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For many people, the shift from university study to the working world is one of the biggest changes they will ever experience. Life until that point is focused on formal education – sitting in class, doing homework, taking notes… and then all of a sudden, it’s time to step out into the working world and take your place.
This kind of big change means there are lots of things to think about in order to live your best life and ensure that you can put your efforts into your work – and get plenty of benefits from your hard work in return. So whether you’ve already studied abroad in New Zealand and now you’re working here, or if you’re heading to New Zealand shores specifically to work, we have brought together some tips on how to work well in New Zealand – so that you and your employer will both be glad you’re here!
When it comes to looking for a job in New Zealand, you will need to think about where you want to live – and where the jobs are in your field. Some industries are very focused around different locations, so you may need to do some research around where you will be most likely to find a job.
As New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland offers the widest range of vacancies – but the cost of living is also substantially more expensive than elsewhere in the country. You’ll need to decide what factors are most important to you, and create your New Zealand working plans from there.
Making sure you’re prepared
An important part of seeking work in any country is ensuring that you have the correct visa in place. For young people heading into New Zealand, usually you’ll be coming on a post- study work visa (for those who have also studied in New Zealand) or on a working holiday visa. You can get more information on which visa you’re eligible for – and what each type permits you to do – on the New Zealand Immigration website.
Job seeking in New Zealand
Before you start looking at possible job opportunities you will want to make sure that you have an up-to-date curriculum vitae or CV. You may be familiar with the alternative name ‘resumé’ – but whatever you call it, it’s a very important part of getting off to a good start when finding the perfect Kiwi job for you.
A CV in New Zealand may be quite different to what you’ve put together back home but luckily there are resources available to help you create the perfect document to make the best first impression possible. Try the Careers NZ website, and if English isn’t your first language, it may be a good idea to find a helpful friend to check over your writing for any mistakes.
Once you’ve got a CV that you’re proud of and that you feel represents you as a worker you can look into different opportunities that may be available. For people at any stage in their career Seek and TradeMe Jobs are popular websites to use to see what vacancies are available across all kinds of different industries and trades.
If you work in a more specialised field there may be other places that are worth looking into. The New Zealand Government’s New Zealand Now website has lots of useful links to look at if you work in industries such as healthcare, education or engineering.
Finding a place to call home
If everything works out the way that you hope and you find the perfect job, congratulations! If you haven’t already organised housing, you’re certainly going to need to do so now. There are many factors to consider when looking for a home, but these are the two really important ones to think about.
Location. Consider where your workplace is and how you’re going to get there. If you work in the middle of Auckland many locations will be easily accessible by public transport – but you’ll have to consider the time it may take to get all the way into the city from some of the more affordable areas. A forty-minute commute in each direction can quickly make your work day a whole lot longer! An inner city apartment may suit you best if you don’t like commuting – but it will come at a price.
Size and set-up. Are you looking to live by yourself or with flatmates? Living with other people can be a great experience giving you a chance to get to know some people while usually paying less for rent than you would if you lived by yourself. However, there are also reasons to look for a flat to call your own – perhaps you work shifts and keep unusual sleeping schedules or you just like some peace and quiet when you get home. Think about what you need from your home life and make decisions from there.
Working in New Zealand
Much like the fact that CVs are a little different in New Zealand than in other places, working also has its differences compared to other nations. New Zealanders are usually a friendly group of people and it’s common for each week to start up with a conversation among colleagues about how everyone’s weekend has been. Don’t be afraid to share your own stories – people love to get to know the people that they work with. After all, you’ll usually be spending 40 hours a week with them so it’s important to have a friendly relationship.
Businesses in New Zealand tend to be reasonably small compared with other countries. The average Kiwi firm has 13.7 employees – half that of the average firm in the USA. Smaller businesses often mean more opportunities. There are fewer levels between new recruits and senior staff members, giving you a chance to really get ahead in your career if you show your passion and initiative. New Zealanders are very proud of their ‘Kiwi ingenuity’ and that applies to work in a business just as much as it does out on a farm. Working for a smaller company means you’ll need to be more flexible because there will generally be less specialisation giving you a chance to show just how well you can work as part of your team.
New Zealand is an incredibly diverse country. Auckland has the largest population of Pacific Island people of any city in the world and growing relationships with Asia mean that we have a large population of immigrants from places like China, Korea and India. What this means for the workplace is that not only will you have New Zealand culture to come to terms with, you may also find yourself learning a lot about other cultures too!
New Zealand’s traditional Māori culture is also a deeply engrained part of some aspects of Kiwi life. If you’ve already studied at a New Zealand university or tertiary institution you may have already experienced Māori culture through a pōwhiri or welcoming ceremony at the start of your studies. Depending on your work environment you may pick up a little te reo Māori – the Māori language. Some words and phrases such as ‘kia ora’ (hello) and ‘whānau’ (family) are increasingly used by New Zealanders of all kinds of backgrounds, so brush up on your language skills and people will appreciate that you’ve put in the effort!
While working hard is very important here in New Zealand it’s equally important to have your own time to yourself. People who can go home happy and come back to work reinvigorated are always going to make the best employees so don’t be afraid to make use of holiday leave you have owing.
Full time employees in New Zealand are entitled to four weeks of paid Annual Leave. Sometimes this will be built up through the year and at other companies the amount may be made available a year after your start date. However, many workplaces are willing to be flexible even if you haven’t quite hit that first anniversary yet – so if a chance arises to take a trip after you’ve been there nine months, it’s worth asking for the leave! If you’ve been a good worker, your management team might be happy to let you take leave in advance.
Ultimately, much of Kiwi working culture comes down to two main principles: work hard and respect others. Easy! You’ll be fitting in before you know it.