Many new migrants to New Zealand are finding it hard and challenging to find their first new job after they immigrate to this country. Despite having many years of experience and impressive CVs, securing an adequate job isn’t easy and it may take many months and hundreds of submitted job applications. Before moving to New Zeeland it is important to familiarise yourselves with the local rules since things work slightly differently here than in many other countries. Being rightly prepared for your employment search can save you lots of time, frustration and money spent during your new job hunting period.

Here are few key rules which new migrants should be aware of when trying to find their first new job in New Zealand:

#1 – Obsessiveness with “New Zealand work experience”

Almost every employer in New Zealand requires “NZ work experience”. It is one of those illogical requirements as most types of jobs in the world are performed in the same way, regardless of their location. Despite it, for some reasons NZ companies all want it. Often you end up like walking in a cycle – how can I gain NZ work experience if I can’t get my first NZ job because of lack of it?

Our advice: It may be worth to initially accept even a job below your lever of qualification. It can be some part time job, evening job, pizza delivery or whatever similar. The important thing is that it’s a job in New Zealand. You don’t need to be scared that it will be damaging for your CV in the future. If such job will last only few months, you can eventually drop it from your CV and explain that those few months pause in your career were spent on transition into New Zealand (arranging things in your home country, getting family moved and settled, looking for a new house, administration, etc.).

However, for your immediately next job you will have to disclose it with an explanation that it was a casual temporary job to help you with living expenses while looking for your regular job. And also you can argue that despite the job being under your qualification level, it still helped you to learn the “NZ ways” how companies and business operate here; hence you have your first “NZ work experience”.

In the future when applying for another jobs and having already worked here for some time in your regular occupation, then as already mentioned, you can drop the first casual job from your CV and if asked for the blank spot, just explain that it was filled with activities connected to your transition to New Zealand.

#2 – Reference Checks

For some reason New Zealand companies are extremely focused on checking references from your previous employments. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that until year 2011 there was no probation or trial period allowed under New Zealand law. So, if the company employed someone who later proved not to be an ideal candidate, the company was stacked with him or her, it was very hard and sometimes impossible to get rid of such employee. If the employee wasn’t seriously breaking any rules, just was let’s say incapable of performing the job up to the required standard or had personality issues then it was not considered as a valid reason for dismissal. As a result, all companies were trying to protect themself from such candidates and therefore were performing extensive reference checks with prospective candidates’ previous employers.

In year 2011 the employment law was changed and 90 days probation period was introduced. Despite that, many employers still perform extensive reference checks. It’s perhaps attributed to their past habits and it may take some time before this practise changes.

So, before you come to the country and start searching for your new job, have all your past employment reference details prepared. That means names, positions, email addresses and contact phone numbers of your previous managers. The references don’t necessarily need to be your former managers, they can also be your colleagues or HR managers, but the most worthy for NZ companies will be your direct managers. Have ready at least two different referees from two different companies or if you worked for the same overseas company for many years then two different persons from the same company. Having 3 referees would be even better since NZ companies tend to always check more than one referee and sometimes one of them may not be available.

And there is one more thing to remember! When you leave any of your jobs in New Zealand, try to avoid leaving in a bad manner. Rather biting your tang than saying some bad words or your opinion about what you really thought of your former manager if you had any disagreements. Unlike in most European countries (where they don’t bother with references that much) you will most likely need your former NZ employer’s references for your future jobs in New Zealand.

Posted on: September 13, 2013
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