Looking for a fresh start after all the craziness of 2020? Whether you’ve been impacted by job loss due to the pandemic or are just ready for something new, here’s what you need to know to make your job hunt in 2021 a success:

The New Zealand job market is competitive:

We’ve kissed 2020 goodbye, but border restrictions and pandemic issues will continue well into 2021 and beyond. Those Kiwis that would’ve typically headed overseas for greener pastures career-wise are choosing to stay put in NZ. Combine that with the steady trickle of returning Kiwi’s and those whose roles have been affected by the pandemic, and it’s fair to say competition in the job market hasn’t eased.

Job stability has been identified as a driving factor for many, and as a result there’s a lot of workers out there who are less likely to leave their current role if it offers this. While those numbers might start to pick up in 2021, there’s still a lot who are playing it safe for now.

Fixed-Term contracts are on the rise:

There’s definitely still uncertainty in some sectors, so expect to see more fixed term roles being advertised, as employers try to navigate the changing markets and plan ahead. A report last year found that casual and fixed term contracts made up a third of all new hires from March to October 2020, a big increase from the same time period the year prior.

If you’re trying to wrap your head around the different types of employment contracts available, we break down the differences here.

Traditional workplaces are still very much here:

Remote working unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on where you sit on that topic) hasn’t become a universal norm here in NZ following our experiences with lockdown. While many organisations are now better set up to allow for remote working and are more flexible in providing this option for their staff when needed, job-seekers applying for opportunities in locations outside of where they reside might still find barriers to finding work that is purely remote.

What we’re seeing is that unless the organisation was already set up that way beforehand e.g. design and tech companies, most went back to having staff onsite after the alert levels reduced. It seems that Kiwi employers still very much place emphasis on team culture and in-person collaboration.

If you’re looking for remote work, make sure you state this in your cover letter rather than assuming it’ll be a given. If you’re not sure whether they would offer it, ask about this option early on in the recruitment process or before you submit an application.

The basics remain the same:

Make sure your CV is up to date, in chronological order and clearly shows your previous duties and job titles along with the length of time in each position. If you need a bit of help getting started, our CV guide can show the way.

Keep track of what roles you have applied for so that you can be prepared to answer any questions if you do get ‘the call’.

Keep your LinkedIn and Seek profiles up to date. If you don’t have these already, now’s the time to set them up! Once your profiles are looking good, set up job alerts to keep you updated with vacancies that match what you’re looking for.

Target your applications to the specific role you’re applying for, and if it’s not clear from your CV why you’re applying for the job, make sure you address this in your cover letter. In a competitive market you can’t rely on getting a phone call or interview to fully demonstrate your suitability – this needs to be made clear from the get-go in your application. Need tips on what to include in your cover letter? We’ve got you covered.

Be strategic (and careful) with your applications and interactions. Most large organisations and recruitment agencies use applicant tracking systems when they’re recruiting. This allows them to see what vacancies you’ve previously applied for, the communications you had with them and what the outcome was. If you’re putting your name forward for any and all roles, whether qualified or not, or you’ve not had the best interaction with someone from that organisation before, that will be noted. This isn’t to say you should give up if you have the skills and experience for the job in question, but be conscious of how you’re presenting yourself at the application stage.

Be proactive in your job search. If you’re not finding the opportunities you’re looking for, don’t just limit yourself to what’s been listed on Seek or TradeMe. Take a look at 7 other ways to find a new job!

If your previous role was impacted by Covid and that’s the reason why you’re job hunting or have a gap in your CV, make sure you make note of that in your CV!

Important to note:

  • Sick leave will very likely be increasing this year, but it hasn’t happened yet! An Amendment Bill is currently working its way through the process to extend minimum employee sick leave entitlements from 5 days a year to 10. Public submissions to the bill close at the end of January, so keep an eye out for announcements later this year. Find out more here.
  • Minimum wage for adults is increasing to $20 per hour from April 1st. Find out more here.
    When it comes to job seeking, the most important thing you can do is go easy on yourself! Job hunting can be an exhausting process so it’s really important to take care of your own wellbeing. If it’s getting too much or feeling too overwhelming it might be good to take a step back for a while (if you can) and start the search again once you’ve had some time to decompress.

    Good luck,

    Kirsty and Nikki

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