NZ job seeking in 2020: what you need to know

The start of a new year is a busy time for New Zealand’s job market. If you’re thinking about kicking off 2020 with a change of scene – we can assure you, you’re not alone.

However, repeatedly reciting ‘New Year, new me’ under your breath isn’t going to land you the role you’re after. So, what will? 

A great way to start is with research. Where do the opportunities exist? What are 2020’s in demand job skills? How can I avoid common application mistakes, and make myself stand out?

We’ve picked the brains of our Head of Jobs, Jeremy Wade, to answer all those questions, and more. Here’s what he had to say:

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What jobs will be in demand in 2020?

“Most sectors in New Zealand were significantly quieter in 2019, which was not surprising after the job market exploded in 2017/18. Three categories I’d expect to be in higher demand this year are:

  • IT: this sector tends to be impacted less by economic cycles, and increased demand for automation will drive continued demand.  

  • Construction and the trades: are also likely to continue to be strong, provided key infrastructure investment decisions are made, and projects get underway in good time.  

  • Hospitality and tourism: it’s still difficult to find long term talent for these sectors. Even if hospitality is not where you see yourself forever, as a new job hunter it can be a great place to get some experience under your belt.”

If you had one job seeking tip for Kiwis this year, what would it be?

“While there are still talent shortages, it doesn’t mean everyone will find it easy to get a job, even if they’re ‘pulling out all the stops’. Nor does it mean that because your skills are highly sought after, you can afford to be casual in your job search.  

The biggest hurdle is getting the interview. It’s hard to showcase yourself in a written application - and most of us are not particularly good at selling ourselves. So, take the time to make sure your application stands out

This doesn’t mean including your mugshot and a pretty border, but rather highlighting your skills and experience, where they’ve come to the fore before, and how they can benefit the organisations you’re applying to. And don’t just focus on technical skills but also the soft employability skills.”


So, which three soft skills should New Zealanders look to develop in 2020?

“I’ve chosen three that I reckon are important for any employment position:

 1. Adaptability: employers are increasingly utilising agile practices and changing the way they operate. So, whether you’re new to the workforce or well established, the ability to adapt to changes in the way you work will be attractive to anyone looking to hire.

 2. Problem solving: organisations are looking for people who can think on their feet and make judgement calls, whether they’re interacting directly with customers or within their teams. This is increasingly important as it’s a valuable overlay to the automated decision making that’s driven by machines. 

3. Communication: whether it’s oral or written, the ability to communicate effectively in the workplace is paramount. How many times has something you’ve said been misunderstood by those around you? While you may get away with it with your friends, the workplace is more challenging, and requires stronger communication skills to ensure people get clarity.”

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Will there be changes to recruitment practices in 2020 that job hunters should know about?  

“Yes, recruitment is a constantly changing landscape, it varies by employer and the type of position. But if you’re considering roles where there’s likely to be few candidates, don’t worry too much - good employers should pay attention to all applications.”

What common job application mistakes did Kiwis make in 2019?

“The main one comes down to the quality of the application. Applying for a job can be a big deal, but that’s also the case for employers and recruiters who spend lots of time evaluating applications.  

So, it’s important for them to know you really want the role, and have taken the time to ensure your cover letter and CV is aligned to the job they’re looking to fill.  

Make it easy for them to see you have the experience, skills or attitude they’re looking for. You’ll be surprised how many candidates include copy and paste cover letters (and worse have not changed the job they’re applying for!).