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No New Zealand HR Experience? No Problem!

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It’s been a year since I shifted onto an HR desk, specialising in resourcing candidates and contractors across the HR space. Having interviewed and met a lot of people from all sorts of backgrounds, if I were to sum up a key attribute that any good HR generalist should have, it would be people leadership/management and relationship building – the ability to navigate the ambiguity and complexity that comes naturally with people.

Our methodology at Beyond Recruitment is to find people with the right personal attributes, coupled with potential and transferable experience (because technical skills can always be learned), however, a lack of New Zealand experience continues to be a concern for many businesses when assessing candidates. Yet, to secure quality candidates in a notoriously tight market, employers should be starting to look outside of the box.

So, where does the apprehension around no New Zealand experience stem from? Is it cultural? Is it because some regions have a unique way of working, such as how Wellington is government-driven? Or is it because of policies and legislation? Could these areas be that distinct to those of other countries? Let’s break it down:


Could it be a cultural issue? We all know that every work environment has a different culture and is made up of people from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities. Most international candidates I meet have excellent HR backgrounds, a lot of them having worked across multiple countries during their careers. This shows an ability to work with different cultures, ethnicities and legislations simultaneously, and with the growing presence of diversity and inclusion in today’s organisations, this is a big advantage.

Government Processes and Systems

How about government experience – the importance of familiarity with our government’s processes and systems in an HR role? Generally, all organisations have their own unique processes, policies and systems in place (to some extent). It’s something we all have to pick up every time we shift to a new role, whether it’s here or overseas, so it needn’t to be a barrier for international candidates.

Policies and Legislation

Finally, there is policies and legislation – this is the biggest worry for many businesses. Though this is understandable, most of the candidates from outside New Zealand that I have spoken to admit that ‘although there are some differences, the fundamentals are generally aligned.’ After all, even the generalists whose experience has been based entirely here, would be unlikely to know all our policies and legislation inside-out – and these are changing all the time.

The good news is that you don’t need to struggle with a serious resource gap for three to four months. You could take on an amazing international Senior HR Advisor, send them on a two-day course to gain basic legislative understanding and be confident that if they are armed with excellent people leadership and stakeholder engagement skills, the policies and processes knowledge will be picked up along the way.

If you would like to know more about the advantages of hiring international HR professionals or need help with recruiting for your HR vacancy, get in touch with me today. 

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