19 January 2009

Job hunting in New Zealand

Tomorrow, I start work.

It was a long journey for me and my family. We arrived here in Wellington, New Zealand in the middle of September, 2008 full of hope and optimism. What with years of professional experience and credentials between me and my wife, we were looking forward to joining the NZ workforce in a couple of months' time.

It was not to be, unfortunately. Our visa allowed us to go to New Zealand by October, but we decided to arrive a month earlier because we have been informed by friends that December is an idle month as most Kiwis take a holiday that can last from Christmas til the middle of January. This is, after all, not only their Christmas holiday but their summer vacation as well. And closed offices means lesser work opportunities. Sure enough, things took to almost a standstill jobhunting-wise last December. Add the recession affecting everyone worldwide, and you have a recipe for late nights looking and applying for jobs online.

But God has truly good to us. I was able to find work in a month where offices were closing for the holidays! It was, nevertheless, a humbling experience for me and my wife.

We are here on a Work To Residence (WTR) Visa. The WTR enables us to stay here in New Zealand for 9 months, in which time I (being the principal applicant) need to get a skilled job and show proof of employment for 3 months to Immigration before we are granted Permanent Residence Visa. When we received our visa last July 2008, we had 3 months to resign from work, finish packing up, visit our friends and families, and do things we would like to do before boarding the plane. You can learn more about the moving and working in New Zealand through the Immigration New Zealand website (www.immigration.govt.nz/)

I would like to share some of my experiences in my job-hunting to would-be skilled migrants. I would like to talk about how the CV is made here in another post, but suffice to say that your CV should only be 2-3 pages long and with a cover letter.

You may apply for jobs even when you are not yet in New Zealand. If your skills are indeed in high demand, you may get a job offer and the company hiring you may even assist you in moving here. Otherwise, it is appreciated that you are in New Zealand already so you can be interviewed personally.

You will meet a lot of hurdles in your jobhunting. For example, while Information Technology (IT) is in demand here, there are also lots of people applying for the same jobs. It will be great if you have additional certifications under your name other than work experience (such as a Cisco certification if you are a technical engineer). The software applications used here are also a bit different from what we use in the Philippines. The best way is to check out the prerequisites as listed in the job advertisement. You can have a feel for this online.

Where to look for vacancies
Just like in the Philippines, vacancies can be found in the newspapers. Here in Wellington, we have the Wednesday and Saturday editions of The Dominion Post (www.dompost.co.nz). i couldn't see the job ads in the web version, but you can also try the NZ Herald online (www.nzherald.co.nz).

When you get a copy of The Dominion Post, you will find a list of different employment agencies in one convenient page. You can visit their website and register online (which includes inputting your CV details). However, I would recommend that you take note of their office addresses instead and visit them personally. I learned that agency reps are more likely to remember you when they interact with you personally. If you are lucky, they may even have a vacancy and offer it to you on the spot.

Another very useful site is Trademe (www.trademe.co.nz). It has a database of jobs that you can filter based on region and category.

Wellington is host to the country's government offices, and so there is also a lot of jobs you can apply for in the government. Look up the online site at jobs.govt.nz.

Another hurdle you might face is the employer's preference for someone who already has a local working experience. While this may seem like a catch-22, you can get local experience by getting a part-time or temping job. You can also start becoming a productive member of society by volunteering.

I will add more to this post on another day. In the meantime, it's off to bed. Got an early day tomorrow.


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