The Dinky-Di Aussie Guide to Impressing Employers

Australia is a country full of confusing slang and colourful idioms. English can suddenly feel like a different language when you constantly hear phrases you don’t understand. If you’re job hunting or have just started a new role in the land Down Under, there are a few terms you might need to know:


A bludger is somebody who does very little. They are inherently lazy and tend to rely heavily on the good graces of those around them. Do not, under any circumstances, mistakenly describe yourself as a bludger in an interview. And if you get the job, don’t become an actual bludger in the workplace. Nobody likes a bludger!



If you skite it means that you brag or talk about yourself in inflated terms. Many people feel uncomfortable in job interviews and similar situations where they are required to talk about their own accomplishments – but don’t overcompensate. While it’s important to speak confidently and make sure you make your achievements known to any future employer, don’t overdo it. Employers will be looking at how you will fit in with their company and there is seldom room for big egos.

Give it a burl:

If you’re giving something a burl, it means you’re having a go at it, giving it a try. If your boss asks you to do something and you’re not sure if it’s achievable, you can still say you’ll ‘give it a burl’. While it’s good to be seen as being industrious, make sure you’re not overloading yourself with work. It’s one thing to gain a reputation as always being willing to try, and another to gain a reputation as being the person who never finishes tasks.

Knock back:

This means to refuse something (not to be confused with ‘knocking back a few cold ones’, which means to drink a few beers). If you are made an offer on a job that’s not your first choice, have a serious think before you knock it back. Once you’ve said no, it’s likely you won’t be able to change your mind again.


If you hear someone talk about moolah, they’re referring to money. There are a few schools of thought on whether to discuss ‘moolah’ in a job interview (though you should never call it that in a professional setting). It’s generally best to wait until the employer brings it up.


Being crook indicates that you are sick or unwell. While workplaces are required to provide you with sick leave, ensure you use it legitimately. Don’t be caught ‘chucking a sickie’ (taking a sick day) by claiming you’re too sick to work and then being tagged on Facebook at the beach or the pub.


If you are told you yabber a lot, it means that you’re incredibly talkative. While some casual office banter can be good for morale, constant chattering can gain you unwanted attention from your boss. Make sure you balance out your day so that socialising doesn’t stop you from completing your work and you don’t disturb or interrupt others.

Bring a plate:

If your workplace is having a party and you’re asked to ‘bring a plate’, it is not an invitation to show up with a nice piece of crockery. It’s actually a request to bring a dish of food to be shared with the group. Bringing something homemade can show your workmates you care enough to put in the effort – although, if you’re a bad cook, it might be best to grab something ready-made instead!


The smoko, or smoko break, is essentially a short break in the work day originally intended to allow smokers to have a cigarette, but more commonly used now to have a coffee or stretch your legs. While workers are entitled to take regular short breaks, too many voluntary smokos in an office environment will gain you disapproval from your boss and disdain from your colleagues.

Tall poppies:

A tall poppy is someone who is successful, and is often used to describe high-achieving business people. However, Australia has sometimes been said to demonstrate ‘tall poppy syndrome’, where others display resentment towards those who do well for themselves and try to take them down. Don’t add to this syndrome with office gossip and malicious remarks about your successful colleagues. Use them as role models for a good work ethic and soon enough you’ll become a tall poppy yourself.

Shoot through:

This refers to someone who is leaving, so ‘I’m going to shoot through’ means ‘I’m going to leave’. Whether you are leaving your job for the day or for good, always be sure to leave things in a state of order, as well as on amicable terms with your colleagues. Positive connections and a good reference in any industry are invaluable.

Author: Julia Watters completed a communications degree in 2005 before working in a range of areas including events, health, media and education. She now works as an online content writer for careers and courses website Career FAQs, where she draws on her own experiences as a student, as well as her knowledge from working in the tertiary education sector.

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