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Advice for expats and migrants

BNZ Weekly Overview

Attitudes of stay-at-home NZ employers not always that friendly

A few weeks ago in conjunction with international recruitment firm Global Career Link I ran a survey asking people what piece of advice they would give anyone contemplating shifting to New Zealand. The full pdf is here.

What we wanted to do was not just provide useful information to migrants and expats, but to also get a feel for the prevalence of employers who have had experience of working overseas. Out of the 100 responses a high 72% had worked outside New Zealand and of these 59% were expats and 41% migrants.

We asked about their willingness to hire expats and migrants and whether they had done so, then asked for their advice.

There is only one piece of advice which all three groups agree on – if you are coming to New Zealand then you need to view yourselves as doing it for family and/or lifestyle reasons. After that commonality there are five suggestions offered by employers with no offshore experience and repats. The first is telling – learn the English language and speak it. Willingness to tolerate poor English on the part of natural Kiwis appears low. They also suggest not just opting for the cities but to go to the regions. But migrant employers do not give such advice and in fact warn about the small size of New Zealand and low cosmopolitanism outside of the main centres.

Expat employers and the stayers warn that migrants and fresh expats will need to work hard and explain to their bosses why they should be hired. They then go on to advise newcomers that maybe their best option is to set up their own business.

It would be hard to imagine a less welcoming attitude to people fresh from overseas. And maybe the migrants pick up on this attitude because they and the employers with offshore experience warn fresh people to keep their mouths shut and not speak about what they did overseas. They suggest making extra effort to fit in by studying and embracing the existing Kiwi culture, not wasting people’s time by applying for irrelevant jobs, and building up and making good use of networks. Basically – fit in.

The divergence in responses suggests perhaps that when considering the degree to which they may fit in to a company, expats and migrants would perhaps do best to seek out companies headed by those who have spent some of their working life overseas. Fortunately, our survey suggests that there are quite a few such people.

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