Being competitive in a tough market is vital, says Val Leveson

Spending a few years working overseas has become a part of Kiwi culture - but with the economic slowdown things have become a lot more insecure and difficult.

A spokeswoman for an international recruitment agency, said that although she did not have specific information and therefore did not want her agency named, anecdotally in Australia there are signs of life in civil infrastructure and the Telco space but "nothing substantial enough for us to be able to comment on".

She said: "In Britain there is activity in most sectors but there is also such an abundance of candidates that finding a job is extremely competitive.

"In Dubai, activity has apparently dried up - relatively speaking."

However, most experts say it's not impossible to find work overseas. Career coach Jaunta Penn says that if you do want to work overseas, do your research.

"Check how your industry is doing in your country of choice - what is the outlook? Particularly in these times, you need to make sure that the information you get is up to date."

Penn says a mistake that many people make when taking a job overseas is not considering all the costs. "Don't think just about salary. How much is it to register your car, what is the cost of accommodation, power and transport? It all counts."

She suggests that part of your research should be talking to recruitment agencies and communicating with people who live in your city of choice. "That can be quite easy these days, with the internet."

She says it's also good to be aware that different countries have different CV requirements. "In the United States, one-page resumes are the standard. In New Zealand, CVs should be four to five pages."

Penn says that, like New Zealand, people overseas get jobs through their networks.

"If you know someone in the city of your choice, they may be a good resource. People you know may also be able to help you choose a good neighbourhood. Many people don't do much research when they go to live in a foreign country, but there are pitfalls - such as landing up living in a dangerous area."

Penn says checking out country and company's websites is also a good idea. "Look at the number of jobs that are available, and in what areas. Also, look at newspaper job sites - they often feature articles that tell you what the situation in the job market is.

Tom O'Neil of cv.co.nz, who does CVs for people all around the world and is currently in the United States attending a five-day workshop, to which he was invited after his contribution to the book What Color is your Parachute, says the same goes for overseas countries as goes for New Zealand. "If you want a job overseas, you need to sell yourself a lot better than a local person. For example, if a local person is an eight out of 10 as far as job requirements

are concerned, and you're an 8 - the likelihood is the local person will still get the job."

He says you need to quantify yourself. "For example, just saying you're a customer services person means nothing. You need to tell your prospective employer that you have won awards and commendations. Think of it in these terms: if Tiger Woods marketed himself as a 'golfer who can hit a ball' - so what - that tells nothing about his brilliance as a player."

O'Neil suggests that you find out about the job market in the country you want to live in before you leave. "Relocating can be very costly. I do believe you can always get work if you're really smart about it and market yourself well - but you don't want to spend months and months waiting for something to be offered in a foreign country. Do the leg work in New Zealand."

He says if you're serious about finding work overseas, be diligent about it. "Working about three hours a night on it - researching and approaching companies - is how to go. Make sure you send lots of CVs out. When phoning companies, don't ask for the human resources departments, go to the departments that could employ you. Tell them about your unique skills - what you can do for them."

Importantly, says O'Neil, have an "elevator speech" ready if you get a phone call showing interest. An elevator speech is about expressing three core skills that you have in bullet points - so if that phone call comes, you're not umming and ahing. "Tailor your elevator speech to a given company if you can - but be ready with it."

As far as London jobs are concerned, Oliver Harris, managing director of contract recruitment company Robert Walters, says: "It is still very much possible for New Zealanders to secure roles in the UK at the moment, although candidates should be prepared for it to take longer to secure a role - if it happens within a few days, this is a bonus."

He says: "To give themselves the best chance, New Zealanders coming to the UK should be as descriptive as possible in their CV. Detailed explanations about products, systems and reports will make their CV much more attractive in the UK market.

"Starting your job search before you leave is also worthwhile, if you have an 'in demand' skill set you can still have interviews lined up on arrival in the UK."

Walters says overall rates of pay have remained stable in Britain and pockets of demand remain. He says the following areas/roles are in highest demand:

* Qualified accountants with solid commercial experience who can make a difference in an organisation; ie, firms are not looking to train up contractors at present but are hiring people who can make an immediate and positive impact on a business.

* At the junior end credit control and debt management roles are key areas for those organisations who are not cash rich at present.

* Risk management and liquidity remain a focus for organisations: market risk engineers are in demand, as are those with specialist knowledge in liquidity, Treasury, ALMO/ALCO - commanding 350-550 ($915-$1440) per day.

* Product controllers - 240-320 per day.

* Financial accountants (specifically those with strong IFRS experience) - 250-400 per day.

* Product and/or financial change management - 400-600; offshoring business analysts - 350-600 per day.

* Structured equity product control - up to 350 per day.

* MI accountants with VBA & Access skills - 325-350 per day.

* Executive and senior-level PAs, as executives need higher levels of support to manage through tough market conditions.

* HR recruitment: temporary employee relations specialists.

* Organisations directing their marketing budget toward digital channels, as demand for online and digital marketers continues to grow rapidly.

Meanwhile, Scott Comte, associate director of Robert Walters IT division in Melbourne, said: "There have been a lot of New Zealand IT professionals interested in the Melbourne market, both from New Zealand and those wanting to return from the UK. The job opportunities for them are the same for any other candidate.

"If they have good development skills in Java or .Net or have specialist experience in telecommunications or banking, they are employable. If they have more generic IT skills, their chances of getting roles are considerably less than this time last year."