bottom all over again. And this time, not even the name of your university may be able to get the employer’s attention. Your previous employment history may also amount to little especially if the companies you’ve worked with in the past does not have a global presence, who’s to know if they’re a reputable organisation or not? You’d also be a bit disadvantaged because you may not know the local language, culture and would have no local experience to speak of. In other words, you’d be a nobody in a foreign land.

For some, the difficulty of the transition from being a nobody to somebody in their new home may be eased by the presence of friends or relatives who have moved and lived there for years. Relatives could act as guides, counselors and sometimes, even drivers. However, for others who don’t know anybody in their new home or would like to do things independently, they are on their own. There are many things to consider and get familiar with in a short span of time but the most basic are the public transportation system, banking, job hunting, house hunting, appliance/furniture shopping, public health system and education(for those who’d be arriving with kids).

I used to think that the trouble of migrating is not worth it – I was, after all, working in a leadership position at an offshore arm of a foreign company in Makati with a good salary plus benefits, reasonable hours(flexi-time), friendly colleagues and bosses. I used to compare that with what it would mean to start over in a new country – low pay, 8 to 5 work(maybe more), may not have a very friendly office environment (you never know what you’ll get) and being at the bottom of the food chain. So I thought I’d stay in the Philippines and ignore the political turmoil, traffic jams and constant flooding. I told myself I only have to be content, that the grass on the other side would always look greener but that the grass in my part of the world is green enough, thank you very much.

I don’t know when the shift started but I know that with each despedida(going-away party) for friends and relatives that I attended, the feeling of discontent got worse. It didn’t help that the political circus kept going on, the flood problem ignored and traffic jams became the norm everywhere. I also started to worry about health care, not only for myself but for my aging parents – there was no way I could pay for a prolonged stay in a hospital if ever any of us gets seriously ill. There is also no way I could save up enough to buy a house of my own; no matter how much I save. The grass on the other side started to get tempting. At that point, I saw the challenge of wiping the slate clean as a way to an opportunity for a better future. I reasoned that if I was able to make it in the Philippines with sikap at tiyaga(hard work and perseverance), I could most certainly do it again elsewhere.

Those could have been my famous last words but thankfully, I’m still here. It’ll be three years next month since I’ve packed my bags and headed for the shores of Australia. I may not be where I want to be yet but at least I’m starting to see a way to get there. I’ve met some people who’ve made it in more or less time but I guess each person’s luck and journey is unique. To those just starting out, I can only say this – try and put what’s happening in perspective, it may seem challenging now but you may be laughing about it next year. Wiping the slate clean may not necessarily be a bad experience, it’s a chance to explore and grow if you just keep an open mind.

That’s not to say that I don’t miss the Philippines. I still do. I just don’t see myself going back and living my old life anymore.

Published in: on June 14, 2005 at 6:08 pm  Comments (2)  

Don’t Get Stuck in a Timewarp

When I was young, my Dad, who worked abroad in Saudi and Brunei, would invite me, my Mom and my brother to fly over to where he was to spend our summer vacations there with him. On these stays abroad, we’d got to know my Dad’s Pinoy buddies and workmates there.

One thing I noticed about these Pinoys who stayed long periods of time abroad was that when it came to Pinoy entertainment, they stuck to what they were familiar with when they left home. So even if there were newer Pinoy songs, for example, they’d still be playing their cassette tapes (CDs still weren’t that popular back in the 80’s) of albums they’ve originally bought or owned before they left. Even after returning several times to the Philippines for vacations, they’d still stick to what they knew back when they first left. They were also only familiar with the movie/tv stars they knew when they left home.

I thought it was funny back then, but not so much now. I found that I’m now in the same predicament as those Pinoy overseas workers I knew when I was young. The only Pinoy bands I know are Eraserheads, Rivermaya and Parokya ni Edgar. I heard that there are new ones but I don’t know them or their songs.

I’m only also aware of the Pinoy pop culture from when I left the Philippines back in late 2000 from familiar catch phrases (taken from movies, TV and commercials) to showbiz rumors. I believe there are now new popular catch phrases taken from shows or commercials I’ve never even seen or heard of. When my Mom talks about the new in-thing back home over the phone, I couldn’t relate.

That’s just how it is living abroad, I guess.

However, there were things I could’ve done to be more up to speed with what’s going on back home from here in Melbourne. Let me list them below.

Listing to streaming radio

To keep up with what’s hot in terms of music back home, nothing beats listening to FM radio being broadcast direct from the Philippines. Unfortunately, Australia is too far away to pick up the FM transmissions from Manila. However, there is what’s called streaming audio on the Internet. I don’t want to go into technical details about how it works but it should be enough to say that it will allow you to listen to radio broadcasts from back home provided the radio station you want to tune in to has made available a streaming audio service.

Go to Ex-Desingz for a list of AM and FM Filipino radio stations that provides streaming audio on the Internet. Here is a list of the stations I tune in to whenever I’m in the mood for some Filipino radio: DZBB, DZRH and Monster Radio RX 93.1.

Read online newspapers

Although news from home sometimes get airtime here in Australia, it is usually only the real terrible ones that get shown. When you see the news here, you get very frightened of the situation at home. But when you call up your relatives about the same news, they just shrug it off and said it wasn’t really that big a deal.

So, to get a better idea of what’s really going on back home, I just read one of the many Filipino newspapers available online. I especially like to read the Opinion section which gives me a quick idea of what news really matter back home. Because if it didn’t matter much, then why devote an Opinion article about it?

The two Filipino newspapers I tend to read online are The Philippine Daily Inquirer aka INQ.Net and The Philippine Star aka Philstar.com. There are several more Philippine online publications you can read instead and you can see a list of them at Yehey’s Newspaper Directory.

Watch Filipino TV News

In Australia, there is a day-late Filipino News program is shown on the SBS Channel at 6:50 AM everyday except Sunday and Monday. I haven’t watched it for a while so I’m not sure what the actual news program was called but I can tell you that it was in Tagalog and seemed to have been made in the Philipipnes.

If you think that getting up at 6:50 AM to watch Filipino news is too much of a burden, you can just do what I do and watch the GMA News program 24 Oras hosted by Mel Tiangco and “Kapuso” Mike Enriquez on the Internet by going to INQ7’s Video Archives. Sometimes, you’ll also get the opportunity to watch S-Files and Unang Hirit from there, too.

Also on the Internet is ABS-CBN Now! where you can subscribe for US$4.95 a month to watch their shows. Here is a description of their service as provided by their website’s FAQ:

ABS-CBNnow! is a video and audio streaming service on the Web that provides Filipinos worldwide with access to the best news and entertainment content from ABS-CBN, the Philippines’ largest media network. abs-cbn now! provides the following:

On Demand: You get unlimited access to the best news and entertainment programs of ABS-CBN such as TV Patrol, The Buzz, ASAP Mania, Maalaala Mo Kaya, and MTB. You can also choose from our wide selection of Star Cinema blockbusters and UAAP games.

Live Broadcast: You can watch live broadcasts of the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) and listen live to the Philippines’ leading AM (DZMM 630kh) and FM (WRR 101.9) radio stations.

ABS-CBNnow! News and Entertainment. Online. Whenever you want.

In Melbourne, there’s also Channel C31 where there is a 30-minute segment called Pinoy TV shown at 3:00 PM on Mondays and 6:00 PM on Sundays. There is a news segment in there, too, anchored by somebody who looks Filipino but the accent seems to be Australian that’s Americanized — if you can imagine that.

Another way to watch shows from home is to get cable with The Filipino Channel in there. Unfortunately, even after my research, I couldn’t find a cable network that offers any Filipino channel. I’ve seen options though where you can contact ABS-CBN and have a dish installed in your backyard to get the shows directly. It was discussed in the Philippines.com.au forum a while back.

Read Pinoy Blogs

Blogs are so popular lately and I’m sure you’ve heard about it by now. And in case you are not aware of it, what you’re reading now is actually a blog, too. Anyway, there are a lot of Pinoy bloggers out there who discuss about the Philippines, Filipinos and anything related to us. To get you started, you can go to PinoyBlog.com: The Philippines According to Blogs and read through the latest post summaries of numerous Filipino blogs out there then bookmark the blogs you like.

That’s all I have. Hopefully, you now no longer need to rely on a loved one’s phone call from the Philippines to be up-to-date with what’s hot and what’s not back home.

WARNING: Using audio streaming or watching video from the Internet causes you to download a steady stream of bytes per second. So if you are watching a 60-minute video feed that is transmitting at 100kb per second, you will have downloaded a total of 360Mb after watching the video feed! So, do not do this in your office specially if they have download restrictions in place as you may get into a world of trouble. Instead, get a fast broadband connection with at least an allowed 10 Gb download limit per month and just do this at home.

Published in: on May 21, 2005 at 11:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Melbourne’s Migrant Visa Online

Today, in the free MX newspaper (May 12, 2005) was a short article titled “Working on online visa” where it was stated that the State Government of Victoria (where Melbourne is located) is now “offering Australia’s first online visa applications in a push to attract more skilled migrants to live and work in the state.”

Unfortunately, MX doesn’t have an online version of their articles so I couldn’t point you to the article I was referring to. Fortunately, the newspaper The Age‘s website also picked up on the same news. You can read the full article here if you like. Note though that you have to register (it’s free so don’t worry) before you can read the article.

So, if you are thinking of migrating to another country, why don’t you give Australia (Melbourne in particular) a go. Visit the Sponsorship Applications page in the Live in Victoria website where you can determine online if you are eligible for the State/Territory Nominated Independent (STNI) Visa Sponsorship.

Skills currently in demand include electricians, mechanics, engineers, builders, nurses, pharmacists, cooks, lawyers (solicitors), teachers and even hairdressers. There is a full list of Skills in Demand in the website for more details.

If you’re planning to migrate abroad, forget the US and forget Canada. Come on over to Melbourne, Australia instead.

Published in: on May 12, 2005 at 8:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Getting Around Melbourne

So you decided to visit or migrate to Melbourne. But what is the best way to get around Melbourne when I get there, you may ask. I don’t know about the “best” way but I can only tell you how Raquel and I get around Melbourne. This could very well be the most efficient and cheapest way but we really cannot be absolutely sure as we’ve only been in Melbourne for less than a year, after all.

From Melbourne Airport to the CBD

Let’s start at the Melbourne Airport (for both International and Domestic flights) where a foreign visitor or migrant will most likely enter Melbourne. You have three ways of getting to the city from here and unfortunately, one of them is not by train — unlike in Sydney. You can choose from among the following methods of transportation: get a taxi, rent a car or get on a Skybus bus.

We always take the Skybus. It’s a 20-minute bus trip to Spencer St in the Melbourne CBD and there’s only a 15-minute wait in-between bus arrivals at the terminal. It’s reasonably priced at $24 for adults for a return ticket (if you intend to return to the airport within a year’s time) and $13 one-way to the city (or one-way to the airport from the city). It has ample space for your luggage, too.

If you take the taxi, it will be a 30-minute ride that will probably cost you around $35 to $40, one way. A taxi ride can only be justified if there are four of you sharing the fare with no intention of returning to the airport within a year ($13 x 4 = $52 vs. $40). Another justification for a cab is when you don’t know where your hotel is in the city and a cab can take you at your hotel’s doorstep. But it may still be cheaper to get on the Skybus and just get a taxi or tram at Spencer St to get to your hotel in the CBD.

The last option is to rent a car. Unless you intend to visit some far-flung area in Victoria or some place inaccessible by public transportation, I wouldn’t recommend it. When you rent a car, you better be used to driving a right-hand drive car and driving on the left side of the road. You’d also have to know about the weird hook turns they use in the CBD itself. You might as well be aware of the other road rules here. Another thing you have to worry about is the Citylink pass which is an electronic tag for cars to automatically pay for Citylink highway fares. In short, don’t get a car if you’re just going to be going to be around the CBD or in areas that are accessible to trains, trams and buses.

Get a Map

Now, let’s say you took my advice and got on the Skybus to Melbourne. On the ride to Melbourne, the bus will show a short 10-15 minute video guide to Melbourne programme. The video will give you an idea of what to expect in Melbourne which is very helpful to newcomers. At the front of the bus, there’s also a rack of touristy brochures. Be sure to pick up the Official Visitors Guide Me!bourne (yes, the exclamation point was intentional) which is for free.

“The Official Visitors’ Guide is a practical tool designed to provide visitors to Melbourne with a comprehensive understanding of the things to see and do. The guide is produced quarterly showcasing the four distinct seasons of Melbourne and complementing Tourism Victoria’s and City of Melbourne’s tactical tourism marketing campaigns.”

— Destination Melbourne Website

Here are, I think, the more important aspects of this guide apart from what you can see and do in Melbourne:

  • A map of the CBD in the centre fold.
  • A non-detailed map showing Greater Melbourne and the location of the popular precincts.
  • Route maps of the Melbourne Train Network and Melbourne Tram Network which will be very important if you intend to use the train and tram services extensively in Melbourne.
  • Also, discount coupons at the back of the booklet.

If you are going to be in Melbourne for only a short period of time, then the maps on this guide should be sufficient. With it, you’ll be able to find your way around the CBD without problems. The tram and train network maps will help you choose which lines you need to catch to get to a particular destination.

However, if you are going to be here for the long haul or to travel to some obscure out-of-the-way area in Melbourne and Victoria, you probably need to buy yourself a bonafide map book as soon as possible. The most popular Melbourne map book is called Melway at around $45.95 at a newsagent (newspaper and magazine store or stall) or bookshop. It’s so popular that when an address is listed on a real estate property, the Melway map reference code is used to pinpoint the property’s location.

It’s a bit on the expensive side though. Also, if you are going to be doing most of your roaming on foot, carrying a big and heavy Melway map book may not be such a good idea. You can instead opt to buy the $15-$20 Melbourne Compact Street Directory. It’s small, light and handy. It does not pack as much details as Melway but it should be detailed enough to get you around Greater Melbourne. This was the map book I had when I was apartment hunting without a car around Melbourne.

Taking Trams and Trains

Melbourne has a pretty good public transportation system with a lot of trains, trams and buses with routes in and around Melbourne. I cannot talk much about public buses though as Raquel and I seldom use them. The public transportation we use the most is the train, followed by the tram.

To ride on a train, tram or bus, you only need to purchase one ticket called a Metcard and you’d be able to ride any of the mentioned public transportations. The ticket is limited by zones, though, so make sure you purchase a Metcard for the zone you intend to go to. If you only plan to travel in or near the CBD, then a Zone 1 ticket should be enough. Note that on a weekend, a Weekly or a Monthly ticket will allow you to travel to Zone 2 and 3 even if you only have a Zone 1 ticket. Buy the ticket that’s suitable for the duration of your stay.

Here is the cost of a Zone 1 Metcard for Adults (discounted for non-adults including elderly):

  • 2 Hour: $3.10 ($1.80)
  • Daily: $5.90 ($3.10)
  • 10 x 2 Hour: $25.90 (12.80)
  • 5 x Daily: $25.90 (12.80)
  • Daily 5 Pack Weekly: $25.90 (12.80)
  • Weekly: $25.90 (12.80)
  • Monthly: $95.90 ($48.30)
  • Yearly: $1,026

For more details regarding the types of Metcards and costs, go to the Metlink Metcard fares/zones page.

You can purchase a Metcard from the train station terminals, ticket vending machines at some major tram stops and inside the trams themselves (but you must carry exact change) and bus drivers.

The train and tram routes in the Visitor’s Guide will help you find which tram or train line you need to catch to get to your destination. Details about the tram route (like the timetable and stops) could usually be found at the actual tram stop along its route. Unfortunately, some stops have been vandalised so the timetable would be missing from that stop.

As for trains, the train terminals usually have an automated board or screen monitors that will tell you from what platform you need to board and what time the train will come. Take note though that the platform number sometimes change at the last minute. Listen closely to announcements to learn about platform changes. The announcer will also let you know if a train has been delayed or cancelled.

If a tram and train both go through the same area you wanted to visit, which should you take? Well, it depends. Trains, once it leaves the platform, would get to the destination faster — at about half the time it takes a tram to get there. Train stations are also clearly marked so you will definitely know when you are where you need to go to when you get there. Whereas in a tram, unless you are already familiar with your destination, you might miss your intended stop.

Since trams also share the road with other road vehicles, it would also be subjected to the same traffic conditions as cars. But at least, you get to see more of the city through a tram. Another reason to take a tram is that although a train would get to a place faster, time in-between trains can be as long as 30 to 40 minutes apart during off-peak hours.

The City Circle Tram

There is another tram service that runs in Melbourne called The City Circle Tram. It’s a free service (no Metcards required) that circles the CBD perimeter. It should be easy to spot (and hear) as it looks like an antiquated noisy red tram with the words City Circle written on its sides.

“To catch the free City Circle Tram service, just wait at any of the specially marked stops on the route. Trams run in both directions every ten minutes, seven days a week between 10.00 am and 6.00 pm (except Christmas Day and Good Friday), and during daylight saving extended hours, 10.00 am-9.00 pm every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.”

–Metlink City Circle site

Most of the major tourist attractions in the CBD is a short walk away from a City Circle Tram stop so if you plan to have city tour for a day, you can save yourself a Daily Metcard purchase by just hopping on board a City Circle Tram instead.


Of course, if you need to get to somewhere you are unfamiliar with real quick, there’s always the taxi. There are numerous taxi ranks in the CBD. So if you find yourself unable to hail a taxi on the city streets, walk to the nearest taxi rank where a taxi will most likely be waiting for passengers. Or if you cannot find the nearest taxi rank, you can always call up the taxi service whose numbers should be at the back of the Visitor’s Guide booklet.

Though they may be expensive, from my experience, taxi drivers here could be trusted not to lead you around in circles just to get more fare out of you. In fact, if he got himself lost, he usually just pauses the meter while he finds his way around. And as far as I know, you do not need to tip the taxi driver but a good tip is always appreciated.

Far Flung Places

There are other notable places of interest outside of Melbourne such as Ballarat (Sovereign Hill), The Great Ocean Road and Phillip Island (to see the penguins) and the best way to get to these areas is through a tourist bus service. Two such services (I forgot their names) can be found along Swanston St near Bourke St. They would have their brochures in the Skybus anyway, so be sure to get one if you intend to go to regional Victoria.

Well, that’s it. I hope the information I laid out here would be of great help to anybody planning to visit or stay in Melbourne.

Published in: on May 10, 2005 at 12:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

How I avoided taking the IELTS exam

A reader recently sent in a question regarding the necessity of taking the International English Language Testing System(IELTS) exam in connection to her family’s plan of migrating to Australia. Referring to the information on skilled migration from Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs website, it states that

Language assessment
The visa applicant may need to sit an IELTS test to demonstrate the English language ability of you/your spouse.

Note the words used, may need, meaning it may not be necessary in some cases. How would an applicant know if they need to take this exam before lodging their application?

In my case, I wanted to avoid the extra time, cost and effort that sitting an exam would require so I gathered all my other documents in an envelope and trudged to the Australian embassy in Makati. My intention was to prove that although I may not have an excellent grasp of the language, I am at least conversant in it. I mean, come on, every Filipino who has at least passed high school would have a passable grasp of the language. Well, turned out the lady behind the information desk wasn’t even interested in my other documentation nor is she inclined to have me prove to her that I don’t need to take the exam. In response to the question of how I could avoid taking the IELTS exam, she told me to get a letter from my university stating that the main language of instruction while I was studying there was English. I remember I was really incredulous so I asked again, I only need to produce this piece of paper from my school and I don’t have to sit this exam anymore? She looked at me like I’m some weird creature from outer space and said yes. Ok, end of discussion.

Still dubious that I could get this sort of certification from my university, I went there the following weekend and braced myself for more odd looks after asking for the letter from the registrar. Imagine my surprise when she calmly asked me how many copies I want, asked me to pay the cashier and told me to come back after a week. A week later and I went back to the registrar for my letter. Well, what do you know, I received an official looking letter with the university’s letterhead and seal, stating that English is indeed being used within the university as the main language of instruction.

When tht time came for me lodge my application, I included this letter to my other papers, thinking that I could always take the IELTS exam later if they so wish. True, going through this route may have delayed the processing of my application but I guess I thought it was a reasonable risk. Besides, the lady in the information desk assured me I won’t have any problems once I have this letter.

So, that’s the story of how I avoided taking the IELTS exam, the immigration department never asked me to take the exam. A word of caution though, if you plan on going through this same route, better check with the local Australian embassy if they still allow this. Remember that my experience was from 4 years ago and the rules may have already changed.

Published in: on April 28, 2005 at 12:33 am  Comments (4)  

Migrating to Australia

The bag that houses my personal documents is getting noticeably fatter so I went through it with the intention of weeding out the unnecessary and outdated ones. Going through those papers is like going through time though and I got distracted when I chanced upon some of my documentation while I was going through the application process of migrating here over four years ago.

Looking at the timeline below, notice that the whole process took me nearly 1.5 years to complete. It doesn’t sound like much now but it sure felt like a lifetime while I was going through it. There was also this 8-month gap between my medical exam and receiving the letter informing me that my application has been approved. There is no correspondence whatsoever from the embassy during this time and I was getting impatient so I called up the embassy thrice, always getting the same answer – No decision on (my) application yet. Not terribly helpful nor informative but I suppose there’s not much else they could tell me about the progress of my application either.

Fast forward four years and here we are, with you reading this entry created by me here in Australia, home to me for almost three years now. It took awhile but as they say, all’s well that ends well. There’s currently a lot of noise about the need for more skilled migrants so hopefully this entry gives you a picture of how it could go. Remember though that this information is more than 4 years old now and it’s best to check the immigration website for the latest policies, fees/rates and timing.

Date Comment
Dec 20, 2000 Left for Australia on a tourist visa (for a vacation and to see how living in Australia would be like – Could I see myself living here long-term?)
Jan 03, 2001 Soul-searching done. Australia looked like a very good place to be so I took the first step towards applying for migration by submitting my documentation & fee to the Australian Computer Society(ACS) for Recognition of Prior Learning(RPL) assessment. The assessing body responsible for assessing your qualification depends on which industry you belong to so check the Australian immigration website for more information.
Feb 07, 2001 Date on letter received from ACS declaring my qualifications as suitable for migration
Feb 20, 2001 Acquired an Independent Skilled Migration application booklet from Australian embassy in Makati (Cost: P250)
Mar 15, 2001 Lodged migration application form with all necessary documentation to the Australian embassy in Makati (Cost: P27,900)
Mar 20, 2001 Date on letter received from embassy confirming receipt of my application. File reference number contained in this letter.
Jul 24, 2001 Date on letter received from embassy informing me to undergo medical examination. This letter also listed the documents I need to bring to the exam with me plus a document stating the guidelines for the medical exam and a list of clinics/doctors that are qualified to perform the exam.
Aug 13, 2001 Visa medical examination done at a clinic in Makati (Cost: P1,500)
Apr 24, 2002 Date on letter received from the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs informing me that my visa has been granted on the condition that I land on Australia before Aug 11, 2002.
Jun 22, 2002 Attended a seminar conducted by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas in order to have a sticker pasted into my passport attesting that I have indeed attended this seminar. I was told by their office that I wouldn’t be allowed by the customs official at the Philippine airport to leave if I don’t have this sticker stuck in my passport. I was expecting this to be a waste of time and money but actually had fun chatting with the other immigrants heading for different parts of the world. The session also gives the attendees some tips on packing, what to expect and settling in a new country; overall a good experience.
Jul 19, 2002 Arrived at Sydney airport


Published in: on April 15, 2005 at 8:15 pm  Comments (5)  

Job hunting in Australia

Gabriel and I recently received an email from one of the bosses of a company we’ve worked in when we were still in the Philippines. He said that another employee of the company has resigned from the company and would be moving to Australia soon. Perhaps we could help her settle here by giving her some tips? Gabriel sent her an email introducing himself, offering any help we may give her given that she would be landing in Sydney while we’re here in Melbourne. She replied back and asked the usual questions regarding information on local customs, things to bring and most importantly, job-hunting.

Which reminds me to the time when I first landed here, worried of not finding a job. It took me nearly 3 months to find my first job. I later found out from friends that three months is the average time for other Filipinos in my industry to find work too. To some, a quarter of a year may not seem too long to find employment but for someone like me who has never had a gap of more than two weeks between jobs, it’s pretty scary. By the end of the second month, I was ready to be a Kingsley’s (fast food) store attendant. I even filled in an application form and anxiously waited for them to contact me. When they did, it was in the form of a “Sorry but…” letter. I guess I lack the experience they wanted since I wasn’t able to put in anything in the related relevant experience section of the application.

Anyway, to be successful at finding work here, make sure you’re in the country on a valid visa first. Although I’ve known of some lucky people who were sponsored by recruitment agencies from their home countries, that was all before the technology bubble burst. I haven’t heard of anyone who was sponsored to come here after year 2000. To learn about your options in coming here to work, visit the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs website.

Once you get your visa and have a target arrival date, it’s time to visit the job sites to announce your availability to prospective employers. Some popular job sites are Seek, MyCareer, CareerOne and JobNet. Most, if not all, of these sites feature a free service where you could sign up for regular email updates to be sent directly to your mailbox when new jobs meeting your search criteria are posted in the site. Be quick in sending in your resume once you get the email since some jobs could be withdrawn once they get a lot of responses.

One thing to know about the job adversitements is that some job openings are advertised in multiple sites by multiple recruitment agencies. Unlike employers in the Philippines who handle their recruitment themselves, a popular option here is for a hiring company to outsource the recruitment process to a recruitment agency (sometimes to multiple agencies).

This means account managers from different agencies are given the job specifications, who then advertise for the position in different job sites and wait for the applications to pour in. Once they’ve weeded out the resumes of those who lack the qualifications/skills needed by the position, they’d shortlist the ones who do have the skills. At this point, the job applicant may get a preliminary phone interview from the account manager or even be requested to go to an actual interview in their office. Note that this is only an interview with the account manager, he/she is not the employer and may only have a limited knowledge of the job advertised or the company that would do the actual hiring.

If your interview with the account manager goes well, your name would be included in an even shorter list that would then be submitted to the employer who would now decide whom to interview. From this point on, the recruitment process is similar to that of interviewing with an employer who hires people directly. Although you’ve made it this far, it is not a guarantee that you’ll get an offer of employment. You still have to impress the employer with your interview skills and job know-how/experience.

I’ve had some experience with account managers and although I’ve gotten to the employer interview step several times, I’ve never gotten a job through them. One account manager even got my hopes up by repeatedly pressuring me to commit to an earlier start date and then leaving me out to dry. He didn’t even have the courtesy of informing me that I wasn’t chosen for the job. Poof, he simply vanished and didn’t return my calls. I got the idea.

There are still companies who do their own advertising, sifting through resumes, interviewing and finally, hiring. However, the majority of advertised jobs out there go through the agencies so be forewarned. You may even get a sense of deja vu when going through job ads from different sites, that’s because the advertisements are identical in the different sites posted by various agencies! A method that has worked for me is keeping a list of the company name, positions and the contact person’s name/address in a notebook.

Anyway, this post is getting long so I’ll stop there. I might get into applying for jobs in the public sector and other tips in my next post but don’t hold your breath!

Published in: on February 23, 2005 at 9:31 pm  Comments (2)