The average kiwi is a curious being.
This statement might not ring as true if you originate from an English speaking country, your roots of British understatement will align significantly with the good old kiwi.
For us who have spent their formative years on the continent it is an entirely different matter.
I will start by telling you a little story of one of my first encounters with the kiwi view of life.
As a 19 year old backpacker I had befriended a lovely kiwi girl just shy of my age. One day she invited me on a trip around the lower part of the Coromandel Peninsula. Nearing the end of our trip we stopped at the amazing beach of Whangamata. Shall we go for a swim? Hell yeah! It was hot and sunny.
"Let's go to the toilets." she said and I agreed as we had been in the car for a long time.
As we step out of the cubicles German and New Zealand culture clashed in a way that reminds me of waves smashing into a wharf.
A bewildered look grazed my dressed body. "Are you not going to go for a swim?" my friend uttered, clad in nothing but her togs (kiwi for swim suit).
"Yes, of course I am." I exclaimed. After all it was a gorgeous day for a swim. Looking at my friend it dawned on me that she had not wanting to use the toilet as much as getting changed into her togs!
Oh dear, it never in my wildest dreams occurred to me to get changed in a toilet block! Clearly however this was how it was done here in New Zealand. Here I stood in my clothes and with the continental innocent intention of getting into my togs right on the beach. How was I going to pull that off?
I have never forgotten this story and it is one of those formative moments that start you on a path to assimilate with your host nation's culture.
Having spent my summers on the coasts of Scandinavia I was used to putting on my togs and getting out of my wet togs after each swim at the beach. If it was later in the afternoon and no people were around we used to swim naked. Kiwis call this skinny dipping but I have never seen one do it.
Coming from the continent I was used to do things the pragmatic way. You wanted to swim and had no togs? Well, then your birth suite would have to do. You saw a problem, you mentioned it so it could get fixed.
It took me many years to change my behaviour to fit the English mould of prim and proper. In saying that there is an almost schizophrenic association with morale issues around nudity and British conduct. Here in New Zealand girls not even allowed to baby sit their younger siblings might walk around at night in downtown Auckland in nothing much more than underwear but will not for their life get out of their yucky wet togs at the beach in fear they might show some flesh in the process. Huh??
Yes, that is right, New Zealand girls count as the most promiscuous women in the world and I would subscribe to that, at the same token there is a stark conservatism contradicting that tendency.
Here I was at 19 year of age, thinking of nothing getting changed at the beach in and out of my bikini, even swimming naked but I would never walk around town with my muffin tops (belly) being uncovered.
In New Zealand it is the other way round. Girls will rather wear their wet togs for the remainder of the day than expose themselves at the beach but will very happily parade their tummies to the world in a supermarket or cafe.
Needless to say I no longer swim naked or topless, haven't for years, however I will still get changed at the beach if that means getting into warm, dry clothes.
Be mindful of the above when trying to avoid a social faux pas but there are other traps you have to be careful of in your work place, which could end you in a whole lot of trouble.
Kiwis do not have discussions about problems. Well, they think they do but trust me they will avoid at all costs to talk about an issue that leads to discontent. Discussing a controversial issue with a kiwi goes like this: " one step, two steps, problem, one big step to the side." Now we are on base, we are save. We have sidestepped the controversial topic and can continue on on a new smooth plane.
This is how a continental conversation will go: "one step, two steps, problem, speed up, whoom!"
Let's say we like to address issues and tackle them in order to find solutions. It is not about blaming anybody but it is about finding efficient solutions to overcome the issue and to move on.
Hmmm, this is not the kiwi way.
Thanks to their large British heritage they prefer beating around the bush. Nobody names the problem. In danger of upsetting somebody nobody will even mention the problem. Your average kiwi will try to flush out the issue through the side door at a time of convenience which may not be coherent with solving the issue the timely and efficient way. When I do say the continental way I am trying to deflect from my own German heritage in the hope that other Europeans will find similarities in their thinking.
For us the world is fairly simple, either something works or it doesn't. If it doesn't nothing is lost you just try to find a solution and move on with it.
Our friends from the British Isles and in extension of that from New Zealand do not think the same way. If there is a contentious issue they will elegantly change the subject, if there is a problem it will be thrown into this random washing machine of issues which gets tossed and then with a thumb and an index finger one issue at random will be gingerly pulled out of the mess and be dealt with in a delicate manner.
In short, I can tell you from my personal experience that I put a lot of stones in my own path by being too honest, too direct and too interested in finding a solution rather than keeping peace and allowing people to keep face.
Kiwis are not used to be confronted with short comings, full stop. Whenever you require a solution to a problem whether it be at work or at your accommodation you do have to try and wrap it up into pretty, little parcels rather than chucking it into somebody's face.
I think you are starting to get the drift but before we conclude there is another strange schizophrenic anomaly in the kiwi culture.
Contrary to British life the Kiwi way of life is very much based on egalitarianism. Obviously in the English language there is no formal grammar of addressing somebody of higher social statute. In New Zealand where even the Prime Minister gets addressed by his first name by members of the public, formalities are even more lax and classes are not well distinguished other than by a Prada bag and the bank account.
Yet, and this is another red flag for continental travelers to these shores there is a very distinct rank of who may utter an issue and who may not.
We have already discussed the challenge around bringing up problems in large but the real challenge is in the fine print. The fine print, contrary to its otherwise egalitarianism way of life, social structure in New Zealand dictates that people of lower rank, namely new employees, I could also say women to throw the cat among the pigeons, are not at any way permitted to speak up. Of course this is not politically correct and the official line will be that this is supported but trust me the official and actual line are vastly different beasts in this country,
Long story short, if you are used to speak up and you wish to alarm employers or landlords of circumstances that do not fit the picture, take a breather, pause and think.
Your actions might bring you results, they are certainly not wrong but be assured they will not be appreciated.
In the short time you are in this country you may not see a reason to change and I do not urge you to change however please mark my words should you see doors shut in front of your face. Never underestimate the power of a nations' culture even if it may seem similar to yours, believe me there are a myriad of traps to fall into if you wish to navigated successfully through New Zealand's very own culture. In saying that there is much to love about your average kiwi and we are here to observe, to learn and to enjoy but tread carefully my friend.
If you only travel to stick around for the duration of your working holiday visa you are safe.
We often get asked how can I stay longer in NZ? Well, unless you have a great education and you are highly skilled the only advise is to stick around and try to get a work visa through your last working holiday visa employer.
Do not leave the country in the hope of getting a work visa later. Please keep in mind as mentioned above we are talking about somebody who has a job qualification that is not in the required skills list. It's the you and me, that work in hospitality.
Why is it so hard to do that? There are mainly two reasons. Number one, the willingness of the employer. Unless you have worked for a business before and they are willing to sponsor you, you will be extremely lucky to do somebody for you who doesn't know you. Companies have to do a labour check showing to Immigration New Zealand (INZ) that they did not manage to find an adequate New Zealander to do the job before they offer you a job. In order to prove this they are required to advertise the role, which is costly. Apart from the expense it is a process that is equally loathed by all managers.
Reason number two is the timing. An application for a work visa needs to be submitted to INZ three months prior to commencing a job (if approved). With a common notice period of only two to four weeks it leaves the company in the lurge for more than two months without being able to start you in the position.
Unfortunately this has just all become even more difficult.
The Skilled Migrant category has been thrown into turmoil when the changes came into affect on 28th August.
Previously your job title and your pay were the determining factors. As such that has remained the same BUT how they are determined has become so uncertain that it even leaves lawyers struggling to understand the terminology. The freedom for interpretation has increased drastically to the effect that it will be difficult for an applicant to evaluate their chances prior to entering the process.
There are two main issues that arise under the new legislation.
Number on is the declaration of the role. What was previous classified as say as restaurant manager will now be reviewed involving the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) and possibly will be re-assessed as restaurant supervisor rather than manager. UN other words it is no longer in the hands of the employer to give you a title but this will no be scrutinized by INZ.
The other element that is now left to the whim of INZ is how your average pay rate is calculated.
The average pay will determine your skill level, with the higher skilled and mid-skilled being offered significantly better deals than lower-skilled. Whereas a higher-skilled (over $35.23 per hour) applicant can look forward to a work visa with a term of up to 5 years and a mid-skilled applicant ($19.97 to $35.23 per hour) up to 3 years the lower skilled are not so lucky.
Lower-skilled applicants can get a work visa for up to 12 months and can renew this twice (maximum of 3 years in total) however after that no longer permanent residency looms but instead there is a mandatory "stand-down" period of 12 months during which you must leave New Zealand.
This is not all, just when you do the maths and you think you are save because you earn over $19.97 take a pause.
If you are on a salary and you divide your annual pay by 52 weeks and your standard number of hours worked, this will give you your hourly pay. This is where it gets tricky and very murky.
If your contract says you have to work "a minimum of 40 hours" you are in trouble. If INZ deems your hours to be variable the immigration officer may request evidence of the range of hours worked and to be worked. INZ will be guided by the maximum hours worked to determine your hourly pay. Imagine you work in a restaurant and you work 50+ hours, INZ will base your skill level on the hourly rate of 50 hours worked which would be significantly lower than your annual salary based on 40 hours work. What the maximum number of hours expected for a particular job might be will be a heated discussion and ground for many court battles.
There are other factors that play into your skill level but this explains in short the most important facts about the changes to the skilled migrant immigration changes. Please not this article in no way constitutes any legal advice but rather gives an overview of the latest changes.
"How do I beat 80,00 backpackers to my dream job?"
It's a slightly daunting proposition but with a few tricks and some common sense not as hard as it might seem.
Let's get started with your first contact.
Unless you walk straight into a business to enquire about a job you are more likely to make the first contact by sending an email with your CV attached. Kiwis are pretty relaxed and informal people but still make sure to not come across too matey. It is perfectly fine to address the person by their first name. It pays to phone the business and to find out the correct name of the person to contact unless it mentions their name in the ad. Doing your homework never hurts.
There is no standard in terms of layout so don't stress about your type setting skills as long as the information is not too long, not too short, concise, easy to read and relevant. The last point is really important, don't use the same blurb for an apple picking job and a reception job in a 4 star hotel, common sense.
Although there are no standards to adhere to when creating your CV your goal has to be to get noticed. Unless you have amazing work experiences to showcase, you will win the job through general impression not through content. This of course does vary according to role and skills required but for the jobs you are looking for that is generally true.
So how can you stand out? The best ways to do that is through showing personality, creating value for the business and by doing your homework.
Here are a few tricks that will get you noticed.
With you CV writing don't worry about margins but put effort into creativity. Rather than creating a stock standard layout there are some fantastic templates available. Try canva.com, there you will find heaps of funky templates. When I say funky I don't mean to go overboard either, after all it's not an art competition and you also want to avoid looking too full of yourself.
Choose a layout that is elegant and sleek. By doing so you make a statement about yourself, you are showing you care about how you present yourself and that you are laterally and creatively thinking.
Creating value for the business.
You are here in NZ to travel, to be young and free and to have an awesome time. The same cannot be said about the people running, owning and working in the business you apply with.
The people hiring you are looking for somebody who will fit in, who will learn fast, who has initiative, is friendly and creates value for the company. By saying value I mean they are not a liability as some short terms staff can be.
How can you be a liability to the company and your co-workers?
Easy, it's that person that is unmotivated to do the job they signed up for because they don't really want to do it, they purely get through the day to earn some money so they can go drinking with their friends. It is also that person that has just been trained and now starts to pull their own weight and then decides to quit because they'd rather keep travelling.
Running a business is a constant battle to keep costs in check, employing a new staff member is a costly exercise. It's the recruitment process, the uniform, the name badge and of course the training.
All of this is not only expensive but also very draining for the person in charge of undertaking the above.
Everybody understands you are here to discover New Zealand and plans do change but please show businesses some respect and make yourself available for a reasonably length of time and then stick to it so you can truly contribute to the success of the company.
Never forget, commitment equals great jobs.
Out of a starter job a career enhancing opportunity could present itself and you may find yourself in a supervisor or even junior management role which will be a massive asset to you back in your home country.
By doing your homework on the company you are applying with and the area it is in, you are guaranteed to stand out from the crowd.
In your cover letter or email say why you would like to work for that company and why you would like to come to the area, it can be something mundane as mentioning that you like to surf when applying for a place close to the beach. Businesses are happy to know their employees have an active interest in the surroundings and will enjoy their time outside of work, that way they are happier at work and will stay for longer.
By researching the business you will demonstrate you know what you are in for. All it takes is to check out the website and the links that are on there. Mention what impresses or intrigues you about the company and you will blow any hiring manager away.
Putting all the above mentioned aside, more than anything else finding a good job is all about timing.
That's were we can help you.
Travel+Career continuously scans for available jobs and is able to accommodate your travel schedule and your work wishes to fit your plans and needs perfectly.
Sitting in the dreariness of Winter and feeling gloomy about Summer seemingly never coming?
Join us in the Southern Hemisphere for some beautiful, hot and steamy weather, ideal for sleeping in your campervan while discovering this amazing country. Do as Reese Witherspoon and Oprah Winfrey do at the moment and roam the beauty of Queenstown and Central Otago.
Why is New Zealand so popular? I guess the answer is pretty obvious, friendly people, fluffy sheep and beautiful nature.
Well, the bad news is life is not for free here either and let me tell you NZ is not a country to get rich in however life is easy and work relaxed.
There are millions of other reasons apart from fluffy sheep to fly around the world to spend a year in this remote corner of the world, unfortunately the word is out and all the 'others' like it too.
Jobs are plentiful but become harder and harder to get with the best jobs often not even advertised.
Our motto here at Ubermensch is 'smarter not harder', it should be yours too.
Get organized in time, secure your first job before you even set foot on Aotearoa. It's a big step, knowing where you first pay check comes from helps you to kick off a successful year. Be a step ahead of the competition, don't chased their tail. Yes, it is really as good here as they say...