Mountains in Otago New Zealand

Working in New Zealand

You may need to have a job secured before you travel, but New Zealand welcomes graduates seeking a short-term working holiday or a longer-term job filling one of the country’s skills shortages.
If you are interested in obtaining a long-term job it is best to apply before you make the move to New Zealand

The job market | Vacancy sources | Getting work experience | Visa information | Living in New Zealand

Getting a job in New Zealand

New Zealand has a relatively small population (5 million – less than that of London), and is always seeking to attract workers to fill certain skills shortages. It operates a visa scheme in much the same manner as Australia. For full-time, long-term work you will need to find a job and apply for a visa before you arrive. There are also a number of working holiday programmes that allow you to take up short-term jobs such as fruit picking or other seasonal work.

Where could you work in New Zealand?

Major industries: farming, manufacturing, construction, tourism and financial services

Leading employers: Air New Zealand and IBM are two major employers that will be familiar to UK graduates. According to online publication Human Resources Director, these, alongside several universities and the New Zealand Customs Service and Department of Conservation, are the most attractive employers to work for.

Skills in demand: It's likely that there will be good opportunities for graduates with backgrounds in engineering, construction, medicine and the sciences. A full list of shortage skills can be found on the New Zealand immigration website.

Language: English is the primary language for day-to-day life, although Maori is also recognised as an official language.

Are UK qualifications recognised?

Larger employers in New Zealand may recognise English qualifications, but check with employers if in doubt. There are also some agencies that may provide accreditation and conversion services for qualifications if required. For specialist disciplines such as law, you may be required to undertake further study or a conversion course before you are allowed to practise.

What's it like to work in New Zealand?

Working hours: employment legislation in New Zealand recommends that employers and employees agree a maximum of 40 hours per week, but flexible working arrangements and other negotiation may be allowed.

Holidays: four weeks paid annual leave

Income tax: on a sliding scale similar to the UK. The average salary per annum is approximately $48,000, which incurs a tax rate of 30%, for example.

Where to find jobs

TARGETjobs maintains a list of vacancies around the world which you can find on our international jobs search page.

If you are interested in obtaining a long-term job it is best to apply before you make the move to New Zealand. Employers may offer you a telephone or Skype interview before you leave your own country.

There are a host of job websites that list vacancies including Nxstep, SEEK and New Kiwis.

The New Zealand government maintains a list of vacancy and recruitment websites to help people find work.

Newspapers with vacancies

You may still find vacancies advertised in the classifieds of larger newspapers such as The New Zealand Herald, The Dominion Post and the The Press, although you may have better luck searching independently online.

CV, application and interview tips

The application processes for companies in New Zealand may very well be the same as, or similar to, their counterparts in the UK. Employers usually ask for a CV and covering letter, but do check whether any extra information is required in job advertisements.

Large graduate recruiters may have their own employment websites and processes, so always check employers' sites before you apply.

If you need CV writing tips or tricks, check out TARGETjobs series of articles that take your from the first draft to a CV-writing masterclass:

Work experience, internships and exchanges

The official New Zealand careers website maintains a list of training organisations for different industries that may help you track down information about internships, workplace experience and apprenticeships in a range of fields.

There are numerous internship programmes available online that you may be able to undertake with a working holiday visa, or you may wish to go through an agency. Many will offer opportunities as part of a paid 'package deal' that could include accommodation, transport and visa assistance. Always check to make sure that what you are signing up for is a legitimate scheme and, if possible, talk to someone who has applied for an internship through the same organisation. Your university careers service may be able to help you with information and contacts. You may also be able to apply for internships directly via an employer's website.

There are also a number of associations such as AIESEC or IAESTE, which help those looking for work placements in specific areas of expertise.

Volunteering

There are a whole host of companies offering gap year experiences or volunteering opportunities in New Zealand online in a variety of different areas. As with internships, always do your research before you sign up to anything.

Do you need a visa to work in New Zealand?

You will need a visa if you intend to work in New Zealand. Working holiday visas can be obtained in 48 hours and depend on your financial situation. These last for up to 23 months, but you may only work for 12 months of this time.

Longer term visas can be applied for via the New Zealand immigration website. If you wish to apply for a skilled migrant visa you will need to submit an expression of interest and will be assessed using a points system before a decision is made. You may then be invited to apply for a skilled migrant visa. The process is considerably longer than applying for a working holiday visa, with wait times of three to ten months and costs in the region of NZ$1,700. The visa grants you indefinite leave to stay in the country.

A talent (accredited employer) work visa is another option for a long-term stay. These are offered to those who have a skill needed by a New Zealand employer. If you continue to work for this employer for two years, you may apply for a residence from work visa, which will upgrade your status to allow you to stay in the country indefinitely.

Check the New Zealand immigration website to find out more about the different options on offer for working visas in New Zealand.

Living in New Zealand

Cost of living: New Zealand is known for being a relatively affordable place to live with a great quality of life. As ever, the cost of living varies depending on where you are; if you've living in Auckland you may be paying more than in other parts of the country. The New Zealand government handily provides a simple cost of living calculator that can be adjusted to your needs.

Currency: New Zealand dollar (NZ$)

Healthcare: there are some reciprocal healthcare arrangements with the UK for short-term stays. Working holiday visa holders should consider travel insurance. Longer-term visa holders will need to invest in adequate healthcare insurance.

Laws and customs to be aware of:

  • Tobacco and alcohol age threshold: 18
  • UK license holders may drive in New Zealand for up to one year. The minimum age to rent a car in the country is 21 – those under 25 may incur a surcharge.
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