Sorry, We Were Looking for a Local – Work Matters

Sorry, We Were Looking for a Local – Work Matters

Once, you have settled into your new home, waiting for your shipment to arrive, making do with blow up beds and odds and ends that you have managed to scrap together, the inevitable subject of bringing in an income will arise.

If you have been lucky enough to secure employment before you arrived then you will have nothing more to consider other than ensuring that your alarm is set and that you arrive on time for your first day at work.

If on the other hand, you left as I did, planning to find work once you had settled in, you will now need to start getting your CV out and networking as much as possible. I cannot stress, from my own experience, that networking is going to be key in landing that all important first job. Throw away all the notions of all your years of experience because when it comes down to it it will be who you know and personal recommendations.

I certainly had not prepared myself for how long it took me to obtain a job in New Zealand. I had been a qualified Social Worker, for seven years and had obtained my visa on the long term shortage skills list. Now, if you  think this means that there are jobs all over New Zealand, just crying out for you to walk into, then think again. What it does mean is that some areas of the country have more shortages than others and that from time to time they have difficulty filling these posts.

Over the next six months, I sent out application after application. The application process became a full time job in itself. Each morning, I would go through the job sites, then have to transfer my information to each companies own application form as no one would accept a CV alone. Does anyone know the point of having a CV anymore? The tedium of transferring the information from one layout to another is not one I wish to repeat in a hurry, if you recall from the earlier blog post, form filling is not a pastime that I relish.

Each time, I would receive the standard responses to my applications. They had received an overwhelming response and as I had no local experience, I had not made the shortlist. But I continued to apply and eventually I began to get some interviews.

The first interview I received was for a job almost an hour drive away. I reluctantly attended, knowing in my heart that I had not left the UK in order to return to such a long commute each day. The job was to work with violent men and their partners. I would be working one to one with violent men to help them to address their response to their anger using the companies training program. Violence in New Zealand and more importantly domestic violence is a huge social Issue and one that is not going away. It stems back to the cultural and social links and if ever you
have the chance to watch the film, ‘Once Were Warriors‘, you will gain a clearer cultural understanding of this widespread issue. So, do I want a two hour commute each day to counsel violent men who may thump me should they chose to do so? Was this why I had moved half way across the world?

You guessed right, more form filling, applications and interviews.

I then had a Skype interview for what sounded like a rather lovely job with an organisation that cared about its workers and had a multitude of worker incentives. One key problem with this job was that it involved a lot of travelling as the bulk of the work was with families in the more remote areas of the country. This would mean journeys of up to two hours each way to the furthest family – a total of a four hour commute to some families! It would mean early starts or late finishes. It would mean that I would not be home for my own daughter. This job didn’t fit in with our
lifestyle or any of my New Zealand dreams and I turned it down.

The search continued. The next interview I received was for a court related officer dealing with cases coming into the child protection system. This was my field and one that I had lots of knowledge in. I had to give a presentation to the interview panel of my ability and how I would enhance this role. I was told that I did exceptionally well and that I was shortlisted — Second – but someone with local knowledge was offered the post. Urgh!!

So, the search continued. I received an interview with a charity which provided role models for children who needed some guidance and support in their life. I liked the sound of this and knew I could do this job with no problem. It involved assessing prospective volunteers and supporting them in this role. I attended the interview, again they told me that they were impressed with me but they had a more experienced candidate with, guess what, local knowledge. However, if I wished to do voluntary work with them then this may lead to a job in the future because I would then have some local knowledge. I was stunned to say the least but it seems that having no local experience was going against me and the only way would be to complete some voluntary work.

Now, I don’t mind voluntary work and I am always willing to give back to the community, but I take slight to the fact that I have the work experience and have all the visa points to prove this. I know that my attempts to find work and the ensuing issue of local experience is not an isolated one, as I have read on forums about other expats who have faced the same problem.

It is in essence obtaining the first role and having a local reference as a point of contact that is the main Issue. Having a local reference seems to be held in higher esteem, it is less hassle than attempting to contact a previous employer who may be anywhere around the world in a different time zone.

In some instances, I found that references were taken up prior to my interview. My references were all in the UK in differing time zones. This inevitably led to a delay in receiving my references prior to interview. What I discovered is that posts were offered based on the references and not as they are in the UK made subject to receiving a positive reference.

Six months into our moving abroad experience with no work on the horizon, we were slowly eating into our savings, not helped by the countless house moves, I was seriously considering that we would need to pack up and return to the UK whilst we were able to afford to do so.

Then I saw a job which I wasn’t totally qualified for. It sounded rather interesting and I am always up for a challenge. It was a newly created role to work with university students to maximize their success and the university results. I was offered an interview. First hurdle over. I remember going in to the interview thinking ‘what have I got to lose’ so I was quite shocked when I was offered the post. I was totally surprised as of all the posts that I had applied for, I had no experience at all in this area of work, that’s right no experience back in the UK or even in New Zealand to
work With students in a university setting. So never give up hope and when you least expect it everything can change. It took another couple of months to complete all the references and paperwork required but I was able to relax and enjoy this time safe in the knowledge that at last I had obtained a job and a way of bringing some money into the home.

The above is just a small selection of the numerous interviews and applications that I made. By the time I attended this final interview, I was an expert at interviews and well prepared for the process. If you are having difficulty obtaining work, persevere and don’t give up. Each rejection letter meant that I had a sample of new questions that I could use for the next application. Each interview provided me with resources for the next interview. Rejection is hard to take when you are trying to integrate into your new life, but this is the time that you will need to remain positive and keep moving forward.

I write this blog post as I hear about many individuals who have lost their jobs in the UK or aren’t earning enough in the UK are deciding to move across the world thinking that it will be different. I write this to highlight that just because you move across the world does not guarantee that you will find a job. This stage really needs careful planning with a large enough pot of savings to work off whilst waiting.

Some tips when you need to earn your daily dollar

Firstly, decide what it is you require in a job. Will you be building on previous skills or using this move to start something new? Searching for jobs will give you a good feel for what IS out there and the demand for your skills and this is a good start. If you are new to a country, then establishing contact points with an agency and building your network, will be an important element in finding work. I registered with an agency that recruited social workers, one of the few agencies in the area offering this specialism, but due to the lack of posts this agency was itself closing down by the time I had arrived in New Zealand. As I had established a good relationship with them prior, the owner helped by providing me with some useful points of references to start my search and was able to put me in touch with key professionals and simply put, this word of mouth referral can go a long way.

Before arriving at your intended destination, plan ahead and take extra copies of your CV and other relevant documentation in order to pursue other types of employment. Contact your work references and advise them of the move abroad and ask them to respond to reference requests. Some companies use the reference request to make their decisions at the interview stage unlike the UK where a post is offered subject to references.

Many people start off seeking employment by searching the internet and advertisements in local papers after they have moved to their intended destination. Some jobs online may sound too good to be true, and in many cases they are. Avoid jobs offering quick easy money as these jobs often aren’t often above board about what they do. If you are looking for ways to earn an additional income online until you find suitable employment then make sure to join my newsletter (on the right hand side) so I can let you know how I am now earning an income online.

When making your application, make sure that you follow the instructions set out in the job advertisements. Application requirements will vary according to the type of job you are applying for, so ensure you read the application details carefully. Some will not accept your CV alone but will require you to transfer the details onto their own application form and will reject outright applications that are not in the correct format.

Employment or setting up your own business is going to be the key in ensuring that you can support yourself and your family and make this move abroad successful. The cost of living in another country may be quite different to what you are currently used to. With the added stress of ensuring that you have sufficient money with which to pay rent, food and any other living expenses, it is important to be prepared for all eventualities, such as it taking longer to obtain suitable employment. Without the means to provide for your new dream you are unlikely to succeed, always have a plan B or if not a huge pot of savings to fall back onto.

My sister and her husband, who migrated to New Zealand ten years earlier, are prime examples of starting afresh in a new country. They had never run a business before but decided that this was the perfect time to give it a try. They sunk their savings into their first venture which they ran jointly and came out of the experience positively. Always look into all new ventures thoroughly and remember that not only do you have the stress of the new move but that starting in a new field or business can add to this stress so be prepared if you decide to take this route. If your move was to  spread your wings and try new things in life then ask yourself what is stopping you?

Leave a Comment