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Brain Drain Reversed: Australian Recruiters in New Zealand

By May 26, 2011One Comment

The next news story I hear about the “massive numbers” of kiwis crossing the Tasman for a life of greater riches, purity and sunburn in Australia will be greeted by a big, fat YAWN from me.  OK, there is no denying that the twin factors of higher rates of pay and more sunshine are magnetic pulls for many kiwis, but it is hardly news any more is it?  In February we heard of the two-day OZ Jobs Expo in Auckland that pulled in 7000 interested punters, and more recently the news has been widely reporting that 3000 kiwis per week are crossing the Ditch.

Our local New Zealand recruitment industry has also been affected by this.  Many of you will witness the increasing number of SEEK ads being posted by Australian recruitment firms in the New Zealand parts of the site in ever greater efforts to lure our recruitment talent away.  And many of you will know of kiwi recruiters who have bitten that cherry and left for the gleaming Aussie metropolises to plough their recruiting furrows in more fertile hunting grounds.


But this is no longer really news.  So what I have decided to do is turn this on its head and talk to some Australian recruiters I know who are working their magic over here in New Zealand.  Yes, they do exist!  So if you are a kiwi recruiter pondering a career move to Australia, an ex-pat kiwi in Australia missing home, or even an Aussie recruiter wondering about a change of scenery in Aotearoa, listen up:


My gaggle of Aussie contributors (I hope that is the correct collective noun) kindly offered their opinions on the following questions:


  1. What did you recruit for in Australia?
    • Our Aussies came from a mixed bag of recruitment backgrounds, most in IT, others from Sales, Healthcare, Accounting, Government and Public Sector recruitment
  2. Why did you decide to move to New Zealand?
    • “…couple of factors, some family, Sydney becoming more and more expensive, a change of scenery.”
    • “…met a kiwi girl (now my wife) in Australia…was dragged here kicking and screaming initially, though now I love NZ and will not be heading back home.”
    • “…snap decision to move to Auckland from Melbourne when a manager’s position became available.  It meant I was able to stay with a great company without having to move to the Northern Hemisphere.  My big thing was the proximity to the snow.”
  3. What would you say are the main differences recruiting here in NZ versus Australia?
    • “…in New Zealand it’s much more relationship focused.  In New Zealand you typically have to earn the trust of your prospective clients and make them actually like you before they will commit to working with you.”
    • “Everyone is much more relaxed.  It is much more of an education moulding your clients and candidates into what you need from them to meet the timeframes you would like to work to, but once you get there you’ve got a client for life!”
    • “Candidates.  There are just not the same numbers of good people here.  Also I think Australian businesses are more proactive about finding talent compared to the reactiveness of clients here and will meet with candidates offered by agencies even if they are not definitely looking… I [also] believe too many NZ recruiters lose placements because the time to hire is so vast.”
  4. What do you think the NZ recruitment industry can learn from the Australian recruitment industry?
    • “Specialise and only deal with that field and those clients related to that field.  You not only build credibility but better client relationships.”
    • “…working closer with in-house recruitment teams.  There is still a big ‘us and them’ here in NZ…but we all need to work cohesively and effectively.”
    • “Tenacity!  The ‘she’ll be right’ mentality does not always offer clients the level of service that they deserve.”
  5. What would you say to any Australian recruiters considering moving to NZ for work?
    • “It may be slower paced but doing business here is more relaxed and relationship based.  I thought of this as a two year move but am looking at staying here for the time being.  Life’s relaxed and the people are great!”
    • “Be prepared for a more relaxed environment…with decision makers and offers.  Your skills will definitely benefit you with regards to being more proactive and staying ahead of your competitors.”
    • “Recruiting is pretty easy in New Zealand…make your clients like you and you’re almost there”
    • “NZ is a fantastic place to do business and working in a more intimate environment with a national population the size of Melbourne can make you stand out and do really well here.”


So there you have it.  Straight from Phar Lap’s mouth.  Thank you to all of my Aussie contributors for those comments, and others not published.  The overall sentiment of satisfaction and reward from recruiting here in New Zealand was evident throughout and gratifying in the extreme.


Comments from others here in New Zealand that I was unaware of, or unable to reach, would be great to hear.  And likewise on the flip side, from kiwis recruiting in Australia with their own stories to share.


I’m heading off for Charlie Rice’s 2nd birthday today, so enjoy your Fridays, have a great weekend, and speak to you all again next week.

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.

One Comment

  • Patricia says:

    you didn’t ask me!  pom, in sydney 11 years now and auckland over 1 year and LOVE IT.