Vageesh Malhotra has been in Australia for six months after arriving from India on a skilled migrant visa, but he is yet to find a job matching his experience.
“I’m basically working in a restaurant and that’s what I’m doing right now,” he told SBS News.
Besides working in restaurants, the sales and business development professional has also been driving for Uber.
“It is difficult in the sense that the qualifications I have is not necessarily required to do the kind of job that I’m doing,” he said.
“You have to reconcile to that fact that it’s going to take time … it is difficult at times to come to terms with that fact.”
Mr Malhotra has lost count of the number of jobs he has applied for, but he thinks it might be anywhere between 100 to 200 jobs.
In an attempt to get Mr Malhotra and others like him into the workforce in their area of expertise, a Shark Tank-style pitching event was held in Melbourne this week for migrants to pitch their skills directly to potential employers and recruiters.
The organiser of Australia’s Got Fresh Talent, Naishadha Gadani – himself an Indian migrant who arrived in Australia under similar circumstances – said he wanted to help those with specialist skills make the right connections to get a job.
“That’s why I’m setting up this sort of initiative is so that they can look beyond the resume and see the person and have a chat with them,” he said.
Each of the migrants got up and spoke for three minutes about themselves, their skills and what they could offer if they were given a chance.
Mr Malhorta said he found the process daunting but said he believed it would help.
“In Australia networking plays a really, really important role for you to find a suitable job so you have to be really active in networking, which is not necessarily the case back home,” he said.
“So that is one tip I really got from people is to network with people.”
Many of the recruiters and employers said they were impressed by the pitches, including IT recruiter Grace Rishie.
“I thought that they were really well done and I do think three minutes is a really short time to know a candidate, but some amazing skilled professionals have come here looking for that foot in the door in the Australian job market,” she said.
“They are very ‘placeable’, some did have local experience working here. It’s just the way you approach the job search process as opposed to just waiting for a recruiter to give you a call or to apply on Seek or LinkedIn,” she said.
Australia’s current migration intake sits just above 162,000, including about 111,000 skilled places.
The numbers show there is a need for skilled migrants, but a lack of knowledge of the local job market appears to be a barrier when it comes to many job searches getting a look in.
Those attending the pitch night said they hoped to gain some invaluable advice and tips to help some of these issues. And while there were no guarantees of a job, many said they were just hoping employers will be willingly to give them a go.
Business development professional Tabay Hamdani, who arrived in Australia from Pakistan a couple of months ago, has already applied for about 100 jobs.
He said he just wants the opportunity to prove himself.
“I would say that you should be open minded, be a little liberal when it comes to this because maybe you’ll find yourself a superstar,” he said.
It was a sentiment echoed by Mr Malhotra.
“I would say you need to go behind the name and look at the skills,” he said.
“Be open to the fact that people come from various backgrounds and they contribute something to the diversity – and maybe they also have a fresh way of looking at things.”
Mr Gadani said he plans to make pitch night a monthly event.