A Whangarei bar owner got more than he expected when he advertised a job vacancy and more than 300 people applied.

Bar owner Phil Sentch was looking for someone to fill a bar staff position, pay slightly above average, at his Rynoz bar. He was expecting 50 applications when he advertised the position on social networking site Facebook but ended up with 312.

The flood of applicants for a single job reflects the tight job market in Northland, with thousands of people looking for work.

Mr Sentch said people were constantly visiting his central city bar looking for work.


It was the first time he had advertised a job online and usually found new employees through existing staff.

He had to tell people to stop applying within 24 hours of posting it online because of the number of applications.

It took him more than six hours to wade through the applications before he made a decision. Even then, Mr Sentch said people were still coming into the bar the next day asking about the job.

He wanted to give the job to a local who was out of work rather than someone looking for a short-term job or a secondary income.

About 40 per cent of applicants were returning university students looking for part-time work during their break, he said.

Mr Sentch was looking for someone who was a local but they did not necessarily need any experience.

"I wanted someone who was local because it is about putting money back into the local economy. All the bands and DJs that I hire are local as well. That is why I advertised on Facebook rather than Seek or Trade Me.

"I don't mind employing new people because it is a chance for them to get some work experience; how else are they meant to get it?"


In the end, Whangarei 19-year-old Tinelle Langdon was the lucky applicant. Miss Langdon had been unemployed since the beginning of February and was struggling to find work. She said she had to start looking elsewhere because she could not find anything locally.

"I knew that within 20 minutes, Phil had got about 170 applicants but I didn't know it was 300. I knew to put something like that on Facebook, you would have to expect a lot of people. I never thought I'd actually really get the job."

Northland's unemployment rate fell 0.7 per cent to 8.3 per cent in the year to March 2012, according to the Department of Labour's quarterly regional labour market update.

However, Northland's unemployment rate is still much higher than the national average - 6.6 per cent for the year to March 2012 - with an estimated 6500 unemployed in the region. Yesterday, Trade Me jobs had 181 listings and Seek had 173, with jobs ranging in skill, pay grade and employment type.

Latest figures from Work and Income labour market manager for Northland, Carol Barnett, show 172 jobs listed for the Northland area.

In total, this amount of jobs would give only 8.1 per cent of the unemployed people in Northland some kind of paid work.


On top of this, the number of working age unemployed benefit recipients in Northland has increased more than 40 per cent since the end of March 2007, according to the Ministry of Social Development's regional fact sheets. At the end of March this year, there were 3647 people receiving the unemployment benefit.

However, Ms Barnett said last year 3500 working age Northlanders left a benefit to go into a job, the most since 2004.

Secretary for the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Peter Conway said the fact one job attracted so many applicants was a worrying trend.

"It reminds me of January and August 2010, when thousands of people were applying for a limited number of jobs."