Job Hunting Tips

No One Will Hire Me Without New Zealand Experience

Posted by Jake
min read

This is something I see across almost every day. You have put great work into the preparation of your CV to support the great experience you have gained… in your home country. Many New Zealand businesses value experience gained right here on NZ soil. One of the reasons is that it can show that you’re familiar with how Kiwis operate in the workplace and could also mean you require less training when you start. I have put together some tips on how you can approach finding work here in NZ without local work experience.

If your experience has gained only overseas, then you need to sell to your potential employer that your experience is valuable to them. There are certainly many ‘gains’ that local employers can benefit from hiring someone with overseas experience, such as having an international perspective on the relevant market, different approaches to problem solving and new ideas on business that may not be commonly used in New Zealand.

In a job interview, it can be important to show your understanding and ability to work the ‘Kiwi way’. It is important to know from the outset that in New Zealand, managers and employees can have an informal and friendly relationship at work, it is often common to refer to your boss by their first name. Kiwi employees prefer their managers to consult and ask, not to command.  If you’re applying for a management role, it is important to understand that in New Zealand, effective leaders are expected to be adept at motivating their teams and treating their employees with respect. On the flip side, if applying for a non-leadership role, you will be expected to demonstrate your understanding of being able to work independently and use your initiative, without needing a manager to make all the decisions on your behalf.

  • Study a local degree or conversion course – this will provide you with knowledge on how New Zealand operates in a particular industry.
  • If English is not your first language, then you will no doubt want to prioritise your English language skills.  Speak English as much as possible where you can, including at home. Train yourself to speak slowly and clearly, practice will get you closer to perfect!
  • Target your job applications at the appropriate level, also be prepared that you may need to take a step back. You may need to enter the NZ job market at a lower level, to demonstrate your capabilities.

Let’s talk about temp work

Your best chance of getting work here in New Zealand can certainly be through accepting a temporary role. Hiring managers are more flexible in considering candidate with overseas experience for temporary opportunities, of course, once capabilities are demonstrated. There is a good chance that you will be working at a lower level compared to your country of origin, but use this as a chance to really exceed expectations and add some well known business names to your CV.

Be realistic

There was time in New Zealand when it was hard to find good qualified workers in certain industries. Now university graduates are struggling to find work in their chosen fields. There is a lot of competition in the market place for highly sought after roles and it is likely you are also in competition with a NZ citizen, who has the same amount of experience as you.


The key to success is showing flexibility and willingness to accept a role. Whilst you may have to take a step back from what the level of work you are used to, you will show your commitment as an employee and to understanding how the market place operates in New Zealand.