A Working Holiday in New Zealand: 10 Ways to Find a Job

14 mins read
Job Seeker advice job seeker working holiday Working Holiday Visa

If you’re here in New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa (WHV), chances are that one of the big things on your mind will be finding a job so that you can sort a place to live and start putting aside spending money to travel Aotearoa and go out on the weekends! But how do you find a job in an unfamiliar city, in a new country where they do things differently, and without all the connections you probably have back home…eek! Are you panicking yet?

There’s really no need – relax! As with my previous blogs in this series, I’ve been in your shoes before and I’m here to help. Plus, I work in the recruitment industry, so I’m going to share the insights and knowledge that I’ve gathered over the last six years to get you through this important milestone – finding a great job in New Zealand!

Before we get started, I’m assuming that you’re already work ready with CV in hand. If not, read last week’s blog to make sure you’ve got everything you need. If you’re looking for CV tips, check out this article written by one of my colleagues, which will help you tailor your resume to the Kiwi job market.

All set? Read on to discover 10 Ways to Find a Job in New Zealand!


1. Recruitment Agency

Sometimes also known as an employment or job agency, registering with a recruitment agency is a really efficient way to begin your job hunt. I may be a bit biased because I work at one (and I love my job!), but I can also speak from experience because I used a recruitment agency when I first arrived in New Zealand, at the recommendation of one of my friends. It honestly made finding a job so much quicker, easier, and less stressful than I had originally anticipated!

If you aren’t familiar, a recruitment agency links job seekers (like you!) with potential employers. The employers (the business or organisation that needs staff) hire the recruitment agency to do all the work of finding them the right people for their business, and they pay the bill for those services (it’s free for job seekers).

The good thing about using an agency is that you get access to lots of jobs, some of which may not be accessible anywhere else, and your Recruitment Consultant does most of the hard work finding you a job (or alternatively you can often browse through recruitment agency jobs and apply directly if you prefer – more about that below). Plus, recruitment agencies are generally one of the best (sometimes only) places to find temp work, which as I’ve previously mentioned, is the only job type you can have on a Working Holiday Visa.

You just need to register with your agency of choice (register with us here), providing info like your CV, what kind of work you’re keen on, your contact details, your availability to work etc. Then you’ll be allocated a Recruitment Consultant and it’s over to them to match your skills, experience, and goals with the right job and employer. Getting your first NZ job could be as simple as that!


2. Job Board/Website

A job ‘board’ is simply a website used to advertise job vacancies to job seekers. I think the name must come from old community notice boards (which actually still exist at supermarkets here in NZ) where people used to write jobs on cards and pin them to the board. Some job boards specialise in a certain area, while others (like us!) span nearly every industry, sector, location, and job type.  The jobs may be advertised directly by a business or organisation, or by recruitment agencies.

Job boards are common across the world, so you’re probably already familiar with how they work. It’s pretty straightforward – you just visit the website, scroll through all the jobs, and apply online. There are usually filters, so you can search by location or by search term (e.g. “professional movie watcher”).

When applying through a job board you normally need to create a profile using your personal details and a contact email address. Hot tip for all kinds of job-hunting profiles: make sure you have an appropriate email address! If you’re applying for jobs from taylor_swift_fan_grrlll@gmail.com, you may be seen as a less-than serious job applicant.

The two biggest job board websites here in Aotearoa are Seek and Trade Me Jobs, but there are a few smaller ones too, which you can find with a quick Google. Job boards are a great way to get a sense of the types of roles available in your area and are also another way to find recruitment agencies.


3. Contact a business directly

It might sound odd if this isn’t how things are done in your home country, but in New Zealand, approaching potential employers directly is an accepted approach which can be pretty effective! It does take a bit of nerve, but if you’re bold and confident then this could be a good option for you!

It’s quite common for employers to have vacancies coming up that they haven’t proactively started trying to fill yet, so you could be the right person at the right time! In any case, showing initiative in this way always impresses Kiwi employers, even if they end up referring you to their more ‘formal’ job application process, or asking you to get in touch with their regular recruiter.

Contacting a business directly can be as simple as finding a number on their website, giving them a ring, and asking to speak to the appropriate person. You can email too, though this might not be as effective since it’s a less direct approach (i.e., more easily ignored!). Depending on the type of business and work you’re after, you could even pop by in person. The direct approach is recommended for entry level jobs or customer service type positions (it’s a great demonstration of your skills), but you can try it with any type of work if you have the confidence. Good luck!


4. Job Seeker Profiles

I guess technically you could lump this one together with my number 2 since you’ll need to visit the major job websites to use this method, but the focus here is a little different. Rather than having to scroll endlessly through loads of not-quite-right jobs on a website, this approach is about letting the right jobs find you.

Essentially, you create a job seeker profile on both Seek and Trade Me Jobs, and when you do, you can be found and ‘matched’ by the employer or recruiter who is searching. Visit each website directly as they include plenty of easy, how-to instructions.

My advice would be to make sure that you fill out your profile in full, using lots of job-related key words, as this makes it much easier for the algorithms to pick up your profile and show it to the employers who are searching for candidates. When a business or recruitment consultant finds you, they’ll reach out to gauge your interest and you can take it from there.

It can take a bit of time and effort to build your profile, and it might be a while before you hear from anyone, but it can be a handy method if you’re busy doing other things…like travelling or relaxing on a beach!


5. Social Media

Some of us love it, some of us hate it, but it truly is a part of everyday life in 2022. Social media is not only fantastic for keeping up with your friends overseas and learning new dances #tiktok4life, it’s got great #jobhunting potential too. If you’re considering a role aligned with your career, then LinkedIn will be your go-to (all hiring managers and recruiters use it to find candidates in NZ!). More about LinkedIn below.

Loads of businesses are now using social media to find job seekers just like you. With a bit of research, you can identify the kinds of businesses you’d like to work for and then follow them on Insta, Facebook, or wherever they’re active, and keep an eye on their posts. There are also a couple of really handy hashtags you should start following – #nzjobs #hiring

You might find you get access to jobs before they are advertised on traditional channels so it’s worth keeping an eye out.


6. Referrals

It’s a classic for a reason. When your friend Emily mentions that Vishnu (who you met at dinner last weekend) said his company was looking for an admin person, and you just happen to be looking for an admin job…it’s like the stars have aligned! Employers love referrals, and job seekers love them too (great people know great people!). So don’t be afraid to ask around, in person or virtually. Let your friends and connections know that you’re in the market, give a really concise snapshot of what you’re looking for, and see what happens. Referrals work best when you’re already in the country, so save this one for once you’ve landed.


7. LinkedIn Job Board

If you’re a bit further along in your career and you’re looking for New Zealand jobs that will enable you to build on your existing skills and experience, then the LinkedIn job board may be good place for you to visit.

LinkedIn is basically like a professional or ‘work’ social media platform. As a user, you have a profile (if you don’t have one, now’s a good time to start), and you are linked to ‘connections’, instead of friends. The site is packed full of useful resources, there’s a feed of chat and conversation of the work-variety, the odd controversial post (it’s fun to read the comments!)  and is all around a useful tool. The LinkedIn Job Board works in much the same way as any other job websites: employers or recruiters list vacant jobs, and as a job seeker you can search by terms such as location, job type and experience level.

Where it can be extra handy, is that you can see when people in your own network are hiring, which means you are often one or two steps more closely connected to the available jobs. Also, there is usually an abundance information included about the job: you can see who the employees of the organisation are, and more about the business itself, so it can be a lot easier to figure out if a job is potentially the right fit and get yourself to the point where you are thinking ‘’I can see myself in that business’. While there certainly aren’t the same volumes of jobs as you might find on the classic job boards; it’s a bit more niche, with fewer entry-level jobs, that in itself can make it a great place to scout for those career-enhancing opportunities.


8. Mark yourself ‘Open to Work’

Now if you are paying attention, you will note that in the last point, number 7, I referred to your LinkedIn Profile.  What you may not know, is that this profile could be your key to getting a job, with minimal searching efforts. You will need to do some planned-out, upfront work— but aren’t the best things worth working for?  It’ll be highly beneficial to spend some time getting your LinkedIn Profile looking fabulous and full, because it’s another site where you can let the job opportunities come to you.

Fill in every single bit of that profile, add suitable photos and then look for a very special button labelled ‘Open to’. This is where you can indicate to all and sundry (the professionals!) that you are looking for work. Ta da! Now when employers and recruiters are searching for candidates for their job, if you match, then your profile will magically appear.  Of course, the best results will come from having an extensive network, so make sure that in addition to getting your profile looking spic and span, you are connecting with your current work colleagues and associates – now is not the time to be shy. You can read more about updating your LinkedIn profile here.


9. Hostels and Backpackers

My ninth option is an old school combo deal. It’s a mixture of word-of-mouth and the traditional notice on a noticeboard, yet it’s still valid, and it works: you can find a job via your hostel/backpackers.  I’m going to talk a lot more about staying at a hostel or backpackers in next week’s blog edition, but I’m happy to give away one little spoiler—I’m a big fan!

There are multiple benefits to staying in a hostel, but in the context of job hunting, one of them is that it’s a really useful way of finding work. Look, we all know New Zealand is not a large country, and it has a relatively small population—that’s part of its charm!  Stay at a backpackers, and then —importantly—deploy the 21st century tool of joining a travellers or backpackers Facebook group and hey presto, you have a new group of friends and contacts, who are practically aching to help with your job search.  Members of these groups often talk about the job they are working at, where there is another empty job just waiting for you to get in touch.  You’ll see posts from members describing how need to find someone to fill their job that will be available, once they depart the country; recruitment agencies even put physical flyers up on noticeboards in hostels when they have jobs to fill. It can be an endless source of entertainment – and employment.


10. Madison website

You didn’t think I would post a list of how to find a job without a shout-out to my own workplace did you?  I’ve used a lot of restraint to hold it back until this point; but sweeping in at Number 10, is the good old Madi website.

Please excuse the promotional tone, but I truly believe that the Madison website is an excellent place to look for a job.  We’re New Zealand’s recruiter for a reason. The business was founded in 1998, and it’s been a huge part of the Kiwi employment scene for the near quarter century since.  Madison is part of the Accordant group, the largest recruitment group in New Zealand, so there are opportunities beyond the kinds of work that Madison recruits for.  I did a quick ‘browse jobs’ before I wrote this, and there were 10+ pages of jobs, across arrange of industries, levels and sectors, in multiple locations across the country on the Madison website.  It’s definitely worth a look.


Ready to find a job?

Virtual high fives to you if you’ve made it to the end of my Ten Ways to Find a Job In New Zealand, it’s certainly a LOT of information, but I wanted to make sure that you have lots of options. And of course, as you’ve no doubt realised, you don’t have to just pick one approach and go with that, your best results are going to come from trying out several of these options from my list. If you do that, you’ll be out and working in the perfect job in no time!


Stay tuned, next week is all about finding a place to live

Next week I’m going to cover a really important and practical topic: Where to live, and How to Find Accommodation in New Zealand. If you watch the news, the property market is always a massive topic, and even for us Working Holiday Visa holders, finding the perfect place to live is a huge deal.  House hunting is one of those important but sometimes-challenging jobs, so I have lined up some insider knowledge to share with you, and assist you in your search.

Gemma Hill
Principal Consultant

A bit about me In 2016, I arrived in New Zealand from the UK and my recruitment journey began. With experience in people focussed industries like healthcare and hospitality across the UK and…

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