Finding a Job in Wellington, NZ

Evan's Bay, Wellington
Evan’s Bay, Wellington © Keith C.
Name: Stephen
Age: 38
Occupation: Project Management
Number Emigrating: 3
Emigrated from: York, UK
Moved to: Wellington
Daily Commute Time: 10 minutes
Getting a Job and Moving to Wellington

Our move to NZ really began back in December 2006 when we started to talk about maybe moving overseas. Our reasons for leaving the UK were probably similar to a lot of people and generally included overcrowding, work/life balance, outdoor lifestyle etc. The main reason we really became interested was when we heard about the skills shortages, particularly for those with a background in Project Management. The first thing we did was buy a book (I think it was called Living and Working in New Zealand) to find out a bit more about the country as we’d never even visited. We also started to do some research on the web and found details of the 2007 NZ Expos, one of which was due to be held in London during late March/early April. To be honest we didn’t do a lot between January and April other than read the book and continue to look up info on the web, including the NZIS website which contained loads of useful info on the immigration process.

By the time the Expo came around we were certain we wanted to try and make the move and really wanted some validation from people at the Expo. To be honest, I was a little disappointed with the Expo. There wasn’t very much that I thought was relevant to us at that time, although others may have a different viewpoint. We did however get the chance to talk face to face with someone from NZ Immigration and this is when we got our first wake-up call. We had planned to progress the move entirely from the UK, receive Permanent Residency (largely based on my work experience) and then find a NZ job before all moving out. The feedback we received was that without an IT degree to back the Project Management experience we wouldn’t qualify for the bonus points required to take us over the 140 mark need to be selected out of the EOI pool.

This didn’t seem like the end of the world as we felt that sorting out an NZ job from the UK would be fine and we could apply for PR on that basis (after all NZ had all those PM shortages, right???). No so!! Invariably, the first question I was asked by every NZ recruiter I spoke to was “so, when do you arrive?”. My reply was always the same, “doesn’t that depend on when I get a job”. Hmmm, very naïve looking back now. The upshot was, that despite PM shortages in the NZ market, recruiters were wary of overseas candidates and unless you were working in a specialised role or in a highly specialised field there was little interest. This was now late April and to be honest this was a real shock. However, we decided to forge ahead anyway and I started applying for a variety of NZ roles. By the time I hit application number 25, with very little in the way of interest, we were beginning to get disheartened. It was now the end of May and it appeared as though our NZ dream lay in tatters. At the time we weren’t prepared to quit our jobs and move on the chance that I could land a role that would support our planned lifestyle. We also had our three year old son to consider and it was leap too far for us.

It was around this time that we went to Ireland for a holiday. Maybe it the break we needed or just having some clear time to think things through but we came back towards the end of June with a totally different outlook. We had already researched the NZ job market and it was strong, I knew my background and experience would be in high demand and had received feedback from NZ recruiters to that effect. The only blocker was not being in the country itself. It was then we decided to go for it!! First day back in the office I resigned my position and within the next month we had the house on the market. It was late July now and we could really see our plans starting to take shape. Now, all the recruiters that were nervous before were behaving in a different way altogether. They couldn’t do enough. I started to get telephone interviews arranged and meetings booked for when I was scheduled to arrive in NZ. It was all very positive. It did mean some pretty late nights and it was tough at times only having a few hours each evening to make phone calls etc.

The timing on the house sale couldn’t have been better, as we accepted an offer the same week I left my UK job. I flew out to NZ a week later (20th September), leaving my wife and son in UK while I went job hunting. My wife also stayed behind to clear up our UK affairs, including overseeing the house sale.

Streetscene from Karori, Wellington
The Flight and Getting Job Offers

The flight to NZ was pretty tough, but flying via LA was best for me due to the 2x23kg baggage allowance. The only downside is the 2 hour queue in one of the grottiest airports for the privilege of having US Immigration take fingerprints and a retina scan. Not pleasant after an 11hr flight!!

Once in NZ it was time to start heading out and meeting recruitment consultants and seeing what the job market was really like. To be honest, some that were hot while I was in the UK were now lukewarm. This was wholly down to them not having any roles on their books, despite giving a different message only a couple of weeks earlier. To be honest I found Auckland to very impersonal and you were really just a number to most people. This contrasted significantly to my experience in Wellington.

To cut a long story short, after six weeks in NZ I had five job offers (split between Auckland and Wellington). All the offers were in Programme Management permanent roles and with a decent salary/package on offer. Having experienced both cities, Wellington was the clear choice and I started in my new role mid November.

First Days

My wife and son flew out at the end of October which was great after being apart for five weeks and we moved into a rented house at the beginning of November. Locating fully furnished rental property in Wellington can be a challenge but we were lucky with the house we found. It’s in a good area (not that are any bad ones in Wellington really) and is a decent size.

The next challenge was to get hold of the required work permit and visa, which I applied for as soon I accepted the job offer. Initial estimates by NZIS put processing times at seven weeks. This was way out of line with my expectations. However, a quick trip to their offices on Wakefield Street in Wellington and it was processed later that day. Top tip – go and see them in person if you can. They are incredibly helpful and will do what they can for you.

To be honest, that was it. Now I had a job and a two year work permit/visa which meant I could leave/return to NZ when I pleased. This was all in place by early November, only four months after deciding to make our move to NZ “the hard way”.

Since Arriving

Since then, we’ve bought a house in Wellington and have just been out and bought a new car, although we’re still waiting for our container to arrive from the UK – beware the delays with groupage!!

My wife’s work permit/visa application is currently being processed by NZIS, as is our son’s visiting visa. Both are being tied into my work permit so that we are all entitled to remain in NZ for the same length of time. We are just about to submit our full PR application, having submitted our EOI online with 190 points mid November.

Looking back now, we surprise ourselves with the speed at which we made the move. It was only a few months ago that we decided to give it a go and now we’ve managed to achieve all that we set out to. It’s worth saying also that NZ hasn’t disappointed. It’s a fantastic country and everyone we’ve met has been really friendly and very helpful.

A Few Top Tips

Not much more to say really, other than a few top tips for anyone else thinking of making the move:

Research, research, research – don’t underestimate how much spending a few hours doing some background reading will pay off. Also, try and talk to someone who’s been through a similar move.

Save up and be prepared to spend some serious cash to get here. The costs really can mount up (medical fees, immigration fees, air fares, shipping, etc)

Be prepared to spend a significant amount of time on your CV and tailor it for the NZ market (3-4 pages in about the norm here)

Don’t take the first job on offer just to get the permit. There are some excellent roles in the NZ market and they are worth holding out for.

Build relationships with NZ recruiters while in the UK and follow-up with them when you arrive. Stick to using no more than six and try and get a spread across different industries and locations.

If you decide to make the move the way we did, then really throw yourselves into it and give it all you’ve got.

Read more UK to NZ Reviews

Hawkes Bay – Ruth
North Shore, Auckland – Alison
Franklin District, Auckland – Alison and Matt
Christchurch – James
Invercargill – The Hart Family
Invercargill – Kat and Bob
Tauranga – Kymberley
Tauranga – Dianne and Paul
Wellington – Richard and Olivia

Share your own views at My Story. Or find out more about other people’s experiences.

One thought on “Finding a Job in Wellington, NZ”

  1. Your story was very helpful to me as we are leaning towards moving to NZ from Texas (USA). Do you have any NZ recruiters you could recommend?

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