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How to find a job in New Zealand

by Kseniia

How to find a job abroad? This question is vital for anyone getting ready to study or live abroad. Not everyone has an option of selling a country house or to leave Moscow 6-bedroom for rent, right? So sooner or later you will definitely need a job in a new country.

This article will be devoted to the main differences in job search in New Zealand and Russia as well as our own experience of looking for a job. For those who are here for the first time a small summary of our previous adventures: we are currently living in Tauranga, studying Business Level 7 in NTEC and have an opportunity to work part-time (or 20 hours per week) according to our student visas. 

About working in New Zealand 

If you are thinking of moving to New Zealand in order to study and work, it is always better to get ready in advance. So what can you do? First of all, think carefully what are your strong sides. It will help you to decide what career path to choose and evaluate here. Secondly, take care of references from your former employers or tutors – the more you will get, the better.

Let me explain what will you need them for. New Zealanders value not only your formal working experience. Any experience is a plus for your CV here. For example, if you want to take care after elderly people in a nursing home. you can tell your future employer how good you were while taking care after your own granny or that you had a first aid paper in University. For some of the jobs your personal experience like that is more than enough. Of course, if you want to work as a dentist you can’t rely on the fact that you are good at drilling holes.

How to write CV and cover letter to apply for a job in New Zealand? 

CV is obviously one of the most important things for those in search for a job. It can guarantee your employment or completely let you down. Of course, you can start working on your CV even before coming to New Zealand. But don’t hurry to send it before you’ve moved. First of all, because you will have to mention your address and phone number there. No one would care how soon will you be available in New Zealand if you’re still in Russia. Most of the employers here do only meet 2-3 people before making a decision, so there are almost no chances for those far away. Of course, you won’t loose anything by sending a CV and receiving a negative feedback, but honestly do you have that much of a free time and nerves to spend?

So how to write a proper CV? The best way is to study online examples firstly and just repeat them afterwards. If you’re going to study in New Zealand, your University will probably have its own career consultant, who will explain and help. But if it won’t, just ask for an advice from those who already got a job in New Zealand.

What to write and not to write in a CV? First of all it should reflect your real skills. If you’re more after an artist kind of job, be artistic in the way you write your CV – add photos, unusual design, anything to demonstrate your out of the box way of thinking and creativity. If your looking for a hospitality job, keep it simple. And the main advice – don’t send the same CV for several different jobs! Every time its design and content should be a little different, reflecting what exactly employer expects you to be able to do and to be experienced in.

For example, you’re an amazing lawyer with a huge experience. But for a while you’re struggling to find a job in this sphere and decide to do something less fancy for a while, like selling furniture, for example. If an employer sees all your cases, diplomas and certificates, he will probably decide his offer is too boring for you, And he will hire someone else. So choose only that part of your experience, that will benefit in this case, like the perfect communication skills, an ability to convince people, etc.

What is a cover letter and why do you need it? In New Zealand cover letter sometimes is even more important that a CV. In this letter you should mention how have you heard about this job, why are you a perfect candidate an provide an employer with couple of examples of what you’re capable of. Normally employers write what exactly they want to read in your cover letter, so just follow the requirements.

Where to look for a job in New Zealand? 

One of the main questions is where to look for a job opportunities? People use several sources for job searchin in New Zealand. For students the main one will definitely be SJS.co.nz. That is a special web-site for New Zealand students. Most of the offers here are a part-time positions, exactly what is needed for the Russian students, as soon as we’re only allowed to work  20 hours per week. Most of the students work part-time in restaurants, cafes, hotels or shops. Of course, there are also one-off offers on SJS.co.nz as well as a serious full-time job. The other web-sites to look through are: trademe.co.nzindeed.co.nz и seek.co.nz.

I should also mention the so called Notice Boards. What are they? They are Facebook groups for locals, where they can share their announcements about selling or buying something, having a position or looking for one. In any case, those Notice Boards are really useful for a newbie.

Yet another efficient way to look for a job is just to print your CV and walk around the city center. Many companies do hire by just hanging out an announcement on the front door. Many people did find a job that way. And an advantage of this way to apply is that you immediately meet your employer in person, what can be easier than making him interested online. By the way, that is how Kseniia found one of her jobs and one of our classmates Alvin also got his job while walking around and already made a good career there.

The final option is to ask locals, whom you have already met. They might be not hiring themselves at the moment, but there is a great chance they know someone who does. New Zealanders are very welcoming and friendly people and would never hide an information that might be useful for you. And if you have already worked with someone and did a great job, they would most probably ask you for a help once (twice, etc.) again. 

Job interviews in New Zealand 

Job interviews here are way more pleasant and easy than in Russia. As soon as private and small business is really popular in this country, don’t be surprised to be invited directly to the house of the employer for a very first meeting. I suppose, this atmosphere even helps to feel more relaxed and confident. But even if you’re invited to the office, don’t be scared. All the conversations will be really friendly and calm, no one expects you to wear a formal costume or to speak as a TV-presenter. For example, I went to my job interview in the orange shorts. And received the job! Of course, you still should keep the borders and at least don’t go for an interview barefooted. 

What is really important in any job interview (both in Russia and in New Zealand) is to keep an eye contact and to smile. I would say, in New Zealand it is even vital. Employer can hire you for just being a nice person. Not in the case you don’t understand what to do in this position at all, of course:) So be confident in your skills, smile, keep eye contact and know the name of your employer and you will be fine!

New Zealanders do pay attention to your initiative. If you’re asked for any advice of how to improve the business you’re about to enter, make sure you have some suggestions, don’t be shy! But at the same time don’t demonstrate too much of your nuclear physics knowledge if you’re applying for a driver position.

Job contracts in New Zealand 

There are several types of job contracts in New Zealand. I’m not an expert in this topic, so will only cover those I met myself. Casual contracts are used for one-off jobs. You can also accomplish several tasks, of course,but in that case not you nor your employer are meant to note in advance that you want (or have to) to leave, for example. Such contracts are also used for the probation period. If you pass it successfully, you will be offered part-time or full-time contract.

What’s the difference? In the second case you will have vacations, insurance and will have to notice in two-four weeks if you decide to leave (as well as your employer will warn you an advance about firing). And I really hope you will remain friends after you stop being colleagues, cause, as I already mentioned, references are even more important than your experience here.

How much do job references mean in New Zealand?

In short, that is the thing that can destroy all your career ambitions at the very beginning. Almost no one would hire you without any references. They should be given by other local employers or by the tutors in your institute or by someone who knows you really good. If you’re here to study, you shouldn;’t have any problems with references – your tutors might provide you with some feedback. Just make sure to warn them in advance, so that they will at least remember who you are when receive a call:)

There are some funny stories we heard about referencing though:) For example, when employer called to a person and he explained in details what a cool barista the employee was and it appeared to be that this time he was applying for a position in a bank:) Guess, he never received that job… So make sure, you discuss the position with the one responsible for your references in advance. It is also important to make sure you provided future employer with the phone number, not only with an e-mail of the one ready to give you references, because some of the positions might be really immediate, so they would not want to wait for a written reply.

Job fees in New Zealand 

That is probably the topic you were waiting from the very beginning of the article, weren’t you? There is a minimal wage in New Zealand. It is $15.25 currently. They still will extract taxes from it, but will add vacation leave instead.

It might sound complicated, but don’t worry, every week (or every two weeks) you will receive a payslip from your employer, showing a detailed report about how many hours you did this week, how much did they pay you and how much will you see at your bank account after all. If you work over-time (more than written in your contract) or work on holidays, you will get extra money. Of course, if you discussed it with your employer before:)

Part-time employees are normally paid on a weekly basis. It is very convenient, because the rent is also paid weekly and you can easily calculate if you’re making enough to pay rent, buy food and spend money on clothes, cafes, etc.

I really love how clear and understandable those payslips are, You can also check the minimal wage and average taxes for your occupation on special web-sites. Most of them also offer consultations and advice. I would recommend to start with the Ministry of Business, Innovations and Employment.


In order to sum it all up, I should say that you will easily find a job in New Zealand if you do everything right. A chance to shine is given to everyone her. Of course, the higher your English level is and the cooler your experience is, the more opportunities you have.

What is good about working in New Zealand? People do not over-work here. You are paid exactly as much as you worked. The working day normally starts at 8-9 a.m and ends at 4-5 p.m. It means you leave exactly at that moment and no one would ever call you with an urgent task before the next morning. And in general, working here is more relaxed, calm and not stressful at all.

I hope, this information was useful for you. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them under the post. We will be happy to know we helped you to get a dream job!

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