Careers advice: Get networked, sooner the better


Introducing a new monthly careers advice column. At a career crossroads? Need help getting to the next step in your career? Check in with the Career Specialists.

Attending industry events, presentations at university or other related interest groups and having an excellent LinkedIn profile are all valuable networking tools. Photo / Getty Images
Attending industry events, presentations at university or other related interest groups and having an excellent LinkedIn profile are all valuable networking tools. Photo / Getty Images

Skilled migrant job search advice

My skilled migrant category residency visa application was recently approved and I am now staying with my sister, who has been a permanent resident in New Zealand for the past eight years, in Auckland. I hold a Bachelor of Environmental Science with honours degree and I also have 12 years of environmental experience within the oil and gas and mining sectors throughout Southeast Asia, East Asia and the Caribbean with particular expertise in contaminated land management, environmental regulatory compliance and hazardous waste management.

I have tried unsuccessfully for the past six months to land an environmental-related job in New Zealand with most of the companies turning me down because of my lack of experience and an established professional network in New Zealand. What advice would you have for me to overcome this shortcoming?

From Stefan

As a skilled migrant the government has accepted your qualifications and experience as being "what New Zealand needs" so it must be very frustrating not to find work quickly. Although your work history gives you specialist experience in the oil and gas industry your experience in contaminated land management, compliance and waste management should be transferable to similar industries.

Having established networks is an issue here in New Zealand as our approach to doing business and efficacy in our working roles is very dependent on the relationships we have and how well known we are. Therefore the sooner you make inroads into the industry networks the better. This can happen by attending industry events (I see there is an Oil and Gas Industry Expo in early August in New Plymouth), presentations at university or other related interest groups and having an excellent LinkedIn profile.

Without knowing how you are approaching your job search or seeing your CV and application letters it is difficult to advise what you could be doing that you may not be.

It's important to get leverage from your transferable experience by highlighting in your CV the projects you have worked on. These should describe in real terms what you can offer a prospective employer. Also I hope that you are open to doing short term contract work as usually this is the best way to get NZ experience.

Other resources you can access (if you haven't already) are:

* The Omega Mentoring programme for migrants

* Energy Stream website

* Specialists job search website

The key messages I want to give you are: Get networked, get seen, and get in the know of what is happening in New Zealand, and that short term experience, well done, is most likely to bring long term success - and hopefully permanent residency status.

Kaye Avery - Career Specialist

People motivated by different things

I have been working in the same place for 14 years and have been gradually moving up in the organisation. The thing is there are no other jobs that I want in this organisation but I love working here, love the people and I have a great boss. My husband is pressuring me to look around at other places, but I am happy here. Will I be a failure if I don't move on?

From Confused

What a desirable combination to love where you work, the people and have a great boss.

No wonder you are hesitant to move! Being satisfied in a role is made up of different criteria for different people - so having a high income, status and achievement might meet one person's needs, while being in a role with flexibility, balance and friendships may be the ultimate for someone else. Success is defined differently by different people. Your husband may be wanting you to move because what he finds satisfying he believes will be what you want, without fully understanding that your motivation may be different.

If you decide that you want to stay put, it is important to make sure that you still grow your skills - so maybe it isn't in another job, but participating on a project, updating technical skills, initiating new systems, mentoring and so forth will grow your 'organisational currency and investment'. Continually developing our skills is something that we should all make sure of.

One last point - an increase in income may be a necessity rather than desirable. If this is the case, I would encourage you to have a conversation with your boss as you might be able to negotiate a better package. But be careful of moving just for the money if it does not fulfil your other needs.

Caroline Sandford - Career Specialist

Taking charge of own career development

I have been with my current employer (a medium-sized accounting firm) for three years, and will be a fully qualified chartered accountant (CA) by December. They are my first employer after getting my degree. I enjoy working for them, but am earning less than $50k and see much higher pay advertised on Seek. How do I know when it is time to take a chance, and is there a way to do this without burning my bridges?

From James

In professional pathways such as for accounting and law it is commonly accepted that achieving professional milestones will lead to an individual seeking an advancement of role and remuneration. At such time as when you are certain the CA qualification will be conferred to you is a good time to start a career transition. This will give you and potential employers certainty about what value you can add to their business.

Before deciding to leave your current firm, I would suggest that you consider negotiating with your current employer a CA role with a level of remuneration reflecting your new qualification.

If it is only salary that is motivating you to leave, make sure you factor in that a positive workplace where you enjoy working is a highly valuable asset in and of itself.

If you do move on, preserving your business network is critically important for good references and creating job or business opportunities.

Avoid 'burning bridges', it is best to be open and transparent with your current employer about your intentions.

Meet with your employer and thank him/her for their support and let them know how much you have enjoyed working there.

Then, state that you intend to look for a CA role to advance your career and ask whether he/she would act as a referee for your job applications (people feel respected for being asked). Most employers are happy to support staff being proactive about their personal career development.

Jonathan Moy - Career Specialist

The Career Specialists are a New Zealand network of independent career development specialists who provide career services to both organisations and the general public.

- NZ Herald

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