Every day I talk with experienced IT professionals looking to make a career for themselves here in New Zealand. A popular question people ask me is how I landed my first job. Well, it wasn’t easy. When I first immigrated to New Zealand, I was starry-eyed and filled with ambition, but I also had no idea how difficult finding my first job was going to be.
Six years on and now I have some valuable lessons that I can share with people who find themselves in similar situations. Whether you’re just new to the job market or new to our shores, here’s my advice on what you can do to give yourself a better chance of securing your first dream IT job in New Zealand.
Work Out What You Want
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started looking for a job was how wide I had set my net. I was applying to every job I thought I could do, based on the job advertisement alone. I had a large range of experiences across many different areas so I could have likely done most of those roles without too many problems. However, I kept getting rejection after rejection. The problem with applying for everything you come across is that it can make you appear as desperate to simply find work. Whilst I understand that you might need to urgently find a new role, as a highly skilled technology professional, rushing your job search could do more harm than good. IT managers are looking for loyalty in their prospective employees so don’t treat your job search like a lottery. It would be hard for them to trust you to stick around if they think you’re not completely invested in the job.
Show managers that you respect your career and brand by taking your time. Really digest the job adverts and descriptions and connect your skills, experiences and work ethic with what the employer is looking for. Most employers will be hiring to close a gap in their business, so if you can identify their problem and show how you can solve it, you’ll improve your chances of securing the role. At the same time, look at how the job advert describes the company and team environment. Having all the technical skills they need doesn’t mean that it’s automatically a great fit for you. If the advertisement doesn’t mention much about the employer, then do your research. A lot of technology companies have strong online brands so a quick look at their website and social media can often tell you a lot about them.
Tailor Your CV and Cover Letter
When I came to New Zealand, my CV was a mess of information. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve done a lot of different things; from teaching, nursing, consulting to sales. It’s common in the Philippines to have a one-page CV so, I had tried to condense everything onto a single piece of paper.
After receiving several rejections, I decided to take to Google to find out what I was doing wrong, and that’s when I found out that a CV could be more than a page long! Once I had tailored my CV to vacancies I was applying for, I started getting more and more calls back, until I eventually landed an interview.
I see this mistake with IT CVs all the time. Technology jobs tend to be very specific with what they ask for. So, if a role is asking for someone with experience in C++ and Java or working within an Agile team, you should tailor your CV to ensure that if you have the required skills they are clearly highlighted. Then, you need to write a creative cover letter that explains why you and your skills are a great fit for the role and business. Just make sure that the information on your cover letter resembles that on your CV.
Meet New People
When I first started out in New Zealand’s job market, I found that who you know is equally as important as what you know. Your network (or lack of) can play a huge role in how successful you are in securing your dream IT job. To help you expand it, head to technology job fairs and find Meetups that are related to your field and interests. It’s possible that the people you meet at these events have been in similar situation as you and have some crucial advice to give. Also, if these people work in the IT industry they can often help connect you with fantastic opportunities that can’t be found on Seek or Indeed.
To go a step further with your network, look at what key industry events and conferences you can attend. Many employers and recruiters attend these events throughout the year so that they can stay up-to-date with the latest industry developments, and find talented IT professionals looking for career opportunities such as yourself. Even if a recruiter can’t directly help you find work, they can provide you with valuable advice on how to expand your network and career.
Searching for a job is hard but if you’re either fresh to the workforce or starting out in a new country, it can often feel like an impossible struggle. Some people have asked me what was my secret but honestly, it was simply determination. I refused to take every rejection personally and moved on to the next opportunity. I looked at what I did wrong and I strived to do better until I got my break.
I hope my blog has been helpful for you, but if you need more job searching advice or would like to know what amazing IT roles we have available right now, drop me an email today. Good luck!