My post ‘registration as a psychologist when moving abroad’ (https://pascaleparadis.org/2016/08/17/registration-as-a-psychologist-when-moving-abroad/) has been very popular and reached over 600 people from many countries. Many explained it really reflected their experience, others said it really helped them understand the process in a more detailed way as little information seems to be out there. This post led to psychologists from different countries contacting me via email. Exchanges helped identifying a need to support other psychologists coming to Australia. As a group, we created group on Facebook which aims to support psychologists navigating the complexities of registration and cultural systems in Australia. It also helped create a safe environment to air concerns and frustrations as well as gaining the support of colleagues who have gone through the same experience. Through this group and via emails I received, a number of psychologists have asked how to gain employment in Australia. I found this difficult myself so I thought I would put some key points here which I think have helped me through the process.
- Registering through Job Search Engines: I found a number of search engines which I then registered with to receive automatic emails. The main search engines I found relevant are: Jora, APS Psychxchange, Australia Joob24, Jobrapido, Chloe at Adzuna. I also went to regularly check on the Education Department website and registered with the Catholic Education job search. This way I was able to get to know the job market, read job descriptions to identify what I wanted to do or not.
- Eye catching up to date CV and writing job applications: Make sure that your CV will stand out from the others, by either adding some creative elements, colours, images. Also, make sure your CV really captures the language that is used in the job description to ground it in the Australian context. I sent a number of CVs to local schools, private practices, etc. and made phone calls to a number of agencies. If people came back to me with a ‘no, sorry’, I asked whether they knew of organisations who may be able to help. On many occasions, I did not hear from the employer following interview. I ensured I followed up and wrote an email requesting feedback. In your job applications, make sure you know how to apply. For example, many employers in Australia, ask for an introductory letter, a CV and a selection criteria document (where you have to go through each selection and justify how you meet these). You may want to ask someone to help you understand how to write these.
- Talking to people, networking and making connections: I was surprised to find that making connections and networking is particularly important. Not all jobs are advertised. Word of mouth, networking, being invited to join groups, etc. can help getting known. Be prepared to explain what you are looking for and be confident in explaining requirements for the internship you need to do. Employers may find requirements daunting and may be reluctant to employ someone who just arrived in the country and need to gain registration. If you know what you have to go through and explain it confidently, you are more likely to market yourself. For example, I printed off requirements for the transitional program and created a booklet I could show employers. As part of the transitional program/internships to registration, you will need to find a supervisor. You can do that on the AHPRA website through the supervisor search engine. When writing to supervisors, send your CV, ask them where they see you and whether they have ideas where you should look.
- Think about your skills and strengths and maximise these: Connect with organisations where you are most likely to have many skills in common in terms of your approach as a psychologist, previous employment or research topics/specialisms. Make sure these skills are particularly highlighted on your CV and reiterated on your letter or email to them. Make sure you link your values to the ones of the organisation. Targeting organisations where my skills were considered as unique and in line with the organisation’s values has worked well for me. This is how I managed to find opportunities.
- Research organisations in the area. Many organisations and agencies employ psychologists so look at all possibilities such as non-profit organisations, schools, department of education, hospitals, private practices, universities. There are many programs supporting mental health in Australia such as Beyond Blue, Headspace and other organisation such as Oz Child, Anglicare, Salvocare who offer family and community support so these specific organisations may offer a range of opportunities.
- Key areas to look for: There is a mix of employment arrangements in Australia such as salaried, contractor, sole trader, own business. Remember that psychologists with provisional registration status cannot be sole trader, contractor or have their own business, and must be in a salaried role. When looking for employment, you may want to think carefully about the following: supervision arrangements, personal development budget and opportunities, access to resources and assessments, networking groups, team meetings, possibilities for career progression and leadership opportunities. These aspects may influence your decisions as it can be costly in time and course fees to access all the above as a sole trader. Remember that once registered you must adhere to the AHPRA’s personal development requirements of 30 hours a year which also includes supervision. Supervision can cost between $150-170 per session so if supervision can be accessed within the organisation that can be considered as a plus. Many internships are offered but as a volunteer so again the above can make a big difference to reduce costs. All the above can also make a difference between a conscientious and supportive employer who will then want to stay for a longer period of time.
- Social media sites: Ensure your profiles are up to date and try to connect with psychologists in the area through LinkedIn or Facebook pages. In Australia, there are a number of Facebook page groups for provisional psychologists/early career psychologists. We also set up the UK/Overseas psychologists in Australia page for support. Ask questions, get your name in these groups, ask for support and possible employers. Job opportunities are often posted in these groups.
- Be creative and innovative: To put an internship or transitional program together, you may need to be creative. You are allowed to combine a number of employers to make up your hours so it may be that you accept a range of different work opportunities. Be confident in your skills and think outside the box to market your skills and strengths. Persistence, determination and resilience are also key skills as you may experience a few knock backs which will require you to bounce back a few times!
All the best in your new adventures and hope this will help give some guidance…