Four Ways to Find a Job in Australia as a UK Junior Doctor in 2023
Many UK junior doctors are moving to Australia for an adventure, a better work-life balance, and better working conditions. But they often find that “landing the job” is more confusing and complicated than they had hoped for.
In particular, there's often confusion between the different paths or 'routes' that you can take to finding a job, how these work, and the pros and cons of each.
In this article, we will run through the four main routes that you can take to finding work in Australia as a junior doctor, and go over the pros and cons of each. Most doctors actually use a combination of all four!
Let’s dive in.
🙌 Route One - Applying Directly
How it works
Applying directly to hospitals is often seen as the most straightforward route of the four.
To begin, you identify which hospitals you’d like to work at and find the contact details of the recruitment team and introduce yourself with a nice cover letter and you a great, tailored CV. You explain that you're looking for work and that you're love an interview if they have any vacancies.
Read more about how to write a great CV to find work in Australia in our guide here.
The hardest part is finding the right contact details to get in touch with. Oddly, this is not as simple as it should be... You'll have to use a combination of using Google to search for “[the hospital’s name] recruitment details” or a department contact, or using Facebook groups (this one is the best) to get a recommendation.
Messly is working on a far better solution for this! Stay tuned :)
Pros of Applying Directly
🔹 This is the most popular route for doctors to find work, and so is a well-trodden path.
🔹 It does not take up a lot of time once you’ve found the hospitals’ contacts, and you can use a similar template email for all hospitals (although you should personalise your messages).
🔹 You can do it any time of the year, and you not restricted to a certain application window. State recruitment campaigns are usually for a February start (this is the start of the Australian academic year) so if you want to start in or around August (straight after finishing your F2) then this is the best route for you.
🔹 You can often end up with multiple offers to choose from, compared to the recruitment campaigns where you get a maximum of one offer from each state.
Cons of Applying Directly
🔻 It takes time to find contact details, with no great, single resource for this.
🔻 It can be hit and miss...often the hospitals don’t reply if they are not currently hiring and so you have wasted your time contacting them.
🔻 As there isn't a formal job description, you are ‘blind’ of any details about the job's rota and responsibilities (but you can discover this information later)
🔻 You have to be super organised to stay on top of the status of all your applications.
🔻 Each health service has its own style of recruiting, and interview process. That can be difficult to manage.
🔻 Sometimes you have to work around state recruitment cycles (see below). These are used these to fill the bulk of posts, including with Australian doctors, and only after this do hospitals open up to direct applications to fill the remaining gaps. So you may need to wait until this process is nearly complete so hospitals know what gaps they have. But there is no harm in making contact at anytime, and they will let you know if they want you to come back later.
✅ Be persistent and patient. It may take many messages to get a reply. Don’t get discouraged, just keep being persistent. Hustle hard!
✅ Personalised messages work the best. Take the time to adapt your email to the hospital as best you can. Include any specific details such as the department manager’s name or information about the hospital, city or state that prompted you to apply.
🙌 Route Two - State Recruitment Campaigns
How it works
State recruitment campaigns are centralised processes (similar to Oriel) that are organised by each state to manage applications for open positions. The applications run through a portal, with a set process and run to a particular timeline and schedule.
The window for applications is different for each state and varies each year, but these tend to open for applications between June and October.
To enter into these campaigns, you need to create an account, answer basic details about yourself, attach documents such as your CV and cover letter, and then rank the available jobs and hospitals from your most desired to least. Some include an in-built assessment process too.
Your application is then reviewed and you are matched to a hospital and an offer is made!
If you did not get an offer during the first round, there are often subsequent later rounds, so don’t get too discouraged if you missed out the first time.
Each state has their own portal, and the application windows and the process for applying and ranking hospitals vary significantly from state to state. Here is a breakdown of information by state:
Pros of State Recruitment Campaigns
🔹 You get access to all available jobs in the entire state with one centralised application, instead of individual cover letters, CVs, and interviews for each hospital.
🔹 There is a clear calendar of dates for interviews and when offers are given out, so the process feels more structured and reliable than applying directly when you have to keep on top of it all.
🔹 As the same process recruits a large number of doctors, who are all starting at the same time, there is good camaraderie and lots of opportunity for socialising with all the new doctors (including the Australian starters).
🔹 For the same reason, there may be better integration when you start. All the doctors starting at the same time get their inductions together, which tend to be better organised than if you are the only one starting on one particular day. When you move country, the little things like having a swipe card, functional IT logins, and a tour of the hospital before you start working are really helpful!
Cons of State Recruitment Changes
🔻 These are annual recruitment cycles and hence are predominantly advertising jobs with start dates that are in February, which is the start of the Australian academic year. Hence, if you are planning to come immediately after the completion of your F2 in August or September, you may not find an open match for that time. Applying directly gives you more flexibility.
🔻 Due to the preferencing and matching process, you are likely to only get one job offer from each state at the end of the process. You can reject the offer you get and apply again in a later round where you can rank again from the available positions that remained from the first round.
🔻 Some hospitals will want to you to either apply directly to them or have an additional interview with them on top of applying through the campaigns, which is confusing and frustrating!
✅ Get organised - don’t miss deadlines as these are fixed and non-negotiable.
✅ Make sure you jump through the hoops carefully.
✅ Prepare early so you have what you need in advance. This varies by state but might include details of referees, EPIC account, CV, cover letters, etc.
🙌 Route Three - Recruitment Agencies
How it works
Recruitment agencies are the best way of having support from an expert throughout the process.
To use this route, you find one or more agencies and register with them. You will send them your CV and they will schedule an initial welcome call with you. On that call, you can explain when you are available to work and state your preferences for work: states or cities, specialties and anything else.
They can then share the roles they have found for you. The number of jobs available within each agency will depend on the agency’s relationship with the hospitals, which state they are located in, and — the obvious — whether there are jobs available when you apply.
Lastly, they will introduce you to the hospitals they work with to start the interview process. They can then continue to help with finalising your offer and the visa, registration and relocation processes.
Pros of Recruitment Agencies
🔹 This is a much more supported process - agencies provide end-to-end help through the process, including interview preparation and scheduling, visa support, AHPRA registration and help with migrating to Australia.
🔹 They can negotiate things like start dates and relocation packages on your behalf with the hospital if you are not comfortable doing this yourself.
🔹 Some agencies already established long-term relationships with certain hospitals so higher success rates, at times only needing very quick interview processes.
🔹 There's no cost to you from using an agency, although they do charge the hospital for their service.
Cons of Recruitment Agencies
🔻 They tend to have roles in less central locations, or roles in hospitals with more vacancies. This is a generalisation and isn't always true however.
🔻 There is lots of variation between good and bad agencies, so it's critical that you find a good one. It's best to ask friends who have personal experience with one for a recommendation if you can.
✅ Finding a good agency that has the jobs that you want.
✅ Being specific about what you are looking for on the initial call. The more informed and specific you are here, the better matched the jobs will be to your preferences. Doctors tend to be unclear or vague at this stage, and then disappointed that the jobs that are suggested aren’t right.
✅ Asking for help - their support is the main benefit so make sure to ask!
🙌 Route Four - Online Job Boards
How it works
You can read through the jobs available and either apply directly via the website or contact them directly through the email supplied. This is a process similar to applying directly, but this way you know that there are actually jobs available instead of making a shot in the dark.
Pros of Online Job Boards
🔹 The job board have description of the health service, job role, requirements and contact details, although sometimes these are of variable quality.
🔹 You can find recruitment contact here for some hospitals to email directly, or apply through the website, so there's no need to hunt around yourself for contact details.
🔹 It's more likely that the jobs advertised are live and available (if the listing has been kept up to date) compared to sending unsolicited emails to hospitals, so you might need to send fewer emails to get an interview.
🔹 Job advertisements cover all grades and all states in one place. You can also see private hospitals and agencies' job advertisements, which will not be included in recruitment campaigns.
Cons of Online Job Boards
🔻 This is the least common of the four routes. Many hospitals do not use these job boards, so what you see on there is not a full picture of what is available. You must combine this with another route!
🔻 The sites can messy and hard to navigate - often including out of date or incomplete information.
✅ Be persistent and apply to as many as possible.
✅ Use in conjunction with another route - most likely applying directly.
As we mentioned at the beginning, we recommend using a combination of all of these routes to increase your chances of finding the right job for you.
Start with the route that you think seems the most possible for you right now and continue to the others once you feel ready. If you try to go down all the routes at once, you may get overwhelmed and discouraged. So, start with one and take it from there.
The good news is that there is an abundance of roles for UK doctors in Australia, and they hope hiring doctors who have experience in the NHS. But, if you believe you have done all you can do and still don’t have any offers, try to take your mind off the process and go out and do something you enjoy. Once you have a more positive mindset, get back to the job hunt, remain persistent, and have hope that a job will come your way soon.
📚 This article is part of Messly's Ultimate Guide to Working in Australia. The guide covers all you need to know as a UK doctor to understand your options, research your move, find work, get registered and move out to Australia.
This article was written with input from Dr Valerie Yii, a doctor who completed her F1 in the UK before relocating to Melbourne, Victoria where she currently works.
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