How is applying for Jobs Different in New Zealand?

I’m often asked: ‘How is applying for jobs different in New Zealand and what do I need to do to succeed?’ The first step is to seek professional help to develop your job search skills and to learn what works. Here are some tips:

Small businesses provide the largest number of job opportunities:

New Zealand has a population of five million and there are around 530,000 small businesses with 20 or less employees, representing 97% of all companies.

This is significant, as small companies tend to manage their own recruitment process and prefer to employ people who are already known to them in some way.

In addition, many jobs aren’t formally advertised but are spread through word of mouth. 

Small business statistics graphic

So how can a newcomer, or an overseas based applicant compete in this environment?

This is where networking comes into play. Before applying for jobs, research your industry and  connect online or in person, with employers and employees of companies that interest you.

Because of the lack of hierarchy and the informal nature of business interactions in New Zealand, it’s ok to make contact with people you don’t know and ask for advice. It’s a good way to find out about the specific skills and qualifications you’ll need. It’s useful to get this information directly from someone in the industry, rather than searching for it online as the purpose is for people to get to know you. This is how many vacancies are filled.

Keep in mind that asking for a job referral isn’t the purpose of networking.

Networking takes time and it’s important to make genuine connections:

Prepare a few specific questions that the person you’re speaking with is in a position to answer. This will help you to understand where your skills are aligned, and where there may be gaps. The effort you put into this will improve your chances of landing the right job, especially considering our connected population and the number of small companies

Of course, if you spot an advertised role in line with your experience, then go for it! But before submitting that application, have a chat with the employer or recruiter to make yourself known and to ask some specific questions about the position. Often a job ad will include a contact person and phone number, with an invitation to have a chat. The information gained from a phone call can help you to customise your CV and make your application stand out.

A job search strategy that includes networking is vital to landing that New Zealand job. So if you’re tempted to send off multiple job applications, take a step back. Instead spend some time getting to know the main players in your industry. Then make your move.

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Article by:
Jannie Allen (Job Search Coach at NZIC)

Read more about job searching in NZ:

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Anna was worth her weight in gold---she was fantastic at helping me format my CV and search for jobs that suited my skill set. In the end, I got a great job in a great city. Carsten and his team were very thorough and helpful when it came time to apply for and get our visas. They are now helping us with our resident visas, and I'm certain that the process will be the same. I'd recommend them highly.

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The great work done before has surely helped to achieve this quick positive result. NZIC are really professional and know what to do when to do it and how to do it. That is so convenient and efficient! I’m still working with them for the next steps and would like to thank them again for their help and support.  Thank you.  Kind Regards.

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NZIC guided me all the way through getting my first work visa to permanent residency. Their job seeking support was key when I first arrived in NZ, communication was always easy and clear. I'm very thankful for their help and definitely recommend their services.

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Dear Jannie, just want to drop a note to thank for your everything. Your help is much appreciated! You are a wonderful and professional job search coach! I am so lucky to have you supporting me!

Hong Kong