How do not apply for a job in New Zealand

A few years ago I was looking for my first job in New Zealand. Two years later, I was interviewing people myself for a number of positions opened within the company. So I had a chance to have a look at hiring from the completely opposite side. This opportunity gave me a clue and pointed me to the same mistakes I did some time ago. Just wanted to share my thoughts on how to apply for an IT job in New Zealand and give you some tips how to avoid having your job application from being thrown into a rubbish bin.

The thing is your application, your CV and cover letter is a first impression you leave when apply for a new job. That’s why it is very important to get them done very well in order to succeed. Here is a few common mistakes I’ve seen and advices to overcome them.

Attention to details

Make sure you type the correct job title and company name in your CV and Cover letter. It looks very unprofessional when you apply for the job but attach the same CV and cover letter you have used for another one. After stating that you have a very good attention to details, that looks.. Uh.. never mind.. Write, read, repeat.

Hi, I am Software Developer highly responsible, creative, I am software developer highly responsible, creative, with initiative, punctuality and attention to detail,..

Don’t forget to add your Name and Surname into your cover letter. I remember a few candidates who did forget to do that.

Typos and grammar mistakes

All people make typos. I do as well. However, if you are trying to get a job, please make sure there are no typos and no grammar errors in your CV and cover letter. Ask some of your English speaking friends to check your CV or at least use a spell checker.

Web Deverloper, Backed Developer, Linkdin

Mandatory skills

Don’t apply if you don’t have experience in mandatory skills required or at least you are not familiar with every mandatory technology listed in the job advertisement. Make sure you have ticked all the mandatory check boxes. I have noticed that unfortunately this happens quite often for junior and intern positions. I have a feeling these candidates saw a job title which seemed familiar to them, so they applied straight without reading a job description. Another waste of time for both of us.

Visa status

Do not apply if you don’t have a valid Visa required. Especially if it was specifically stated that applicants should have New Zealand residency or citizenship and you don’t have any. In such cases, company won’t be able to provide Visa sponsorship for you. Please respect other people’s time.

NZ Residency Status: Student visa able to work 20 Hours/Week
NZ Work permit: I am Eligible to work in the United States

Don’t copy and paste

I mean don’t copy the whole list of the bullet points with requirements straight from a job description into your cover letter. Even if you are 100% corresponding to them. Use our own words. Rephrase them. Don’t copy everything. There were a few candidates who copied a full block of bullet points, including “Candidates will be required to work from our Auckland office..”
Oh.. common people! )

General words

Try to avoid using general words while describing your past experience in your CV. For example, “Product planning, analysis, designing, development, testing and implementation” is just a general words, which don’t not really have anything in particular with what you were doing at your previous workplace. They do not reflect character of the tasks, duties and responsibilities you had. Describe in a few words your projects and what you was working on even if it was making or buying a coffee for rest of the team. I mean, be honest.

Irrelevant information

Don’t overload your CV and cover letter with irrelevant information. Obviously saying in your cover letter that you want this job because your family member is residing here in New Zealand so you want to move there doesn’t make sense. Be a professional. Do like a professional.


Interests like karate, netball, hiking, swimming, basketball, gym, fishing, biking, reading and cooking are OK, but it would be a way better if you could mention at least a few hobbies which are relevant to the job you are applying for. Don’t list too many hobbies.

Never send your CV in MS Word format unless it was directly asked to do so

Why? Because it may be screwed on receiving. Fonts, page layout, everything. What if recipient doesn’t have MS Office? What if they are using Mac? Always send PDF, or at least something that people can open regardless of platform/device they are using.

Don’t apply more than once for the same job

I knew candidates who applied three or even 5 times for the same position, but it didn’t help. It just made HR manager annoyed. Be patient. Give them a few days or maybe weeks and they will get in contact with you.

Don’t use your own email server

Unless you are a 100% sure it works. I’ve seen so many ’email wasn’t delivered’ auto-replies so I highly recommend to use GMail or any other reliable mail services. Do you really think that HR will try to resend you an email again or give you a call after this?

Alright, I think there were lots of examples what NOT to do. Probably too many. So let my try to give you a proper example.

1. The right approach

I think the main problem here is candidates are desperately trying to apply for any opportunity they see on the market. Instead of looking for the right company they really want to work for. This is a pure psychological thing. So try to change your mindset. It’s hard to believe and it’s hard to do so especially if you’re looking for your first job, but this approach may significantly increase chances to get it.

Make a research so you can definitely say:
-OK, here is a company (or list of New Zealand companies) I'm really keen and I CAN work for.

Even if your skillset won’t be good enough to be hired right now, your interest shown and your willingless to learn things to be up with requirements can help you to be invited a few months later, during another round of hiring. Why not?

Otherwise, you would spend a few months sending dozens or even hundreds of applications literally wasting your time with no luck.

You may think: “oh, I’m pretty sure I’m overqualified for this position. I’ll apply for it right now. I feel that I have a great chance to be hired.”
Not nesessarilly, my friend. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work this way. Company may prefer a fresh and clean graduate.

Think about what useful skills you could learn/get/improve if you would focus on fewer applications, instead of applying for every application?

2. New Zealand working experience

The truth is the overseas experience is less valuable compared with New Zealand working experience. Even if you was just volunteering in New Zealand. Keep that in mind and try to get New Zealand experience even if it’s not relevant to your main occupation.

3. Think like an interviewer

Be like an interviewer. Put yourself on his place. Think about dozens of incoming applications they have to read every day. Think about filtering they have already put in place. Think about right person they are looking for. And probably you will get better idea about making your CV and cover letter better and outstanding.

Good luck anyway

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Ivan Grigoryev's Blog
Living in New Zealand. Blogging about the country, beautiful places, everyday life.
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