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My Story: A Move Down Under


So here goes my first official blog from NZ, detailing my immigration process and experience. It may not be a glamorous story, but it is a true reflection of how I felt going through this, how I believe many people who have successfully emigrated felt, or the experience of those who are still trying to “get to the other side”.

Many years ago, my husband and I thought about moving abroad. He studied to become a Luthier (guitar builder) in the USA in the late 90’s, and always wanted to return. We thought about the USA, Canada, and at some stages even Australia, but after a while thought this would never happen for us and moved on from the idea; solacing ourselves with our reality of staying in our home country, South Africa, which sadly held no future for our children.

Random Luck and Good Networking

Much to my surprise, in mid-2015, out of the blue I received an e-mail from a recruiter asking me whether I would consider opportunities in New Zealand. He’d received my details from an ex colleague who recommended me, based on our last conversation years before where I stated my interest in moving abroad. This just goes to show the power of networks and also how a good recruiter can influence your career and life.

I was taken by surprise since, even though I have family in New Zealand who have been here for a couple of decades already, I never really considered New Zealand…that was until now. I found myself suddenly very interested, and hubby and I had “the talk”. We also decided it would be wise to alert our daughters, three and five years old at the time, of our decision and get their input. They were very keen, so we started doing research, reaching out to my family in New Zealand.

Making it Happen

Unfortunately, this particular opportunity didn’t materialise; but it had sewn the seed and now my family and I were very much set on immigrating to New Zealand. I realised I needed a local recruiter to help me in my search and began researching the market to find out which recruitment agencies had the best brands and, crucially, were aligned to my vision and values.  

I ended up having 11 Skype interviews in one week. All in a day’s work most would say but considering the time difference, and my going to gym at 5AM every day without fail, this was much harder than you can imagine. I was exhausted! Then it happened. I had the best interview of my life with Beyond Recruitment’s CE, Liza Viz, and I immediately knew I needed to join this company! I had two subsequent discussions, one with Chris (my current manager, who has been with Beyond Recruitment for nearly six years at the time), and another colleague who had also immigrated to New Zealand, taken in by Beyond Recruitment and built a great career over the last six years. The more I spoke to them, the more I knew I’d found my new home!

The Reality

Things happened very fast from there. Within 1 week from receiving our Visas, our flights were booked and we had less than 2 weeks to sell up the rest of our belongings, say goodbye to everyone and fly out. It was emotional. I have always been strong since I had to start supporting myself at the age of 15, but nothing could have prepared me for the flood of emotions I experienced saying goodbye to friends and family, and seeing my home country for the last time. I get emotional now still as I am typing this.

It was exciting and scary all at once, and reality set in very quickly. I suddenly had to manage a different lifestyle, adjust to a different culture and integrate. I had to think differently, work differently, talk differently and took a knock in confidence as I felt like a fish out of water. It felt like I was a rookie recruiter for the first 5 months, then it dawned on me, I was the one imposing these limitations on myself. Nobody else could take responsibility for my success and ability to integrate with confidence.

I looked at my now 4 and 6-year-old daughters and they sound like Kiwis – they can speak fluent English and both can read as well. They are happy and this is home to them.

The move hasn’t been as easy for my husband, and we were the ones having difficulty for very different reasons. I suddenly had no support system in terms of the children or housework and his skills were no longer in demand, leaving him in a position where he felt this may not have been such a good move at our age. I am always talking “shop” and he cannot talk along as he is not working, making me feel guilty.

Next week we will have been here 6 months, and only in the last few weeks have we started to find our “groove”. My colleagues at Beyond Recruitment have truly understood the tribulations of immigration and subsequently been very supportive. Our values align perfectly, making the adjustment so much easier.

My husband started helping with the kids and housework, cooking and cleaning, and it takes a load off me. I enjoy my work more and more every day and I’m back on track where I am starting to confidently recruit and manage client relationships, and feel I am able to hold my own in business related discussions where I can share market insights.

Hubby finally found his passion too – getting back to woodworking, but on his terms. He may not be a Luthier King like back in South Africa, but he now has more time to do what he truly enjoys.

If you are still trying to get here, my experience will teach you this: you may think the wait and suspense of interview after interview without success is not worth it, or is taking forever and stressful, but this is preparation for what is to come. It is hard adjusting in a new country, but it only has to be as hard as you want it to be. Yes, there will be factors outside your control, such as my entire family suddenly developing allergies to every plant or tree in New Zealand, but I can manage that.

I know we will still keep adapting for the next few years, but I can honestly say this is the best thing I ever could have done for myself and my family, and I am home. New Zealand is home, Beyond Recruitment is home and my colleagues really are my extended family.

Though I have been very successful and have always worked hard, I have had to learn recruitment the Beyond Recruitment way and learn everything from scratch, as if I have never recruited a day in my life. It may have frustrated me, and I am sure my manager too at times, but it has been worth it and I actually feel like I have more to offer now than ever before.

Do not let the stresses and curveballs keep you from your dream; instead be open minded and be prepared. If you persist, you will succeed.