INSIGHT: How to drive overseas Kiwi talent back to NZ

“With the emergence of a number of skill shortages in New Zealand, returning Kiwis offer employers the opportunity to recruit local talent with highly valued international experience."


19 percent are looking for a higher salary in order to move back to New Zealand, 32 percent want a salary equivalent to their current earnings and 29 percent recognise their salary would be determined by local market condition. 17 percent expect to earn less.


62 percent said their overseas work experience is their number one advantage over local candidates while 26 percent said it is their international cultural skills.

Length of job search:

49 percent of our survey respondents expect it will take one to three months to find a job if they were to return to New Zealand; 13 percent think it will take more than six months and 77 percent think it’s easier to get a job where they are currently living overseas.

Movement overseas:

In a separate survey, Hays asked a selection of candidates in New Zealand whether they would consider working overseas, either now or in the future.

Almost all (88 percent) said they would consider working overseas for better job opportunities, career development or exposure. So it seems that the movement of professionals overseas shows no sign of abating.

Advice for employers

According to Hays, employers recruiting returning Kiwis should firstly make sure they pay appropriately for skill, and nothing else.

“Whilst salary is a driver, what's more important is the overall benefits package,” Walker adds. “What initiatives do you have in place to promote a healthy work-life balance for example?”

Hays also advise employers to find your leverage and recruit intelligently.

“As our survey shows, talent returning to New Zealand are often looking for a better lifestyle and work-life balance, so talk to your recruiter to gain a deeper insight into your preferred candidate and the strategies that will help them achieve these goals,” Walker adds.

“For example, for one returner the opportunity to leave work an hour early one day a week to attend their child’s sports game might be viewed as a highly attractive benefit, while for another the opportunity to work from home might encourage them to accept your job offer.

“Review your attraction toolkit to ensure your offering appeals to the desires of potential returners.”

Finally, Walker believes employers should also work to hold on to the professionals they already have.

“According to our survey, 70 percent of New Zealanders are considering leaving the country because they believe they will access better career opportunities overseas,” he adds.

“This highlights the importance of putting a solid and individualised retention plan in place, which includes open and honest discussions about career development expectations and how you can meet them.”

Of the 635 survey respondents, 84 percent had studied in New Zealand and they are typically a highly educated group, 61 percent hold a Bachelor degree, 22 percent a Masters and almost a third (32 percent) have between five and ten years' experience and 50 percent have more than ten years of experience.

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