Finding a job and working in New Zealand

Finding work in Dunedin
Updated 2023-03-04 19:13

Dunedin is one of New Zealand's most iconic cities, and it is becoming increasingly popular with expatriates due to its economic development and prosperity. It is the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, the Otago region's main city, and is ranked seventh among the largest cities in all of New Zealand.  

Dunedin's economy

Dunedin is an important economic center in the Otago region. The city is home to a number of industries, including education, healthcare, tourism, and manufacturing.

The University of Otago is a major contributor to the city's economy and is one of the largest employers in the region. The healthcare sector is also an important part of the economy, with several hospitals and medical facilities located in the city.

Tourism is a significant industry in Dunedin, with the city attracting visitors from around the world to its stunning natural surroundings and cultural attractions. The city is known for its historic architecture, including the iconic Dunedin Railway Station. It is a popular destination for nature lovers, with a range of outdoor activities available in the surrounding area.

Dunedin is home to a number of manufacturing companies that produce a range of products, including food and beverages, clothing, and furniture. One of the major manufacturers in the city is Silver Fern Farms, which is a leading producer of premium lamb, beef, and venison products. The company has a number of processing plants in the region and exports its products to markets around the world. Other manufacturing companies based in Dunedin include Speight's Brewery, which produces a range of beers and ales, and Dunedin-based company O'Neil's Clothing, which specializes in the production of high-quality outdoor clothing and gear.

The labor market in Dunedin

Due to the diverse nature of its economy, Dunedin has a range of opportunities for job seekers, though, of course, they may vary depending on your qualifications.

The University of Otago, which is located in the city, is a major employer. Otago is ranked in the top 1% of universities in the world and is home to a prestigious medical school. If you are in the academic community and want to come to the region, it's worth exploring the University of Otago for opportunities. If you are already planning to attend the university, they can help you to find employment to supplement your time outside of studying. International students and those on Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand may also look to the tourism and hospitality industries for more short-term or part-time work.

Other major employers in Dunedin include:

  • Southern District Health Board: The Southern District Health Board is responsible for providing public healthcare services in the southern region of New Zealand, including Dunedin. It is one of the largest health boards in New Zealand and employs over 3,500 staff members.
  • Silver Fern Farms: Silver Fern Farms is a leading New Zealand agribusiness that produces and exports premium quality lamb, beef, and venison. The company's Dunedin plant is one of the city's largest employers, with over 1,000 staff members.
  • Fonterra: Fonterra is a New Zealand-based multinational dairy cooperative that is responsible for around 30% of the world's dairy exports! That's a lot of milk. Its Dunedin plant produces a range of dairy products and employs several hundred staff members.
  • Allied Press: Allied Press is a Dunedin-based media company that owns and operates several local newspapers and other media outlets. It is one of the city's largest employers in the media industry, with over 200 staff members.

Finding a job in Dunedin

As with job hunting in any city, it pays to be proactive. Here are a few tips that may be helpful when job hunting in Dunedin:

  • Research the job market: It's a good idea to research the job market in Dunedin before you start your job search. This will give you a better understanding of the types of jobs that are available, the industries that are hiring, and the qualifications and experience that are in demand.
  • Network: Networking can be a powerful tool for finding job opportunities in Dunedin. Consider attending industry events, joining professional organizations, and reaching out to people in your network to let them know that you're looking for a job.
  • Tailor your resume and cover letter: Make sure to tailor your resume and cover letter to the specific job you're applying for. This will help you stand out and show the employer that you have the skills and experience they're looking for.
  • Be proactive: Don't be afraid to reach out to potential employers directly, even if they're not advertising a job opening. This can be a great way to get your foot in the door and showcase your skills and experience.
  • Use online job search tools: There are a number of online job search tools that can be helpful when looking for jobs. These platforms allow you to search for jobs by location, industry, and other criteria and can help you connect with potential employers.
  • A small pond. Be aware that in New Zealand, due to its small size, the idea of your employment success depending on “who you know” does have some truth to it. This can make it harder for expats to land jobs and means it's even more important to network and introduce yourself to the relevant people as best you can. The small size of certain industries can be great for developing a good reputation, but it also means it's easy to burn bridges and step on toes if you're used to a bigger or more competitive job market.

Labor shortages in Dunedin

Like many other countries, New Zealand is currently experiencing labor shortages due to the impact of COVID-19. Factors such as border closures, reduced immigration, and changing work culture have contributed to this shortage, which has affected a range of industries.

But here's the good news! New Zealand's borders are now open, and efforts are being made to fill these shortages with overseas workers. It's essential to note that New Zealand recently hugely expanded the Green List, which includes a list of in-demand occupations that qualify for fast-track residence or have access to a work-to-residence pathway. Consulting this list can be an excellent way to determine which skill areas need labor from overseas and to figure out if you might be a good candidate.

While Dunedin may not be as close to prime agricultural and horticultural areas as Christchurch, and it lacks the population size of Auckland, there are still some industries that are particularly in need of workers:

  • Healthcare: With a range of positions available in hospitals, clinics, and aged care facilities, the healthcare industry is one that is in high demand for workers in Dunedin, especially for roles such as doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants, and support staff.
  • Hospitality and Tourism: Dunedin has a thriving tourism industry, and workers are needed for roles such as chefs, kitchen staff, waiting staff, and hotel housekeeping.
  • Education: As a university town, Dunedin has a high demand for academics, teachers and support staff in education.
  • Construction: Dunedin, like much of New Zealand, is experiencing a construction boom, with a high demand for workers in the building and construction industry.
  • Manufacturing: Dunedin has a significant manufacturing industry, particularly in the areas of engineering and food processing.

Salary expectations in Dunedin

When it comes to salary expectations for expats in Dunedin, there are no short answers, as it's all about the industry, job position, and your experience level. New Zealand isn't generally known as somewhere with high wages, at least compared with the United States and Western Europe. However, if you are coming from other regions, including the Asia-Pacific, South America, and Eastern Europe, the wages may well be higher.

So, what are the average annual salaries for some jobs in Dunedin? Below is some data sourced from Payscale to give a broad idea of what to expect:

  • Operations Manager - NZ$48,000- NZ$113,000
  • Accountant - NZ$43,000 - NZ$84,000
  • General / Operations Manager - NZ$62,000 - NZ$132,000
  • Software Engineer - NZ$48,000 - NZ$98,000
  • Physiotherapist - NZ$49,000 - NZ$67,000
  • Customer Service Representative (CSR) - NZ$41,000 - NZ$64,000
  • Office Administrator - NZ$39,000 - NZ$61,000

Of course, such figures are just estimates and can vary depending on the employer and industry. Before accepting a job, it's essential to establish your salary expectations and get clear information about what you'll be paid. Before making a move, assess the cost of living in Dunedin to make sure you have clear expectations about what kind of salary you'll need to live comfortably.

The job application and interview process in Dunedin

The job application and interview process in Dunedin is not too different from what you might expect in other places, but there are a few things you'll want to keep in mind.

When you're applying for a job, make sure to research the company and the role before your interview. You can find some helpful information on the company's website and, if it's a large employer, it may have reviews on Glassdoor. It's a good idea to tailor your answers to fit the company's needs, so being well-informed can help you do that.

Most job applications are made online, either through the company's website or through job listing websites like TradeMe or Seek. When you're putting together your CV and cover letter, keep it concise and highlight your skills. Bullet points are a great way to make your skills stand out. Remember to tailor your application to the specific job you're applying for, and include the names and contact details of referees in your CV or cover letter. New Zealanders tend to prepare CVs that might be shorter than in your own country, so if there is an opportunity for compression, then take it.

When it comes to the interview, practice your answers to some common questions and dress to impress. First impressions are important, so even if the company has a more casual dress code, it's still a good idea to dress professionally for the interview. And don't forget to be yourself! Employers want to get to know you and your personality, so let your enthusiasm for the job shine through. New Zealand has a useful Careers website that has information about salaries, interviews, and the entire job application process.

One thing to keep in mind is that your interviewers might not be familiar with a workplace, company or event that is well-known in your own country. So be sure to include some context in your CV and cover letter that might be useful for an international employer.

Overall, the job application and interview process in Dunedin is pretty straightforward and shouldn't come with any surprises. Do your research, tailor your application, and be yourself during the interview. Good luck with your job search!

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.