Hunted Worldwide: Auckland

This time around for Hunted Worldwide I’m in Auckland speaking to Cobalt Recruitment. A Property, Infrastructure, Legal and Accounting & Finance agency placing candidates primarily into white collar permanent roles.

Recruitment Market:

1 Market Overview

In demand terms you couldn’t wish for a better market in recruitment currently. There’s a significant talent shortage in New Zealand and huge growth opportunities in the areas Cobalt operate. The combination of those two things creates a white hot environment.

New Zealand’s relatively small and isolated as an island nation, And therefore doesn’t have the same freedom of movement in terms of international candidates that markets in Europe benefit from. So there’s a limited candidate market.

But the country’s job rich currently meaning there’s no shortage of roles to get your teeth in to.

In Property and Infrastructure there’s a boom phase at the moment. The modus operandi around the country is ‘build’. Heavily. And this construction boom means there’s a tidal wave of investment. For example, the shortage of residential properties is driving demand for houses and in turn jobs to build them in large numbers.

Government agencies feature heavily as project sponsors to complement what’s already happening in the private sector.

Accounting Finance and Legal are all massively busy too. This comes with a good economy, which has been running at approx. 3% for the last 4/5 years. These macro conditions sustain growth.

On top of that there are low interest rates, high immigration and a big imbalance between supply and demand of critical skills, which more or less includes every skill now. The market’s well constructed for recruitment. And that’s not going to change any time soon.

2 Contract versus Perm

Cobalt focuses on permanent hires due to the markets they operate in. There’s a latent contract business in Auckland however and this is becoming more of a factor given the shortage of skills throughout the country.

Employers are trying to find new ways of staffing. Contracting could well be the answer.

Piha beach

3 Professional Community

“Working off the ball” is the answer I get when asking about networking in Auckland. They’re all about interpersonal relationships, and constantly networking so you never have to ‘sell‘. Passively headhunting in the market will do you well and is really a critical skill to ensure you can deliver the candidates your clients are looking for and in turn manage your own risk.

He, or she, who networks the most effectively wins. The low volume of talent means you can’t just work reactively and come out on top here. It also helps if you can throw in footy analogies too.

4 Business Culture

There aren’t the same amount of events you’d get in the US in New Zealand but if anything there’s more of an opportunity to network every day.

Going for coffee or beers after work is very common. It’s so small in New Zealand relatively, you can network easily if you’re socially confident.

There are business societies but there’s less of a social hierarchy here than places like London. You can go to a pub and bump into a Partner in a law firm or the Owner of a property company. Equally as likely is you meeting someone your own level in recruitment.

5 Business Development

Cobalt definitely ‘hit the phones’ for candidate and client generation just as much as any other recruitment agency. But BD with clients can be effectively done in person in a social environment and is, every week.

As a business, being part of the industry eco-system is the goal. That means being recognised as the go-to expert in your space. The social recognition means a lot. So to be a successful recruiter you’ll need to be just as comfortable socialising at industry events as you are across the boardroom table.

Auckland & Trail Lights

6 The CBD

Clients are everywhere in Auckland but there’s definitely a recognised CBD. The centre’s Queen Street and everything either side of that’s the CBD. As a general rule, if you find yourself close to the water, you’re also close to the business district.

7 Dress

People dress smart in New Zealand but not in a uniformed way. There are definitely less ties than other business cultures and certainly less than places like London or New York. It’s always important to match your market and as rule of thumb, things are more laid back here.

Then again, life in general’s more laid back across the entire country.

8 Travel

An AT Hop card will get you around Auckland with ease if you’re reliant on public transport and the buses trains and ferries are pretty good. For travel around the rest of the country, New Zealand’s well connected by flights. The lack of motorway system will mean driving will take a while. But if you have to be in a car from one city to another, there are few places as breathtaking as this place.

There can be a lot of work around the country too. Queenstown Lakes District is booming, as is Dunedin. But also extending from Auckland there’s a huge amount of activity going on in centres like Hamilton and Tauranga.


Life in the city

1 Weather

Auckland’s weather benefits from being towards the north end of New Zealand, so it’s warmer than a lot of other cities in the country. January’s the height of summer and regularly breaks the high 20’s mark.

That said, being on the coast brings with it a level of unpredictability and there’s always room to be surprised by the weather this city can throw at you.

2 Housing

It’s expensive to buy in Auckland and there’s a shortage of rentals, hence the busy Construction market for recruiters. But there’s property available. It’s competitive but it’s far from impossible to get on the ladder. There’s been close to 3% year on year growth in population for Auckland, which for a city of 1.5m people is really high.

3 Food

It’s obvious in Auckland there’s a great relationship with the ocean and great food is available throughout the city in the hundreds of quality restaurants. Eating out here can vary massively in price but expect fresh fish, some of the world’s best lamb and a high quality of produce wherever you venture.

Equally, for the more adventurous you can get yourself a rod (and a friend with a boat) and get out on the Hauraki Gulf which is a bountiful fishery. Given the possibility to have BBQ’s for large parts of the year, that could be a shrewd investment.


4 Outdoor Space

Chances are, you’ve seen photos of New Zealand, even if you’ve never been. As a country, it has the most amazing natural landscape on earth. Driving down the country from Auckland, you’ll see ‘the best thing you’ve ever seen’ every time you turn a corner.

Auckland and New Zealand in general has a love affair with the outdoors and that’s obvious in every corner, whether you’re out on the water, trekking along the mountainous ridges, surfing, snowboarding, golfing, cycling, or playing one of the many other sports on offer.

If you’re an avid runner, Auckland’s perfect for joining a club to blow away the cobwebs first thing. And Cobalt exemplify this attitude with extended lunch breaks, gym memberships and flexible working hours to give everyone the opportunity to be active.

5 Social Scene

Even though it’s not the capital, Auckland’s the number one city in New Zealand in terms of population and hustle and bustle. Therefore you can expect everything you’ve come to expect in your current city. And more.

There’s a great nightlife which offers something for everyone and there are always boat parties in the summer. The craft beer scene in New Zealand’s pretty special and their wine’s so good it’s sold all over the world.

6 Cost of Living

The main difference in comparison to the UK for cost living is the price of groceries in supermarkets. It’s noticeably more which means you might view the restaurant scene as a viable alternative. They’re also slightly different in nature. I got looked at rather strangely when I asked where the whiskey was.

The cost of living in Auckland’s up there with London, Vancouver, Sydney.

But, the locally made wine is not only amazing quality but also relatively affordable. Where rent and tax will save you money the cost of buying a car is also a lot cheaper in NZ.


7 Tax

The tax system in NZ is easy to work out. In fact it’s second in the world in competitiveness. The top threshold for individuals is 33%. That’s for incomes over NZ$70,000. As a recruiter you’ll probably be hitting that straight away.

At the lower end however you’ll only be paying 10.5% for salaries up to $14,000.

Goods and services are taxed in New Zealand which is set at 15%, so if you see GST anywhere and the price suddenly rising, that’s why.

8 Visas

Cobalt have a great history of supporting new arrivals coming into the country. Anyone who comes from the commonwealth is highly likely to have no troubles. There’s a 1 year working holiday visa which is very easy to get. And then it can take a bit more work to get residency. But so far everyone Cobalt’s taken on has been successful in their application.

Encouraging news for anyone looking at the possibility.

Keep in mind that there’s currently a big backlog of applications at Immigration NZ which is causing delays. The best way of dealing with that is to get organised and get your application well before you need to be there.

9 Travel

Unless you’re in Australia, getting to New Zealand is convoluted. But Auckland’s the most accessible and most major hubs in the rest of the world will have it as an option. Just don’t expect a quick flight.

Once arriving it’s absolutely imperative to explore the country. That includes the visually spectacular South Island and all of the hidden gems the North Island has to offer.

If you ever get tired of exploring New Zealand there are countless islands close by. Australia’s the most obvious. But you also have Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Bali and wider Asia’s quite close if you don’t mind the lengthier trip.

New Zealand people are amongst the friendliest you’ll meet on earth. It’s a country that’s captured the hearts of many before and will capture yours too. If you’re contemplating a new life or adventure, you could do much, much worse.

Thanks to Guy from Cobalt who are recruiting for Auckland now.