Letters from the Southern Man
Migrating is more than just filling in forms and submitting paperwork, its a complex process that will test even the most resilient of people.
Understanding New Zealand is paramount to your immigration survival and to give you a realistic view of the country, its people and how we see the world, read our weekly Southern Man blogs. Often humorous, sometimes challenging, but always food for thought.
No issue gives more potential skilled migrants more grief more often than the oft advertised demand by recruiters and employers that applicants hold Work Visas or Residence Visas before they apply for the job. The Catch-22 of course is that Government Immigration policy does not normally allow the granting of a Work Visa unless the job has been offered. Plenty of hair has been torn out over this. Often, ours.
Why do recruiters and employers demand, online especially, that applicants hold Work Visas before they apply for jobs when immigration policy does not allow them to be granted Work Visas until after the offer has been made?
I think the short answer is self-interest to a degree (recruiters), ignorance of immigration policy (recruiters and employers) and/or a reluctance to get involved in what can be a highly complex process (recruiters and employers). Yes it is complex but only if you don’t know what you are doing (clients).
I understand something like half of the world’s population now has access to the internet. Therefore any employer who posts a vacancy online runs the very real risk of receiving thousands of job applications from people they would never want to employ, who may speak limited or no English, who are not in New Zealand, who may never get to New Zealand and who may never get visas to take up that position even if it was offered.
So demanding work visas eliminates 99% of potential candidates straight away but equally sees potentially very good non New Zealand candidates discarded.
There is a whole lot of self-interest from recruiters and I defy any who read this to explain if it is otherwise.
Recruiters are commission driven, and therefore, unless it is a very senior or very technical position they will first exhaust all local possibilities before reluctantly looking overseas or considering migrants.
What is interesting when I have this discussion with recruiters is how quickly they blame employers. Generally they say the employers demand people with the right to work but I can’t help wondering much of the time if that is just a convenient cover for their own self-interest.
Our experience here at Immagine New Zealand is that when we get the chance to explain to employers what they need to do and reassure them we will guide them through the process (it is maybe 30 minutes work for most) the majority are only too willing. I strongly suspect this is because employers want the best person for the job not the most expedient as many recruiters seem to prefer.
Having said that I also find most employers have a fairly short time horizon and many are lazy – they usually want someone to start work on Monday and the recruitment process becomes crisis management. As an employer I appreciate that sometimes staff can leave at short notice but why more employers don’t plan appropriately is beyond me. If they did they could get some really top candidates rather than settle for second rate locals.
There is also the reluctance to employ people who linguistically may not be fluent English speakers and culturally different from the rest of the workforce and therefore a perceived cultural risk. This is less prevalent in Auckland and doesn’t really impact on our clients –a s we only represent the fluent.
Having an excellent command of English is crucial. We are very careful to make this clear to people who contact us who are contemplating moving here. It is one thing to understand what your ‘points’ might be if you had a job offer but, if your English is not of an extremely high standard, most recruiters will reject you as will most employers even if they do interview you. Especially at the higher skill end of the scale or where positions are highly technical.
This demand for a very good command of English when coupled with close cultural affinity (the other thing employers are looking for), creates something of a pecking order in terms of who is most likely to get jobs in New Zealand without work visas. It works something like as follows:
• Native English speaker who is culturally very similar to your average New Zealander, e.g. Australian, Brit, American, Canadian, South African, most Singaporeans and many Malaysians.
• Fluent English speaker who is culturally similar, e.g. some Malaysians, some Filipinos with international work experience, some Indians
• English as a second language but culturally reasonably similar, e.g. most of South America, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia.
• English as a second language and culturally very different, e.g. basically the rest of the world including most of Asia (I would even put China and India in here), along with most of Africa.
All of that of course raises the uncomfortable but valid question of whether NZ employers are racist.
My experience of New Zealand employers when it comes to racism is that one on one they do not see colour and they do not judge based on religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or anything else. Studies of immigrants clearly indicates most never feel they are victims of racism in this country. My own experience however when people ask me what I do for a day job, is New Zealanders are as quick to pigeonhole people as all humans are.
The bottom line is, the less like the dominant New Zealand culture you are and the less like me you sound when you open your mouth the harder it is going to be to break through the labour market barrier that exists in terms of getting interest from recruiters and employers when applying for jobs. Not having a work visa will often be used as the least offensive way for a recruiter or employer to say ‘thanks but no thanks’.
The only way to get jobs for 99% of my clients is to be in New Zealand and available for work. To be in New Zealand and to be available for work generally means resigning from your job at home and traveling to New Zealand with the intention of remaining here and applying for a Work Visa once a job is secured.
All of that takes planning, research into how things work here and more than a little bit of intestinal fortitude because nothing in this process can be guaranteed. The value we bring to the process is to minimize the risk of failure, something here at Immagine New Zealand we appear to be very good at but even we cannot guarantee employment.
Overwhelmingly, history shows the significant majority of our clients can break into the labour market if they follow our advice.
We can be very persuasive and it is very rare that we can’t make recruiters and employers understand that we get work visas every day for clients and it seldom takes longer than 4 weeks to do (which is important because this is the notice period a local will have to give if they accept the position you have applied for).
In fact this week, I was able to organize a Work Visa for an American client of mine within a week of his being offered the job and although the preparation time before it got to the Immigration Department was a number of hours including meetings with the client and the employer, the actual processing time took approximately 30 minutes.
Getting Work Visas if you know what you are doing is not complicated but it certainly is stressful for clients.
I do wish there was less self interest on the part of recruiters and that more of them thought about the best interests of their client, if not the candidate. Equally I wish more employers were willing to work with us and our clients, because getting Work Visas for us is not an overly complicated affair.
These barriers can be broken through and our clients do it every day but it leaves us all bloodied and bruised albeit with a work visa in the hand.
I'd like to hear about your experiences - comment on the blog - please don't email me directly - migrants (wanna be and successful), recruiters and employers.
Until next week.
I concur, Ian. It all boils down to our human nature of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. Given that work visa application isn't exactly a walk in a park. As a migrant wannabe, that's the chief stumbling block, and to make it worse, after throwing in money and effort, there's every chance it could be denied. So I think the framework has got to be more pull than push. Cognitive dissonance is what we don't need in what is arguably a very challenging situation.
I have had agents contact me as i do drainage and have supervised for a number of years been in the trade now 17 + years. starts great then goes cold then i email to find out whats going on only to be told client is not looking at oversea?so why did you contact me and interveiw me and get my hopes up? is it realy werth my time and effert to fall flat on my face!NO job NO visa NO VISA NO JOB come on whats going on.
If i have the interset to move my family to the other side of the world surely you can make a job offer its not hard or is it?
The greatest disservice that you will ever get are from recruiters as they so carefully match your CV, they match nothing. Lazy, incompetent and takes care only of their self interest. Their work is time based, not effort based.
The only reason I see why real companies go for these recruiters is because they don't want to be bombarded by thousands of emails coz that's how competitive it is in NZ. Everyone wants to come to this greener pasture.
There are tonnes of IT jobs here but at the same time, there are also tonnes of ppl applying. The biggest barrier is getting an interview and you will not get one unless your CV matches perfectly. A == A, A != a. That's how these retards match.
So tailor your CV correctly. The recruiters are your main hurdle. But occasionally, you'll meet some good ones, but the rest are not just bad apples, they are malignant. Maybe one day I need to walk up to the parliament.
Replies to this comment
what i boils down to is how hard we try to succeed.
im not quite there yet but will be moving soon.
ill gladly accept any advice offered and know there will be challenges.be assured though that ill meet each challenge with conviction and a smile!
see you soon
quinton and michelle
Apparently, my new experience tells me you can even be denied for employment even you are in New Zealand and are eligible to work legally.
I am an international student studying in New Zealand and my visa condition also allows me to work 20 hours a week besides my studies. So to support myself I've been looking for jobs so I applied for a role in a Multinational accounting organisation and was glad when they called me. But as soon I stated that I'm not a permanent resident and neither a citizen of New Zealand, the hiring manager told me she can't proceed.
I'm not yet sure if that was even legal for the employer. The job I applied for specifically stated 'part-time' and 20 hours per week. The hours too were perfect for me as they were after school hours. The advertisement didn't also mention that only residents and citizens can apply.
So much for equal employment opportunity organisation.