When people find out that I’m moving to New Zealand, they almost always ask me about what I’ll do for work. Thankfully, a partner resident visa doesn’t have any employment restrictions. I’m hoping to find a job quickly because its almost November now and like the States, companies don’t usually hire during the holiday season.
The biggest hiccup in this plan is that I can’t actually apply for a position until my visa comes through (fingers crossed, guys!). Fortunately, I have found some ways to get the ball rolling and make professional connections from half way across the world. Here are my tips if you’re also thinking about looking for a job from overseas.
1. Update Your Resume/CV
To apply for jobs in New Zealand you submit a CV (curriculum vitae) instead of an American style resume. CV’s are typically longer; my resume grew from one page to three! The additional pages came from expanding on the descriptions in my existing education, work, and volunteer sections and adding three new sections: a personal statement, a summary of qualifications, and references.
Pro Tip: Include your immigration status in a prominent spot on your CV. Let hiring managers know if you already have the right to work in New Zealand, they may be more likely to consider your application.
It can be helpful to have someone from the country where you are moving review it and provide feedback. Keep in mind that what you include can vary depending on your professional field and different countries’ standards. Even though Pete is a Kiwi, I couldn’t reference his CV because his is formatted for tech and I plan to work for a nonprofit.
2. Research Organizations Before You Move
There’s no need to wait until you move to start researching companies where you want to work. Check job boards to see who’s hiring. I’ve been checking Seek and Do Good Jobs about once a week since we decided to move. You can also read job descriptions to find out what skills you’ll need, and develop any areas that need strengthening in your free time.
Pro Tip: Look out for high turnover. If an organization lists the same position every few months or has several positions open it may be a sign that something’s not quite right. This isn’t always the case but might be worth asking about in an interview.
Be proactive. Use Google to search for organizations or companies in your field. Look at their websites and social media content to get a sense of their brand. It gives you a better feel for a company and can be helpful if you end up interviewing with some of them down the road. Professional groups also have websites with job boards and other great information.
3. Identify Cultural Differences
When you travel you quickly learn that most places have their own flavor, their own way of doing things. For example, when I lived in Israel I had to embrace haggling unless I wanted to spend 4x more on groceries at the local farmer’s market. Discovering these differences is one of my favorite parts of traveling. It’s important to be flexible and embrace the “when in Rome” philosophy.
Use the time you have before moving to try and learn about these cultural differences. This will be important for interviewing and for getting along with your future coworkers. It will also help you avoid potentially awkward situations at work and in your social life.
New Zealanders are particularly sensitive to tall poppy syndrome, meaning they prefer to embrace an ethos of equality rather than celebrating success. I’m not saying blend in like a wallflower, just be a sensitive to this important difference between New Zealand and the United States. New Zealanders also value honesty so make sure to say what you mean and communicate directly without any hidden meaning.
4. Reach Out For Informational Interviews
Once you’ve prepped your CV and done your research, it’s time to put yourself out there. Most websites have a staff page with contact information. I’ve had good responses from emailing executive directors to find out more about their organizations and asking for insight on Christchurch’s nonprofit scene.
Pro Tip: Make sure to attach your CV in the initial email to they can get a better sense of who you are and what kind of work you are looking for.
It’s important to be upfront about what you’re hoping to get out of the conversation. I make it clear that although I am looking for jobs, what I’m asking from them is their advice and insight. I now have several informational interviews queued up for when I arrive in New Zealand.
5. Contact Recruiters
Using a recruiter can be hit or miss but it certainly can’t hurt to submit your resume to a few agencies. This usually leads to a Skype interview, a great opportunity to practice your interview skills. They might also give you helpful feedback on what kind of jobs to look for and ways to improve your resume. If, like me, you’re looking for nonprofit work I’d recommend Execucare, an international agency with a branch in Wellington.
Pro Tip: When setting up a Skype call, make sure the technology is working. There’s nothing more awkward than trying to look professional when your sound isn’t working.
Be prepared to explain your visa situation, because that’s often one of the first questions you’ll get. Depending on your industry, it can be harder to find a job if you need a visa sponsor.
6. Find Connections In Your Existing Network
Depending on your situation, you may have existing connections through friends and family in the country where you’d like to work. Because Pete is from New Zealand, I’m really fortunate to already know a few people over there.
As a courtesy, make sure to thank anyone that offers to help and let them know if you end up using their connections.