Tom’s going down under!

It’s been a while since I last posted anything here, but that’s because I’ve been busy. My family and I are relocating to Australia from the UK and we’ve been making all the necessary preparations. This post is a bit of a digest of all the things that are happening, some observations about the process of applying for a job overseas, and finally some teasers for future blog posts.

In August my fiance will start her new job in Melbourne, Australia. That’s about as far from our Cambridgeshire, UK home as its possible to get. It’s a great opportunity for us, but not without its challenges.

My current employer and I did have discussions about trying to make the 9 hour time difference work, but in the end I’ve decided to part company. My last day at IT Governance Ltd / GRC International Group plc (long story…) will be the 4th of June.

One consequence of this is that (a version of) my job is now being advertised. If you’re in commutable distance to Ely and fancy helping a really interesting company to sustain their current explosion of growth, this might be a great opportunity for you! There are loads of other jobs too, so if you’re in the market, take a look.

Hire me?

Of course, when one door closes, another one is opened – I’m currently engaged in some intercontinental job hunting. If you’re hiring .NET developers / developer analysts in Melbourne currently, you might be interested in:

If you like what you see, please get in touch and we can find out whether it would be a good fit.

My top 5 challenges of overseas job hunting

Anyway, with that shameless plug out of the way, I thought I’d share some of the challenges I’ve encountered. It turns out that finding a job on the other side of the world is really tough! Here are my top 5:

  1. Visas. Australia is in the process of moving to a new system of working visas and it’s difficult to find information about the new options. In our case, it turns out that my fiance’s visa will allow me to work too, but her new employer had to spend several weeks researching whether this would be the case. My situation may be a bit unusual, but I think general visa worries are pretty common for people looking for jobs overseas, so it stays on the list.
  2. Not knowing the local “scene”. In the UK – and specifically in East Anglia – I’ve got a pretty good grasp on which companies I’d want to work for. I’ve also got some recruiters I trust. It just comes naturally from living and working here. Attending meetups doesn’t hurt either. I have none of those connections in Australia. I didn’t even know which job sites to use. (Tip: and LinkedIn seem to be the ones…) Starting from nothing is pretty disconcerting, but you do eventually get a bit of a feel for things.
  3. Lack of a face-to-face connection. When applying for a job nearby, the interview will always involve one (or often more) face-to-face components. None of that applies when applying overseas. I’ve had some Skype conversations, which really aren’t the same, but mostly it’s been phone calls. Skype/phone interviews require a different set of skills to a face-to-face (in my opinion) and mastering this takes practice.
  4. Timezones. It’s hard enough trying to make time for interviews, interview prep, coding tests, etc., without having to worry about timezones. They just make everything more complex. In my case, I have a toddler, a dog and a partner who does shift work, so scheduling has to be pretty creative!
  5. Knowing your worth. Here in the UK, I know what I’m worth. I know what salary and benefits package is appropriate and I’m not afraid to be upfront about this when I’m interviewing. Naively, I had assumed I’d just convert the value of my UK salary and ask for that. Nope! Way off. “OK, so let’s look at comparative salaries… Wait, what’s a ‘super’?” The problem is that salaries and benefits aren’t internationally universal, so it’s really worth trying to speak to a local to gauge what to look for.

Playing with new technologies

On the plus side, engaging in a variety of interview processes has been an opportunity for technical growth. I’ve really enjoyed doing a range of coding challenges. Through this process, I’ve had cause to play with a couple of new technologies. Notable among these are UWP (Universal Windows Platform) and Azure Functions. The former was massively out of my comfort zone, but my experience with WPF helped. The latter was right up my street and I can see myself using them for all sorts of things going forward. Expect blog posts on both these topics in the coming weeks.

Looking ahead

I should apologise for being so quiet online recently. Both my blog and ConTabs have suffered in recent months. I’m going to try to rectify this in the coming weeks. In fact, it’ll have to be in the next few weeks, because in mid-June I’ll be going off-grid for 6 weeks, as I travel with my family to Malaysia. Once I get back online, it will be from Melbourne!

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