Pros and cons of your Working Holiday maker status
Can your status in Australia be a problem for potential employers or is it an asset in your job search?
Pros of being a WHV holder
- Backpackers with a WHV are excited to discover Australia, eager to fit in and happy to experience something new. Most don’t have high expectations and they don’t mind repetitive tasks, “boring” jobs or entry-level positions. They generally don’t have childcare obligations so they can handle non-standard work hours. Basically, backpackers are seen as flexible employees and a solution to labour shortage, especially for fruit picking jobs.
- WHV are less knowledgeable about their workplace rights. How is it an asset? Some employees assume that you will show up for the job, complete it and move on without creating issues or complaining. Now, we’re not suggesting you should accept farm work exploitation (read the chapter Typical fruit picking horror stories and how to avoid these situations!). Know your rights and have them enforced. But if potential employers think you’re less trouble than the average Aussie student, just go with it!
- Most WHV holders want a pay cheque, not promotions, paid sick days, maternity leave or the best super around. Many of them are casual employees and they are okay with this status—show up, do the work, get paid. Employers basically get to have the job done without HR or entitlements headache.
Cons of being a WHV holder
- For skilled work opportunities, the fact that you can’t work for more than six months for the same employer can be a huge turnoff. There’s a lot of red tape if your employer wants to keep you as an employee, including sponsoring you for another type of temporary or permanent visa. However, some employers may need to fill a six-month gap for whatever reason, so don’t hesitate to apply for positions in your field.
- Employers may feel it’s not worth training you because ultimately, you’re not going to stay with them (and in Australia). They may also feel you’re not accountable or invested enough because all you want is to travel and party. However, this kind of attitude isn’t that common because backpacker culture is very established in Australia and chances are, you’re not seen as an irresponsible hippie. If you feel a potential employer is a bit reluctant to give you a chance, it’s up to you to explain you will commit to the job (for a little while, anyway!).