Updated: Apr 11, 2019
As a number of applicants have pointed out to me recently, New Zealand employers tend to prefer New Zealanders, or people with valid work visas, but in order to obtain a work visa in the vast majority of cases, applicants need an offer of employment.
We have a master list of occupations that suffer from a shortage of qualified employees which is called the Essential Skills in Demand List: see here https://www.immigration.govt.nz/employ-migrants/explore-your-options/before-you-start-hiring-migrants/skill-shortages
INZ also have a skill shortage list job checker - where you can enter in your occupation and see if it's on any of the current skill shortage lists: http://skillshortages.immigration.govt.nz/?_ga=2.3044405.445425323.1554149591-244368755.1545868579
It's important to make sure your CV is up to scratch. You may need to update it, or modify it to specifically target a particular job. You will also need to send a separate cover letter. These need to be relatively short - it's an introduction to who you are, and why you're the best fit for the job. However, anything longer than a few paragraphs is likely to be discarded, as recruiters have hundreds, if not thousands of applications to go through on a daily basis, so it's vital that your cover letter stands out from the start.
Keeping your CV to only a few pages is also beneficial as again, employers will not want to read through every detail of your previous employment. Often job-seekers list too many of their tasks and duties that they performed in previous roles, and by cutting down in that area, several pages in length can be trimmed off.
Under this list are various sub lists like the Immediate Skill Shortage List and Long Term Skill Shortage list. People who manage to secure a job offer that accurately fits the occupation specified under one of these lists will have a better chance of securing a visa. For example, with medium-high skilled work in an occupation that is listed on a skill shortage list, the employer may not need to apply the same recruitment and advertising criteria when seeking out applicants, and as such it there are fewer requirements on an applicant when submitting their visa application.
For the purposes of residency under the Skilled Migrant Category, applicants will be awarded extra points for a job offer or current job on that meets the occupation code under the Long Term Skill Shortage List. Bonus points are awarded for work experience in one of these areas.
Where to start: Seek.co.nz is New Zealand's biggest online job market, followed by Trade Me. There are a number of specialised recruitment agencies available, that work in certain industries. There are also recruitment agencies that specialise in hiring foreign workers.
While it's unlikely to secure a work visa without a skilled job offer, and while it's difficult to secure a job offer without a valid work visa, the next best bet is to have an visa eligibility assessment conducted by a licensed immigration adviser - these may be one page, or several in length, and demonstrate point-by-point how the applicant meets the current criteria for a work visa. As such, it demonstrates to employers that the applicant is visa-ready, and that they are working with, or have worked with a licensed immigration adviser.
This can significantly boost an applicant's chances of securing a job offer, which should allow them to obtain a work visa - or residency.
The information provided here is of a general nature only, and is not intended to amount to legal or immigration advice.