Building my recruitment career in New Zealand

Sean Patterson

Sean joined Robert Walters as a recruitment consultant in October 2016. He moved to New Zealand from Scotland, having previously worked in recruitment for a year, recruiting specifically for the Scottish government.

I’d lived in Australia for a year and it was always the dream to return to this side of the world. I wanted to go somewhere with a similar vibe and lifestyle to Australia so New Zealand seemed like a great choice.

I didn’t secure a job before making the move - I decided to just go for it and see what opportunities were available when I arrived. The Auckland job market didn’t disappoint, there’s always different opportunities coming up.

What’s it like living in New Zealand?

The lifestyle, culture and people are awesome. From my perspective, the work-life balance is promoted a lot more here than in Scotland. Things like hitting the beach and having BBQs seem like a stereotype but it’s actually true. Being able to achieve a good work-life balance is one of the key reasons why I want to continue to build my career in New Zealand. It’s fantastic to always be a 30-minute drive away from a hidden beach or a hike. I feel a lot happier in my personal life and that’s really reflected in my work.

Similarly, the work culture at Robert Walters New Zealand is incredibly social - whether it’s a beer after work or sport – there’s always something on. This has really helped me to settle into my new life and quickly build close relationships with my colleagues.

How do you secure a visa in New Zealand?

If you’re British and planning to stay in New Zealand for more than a year, you need to arrange for your visa to be linked to a company. It can be a daunting prospect and there is, of course, an element of give and take. However, I felt confident that Robert Walters would offer me plenty of opportunities to develop as a recruitment professional so I was happy to make the commitment.

As a British citizen, I found the visa process pretty easy. I arrived on a Working Holiday Visa and then moved it to a Work-to-Residency Visa. Robert Walters helped me with everything and it took just over a month to get it all done. The way I’m going, I’ll be a New Zealand resident in January 2020!

How did Robert Walters help you transition into your new role?

There was a lot of support from the team to not only help me settle into my new role, but also to get to grips with my new life in New Zealand. The Auckland team come from a range of different backgrounds so people could really relate with what I was going through and were really keen to help me outside of work. Being able to talk to people that had gone through the same experience really helped to reduce the stress and meant it wasn’t long until I felt at home in Auckland.

I came over on my own and joined a business with a lot of people around my age who had moved countries just like I had. It’s like a big family which has helped me settle into life here much faster.

My top tips for a successful career move to New Zealand

1. Look before you leap

It shouldn’t be something that you just jump into, I took some time to think about what I wanted from a career point of view and a lifestyle change. I’d experienced living in Australia so I had an idea of what I was getting myself into.

Going back to Scotland for a holiday highlighted just how much I enjoy life out here in New Zealand. Scotland will always be home, but New Zealand has quickly become my second home.

2. Pick the right location

I lived in the CBD initially but living in the suburbs enables you to achieve a better work-life balance. You are away from the hustle and bustle of the central city and able to enjoy local cafes, shops and markets, or take a walk to one of the many landmarks Auckland suburbs have to offer.

I would suggest areas like Kingsland, the North Shore, Mt Eden and Ponsonby. Make sure you look on There are so many flats on there and it isn’t just used by people travelling through New Zealand, Kiwis use it too. 

Embrace the challenge

Moving away from my friends and family wasn’t easy. It was also challenging working in a new and unfamiliar market. A good support framework was key to me settling in and becoming successful in the business. The team at Robert Walters were understanding and the backing was always there. I feel as though my career and my personal growth has really excelled here. I feel richer for the experiences I’ve had and it’s really nice to see what I’ve achieved over the last year.

Interested in a career in recruitment? View and apply for our latest jobs.

Alternatively, please email your up-to-date CV to Jess Allan at 

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