6 things you should know before you apply for a job in NZ.

The internet is full of articles that will tell you why NZ is unique and what makes this beautiful country so special but like any other country, NZ has its own culture, work environment, specialties, positives, and challenges. Like any other country, if job seekers take things for granted or focus less on preparation or try to ignore the Kiwi ways the time taken to get what they want will be comparatively more than otherwise.

To help you, the ‘job seekers’, I’ve listed down 6 statements that can be the deciding factor in helping you achieve your employment goals faster. You should know what are these statements, what they could mean for you and what sort of questions you should be asking to understand their effect/s on YOUR job search plans & execution strategies.

Statement 1: The unadvertised Job Market.
Meaning: There's an open discussion on the internet that talks about the unadvertised job market. Some articles claim 80% of the jobs are not advertised and some claim that this figure is a myth propagated by employment consultants and career councilors to spread fear in the job seekers mind and generate more business. But considering the revolution that has happened in the access & exchange of information in the last couple of decades, we would be na├»ve to think that the only job available is the job advertised. What you see being advertised on today’s job boards is just a tip of the actual job market. A huge chunk of jobs is not even advertised. Call it cost-saving, the hassle of going through hundreds of CVs if the role is advertised, access to smart ways to hire the desired talent; employers today are motivated to bypass the job boards and or the recruitment agencies, if they can, to fill their roles.
Questions: What is this unadvertised job market? How do I access it? How do I know if they have an open role & they are looking for someone? Does that mean people who are applying through job boards will never get a job?
Statement 2: 45% of the people in Auckland were not born in NZ.
Meaning: Almost half of the people here in Auckland are migrants like you and me and believe it or not they have gone through the same grind while finding their feet in this new home of theirs. New country, new culture, and new work environment would’ve thrown similar challenges at them including all the possible difficulties while they were getting into their first employment/job. The degree of difficulty might have varied but they have all faced the same music that you’re facing right now. They know the story of ‘rejections’ and ‘no-feedbacks’ while they were applying for jobs. They have done their mistakes and learned their lessons. They have lived their share of uncertain times.
Questions: What are the five common personality characteristics/traits of these migrants who’ve established themselves in a new environment against all odds? How do I find them and then how do I get in touch with them? Why should I even try to reach them? I don’t know anyone, why would they even talk to me? Am I supposed to ask them for a job?
Statement 3: 80% of the businesses in NZ are 5 people or less.
Meaning: Figures will remain more or less the same for at least the next 10 years if not more. I don’t see any drastic change happening in the dynamics of NZ market. Do you know 70% of businesses in NZ are ‘one-man-show’? That’s the free entrepreneurial Kiwi spirit for you there!! This also justifies the first statement mentioned above. How many of them would want to hire and even if they wanted to, then how many of them do you think are going to place an advertisement on the job sites? No wonder, most of the hiring in these circumstances take place through references. It’s the standard approach of ‘someone knows someone knows someone’  
Questions: What are the biggest challenges these business owners are facing in their day-to-day work? What makes me think they will have a job for me? What approach can I have to make them want to work with me? Can I or should I explore the possibilities of volunteering with them?

Statement 4: You are dealing with people who don’t say what they mean.
Meaning: It’s very difficult to generalise but most of the Kiwis wouldn’t want to say anything bad or anything that might cause conflict. Not that they mean any harm to you but that’s their general makeup topped by their tendency to be ‘politically correct’ always. Imagine two Kiwis in a restaurant that they are trying for the first time, they get served with one of their favourite dishes and for some reason they hate it, they feel awful to have selected this place and ordered this dish. It is completely distasteful. The waiter passes by and with a smile asks, “How’s the dish?” In all the likelihood with a reciprocating smile, the answer will be a vague, “It’s great…thank you” With the waiter gone, amongst themselves, they will say, “what a bloody waste of time and money, we are never coming back here again.” No matter who you are, remember, Kiwis will hardly give you a harsh opinion, comment or a feedback in your face. Of course, a specific praise is usually true. It’s just not in their nature to offend anyone. They prefer to express their negative feelings indirectly avoiding direct confrontation.
Questions: Does that mean all the praise I’ve got is/was false? How do I get to the real stuff then? Are all Kiwis like this? How do I know what is being said and what it means? Won’t I offend them if I ask direct questions? Aren't we all like that?

Statement 5: A flat work environment.
Meaning: A flat work environment with few or no levels of management between different level of team members, open door policies, close-knit teams, teams without strict hierarchies. You can easily reach the decision makers or the people who can influence the decision making in any company. Now, that is completely different from other hierarchical and or authoritative work cultures from where most of us migrants come from. Say for example, if you want to talk to the Director/Owner/CEO of a company in India you might have to go through a channel of gatekeepers before you finally figure out it’s not possible to talk to them.
Questions: Does that mean my manager is my friend? Can I joke around/laugh/have a beer with my manager? Can I call the Director/CEO of the company directly and talk to them? Can I call them by their first name? Are they obliged to speak with me or return my calls? What should I talk to them?

Statement 6: Spray and pray.
Meaning: Most of the migrants are used to this sort of application process. We close our eyes, shortlist 20-30 jobs on a weekly basis from the job boards and send those standard/similar looking Cover Letters and CVs to all the roles without thinking or researching much. I’ve also known some great job seekers who have applied to those number of jobs daily!! That’s called ‘spraying’ your CV in all the possible directions and after that, we ‘pray’ that something should stick somewhere. It’s called the ‘spray & pray’ concept. I’m sorry to say that but it’s not going to work here in NZ. Every role must be researched, evaluated & qualified before you send your documents that are specifically tailor-made to that role.
Questions: Do you know how much time it takes to tailor-make the CV and Cover Letter for every job? Why should I put so much of my time & effort when recruiters don’t even bother responding? How do I make sure my application is being read?

If you can answer the questions given after every statement, you will end up having a good job search strategy. Please bear in mind your answers might not necessarily be the same as your friend’s. What works for you might not work for others because your personality, strengths & weaknesses are different from others.

Find YOUR answers, ask for help, look for support. There’s so much available out there.


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