How to apply for a job interstate in Australia

By Robert Half on 19 November 2021
Estimated Read Time: 5 minutes

Despite disruptions by COVID-19, many people across the country are now seizing new employment opportunities beyond their local borders.

According to the ABS, interstate migration increased by 19% comparing the first quarters of 2020 and 2021. The popularity of moving interstate for work was also confirmed by the Australian Government’s Why Do People Move? report, which found that around 30% of interstate moves happen for employment reasons.

Related: Good reasons to consider working in Australia

To ensure you’re looking at the most relevant, competitive roles in your field, and that you submit a compelling application, there are several things to keep in mind as you decide to apply for a job interstate.

Before you apply for a job interstate, it’s important you’re clear on the career benefits but also risks of such a move. The opportunities and risks will vary greatly between individuals, so we recommend starting this journey with a simple exercise of mapping out the pros and cons.

How to effectively search for a job interstate

Once you’ve decided an interstate move is on the cards, it can be hard to get a detailed understanding of the employment landscape by merely searching online. So, we recommend working with local recruitment agencies, especially those who specialise in your line of work. Look for talent solutions firms, such as Robert Half who can run specialised and location-specific job searches in areas like finance and accounting, technology, business support, HR, and marketing.

It’s also important to keep an eye on job boards, such as SEEK and Indeed, and set up alerts for work in the field and location you’re hoping to apply for a job interstate in. Keep these focused so that you’re not having to wade through roles that aren’t of interest or suitable to your career.

Related: Is it time for a career change?

Lastly, make sure you notify your personal and professional networks that you’re exploring work in another state or territory. Use all communication modes available to you - send personal emails, jump on the phone to contacts new and old, and be sure to use online platforms. While LinkedIn is the obvious starting point, there are also many groups and forums on most social media channels that share up-to-date information about work opportunities in various states and territories.

When you’re ready to apply for a job interstate

So you’ve engaged local recruiters and refined online searches showing you potential new opportunities in the desired state, and you’re ready to apply. Here are some tips on what to do:

Be upfront about the reasons why you want to work in another state

  • Detail the reasons in your cover letter when submitting your application.
  • If no cover letter is required, send an email to the hiring manager saying why you’re eager to work interstate.
  • If you don’t address these reasons from the start, you risk being overlooked for local talent.
  • When stating your motivations, we say honesty is always the best policy.

Related: How to find the right job

Tailor your resume to the job

  • This is true for all job applications, but even more important if you’re based in another state.
  • Focus on how your skills and experiences make you the best candidate for the role, providing specific examples of how you’ve met and exceeded expectations.
  • Where roles include location-specific elements, such as building a local client base or understanding business prospects in the area, highlight the transferability of your skills and willingness to learn.

Prepare for interview questions about relocation

  • Why do you want to relocate to Sydney?
  • How long will your move to Perth take?
  • What is it about our operation in Brisbane that attracted you to the role?

These are some common questions that might come up when you apply for a job interstate. They are reasonable questions, and part of an employer getting to understand your motivations for moving. Here are four key things to consider when responding to questions about your relocation:

  1. Focus on the career opportunities that the new state or territory has
  2. Show your commitment to the new place, being clear on what you want to achieve from taking on work in another state or territory
  3. Talk about your adaptability and willingness to try new things, if possible, citing examples of how you’ve effectively moved into new roles and contexts in the past
  4. Be clear in your head if this is a short or longer-term move and explain that in your interview

Related: Finding the right cultural fit

Aim for in-person interviews

  • Phone interviews are increasingly common as a result of the pandemic, but if you’re able to go to the location of the organisation and meet a prospective employer in-person, let them know when applying.
  • If there are several interview rounds planned, politely request your interviews be grouped together so you can attend more of them in-person.
  • Discussions about relocation costs are best had once you’re further through the interview process, when you’re closer to landing the job.
  • Raising this topic early in the application process might negatively impact your chances of securing the role.

If the interview is however carried out over video, make sure you’re prepared for the video interview format.

Working remotely, a game changer

  • Since the pandemic and the collective move to remote or hybrid work for many workforces across Australia, an increasing number of employers are considering remote talent from other states without the need to physically move.
  • Speak with a Robert Half consultant to enquire about any roles that may fit this criterion.
  • While more companies are open to hiring remote talent, with state and international borders opening up, an employer may eventually want that person to work in or closer to their office.

Related: Personal branding to get a new job

Follow up and maintain strong relationships

Whether you secure a role quickly or it takes time, be sure to stay in touch with the recruitment agencies and local networks you've developed after you apply for a job interstate.

Expanded networks are always assets for your career, and are likely to be useful as you take your next steps up the career ladder.

Check out our available jobs in Australia, from Perth to Sydney, Brisbane to Melbourne.

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