Looking for work 

How do I decide what kind of work I want to do?

Think about what sort of things you like to do and are good at, and what skills you have that might make you good at a particular type of job. If you’d like some help with your decision about the sort of work you might be good at or enjoy, you can contact Careers NZ for free advice through their website. Our information about changing careers is also relevant to you.

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Where can I find job vacancies?

The majority of jobs are now advertised on the internet, for example on Seek or TradeMe Jobs.

You might also consider signing up with a recruitment agency, especially if you have specialised skills (e.g. in IT, office administration). The recruitment consultant will do a lot of the job hunting for you and there is usually no cost to register. 

You can also try the job board at your local Work and Income office or your local newspaper.

Many jobs aren’t advertised in the bigger newspapers or on websites, so you should also consider: 

  • being proactive and distributing copies of your CV to organisations where you would like to work  
  • checking your local/suburban newspaper 
  • letting your friends and family know you’re job hunting, in case they know of anything  

Careers NZ has lots of job hunting tips on their website.

In the meantime you could consider becoming involved in voluntary work for a local community organisation. Volunteering can help you establish networks, develop new skills, gain work experience, and improve your opportunities for employment. You can read more about volunteering on our Community Organisations web page.

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What should be in my CV?

Your CV (short for Curriculum Vitae, but also known as a resumé) is very important because your potential employer will probably use it to decide whether they are interested enough to interview you.

Your CV should be in plain English. You should aim to keep it short and to the point (about one to four pages in total). It’s a good idea to tailor your CV to a particular job, especially if your work history is varied. Be sure to include words or phrases which the employer might be looking for (for example, the names of computer systems you are familiar with, which they use).

It should cover the following:

  • Personal details: Your name, address and contact details
  • Work experience: List your previous employers and the skills you used when you were working for them. If you have a lot of previous employers, think about including just the most recent three, or the ones that are most similar to the job that you are applying for.
  • Skills and abilities: List any relevant related skills and abilities.
  • Education and training: List your secondary and tertiary qualifications or work-related courses you have completed ie first aid courses or barista training. You can probably omit secondary school qualifications if you gained them many years ago. 
  • Other details that may be relevant: For example, if you have a driving licence, or are fluent in another language. 

It's not necessary for the CV to include referees (people you have worked for - whether in paid or voluntary work - in the past, who would be willing to talk about how well you worked). However you should contact them in advance, and have their contact details ready in preparation for the interview.  

You should also include a cover letter with your CV when you apply for a job.

The cover letter can be a very important part of a job application because some employers read them to decide whether to even look at a CV. Use your cover letter to highlight the most relevant parts of your CV, and to state why you are the right person for the job. It's another way you can tailor your application for a particular job and show that you are worth their attention. Keep the letter brief though - no more than a page in length.  

And finally, ask a literate friend or family member to read your CV and cover letter, to check for readability and to spot any errors you may have made in spelling or grammar.

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Who can help me put my CV together?

You should be able to find many books at your local library on the subject of writing a CV or resumé (there is a difference between the two but the terms are often used interchangeably).

You will also find useful information and tips: 

If you are signed up with an agency your recruitment consultant may do your CV for you. CV writing businesses produce customised CVs for a fee. Your local CAB can also help you find someone in your area who can help you with your CV, either for a fee or for free.  

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I need advice on changing careers.

Changing careers can be a big decision.  If you don't know what your new career should be, you can get ideas for your career by visiting the Careers New Zealand website and browsing their comprehensive jobs database. They also have advice for planning your career change.

You can also call Careers New Zealand toll free on 0800 222 733, or contact them via email or online chat

There are also many books on the subject of changing your career, which are available at your local library or bookstore. Talking to a recruitment agency or professional careers advisor can also be useful. You can also talk to people who are already working in a field you are interested in, to find out how they got there.

Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for more information on services that may be available in your area.

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How do I find short-term or seasonal work?

Seasonal jobs are listed on specialist websites such as:

You can also try the regular job sites listed above.

If you visit New Zealand and are seeking seasonal work, you must have a valid New Zealand work visa. There is more information about work visas on the Immigration NZ website.  

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I am disabled and need help finding a job. Who can help?

Workbridge is a free professional employment service for people with all kinds of disabilities. For more information on how Workbridge can help, you can contact them at one of their offices.

You might be eligible for work assistance through the Ministry of Social Development's Mainstream Employment Programme, which provides subsidies and other funding towards salary costs and the costs of training, specialised equipment and follow-up support.

It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against you because of your disability when you apply for a job. The Human Rights Act 1993 protects people from unlawful discrimination. If you think you have been discriminated against when applying for a job, you can contact the Human Rights Commission.  

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What kind of help is available to someone moving to New Zealand?

Most people wanting to move to New Zealand and work long-term will need a work visa, and will need to get a job offer before they can get a work visa. There are specialist websites which aim to match New Zealand employers with migrants, and they are listed on the New Zealand Now website.

There you will also find links to industry specific websites as well as general advice for migrants seeking work in New Zealand.

If you are a skilled migrant, partner of a skilled migrant, or an international student graduate (Level 7 and above) and live in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington or Christchurch, you may be eligible for the Work Connect programme. This is a series of job search and interview group workshops and one-on-one coaching and mentoring, to help you find a job that suits your skills, experience and qualifications.

It’s important to know that for some professions and trades, an overseas qualification might not be sufficient to allow you to work in that profession or trade in New Zealand. For example if you trained as a doctor overseas then there are a number of requirements you may need to meet before you are allowed to work as a doctor in New Zealand.

The Careers NZ website has more job searching advice aimed at migrants, as well as a list of organisations that can help you.

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Can I get help with the costs of job hunting?

If you are moving from receiving a benefit into paid work, and have to move to take up a full time job offer there, you may be eligible for $3000 to help with the cost of relocation under the $3k to work scheme. It is only available for up to 1000 Work and Income clients. 

Work and Income can also help beneficiaries moving into paid work, through Assistance to transition to employment. This helps fund the costs of :

  • work clothing or tools
  • travel costs or an outfit for job interviews
  • relocation (if you find a job in another town or city)
  • your living expenses until your first pay
  • an interpreter 

You don't need to pay this money back.

To be eligible for Assistance to transition into employment you have to be a New Zealand citizen or resident and be over 16 years of age. Contact Work and Income for more information.

Work and Income can also refer you to your local Dress for Success or Dress to Impress. These are not-for-profit organisations who can provide clothing suitable for job interviews. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can also help you with getting a referral if you are not being referred from WINZ. 

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I accepted a job offer but the offer was rescinded before I started work. Is this legal?

This kind of thing can happen if, for example, the employer experienced a downturn in business after offering you the job, or if they changed their mind about you after checking your references.

An employer can rescind (cancel) a job offer at any time before the offer has been accepted. Once a job offer has been accepted, key terms of employment (eg the pay rate) have been agreed and any conditions have been met (eg satisfactory reference and criminal record checks), then it becomes a binding contract.

This means that at this point the employer can’t just rescind the job offer, because the employment relationship has started - even if the employee hasn’t started working there yet. If the employer does not wish to keep you on they will have to follow the rules for terminating your employment (see our information on dismissal and redundancy). If you wish to challenge the employer’s decision you can raise a personal grievance