I realize I’m on a kick with all these New Zealand posts, but I think quite a few of you are curious why and how we came to be living in New Zealand. Last month we talked a little bit about getting a work-holiday visa and doing the whole ‘campervan New Zealand‘ thing, and this week I wanted to get a little more detailed about finding work in New Zealand.
First of all, I think it’s important to note that finding work on a work-holiday visa will be remarkably different than finding work on any other kind of residency visa. You’re in the country temporarily and employers know that. You’ll have to sell how valuable you would be (even temporarily) to your future employer. Also remember that you are a living, breathing, billboard of the kind of worker employers see you as. If you decide to walk into an employment agency like you just rolled out of bed, think of the kind of person you are selling to them.
Strangely enough we found the reverse to be true as well. Derik and I walked into a couple employment agencies with college transcripts, resumes, and visas in hand, all dressed up in business-casual like we were ready for our job interview on the spot. We learned later that a lot of these agencies are looking for part-time, man labour, entry-level jobs, and when they took one look at all our info they thought we wouldn’t be interested in any of the jobs they had to offer. I know this sounds completely absurd and I feel weird writing that, but I’m wanting to be honest and open about our job search process.
Ok so let’s dive into finding work in New Zealand (on a work-holiday visa) a little bit more:
What kind of jobs are available?
There are so many different kinds of jobs available that laying them out for you would take years. The seemingly most popular jobs are: nannying, construction work, fruit-picking, and jobs within the tourism industry. It’s fairly simple to find a job, it’s just a matter of where you look! You’ll have to check out Seek.com (be sure to put on the New Zealand filter or it will default to Australia) and Trademe to get an idea of what’s out there, and possibly find some job opportunities!
We also discovered on our job hunt that many employers write notices for employment within local newspapers. Best part about living in a digital age? Those newspapers are online! While we were testing the job-market waters in Queenstown we would read the Otago Daily Times job section to see what was available. Newspapers offer more personal job listings whereas online sites (Trademe and Seek) list more corporate jobs.
If during your job hunt you find a company you’re particularly interested in working with, don’t be afraid to drop in and ask if they have any openings, even if they haven’t listed with a local employment agency! Derik found his job by directly emailing the company he was interested in working with, and what they had available for him was exactly the kind of job he was working for.
Full-time or Part-time?
It really depends on what you want. Full-time is a bit harder to find, especially on a work-holiday visa, but it can be done. Derik is working full-time as a project manager with a construction retail company. We spent a good month and a half finding a job that would continue to build his resume, and were initially turned away from jobs just because of his work-holiday visa. Most companies don’t want to hire anyone full-time that’s going to be around for a year or less, but with his job we got lucky. He’s doing project work, meaning once he’s done with his one big project (ending in December), he can choose to stay and sign on for another project or be done. Right now we’re toying with the idea of staying in New Zealand longer than a year, and if that’s the case, we’d like him to stay with the company and get a solid work visa once his work-holiday has expired.
I, on the other hand , am working part-time as a freelance blog designer and travel blogger. We originally thought I would work outside the home, but my design business picked up in June and hasn’t slowed down! It has paid the rent and more during the time Derik was waiting for his project to start (it just started late last month), and I feel incredibly humbled and blessed to be able to work from home and do my part in contributing to our finances! I’d love to share more on how I got started with working from home, and what my income looks like, but that’ll be another blog post down the road.
All that to say, full-time is great, and so is part-time! Both are available, so do what you’re comfortable with. If you’re one of those people that needs variety in their life, give working multiple part-time jobs a try. :) But remember, you’re in New Zealand to explore one of the most gorgeous countries in the world, so don’t waste your time working your life away. Do what you can to ‘break even’ and save a little extra for travel. What more do you need?
What about vacations?
I didn’t realize how terrible vacation time was in the USA until I moved abroad. You’d be lucky to get even two weeks paid (maybe unpaid) vacation per year, and even at that you’re afraid everyone at work would hate you for taking those two weeks.
Being an ESL teacher in Korea was wonderful because you got paid holidays (sometimes those holidays were 3-5 days), and two weeks paid vacation on top of that! I know others who received 4+ weeks, but let’s be realistic, they were the lucky few.
One of the greatest things that I learned about New Zealand employment opportunities was that each employed person (whether full-time or part-time) is entitled to 4 weeks annual paid vacation. 5 paid sick days (after working 6 months), and 11 paid public holidays! You may have had to reread that last sentence, and that’s ok, I read it like five times. If you don’t believe me I’ll send you my ‘worker’s rights’ email that was forwarded to me right after I was approved for my work-holiday visa!
New Zealanders love to work, but they love to play more. I won’t complain.
What’s the minimum wage?
Minimum wage as an adult is $14.25 per hour. However, if you have experience within the specific area of work you’re trying to get a job in, you can actually make a lot higher of a wage. When you receive your initial job offer and the wage isn’t quite what you’re expecting, don’t be afraid to ask for a little bit more (be realistic though).
Sure minimum wage here is twice as high as back in the US ($7.25 right now), but remember the cost of living is also a lot more in New Zealand, so it equals out.
What if I like my job and I want to stay longer than a year?
If you’re in New Zealand on a work-holiday visa from the UK you can actually extend your visa for another 11 months quite easily. However, if you’re from anywhere else in the world, you’ll have to apply for a completely different visa. Derik is interested in staying with his company for more than a year, so he will most likely be applying for a straightforward temporary work visa.
Life changes though, so we’re not going to bank 100% on staying past our year until the time gets closer. You never know what other great opportunities are out there!
The cool thing about being on a work-holiday visa is that you don’t have to feel pressured to have a job 100% of the time. It’s not a regular work visa that makes you leave the country when you loose your job. Relax, enjoy, holiday in New Zealand, and do some work on the side. You only have one life to live (or more like one year to work-holiday in NZ), so do it well.
All photos taken in Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand