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How to Get a Job in Retail in Australia

You might be able to find a job as a retail assistant, but also as a worker in a warehouse, especially if you live in a big city. One can get a job in a large supermarket like Woolworths or Coles, but also in a shop with sports equipment, clothing, furniture, or electronics. There’s definitely room for imagination, and so it’s up to you what you’re interested in. We met a backpacker working in a tiny shop selling nuts and sweets.

The disadvantage of retail jobs is the fact they can be quite boring, on the other hand, you spend your work hours in an air-conditioned space, and the work itself is far from being physically demanding. As a retail assistant you might get paid more than the minimum wage, plus there’s extra for weekends and public holidays.


General work information

Types of employment

In Australia, you can be hired as full time, part-time or casual employee. You’ll find out the difference between these types of employment further ahead.

Full time

  • The employee works a guaranteed amount of hours per week (at least 38).
  • The employee has to give notice when they want to quit, and the employer has to give notice when they want to let the employee go.
  • The employee is entitled to sick leave and annual leave.


  • The employee works a guaranteed amount of hours per week (less than 38).
  • The employee has to give notice when they want to quit, and the employer has to give notice when they want to let the employee go.
  • The employee is entitled to sick leave and annual leave.


  • The employee doesn’t work a guaranteed amount of hours per week, the hours of work can be irregular, and it doesn’t have to be ongoing employment.
  • The employee can quit without notice (unless notice is required by a contract or the relevant award).
  • The employee is not entitled to sick leave or annual leave.
  • The employee has a higher pay rate than an equivalent full or part-time employee (so-called casual loading).

Pay rate

There are two options of how to get paid in Australia. Either hourly rate or contract rate (for example paid per a bucket of cherries). Regardless of how you’re paid, always check you’re getting at least the minimum wage. You don’t want to end up as one of those people on Facebook groups asking whether it’s normal to be earning half of the minimum wage. 

The minimum wage in Australia is set to 19,49 AUD (2020) if you’re employed as a full or part-time employee. With casual loading, it’s even higher. All the information can be found on the Fairwork Ombudsman website. You can look up the particular Award your job falls under and check whether you’re being paid properly. With some of the occupations, penalties apply, which means you can get paid more for working on Saturdays and Sundays or for working overtime.

One employer rule

Work and Holiday Visa lets you work for one employer a maximum of 6 months. It is possible, however, to work for one employer for more than 6 months, if you meet one of these conditions :

  • Work in plant and animal cultivation anywhere in Australia.
  • Work in Northern Australia in Aged Care and Disability Services, Fishing and pearling, Tree farming and felling, Construction, Mining, or Tourism and Hospitality.
  • Work in different locations for the same employer and work in any one location does not exceed 6 months. For example two different branches in two different towns. 
  • Be part of bushfire recovery efforts in declared bushfire affected areas only.

If your occupation does not meet the criteria, but you still want to work longer for your employer, you can try and apply for permission.

Where to Look for Jobs in Retail

It’s not always the job search engines and websites that help you the most when looking for a job in Australia. This is especially true for some of the backpacker jobs. Here we’re bringing you all the different places where you can find a job.

Job search engines

BackpackerJobBoard – a website made for backpackers. You can choose an area where you want to look for a job or you can choose a job classification. You can also, for example, choose only jobs that qualify for the visa extension. 

Gumtree – A server is well known for buying and selling, however, you’ll find everything there nowadays, including jobs. Sometimes, especially in the agriculture and hospitality industries, you’ll find jobs here, that aren’t on the big job websites. You can filter according to job classification and job areas. 

Indeed – a large search engine. Sometimes a little bit awkward. You can’t choose the job classification. 

Jobsearch – a government website that offers to filter according to the job classification. There’s also a special site focused only on agriculture jobs.

Jora – you can create a profile that matches jobs. A lot of hospitality ads on this website.

Seek – a very intuitive search engine. Can filter various work types, job classifications, and work areas. You can create a profile with your CV.

Company Websites

You can find the ads on the job websites, but also on the websites of the big companies themselves (Woolworths, Coles, Big W, Kmart, Kathmandu, Rebel Sport, H&M, Cotton On, and so on). The big companies usually have a career page, where you can read the job description and apply.


Facebook is a powerful media in all aspects and can be a very useful tool in the search for jobs. When you use the Facebook search box to type in the name of the city where you want to work and the word “jobs” it comes up with various positions in the city. You can also filter according to the job classification and so on.
There are also loads of various job groups that can sometimes have a very specific focus. 

Backpacker groups

There is a huge backpacker oriented group called Australia Backpackers 2019, which is of more general nature. Then there are two big job-oriented groups Backpacker Jobs Australia and Backpacker Jobs in Australia. Your country might have their own Work and Holiday Facebook group where people might post some job offers from time to time, too.

Groups with jobs in a specific city

For example, Sydney JobsPerth Jobs or Melbourne Jobs.

Groups for the specified work for the second year visa

Those of you who want to apply for their second year visa have to get a job that counts toward the second year. There are Facebook groups with ads with this kind of specified work, however, don’t forget to check with the employer that it is actually what you’re looking for. 
Also, there’s a difference between the Work and Holiday jobs (subclass 462) and Working Holiday jobs (subclass 417).

Examples of these kinds of groups are: Backpackers 88 days and counting Australia and 2nd Year Visa Farm Work Australia.  


Our personal opinion is that in most backpacker jobs you’ll be the most successful if you apply for a job in person. If you show up at a workplace in person it shows you are keen to work and not afraid of personal contact. Often you’ll get some sort of answer and feedback straightaway, and you’ll have a chance to meet the boss and the colleagues, and to see the workplace. 
This approach worked for us in both New Zealand and Australia in agriculture and hospitality.

We’re not saying that it’s always the best option to use the personal approach, but it works for most of the backpacker jobs in agriculture, hospitality, tourism, or shops. It usually doesn’t work well with big companies as they often only use website application, but you can always give it a shot.

It definitely makes sense to visit a big shopping center in person, go around the shops and give out CVs. You’ll often find ads in the store windows, especially before Christmas.  

When to Look for Jobs in Retail

Both small shops and big supermarkets and chains have one thing in common regarding hiring people – Christmas time. At the end of October, you’ll find plenty of shops looking for temporary employees, and so it’s a good time to apply. The shops usually try to cover the months of November, December, and part of January.

Other Jobs in Australia

If you’re looking for a job in agriculture, have a look here, for construction jobs, click here and for hospitality jobs, check out this post here.


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