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The basics
New Zealand: Career Prospects - Must read

Finding a graduate career in New Zealand

Learn how to find a graduate career in New Zealand

Graduate teacher

So, you’ve finished your studies in New Zealand and are dreading the long trip home. Armed with a fresh professional qualification, budding ambition and no desire to leave those rolling green hills behind, there’s no reason you shouldn’t stay on and kick-start your career. New Zealand’s modern, competitive economy presents graduates with many different employment opportunities that draw on specific and lateral skills gleaned through study. Let our overview of the transition from graduate to professional in New Zealand make things seem clearer. 


What’s the graduate market like?

Against an improving economy, around one third of employers in New Zealand said they were expecting to take on new staff in 2014. Business confidence is at a 20-year high, unemployment is at a cool 6.2%, and over 100,000 new jobs are set to be created by 2016.


There is a list of nation-wide skill shortages, as well as a specific list of needs in Canterbury following the earthquakes in Christchurch on the Immigration New Zealand website. Some of these areas are directly relevant to graduates of Teaching, ICT and Electronics, Construction, Agriculture and Forestry, Science and Telecommunications. Regions with the lowest unemployment are Canterbury (3.4%) and Otago (4.2%).


Marking 2.7% growth in 2013, the New Zealand economy is one of the fastest growing in the developed world. With a booming manufacturing sector, strong agricultural industry and growing tourism trade, there is a spate of job opportunities drawing on transferrable skills of graduates from almost any discipline.   


Can I stay in New Zealand?

Unless you’re from Australia, all international students in New Zealand will need a visa to study. If you’d like to remain in New Zealand after the completion of your study programme to start work, you will need to apply for a post-study work visa. This visa comes in two types: a post-study work visa (open) and a post-study work visa (employer assisted).


A post-study work visa (open) is for students who do NOT already have a job, but are looking for employment in a field directly related to their studies. You may remain in New Zealand for up to a year whilst you try to find one, and are allowed to undertake any other kind of employment to support yourself in the meantime.


Once you secure employment, you will need to get a post-study work visa (employer assisted). With this visa, you’ll be allowed to stay in New Zealand for a further two years, or three if your job requires you to complete some kind of work experience as part of a professional registration programme. Students who have already secured a job prior to graduation can apply directly for this visa.


To apply, you will need to download and complete relevant forms from the Immigration New Zealand website, collect relevant supporting documents and fees before sending your complete application to the relevant immigration office to your home country.  You can find these forms, as well as pursue specific application details, criteria and advice from the Immigration in New Zealand website.


Find my nearest New Zealand immigration office


How can I find a job?

In New Zealand, recruitment agencies are a key resource for businesses and employers. Psychometric testing of candidates is also a popular part of the recruitment process. You should consider uploading your CV and registering with a few agencies when looking for a job: most of the time it’s free, and you will be notified when there are positions open that match your job searches or keywords listed in your CV. You can search directly for agencies online, or follow the prompts where they’re listed on job advertisements.


There are plenty of online search engines you can use to find a job. Working in New Zealand, Seek.co.nz or Job.co.nz are just a few great examples. You can also search for a job on the New Zealand government website, or for industry-specific openings by simply typing the name of a profession or study field into a search engine and following on from there. 


You can also always look in newspaper classified ads, job boards and scour the websites and social media profiles of companies you may be interested in within your field. Often job positions are advertised directly by an employer and are taken down as soon as they are filled. Twitter is an especially good platform for finding opportunities like these. 


Teaching students should also be sure to check out Edgazette, a database of teaching jobs that holds between 500-1800 vacancies at any one time. You can also read up on industry news, create an account or sign up to receive the latest employment alerts.


Can my university help?

Yes. Your university will always be able to help you in some way if you’re looking to find graduate employment. The specific amount of resources available to students varies depending on your host institution, but at the very least you should get a point in the right direction in contacting employers, searching for a job in your field or gaining advice to help you improve your prospects. For example, the University of Auckland has a job search engine, thorough advice in researching and applying for jobs and information on careers events to help you make contacts and get to know the industry you’re looking to crack into.


You should always approach your university’s careers centre or student services first to see what options and resources are available to you.


Feeling ready to crack into the New Zealand graduate market? Browse courses in New Zealand now and get yourself on your way.


Useful Links

'Post-study visa options in New Zealand'

'3 Fields to study in New Zealand'

'3 Scholarships in New Zealand to start you off'