In this chapter, we continue to share our experience of making the move from Singapore to New Zealand. Having settled our accommodation for the first six weeks before arriving in New Zealand, securing a job was the next priority. We knew that the longer we went without income, the tougher it would be for us to settle down. Despite the harsh and pressing reality, we were also aware that it was important we remained calm and patient.
Start early. The plan was to begin applying for jobs even before arriving in New Zealand. Seek and Trademe were the two primary job sites that we found most effective - lots of listings and regular updates. We also did some research and came up with a list of possible Wellington based companies that could become our potential employers and applied directly via their career/job portal. Because we were applying from offshore, response was lukewarm and it was understandably so. After all, realistically, most employers would prefer their potential candidates to be available for face to face interviews. Hence, we found it useful confirming an expected arrival date in New Zealand and including that in our applications.
Two weeks before leaving Singapore, I had a couple of phone interviews with different organisations, both job recruitment firms and the company employing. In the last week, I scheduled at least five catch ups with various job recruiting firms in Wellington. When we finally got to Wellington, my first week was already packed with meet ups with recruiters and interviews with various organisations.
I went through a fair bit of interviews during the first two weeks and I must say that the interview experience is very different compared to Singapore. With the two organisations I was speaking to in the first week, the first round of interview was done at a cafe, over a cup of coffee. It was relaxed yet formal. It wasn't just about work. We were talking about sports, difference in cultures and how I'll experience four seasons in a day in Wellington. Back in Singapore, interviews were likely to be more formal, less chat more serious. I was pleasantly surprised with how interviews were generally conducted here. It was then that I realised I got my first hint of work life balance.
When it did get serious, it got serious. For one organisation, I had to take a practical technical test over the weekend and present my results the following Monday. For the other, I was put through a really tough session with senior management. With some talent and more divine intervention, I had two job offers by the end of week two. It was surreal. There could have been more interviews set up with different organisations, but by then I already had my heart set on one.
Gwyn's job hunt experience began after six months of rest. Coming from a fashion background, it was always going to be challenging looking for a similar role in Wellington. Luxury fashion brands are just non-existent here. If there is one thing that we learnt from her experience, it was the importance to re-invent yourself to fit the climate you're in. While there are no opportunities in fashion/branding, there are transferable skills that can be ported over into other fields. Twelve months down the road, Gwyn has done very well to re-invent herself to be in the public sector. From fashion to government, now that's two opposite ends of the spectrum.
In a nutshell, the job search in a new country can be daunting and straining at times, but it's really important to stay calm and patient. Starting early is always a good idea and being adaptable is another virtue. Have faith, be humble, believe in yourself and you could go further than you think you could. For anyone thinking of making a similar move to New Zealand, we hope you can gain something out from our experience. Best of luck in that job hunt!
For more Singaporean Guide on Moving to NZ (SG2NZ), click here