Finding & applying for jobs

Before you move, your first task will probably be finding a job. That’s because most migrants need a job offer to get a work visa.

The exception is if you’re eligible for another sort of visa, such as residence, working holiday, or a partner visa. In these circumstances, you can get your visa first.

It’s perfectly acceptable and legal to apply for jobs before you get a visa. Employers generally understand the situation, and when you get a job, will help you with your visa application. Just remember however you won’t be able to start working, and earning, until your visa is approved.

Visas to work in New Zealand

Job vacancy websites

Specialist websites if you're overseas

There are a number of websites designed to connect offshore workers with New Zealand employers. Employers listing jobs on these websites may have more experience in hiring migrants. Two to consider are Workhere and Working In.


Working In

New Zealand engineer

Industry specific websites

There are a number of industry specific websites that list many of the jobs available within an industry.

Healthcare jobs | Kiwi Health Jobs

Dairy farming jobs | Farm Source jobs

Education jobs | Education Gazette

Engineering jobs | IPENZ job hunt

Crown Research Institute jobs | Science New Zealand

More industry specific websites | Careers NZ

General job websites

The two most popular websites for job seekers in New Zealand are called TradeMe and Seek. These sites list a lot of vacancies, but if you’re searching from overseas you may find some employers aren’t always open to hiring. 

You can also find a list of other job vacancy websites, including industry specific websites on Careers New Zealand.

Jobs | Trade Me Jobs

Jobs | Seek

Job vacancy and recruitment websites | Careers NZ

New Kiwis employment service

New Kiwis is a free service for migrants. When you register on their database, one of their team will guide you through the process of finding work in your industry. They can also help you format your CV and prepare for interviews.

New Kiwis

Hot tip

Living in Wellington or Christchurch? 

Visit the Chamber of Commerce to get some help with matching up your skills to available jobs in your region.

Newcomer skills matching in Wellington
Newcomer skills matching in Christchurch

Recruitment companies

New Zealand employers often use recruitment companies or agents to screen candidates and find suitable employees, particularly for specialist and high-level jobs. These agents get a ‘finder’s fee’ from the employer when they successfully place someone in a job.

The Careers New Zealand website has a comprehensive list of recruitment companies and specialist job vacancy websites.

You might want to register with more than one recruitment agent. That’s generally fine, but don’t overdo it. Being put forward for the same job by more than one recruitment agent makes you - and the agent - look unprofessional. The New Zealand employment market is small, so it’s especially important to keep track of who you’ve contacted about jobs, and when.

Job vacancy and recruitment websites | Careers New Zealand

Finding work in the Canterbury rebuild

If you think you might be able to find work in the rebuilding of Christchurch and Canterbury following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, the first place to look is the Canterbury Skills & Employment Hub.

Employers are able to use the Hub to offer jobs essential for the rebuild, even if those jobs aren’t on Immigration New Zealand’s official skills shortage lists.

If there are no suitable New Zealanders on the database, employers using the Hub can get faster approval from Immigration New Zealand for a work visa for an international applicant.

The Canterbury Skills & Employment Hub | Opportunity Canterbury

Construction workers

It may be easier to get a visa if your job is essential for the Canterbury rebuild.

Direct contacts

Some jobs aren’t advertised and contacting employers or professional or employer organisations directly can be a good strategy.

Showing initiative always impresses Kiwi employers. So, don’t be afraid to call or email a company you’re interested in working for, even if that’s not how you’d do things at home.

Even if they don’t have a job that’s suitable, the people you talk to may offer you the name of colleagues in another company, or give you advice about other skills you have that may be useful to others.

Many employers prefer face-to-face meetings, so visiting New Zealand and organising in-person interviews may increase your chances of getting a job.

Many migrants take a preliminary ‘fact finding’ holiday here and make appointments to see key employers. Make sure you set up the appointments by calling or emailing ahead of time, as Kiwi employers don’t appreciate last-minute scheduling.

Calling employers from overseas is not that much harder than calling them in your home country these days, thanks to the various low cost calling options available like Skype. Just remember to check the time difference between your location and New Zealand.

CV and cover letter

The CVs that New Zealand employers prefer may be rather different to the CV style you’re used to. For example, we don’t normally list every job or course we’ve ever done, as is common in some countries. We tend to give examples of how we’ve used various skills, rather than just list them. And, while you always have to sell yourself in a CV, remember Kiwis don’t appreciate boastfulness.

Kiwi employers may not be familiar with the companies you have worked for, so it’s a good idea to include a short description of the company in your CV - things like the number of employees, location, and website.

People suggested that my CV was not what New Zealand employers would look at. Where I come from we prepare a CV in a different way: we give all our experience right from day one. Here, nobody likes to read a story!

It’s also standard practice to include a cover letter with all job applications. This is a one-page 'sales pitch' about why you think you're ideal for the job. It should be formal but persuasive.

For tips on creating your CV and cover letter, see the Careers New Zealand website.

Don’t forget to bring your qualifications with you to New Zealand. If you’re sending them in with an application, don’t send originals. Get copies made and certified. If you’re in New Zealand, a Justice of the Peace (JP) can do that.

More information about using overseas qualifications in New Zealand is available on our Getting job-ready page.

Find a JP | Royal Federation of New Zealand Justices’ Associations

Creating a NZ-style CV and cover letter | Careers New Zealand

Getting job-ready


Like CVs, interviews in New Zealand can also be different. New Zealanders are quite informal, and this will be reflected in the interview process. You may also find you’re interviewed by anything from one to three or four people, and that your interviewer is of the opposite gender.

Before the interview, find out as much as you can about your potential employer. Think about your skills, how they apply to the role and what practical examples you can offer to back up your suitability for the job. In the interview you may be asked to give examples of how you’ve dealt with situations in the workplace. For example, you might be asked to give an example of how you dealt with a tight deadline. This is called behavioural interviewing, and is very common.

Dress smartly so you make the right impression and make sure you arrive on time.

For more interview tips, visit the Careers New Zealand website.

Job interviews in New Zealand | Careers New Zealand

Interested in coming to New Zealand?

Register with us and you’ll receive great info on jobs and upcoming events.


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Page last updated: 06/12/2016

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