Perhaps you’ve never heard of Darwin – it’s the capital city of the Northern Territory of Australia. As of my last update in 2021, this bustling city was home to a diverse community of over 132,000 residents, making it the most populated city in the territory. Known for its tropical climate, Darwin cycles through distinct wet and dry seasons.
Don’t be mistaken by the term ‘diverse community of over 132,000 people’; this city carries the quaint charm of a town. It’s an ideal refuge for those seeking peace due to its low population, well-managed traffic, top-notch facilities, and clean environment. Simultaneously, it’s a thriving tourist hub, brimming with bars, pubs, events, and activities. You often feel that everyone in this city knows each other – much like in a countryside community.
However, due to the relatively small population, job offerings can be sparse except within the hospitality sector during the Dry season. A job search in this city, Charles Darwin NT 0820, might yield between 4-10 jobs, depending on your luck and the popularity of your chosen field. As a Graphic Designer and Marketing Officer, I focus my search on “Graphic Design” and “Marketing” roles.
Unfolding My Job Application Strategy
“I arrived in Darwin, NT, on the 5th of May, 2023, and as of today, the 20th of May, I’ve spent two weeks getting acquainted with this vibrant territory. These 15 days have allowed me to immerse myself in the local lifestyle, seize various opportunities, and receive job offers. However, as I’ve already noted, it wasn’t a walk in the park.
I prepared my CV, portfolio, and LinkedIn profile painstakingly, casting a wide net across numerous job portals like Seek, Jora, and LinkedIn Work. The response, unfortunately, was underwhelming. The grim status of ‘Unlikely to progress’ greeted me repeatedly. Half the potential employers dispatched automated rejection emails, while the rest maintained an unsettling silence.
After a week of online applications and little progress, I shifted my strategy. I printed copies of my CV and decided to make my case in person. I was determined to contact all the companies I’d previously contacted online.
(For those curious, you can check out my online CV here.)
Indeed, personally delivering your CV can create a more significant impact. It allows for direct interaction and potentially increases your chances of landing a job.
The first stop on my in-person job hunt was the largest construction company in Northern Australia, boasting what I believe is the city’s fanciest office. I won’t deny it – nerves kicked in. Nevertheless, I had the opportunity to hand my CV to a member of their Marketing department. I wasn’t as lucky in some other firms, merely leaving my CV at the reception desk. It felt like a waste of time, but I’ll explain why it wasn’t entirely so later.
However, as you may have already guessed, the silence continued. No calls, no email responses. Just a daunting quiet.
Exploring Alternative Paths: My Other Solution
As a naturally confident person, I felt sure about my skills and ability to impress potential employers. However, after a week of relentless trying, I grappled with many thoughts.
Yet, giving up wasn’t an option, not for me (as I suspect for many of you). To keep the ball rolling, I decided to steer my efforts towards casual jobs in hospitality – coffee shops, events, and the like. As mentioned earlier, these industries boom during the Dry Season. Drop off your CV at a few places, and you’re bound to get a call. They need you as much as you need them.
I dipped my toes into hospitality as a Pastry Chef for Mamma’s Kitchen NT in Coolalinga. I mastered crafting toasties, pastries, desserts, bread, and other delicious baked goods there. The experience was priceless. I also got my first taste of being a dishwasher, waiter, and barista (Yes, I’m a certified Barista!).
Hey, do you see it? I know how to make them after a trial like this:
However, the reality of the work came to light when they let me go after my trial period, saying they had found a woman already skilled in the necessary tasks. That was a setback, but I viewed it positively – a bump in the road rather than a dead end. I told myself to keep trying.
The next day, I discovered a job on Airtasker titled: ‘Looking for Cuong H. – Bar/Wait Staff, Event 5.00 PM 13 May 2023,’ offering $150 for three hours of work – quite an enticing offer.
I sent a direct message to the poster, highlighting my experience in hospitality as a Pastry Chef and Waiter and mentioning that I hold an RSA. I tactfully omitted the part about being let go after my trial (some secrets are worth keeping). To my delight, I was hired for the job the next day.
Dressed entirely in black as per hospitality staff requirements, I made my way to the event, ready to step into this new opportunity.
The event occurred at the Visitor and Event Center, nestled in the serene Botanic Garden. I was given the helm of everything drink-related – wine, juice, water, and cocktails. I must admit, I was initially at sea. How does one make a Mojito in a Jar or the perfect Gin and Tonic? And local Australian wine brands? They were as alien to me as Martian script. But, like any good adventure, it took me a while to understand and master the landscape.
The event primarily offered two things: delightful drinks and enticing Uber Food. This resulted in a constant stream of guests at my bar, allowing me to interact with everyone at the event. At times, I circulated trays of appetizers among the guests – my debut as a waiter, a role I never thought I’d find myself in. Yet, it brought me immense satisfaction.
By the event’s close, a surprising development unfolded. Without any expectations, I received a job offer from the Event Manager.
Emerging from the event center with a job offer, I was over the moon. As I left, a customer called me over and complimented my outstanding job that day. I shared my job-seeking journey with her; she suggested volunteering could be a valuable step forward. Her perspective was that working without immediate financial reward could allow others to notice my dedication and positive attitude.
Her advice struck a chord with me. Whether it’s the key to my success or not, I don’t know yet. However, it has led me to juggle two volunteer jobs while earning my keep through freelance work in Vietnam. It’s a challenging but fulfilling journey, and I’m eager to see where it leads.
Embracing Opportunities: When Fortune Knocked on My Door
Working in hospitality opened doors for me to meet many affluent individuals, as The Botanic Garden is a favored venue for corporate and special events. These guests often include government officials, the wealthy, and celebrities. Moreover, this job offered me invaluable lessons about work ethic, beverage service, and the nature of casual employment. Above all, I was privy to exclusive event content such as the UDIA NT’s State of the Land Event (This kind of information isn’t public and is typically available only to invitees.).
However, hospitality isn’t my long-term career choice. I know I’ll need to continue searching and connecting with potential employers. There are numerous reasons why working full-time for a company would benefit both me and you, which I’ll delve into in a future post.
I decided to switch up my strategy and invested in LinkedIn Premium for a month, which allowed me to direct message key figures in companies I was keen on working for. After 3-5 days of silence, I finally received a response from a head of a Printing company, who asked to meet me at the office following her business trip to the USA.
That single message was a breakthrough for me at the time. I met with the CEO and Creative Manager, culminating in a promising job offer.
The job isn’t completely secure due to some paperwork and other issues. However, the company and I are actively working together to iron out these kinks. I remain hopeful that things will get finalized soon. Once they do, I’m excited to share more about my new career path in Darwin, NT, Australia.
Looking Ahead: My Career Vision
My new role as a Marketer will allow me to enhance the company’s image across various platforms like social media, websites, blogs, and through brand management. My responsibilities will also involve expanding the business into new regions and services. Though this is my first job with an Australian company, I’m committed to contributing my best. I’m confident that making a positive impact in this business will inevitably elevate my career and open up future opportunities.
In return, the company’s management has been incredibly supportive, enabling me to learn and adapt to the business effectively. They’ve even granted me a seat as a Sales Representative, providing a comprehensive understanding of the company’s services, production processes, pricing, and operational system.
Currently, I’m brimming with energy and eagerness to learn and improve. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me.
Wrapping Up: Reflecting on My Journey
This is my personal journey, documenting the first two weeks of my job hunt in Australia. My experiences might not reflect everyone’s, but they are my truth. I share this with you in all transparency and detail, with no stone left unturned. The hope? That my story may serve as a guide to someone who may walk in my shoes someday.
In my upcoming posts, I’ll be pulling back the curtain on my job in Darwin, the company I’m privileged to work for, the unique Aussie work culture, and much more. For now, this is where I’ll hit the pause button.
If you’ve got questions, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section below.
Thank you for joining me on this journey!”