Although the majority of the roles we place are in the UK, the Moxie and Mettle team have also worked with a number of candidates who have made the brave decision to relocate to another country. We’re always available to offer advice and give tips if you are looking to work overseas, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Conversely, we also help many people who wish to return to the UK after a period of working overseas; again, happy to help.
In this series of blog posts ‘PR Jobs Overseas’, we’re going to feature a number of different PR professionals who decided to take the leap and leave the UK to advance their careers and see what the public relations sphere is like in another country.
In this edition, we talk to Polly, 23 year old freelance PR account manager from Bristol (who also happens to be Liz’s daughter). Polly moved to Melbourne on a one-year working holiday visa in December 2018, to continue her PR career and see how things worked down under. Polly’s been in Melbourne for three months now, and has taken on a number of different short-term temp contracts, working on projects in various sectors including; interiors, music, education and pets. Before doing so, Polly also lived and worked in France for six months while she did a ski season, and from where she set up Cucumber Rose, the brand she uses as an alias to house her freelance portfolio. Polly graduated from UWE in 2016 with a First Class Honours in Journalism and PR and says that one of her most important career goals is to live and work in as many different countries as possible. We spoke with Polly about what makes Melbourne great to work in, what her plans are for the rest of the year and any tips she’d give to other PRs considering the move…
What made you want to move to Melbourne?
Melbourne has always stuck out in my mind as one of the cities I’d most like to live and work, and I’ve been planning this for ages. Lots of people say the culture is very similar to Bristol, which I’d totally agree with. I love the arts and music scene here, and a lot of my friends already live here so it was an easy winner in my mind. It’s impossible to run out of things to do in the city, and the transport links are amazing meaning I can accept work all over the place without worrying about my commute too much.
Is it difficult to find work in a new city, particularly Melbourne?
In my experience, no, it’s been surprisingly straightforward so far!
Don’t get me wrong, the first week I properly started to look for work I felt quite overwhelmed because it was like starting from square one all over again. In the UK I often get approached about various roles, so to find myself in Melbourne with no idea where my next project was coming from was pretty scary. But I think it’s those situations where you often go into survival mode and this can motivate you to apply for things you might not normally try.
You can make it easier for yourself by going back to basics. Your Linked In profile needs to clearly state that you’re looking for work in whatever city you’ve moved to, and be completely up to date with all your experience. Your CV also needs to be completely up to date, and it’s worth putting together a covering letter introduction that summarises who you are and what visa you’re on, as companies don’t tend to appreciate finding this out too late as there are sometimes restrictions. For example, on my current visa I’m not able to work for longer than six months at any one agency, so I need to make this clear to employers, so I don’t take on a longer than six month contract.
Once you get going with your search and start getting your CV out there, I don’t think it’s much different to searching for a job at home.
How did you reach out to find work?
To begin with, I made a huge spreadsheet of all the PR agencies in Melbourne that I could find on Google. I made a separate tab for all the recruitment agencies that specialise in placing PR people. I added all contact details and slowly made my way through my lists, sending emails and following up with calls later in the week. I was aiming to meet as many people face to face as possible, to let everyone know what I was up to and to flag myself as available if they needed any freelance support moving forwards. You’d be surprised how lovely and helpful people are when you are totally honest about your position and what you’re looking for.
The thing is, you can actually make a list like this month before you go, because it takes away a huge chunk of work to do when you arrive when you’re more limited for time. I made my spreadsheet two months before I left the UK and I remember thinking how thankful I was that I’d thought ahead and not made things more stressful for myself.
My goal for reaching out to this list was basically to let as many relevant people as possible know that I was in Melbourne looking for work, and it’s a great confidence booster to sit down and meet with people living in your new city as they can give you insider tips that you’d never know otherwise.
I find that emailing/calling agencies directly can be a much more direct way of finding work, and the same with recruitment agencies. Although I’ve applied to loads of jobs via job sites since being here too – websites like Indeed, Seek and Jora are good ones to use in Australia.
What are your plans for 2019?
2019 is going to be a pretty hectic year, but I’m so excited for everything we’ve got planned so far.
I’ll be living and working in Melbourne until about June (hopefully squeezing in a holiday to Bali for my birthday in May!) then two of my best friends from home and I will be moving to Bundaberg in Queensland to complete our farm work in order to extend our visas to two years. In Australia, you need to complete 88 days of agricultural work to benefit the Australian economy in order to be granted a second year on your visa. We’ll then do a three-month road trip down the east coast, and I’ll end up back in Melbourne for my second year after spending Christmas at home in the UK.
While I’m in Australia I plan on using Melbourne as my base, because I’ve literally fallen in love with the city. I’ll probably spend most of my time here next year working various different short-term contracts in consumer and lifestyle PR. At the moment I’ve just been doing a month here and there, but if I’m going to be staying in the city for longer then I’ll aim to find two six-month contracts to make up the year – so I don’t have to have any time out of work, and so I can save for my next travels after I leave Australia.
Do you plan to work in other cities in Australia while you’re there?
I might do a couple of months in Sydney if possible, as this is another amazing city to do PR in and I always come across jobs here that look incredible. I’d also be really proud to say I’d worked in PR in Melbourne AND Sydney.
When we travel down the east coast, I’ll probably do the odd bit of remote freelancing too, just to top up the funds on our way down. I’ll probably only take on copywriting and basic administration projects though, so as not to make things too complicated. Trying to run a business from a van or hostel isn’t the easiest thing to do in the world, so I don’t plan on stressing myself out too much.
What’s been the biggest work challenge you’ve faced since being in Australia?
It was tricky when I arrived, as I started my job hunt in the first week of January. I later discovered that lots of offices don’t go back to work until the second week of Jan, as it’s Australia’s summer so they have a longer break than we do in the UK. It’s like the equivalent to our summer holidays in July/August.
This freaked me out a bit to start with because I thought I’d be a few weeks behind schedule and might not be able to find something until February, but luckily I landed my first job on 20th January, and I’d set myself a goal to get something by the 21st – so I was so happy and relieved to be sorted within three weeks of arriving.
Other than that I haven’t faced too many severe challenges, except a lot of the work I find is for shorter periods of time. This is good as it allows me to meet lots of people and move around a lot, but it also takes a lot of time to sort the following opportunity and it can be tricky to find time for job interviews around other work days.
It’s the same as it would be in the UK though, you just have to be honest about your current position and the times you’ve available and generally people are really understanding.
What tips would you give to others considering the move?
• Get really organised before you come out
So, with the spreadsheet of contacts – I actually made this two months before I got to Australia so I already had something to work from when I got here. There’s no point making it more difficult for yourself, so spend a few hours on this before you leave the UK and then you have an idea where to begin when you get here and don’t have to put too much thought into it when you’re here and stressed enough as it is.
• Don’t forget to bring work clothes!
It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to forget you need to dress the part and be ready for job interviews as soon as you get here. Most of the places I’ve worked are smart casual dress, so it’s not like I need to wear a suit every day, but for job interviews I try to wear smart shoes and something a bit more professional to make a good impression. It makes a massive difference, even just for your confidence.
• Create an online portfolio
Creating something like a website or blog to showcase some of your work is really helpful, especially when applying for roles in a new city. Anything you can do to set yourself apart from other freelancers/PRs applying for the same roles as you can be the difference between someone calling you back or deleting your email.
Written by Polly Snell & Liz Gadd
If you have any questions for Polly or want to chat to one of the team about your plans to relocate, please feel free to get in touch.
Moxie & Mettle team: firstname.lastname@example.org