Your first job in NZ could be an unskilled job; 7 Tips to secure one!!

So you are new in the country? Obviously with no Kiwi work experience!!
Don’t have a degree! Not enough experience!! Still studying!!! And trying to get your first job?

Don’t let lack of experience or job skills or your visa status prevent you from getting a job!!

You should try working for an unskilled job. These are the jobs in the service, sales and some labour areas. There is nothing wrong with working on an unskilled job; someone has to fill these needed positions. Why don’t you take that initiative and get that sought after Kiwi work experience & a strong work reference while you are pursuing your studies.

Easy said than done… right?
Many of you are ready to work on these unskilled roles but are still facing rejections.

Have you ever wondered why? 

To help you get some answers, I am using few real time conversations that I have had with students as examples and bringing in  #7 tips that will help you succeed with your search

#1. Have realistic expectations

It’s his third day in the country, has had couple of years of experience with telecommunication industry from his home country. I am having our first meeting with one of our IT students.

Me: So, what kind of job you have in your mind?
Candidate: I want to work part-time for Telecom NZ, while I am pursuing my studies.
Me: Great, I am happy to see that you have a goal in your mind, but to start with do you think you would be open enough to start few steps below just to make sure you have enough experience and references to be considered for your dream role at Telecom NZ?
Candidate: No, I have 2 years of experience in the industry and would like to apply for positions at Telecom NZ. I have also applied through their website and hopefully should receive their reply soon.
Me: Best of luck and keep me posted. At any point of time, should you feel you need my assistance, please feel free to talk to me. 

#2. Know your CV

Again a first meeting with of our business students, six months of work experience from his home country & couple of weeks in NZ

Me: You said you have a copy of your CV. May I see that?
Candidate: Here is my USB. I have it in there

I open his CV on my screen

Me: Wow…. That’s a great objective statement you have going on there… Can you please read it for me?
Candidate: Sure why not? “To be positioned in an organization, where my best endeavors and innovative qualities along with my personal skills will be utilized effectively to achieve the highest result decided by the management“
Me: Good, so what does it mean?
Candidate: I don’t know.. I just took this CV from my friend and I think even he took it from someone

#3. Cover Letter

One of our IT students after being in NZ for 18 months; not sure what made him see me for the first time!!

Candidate: Excuse me… what is a Cover Letter?

It took me more than 20 seconds to regain my senses and bring back the smile on my face.
I was happy that he asked me this question, I was not so happy at the time he took to ask me this question.

For all those who still want to ask this question read these six posts: Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, Post 4, Post 5 and Post 6

#4. Application Forms online & offline

For our example here let’s assume the student’s name is ‘Tom Cruise’

4 out of 10 of you don’t know the difference between ‘tom cruise’ & ‘Tom Cruise’. While applying online it’s a shame to see your name as ‘tom cruise’ and your address as ‘150, hobson st, auckland’. At times I wonder what would have happened to 150 if we had capital digits and small digits. You are pursuing your ‘diploma’ from ‘cornell inst of busi & tech’.

I am sorry, but this is not where it ends. Many online application forms have few questions followed by empty boxes. Questions like, ‘Why do you want to work for our company?’ or ‘Why should we select you?’ Our Tom either leaves these empty boxes as they are or tries to fill them using all the texting skills that he has learnt in his life. ‘i wnt 2 wrk wid ur comp cuz…’

Give us all a break.... Tom!!

Application Forms are offline or on-site for many unskilled jobs. You are expected to visit the work place personally to fill-up the form.

Be neat and clean before you leave the house. Even though you are not applying for a professional job, for an unskilled job you still need to be presentable. Wear a nice pair of pants (or a skirt for women who choose) and a nice shirt. Make sure this outfit is clean, stain-free and fits well.

If you have multiple piercings, you may want to remove some of your jewelry before filling out a job application for an unskilled job. Although this a part of who you are, unskilled job employers still want to hire people who are more conventional in their appearance.

#5. Data Recording

Here is the excerpt from the discussion with one of our business students who has been in New Zealand for almost 2 months now.

Me: How many jobs have you applied for?
Candidate: Many… I think I must have applied for more than 50 jobs.. by visiting personally and online both…. Yes, not less than 50
Me: Can you name few of the places you applied for?

After thinking hard he could name only 4 employers

Me: But you said more than 50?
Candidate: Yes, I have but I don’t remember the names now
Me: Do you think it is important to keep a record of the places and positions you applied for?
Candidate: Well… I am not sure why and how can I do that.

Discussion continued to

#6. Follow-ups

Me: Why and how to record the data are very important questions. Let’s begin with why...
Until and unless you don’t record what you spoke and who you met; who would you follow-up with?
Candidate: Why is follow-up important? I‘ve applied for the position and they should get back to me.
Me: In the ideal world, yes, they should get back to you. But you are not the only one who has applied for that position moreover you have to understand that majority of these unskilled jobs are filled through references.
Candidate: Ya, I keep hearing this. You need to have strong references if you need to work in NZ. But how do I manage that, I am new in New Zealand, have no friends and family here. Don’t know anyone.
Me: That is more the reason why you should follow-up with the Hiring Manager. Unless you were told not to or given a different time frame, follow up on your unskilled job application in 4-7 days. You can call them or go in person to try to talk to them. Tell them your name and that you are checking on the status of your job application. This shows you are serious about the unskilled job you are applying for. It also keeps your name in the front of their mind while going through all those unskilled job applications.
Candidate: OK… that makes sense, but isn’t it too difficult to keep a record of every application?
Me: I am forwarding this excel sheet to you. Just fill-in the blank columns; you don’t need more than 2 to 3 entries to get used to it. Remember, follow-up is the most important activity that most of the students are missing.

This student of ours is already in job. Well done mate!!
Let me know if anyone needs a copy of this data recording excel sheet.

#7. Show some stability

Business student, first week in New Zealand, showing a lot of willingness to work hard in our first meeting

Candidate: I need a job and will leave no stone unturned when it comes to hard work.
Me: Good to know that. I have a Housekeeping role in a Hotel… Would you be interested?
Candidate: Yes please, give me one chance and I won’t let you down.
Me: Do you know what Housekeeping entails?
Candidate: Yes, I know. I will have to manage and clean the rooms. I’ll have to really work hard.

I got her interviewed and after couple of days of training she was on the job.
I accidentally bumped into her after couple of weeks and we talked:

Me: So, how’s the job going?
Candidate: Oh… that Housekeeping job? I’ve left that 3 days back… It was very tough and I can’t concentrate on my studies.
Me: Did you inform the employer about your decision?
Candidate: No, not yet… I was thinking about coming to you for suggestions.

I am sorry, but I think it is plain common sense to at least inform the employer about your inability to continue. Irrespective of what countries or cultures we come from these are basic etiquette. You’re not going too far if you continue this way!!!

Remember guys, the idea behind sharing these conversations with you is not to make fun of or demean someone. The idea is to learn from others’ mistakes.

Talk to me if you have any questions.




  1. thanks for the information..i have got admission in masters of management in university of aucland,but, i have no work experience,should i go for it or gain some experience first?

    1. As long as you have realistic expectations and are willing to go through the grind Pranay... I think you should be good to go :-)


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