Where Kiwi Explorers connect & make a difference

Everything you need to know about engaging a recruitment agency

Issue date:

Is a recruitment agency right for me?

If you’re an offshore Kiwi looking for your next role back home in New Zealand, you may be wondering if engaging with a recruitment company is the way to go? Many of our global community often have questions about the recruitment process, so to help answer the most common questions we spoke to Carly Ford from HainesAttract


1. What is the role of a recruitment agency? 

A recruitment agency is a company that works as a 'middle man' in between the company looking for candidates, and the candidates themselves. Carly says some people are surprised to learn that recruitment agencies work on behalf of organisations to help them find candidates for jobs, not the other way around. "However, if you maintain an open and collaborative working relationship with your recruiter, particularly if you work in a specialist area, they have more opportunities to find out more about you and will be better able to match you with vacancies that they have available.”


2. How do I engage a recruitment agent, and how do I know which one is best?

The first thing you’ll want to consider is the area that you work in. If it’s in a specialist area then a specialist recruiter is likely your best port of call. They’ll be able to give you advice about what’s currently happening in your field in New Zealand, and will already have established relationships with organisations related to your line of work. 

The second thing you’ll want to ensure is that the agency has experience working with international candidates. The landscape overseas is quite different to New Zealand and depending on how long you have been offshore things may have changed quite a bit. Understanding the decision-making processes that go into a big move, such as selling a house, settling kids into new schools etc, is really important, and not all agencies understand that.


3. I’m thinking about coming home so when should I engage a recruitment agent?

It really depends on your seniority level, says Carly. A more senior role, at say C-Suite or Director level, can take anywhere from six to nine months to place. If you’re at more of a grad to intermediate level, then hiring decisions can be made in as little as a few weeks. 

In saying that, like most countries, New Zealand has been impacted by COVID-19 which means organisations’ talent strategies have been thrown up in the air. As a result, there’s a bit more reactiveness in the market. So, if you do have a shorter time frame, and you’re jumping on a plane within the next month, it’s still worth talking to an agency. 


4. What happens after I engage with the agency? 

If you’re ready to go then a recruitment agent will start talking to you about vacancies at different organisations. They should also encourage you to do your own research so you can determine whether the potential roles match your expectations. From there, your agent will engage with those organisations to see if they’re interested, and the formal recruitment process begins. 

If you’re not quite ready to move yet then some agencies will keep in touch, sending you regular updates on what is happening in your specialist area.

But it’s not as simple as just finding you a new role. A good recruitment agent will spend as much time as needed with the family to help them manage the process from beginning to end, including where they will stay when they arrive and ensuring they have things like a rental car booked for their arrival. It’s important to provide support through the whole process.  


5. What are the benefits of using a recruitment agency? 

It’s the value of the partnerships and relationships the recruiters have with organisations in New Zealand which can help get your foot in the door. An agency can also help manage everything to do with the job process, including providing advice on things like flexible working and additional benefits such as health insurance or free parking. Specialist recruitment agencies like HainesAttract often deal with international candidates, so they know what to expect when it comes to the big move and can help guide you through it.  


7. Should I talk to multiple recruitment agencies to increase my chances? 

In short, no. Because New Zealand is a small country and there are a finite number of clients. We’re all fishing from the same pool, so you’re not going to get any advantage from engaging five different agents, says Carly. In saying that, if you’re looking to move to a specific location you should absolutely engage a local recruiter who will have local contacts and relationships and can help you with your job search. 


8. What are the common concerns and misconceptions you hear from candidates?  

The cost of living and buying a house in New Zealand are common topics that come up and recruitment agents will be upfront about that, says Carly. We will always have an exploratory call with prospective returners so they can make an informed decision early on about whether a move is right for you. Most Kiwi expats, are pretty aware of the living costs and they’re making the decision to return home for lifestyle reasons. 

Another important point is that the candidate doesn’t pay any money for the recruitment service. The hiring organisation engages and pays the agency, not the candidate. There have been a few scams where we had individuals trying to represent our company and charge fees to help people find work. Legitimate recruitment agencies don’t operate like that in New Zealand. 

And finally, expats may have lived in New Zealand previously but they often only know the city or region they left. Agencies will give a much wider view of the job market than just one region or city. For example, your previous network may be in Christchurch but an agency can link you in to what’s happening in Auckland, Tauranga and Wellington – This may be useful as you weigh up returning home to another part of New Zealand.  

HainesAttract specialises in the recruitment of construction, engineering, IT and health professionals. They have more than five years’ experience working with international candidates and have helped hundreds of offshore Kiwi return and settle in New Zealand. 

Last updated