The number of New Zealanders going overseas to work is astounding - more than 200,000 in the past year.
Higher pay is one reason, but for Kiwis the lure of OE is part of our culture.
The difference now is that New Zealanders are not staying for two years, they are staying for longer, buying property and settling into careers, often in large companies.
For many, it's only the thought of bringing up children in, say, London, that makes them decide to return home. But talk to them and you find that the desire to come home would be enhanced if there were better communication about career prospects.
During the past 18 months, New Zealand's leading recruitment agencies have concentrated on more effective targeting. Madison Recruitment are setting up branches in Britain and Australia to attract expats and migrants.
Director Wynnis Armour says: "The employment market is a global one and in order to capitalise from that we need to have people locally focused on bringing candidates to New Zealand.
"The lure of New Zealand can be particularly strong when we can offer broader management roles as opposed to the niche roles in larger companies found in the UK and Australia.
"This broader experience - coupled with a better alignment of culture, values and lifestyle - can often mitigate against the salary differences that do exist."
Similarly, global recruitment firm Robert Walters holds seminars in London to inform prospective migrants and expats about the New Zealand market.
Richard Manthel, managing director of Robert Walters New Zealand, says the opportunities for highly skilled professionals have never been better.
"By discussing 'live' jobs at our information seminars and outlining the long-term opportunities offered by our recruitment partners, many candidates have gained the confidence to return home."
For many companies, the cost of developing a network of talent is too expensive. In addition, the broader reach of global agencies gives them an advantage over New Zealand-based employers.
Daniel Monty, a New Zealand accountant based in London for 18 months, says: "You only hear from a recruitment agency if they have a role for you 'right now' ... also, the agency is only recruiting for a small number of clients so I'm not sure if I get a balanced view of the New Zealand job market."
He says friends and colleagues aren't interested in registering with agencies as they may not have definite plans to return to New Zealand. "Most of us know that we ultimately will end up back in New Zealand and I would head home tomorrow if I was approached by a New Zealand brand offering me a compelling job which would develop my long-term career."
Simon Pomeroy, who manages Air New Zealand recruitment, says the recruitment agency model is restricting candidates' direct contact with employers. Employers struggle to manage direct contact, he says, especially when it is not related to a particular role.
The pressure on internal recruitment teams makes them more reactive than agencies and many employers do not have the resources. The key is for employers to be more proactive - go out, find the talent and communicate.
Pomeroy has developed a concept which he believes will transform the way in which employers can take control of bringing Kiwis to jobs available at home: proactively engage with candidates. Put simply, head-hunt talent home.
Track Me Back, which started in October, has already proved popular, particularly for New Zealanders in Britain.
Pomeroy, who will continue to run the recruitment function at Air New Zealand as well as develop Track Me Back, says: "In effect we are building a database of Kiwi talent which is searchable and trackable by employers and which offers open communication.
"This is purely career-related and is only open to employers.
"We have major sourcing partners and advertisers driving large-scale, targeted advertising campaigns overseas, particularly in the UK and Australia, promoting a group of employers with a strong New Zealand brand presence.
"Founding partners include Air New Zealand, ASB and NZ Post. These employers can search for talent by skill, industry, keywords and phrases, as well as specific words from details such as their CV and profile.
"An employer can search when the candidate is looking to return home, visa status and their preferred work location."
Track Me Back offers a communication and CRM platform.
"Conversations and emails go through the database, and can be saved and viewed by anyone in the company.
"Anyone in my recruitment team can set up searches using either keywords or skills and this brings up a shortlist of candidates," Pomeroy says.
"We can either call the candidate or email through the database. Any new candidates who register with these skills are automatically tracked and Track Me Back alerts you that new candidates have registered who match your search."
Since starting this October, more than 1000 New Zealanders have registered, including accountants, lawyers, IT professionals, marketers, doctors and nurses. Pomeroy says the interest is broad.
"From the New Year, Track Me Back will have someone on the ground in the UK and Australia generating new candidates as well as interviewing potential employees for their employment partners.
"If we can bring this talent home it can only benefit New Zealand businesses as well as the wider economy."
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