7th August 2016

How to write a New Zealand CV for your Working Holiday

Your CV is perhaps one of the little details you wouldn’t put too much thought to before starting your Working Holiday in New Zealand – let’s face it, you’re probably thinking more about the best places to visit, what to pack and pretending to be a Hobbit, than about updating your resumé.

New Zealanders write their CVs slightly differently to how us Brits do. I touched on this topic a little in my post about travelling to New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa but I wanted to go into more depth about CV writing.

Whilst it isn’t essential to rewrite your resume in the kiwi format, it’s definitely worth at least checking your CV is up-to-date before you fly out here. Having a solid CV is something that can really affect your prospects when you begin your job-search in NZ.

I don’t believe that you would be deemed completely unemployable if you did not write your CV in the New Zealand style, but I think it’s worthwhile. It shows that you have researched about the country’s employment methods beforehand and it will make it much easier for an employer to know exactly where to look on your CV for the information they are interested in.

So here is one of those boring but essential things to add to your list of things to do before you begin your working holiday – the same as printing off your bank statements as proof of funds and getting travel insurance. It shouldn’t take you too long, either!

New Zealand CV


Step 1: Think about the sort of work you want to do ahead of your arrival.

People choose to find work in New Zealand for many reasons, aside from just saving money. Some may want to broaden their skills, therefore choosing work they haven’t experienced before. Some may want to progress their career. Some may want the typical ‘backpacker’ hospitality jobs and others may want to try their hand at fruit picking.

If you are qualified in a certain skill or trade, it probably makes sense to try to find a position in that field, for example if you are a hairdresser, chef, carpenter or builder. If you have hospitality experience, good on you; there are loads of bars and restaurants in the bigger towns and cities. If, like me, you don’t really have a “skill” as such, but have varied work experiences using different competencies, you might be more open to a variety of roles.

Doing a little research before you begin your working holiday is always a good idea: think about whether or not you’ll be able to find a job within a particular chosen field. Research the best towns or cities for that work. Have a look on seek.co.nz and trademe.co.nz/jobs to search for positions in a particular city. Be prepared and be realistic.

Here’s some tips on what sort of work you can expect to find in New Zealand:

I found it difficult to know how to write my CV before coming to New Zealand. I didn’t know what type of role I would be looking for, or even what sort of jobs would be available to people on Working Holiday Visas. It wasn’t until someone in our hostel recommended we try a recruitment agency that I realised that working holidaymakers were allowed to use them! In the end, I wrote two CVs – one more catered towards office and administration roles, the other towards customer service roles. You could also try to keep it broad – but not too broad or it may end up too long!

Thinking of moving to Wellington and not sure how to find a job or somewhere to live? Read this post!

Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland is popular place for backpackers to find work


Step 2: Choose whether to write a Work-focused CV or a Skills-focused CV.

These are the two types of CVs that employers in New Zealand use, and whichever you choose will largely depend on your own circumstances and previous work experiences. The main difference between the two is which information is presented first: on the front of your CV. If you have worked in a variety of roles using various skills, you would choose the skills-focused CV. If you have want to show how your career has progressed, you would choose a work-focused CV.

This is therefore why most people travelling to New Zealand on a Working Holiday choose the skills-focused CV; they are normally young people at the start of their careers who might have had varied or limited work experiences.

For the purpose of this post, we are going to write a skills-focused CV.

Gibbston Valley, New Zealand

Perhaps you will find work fruit-picking on one of New Zealand’s many vineyards


Step 3: Write your CV for your New Zealand Working Holiday

It’s important to make sure you really sell yourself on your CV, as this is the document that employers will use to determine if they want to invite you for an interview. Set your CV out into the following sections:

Name and contact details: These should be displayed clearly at the top of your CV on the front page – so potential employers can contact you, of course! It is not mandatory to include a photo of yourself or any details about your ethnicity or gender.

Personal statement (or profile): This section comes next and should give a brief outline about yourself. Advise that you are visiting New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa and the date your visa it expires. Give a brief outline of the work you are looking for and your skills.

Skills: I would adapt this section depending on the type of role you are applying for. For instance, if you are looking for a hospitality job, it probably wouldn’t help much to advise that you are skilled in using a forklift! Tailor the content to suit the job description of the role you are applying for, or keep it open enough to apply to a variety of roles. Skills you might include could be:

Work history: In this section you should list your positions in previous employment and main responsibilities in those roles. Tailor the wording to reflect the responsibilities that a new job could offer. You don’t need to list every single job you’ve had!

Achievements: This section is optional – I do not include it in my CV but rather link it in with my skills and hobbies. For example, I love hiking and have been awarded a Duke of Edinburgh award. Only include information that will actually help you get a job, so don’t bother writing that you

Education: Your qualifications gained in education, starting with the most recent/ highest level of education received. You don’t need to list every single GSCE grade you got, but you may want to go into some detail around the topics covered in your university degree. I studied French & Italian, so have written that topics covered included French & Italian language (translation, essay writing and oral), literature, history, politics, sociology and cinema.

Interests and hobbies: Anything you do outside of work that makes you an interesting person! Keep it realistic and try not to choose generic responses like ‘socialising’ or ‘watching films’…

Referees: People tend to write ‘references available on request’ but most places will require a reference before they decide to employ you. From my personal experience, recruitment agencies require two to three referees. These are normally your two most recent managers in work experiences – but obviously you should only provide the names of people you think will give you a positive reference! If you have a limited employment history, you could include a family friend, a tutor from college or university, or a sports coach.

Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown is hugely popular with backpackers


Step 4: Formatting

Potential employers take under 30 seconds to glance over your CV at first, so you need to make a good first impression on paper! If they like what they see, they will read it in more detail and hopefully contact you for an interview. Here are some pointers towards making your CV “look good”:

Christchurch, New Zealand

Perhaps you’ll work in construction and will contribute to the rebuild of Christchurch


Step 5: Don’t forget to write a cover letter!

An equally important accompaniment to your CV is your cover letter. This might be an actual letter that you will write up in Word to submit alongside your resume, or perhaps it will be the covering email to send to an employer with your CV attached.

Your cover letter should be similar to the ‘personal statement/profile’ section of your CV: you will give details about the type of work you are looking for and/or why you are particularly suitable for the role. Use specific wording about the company or job description – you should really tailor your cover letter to each and every different position you apply for.


Extra tips & resources

Check this page of the blog for everything you’ll need for your Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand.

Civic Square, Wellington, New Zealand

The view of Civic Square from my workplace at Wellington City Council

I hope this post is useful to anyone looking for work in New Zealand whilst on a Working Holiday Visa. In my experience it hasn’t been that much different to the process back home in the UK, but I think it always helps to know what to expect. Good luck with finding a job in New Zealand!

Have you worked in New Zealand before? Did you rewrite your CV in the New Zealand style?

Thanks for reading and happy travels!

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on them and purchase something from the linked site, I’ll earn a tiny (and I mean tiny!) commission at no extra cost to you, which contributes to running this blog.



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