How to apply for a job in a different region

Is relocation the right move for you? Opportunities can be more abundant for candidates who are willing to move down (or up) the line.

Could you move from Auckland to Wellington or Christchurch, or vice versa? Or, if you have in-demand skills you might land a good job in the regions and escape the big city living costs, says Jason Walker, director at Hays.

The big decision

It’s a big deal moving regions for work. Ask yourself what your motivators are, says Brien Keegan, country manager at Randstad.

You should also consider:

  • Is the job, company, and industry stable?
  • How will the move affect your relationships and wider family?
  • Is the new salary high enough to cover the cost of living?

​If there are sufficient ticks in the boxes then move to the next step - choosing a location. However, there are many things to consider. Auckland, for example, is headquarters for most of the country’s business and industry. Wellington or Christchurch hold seismic risks, yet Wellington is the place to be for public service roles. Opportunities abound in construction and related industries in Christchurch.

Once you’ve chosen your location, it’s time to start building networks, says Keegan. “We are not always good at putting ourselves out there, but when you land in a new location you’ll need to break into new networks,” says Keegan. It can help candidates with the culture shock as well.

How to tailor your cover letter and resume

Your resume and cover letter need to be tailored to the new role and explain why an employer might want to take you over a local candidate. Consider the following tips:

“We are not always good at putting ourselves out there, but when you land in a new location you’ll need to break into new networks,” says Keegan.
  • Address your reasons directly in the cover letter. Explain briefly why you want to move and what appeals about the employer, industry and location. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I want to return home and I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity.” Be open and honest. That way it won’t look like you’re simply after an all-expenses-paid transfer with any old employer. “Make it clear you’re not a tyre kicker,” says Walker.
  • Tailor your resume to the job. Your resume should be rewritten for every job, whether you’re moving down the road or from one end of the country to the other. What transferrable skills do you have? And how can your existing experience be matched to the key selection criteria?
  • Discuss the practicalities. Let the employer know when you’re available for interviews and the earliest date you can start. Perhaps, says Walker, let the employer know any dates when you’ll be in town for interviews. If you’re happy to pay your fare for a face-to-face interview, make this known in the cover letter. Or suggest a phone interview. Beware of saying you expect relocation costs. That will push you off or to the bottom of the shortlist, says Walker.

​Finally, focus on the positive and embrace your new location, says Keegan. “When I moved to the South Island (for work), I started following the Crusaders.” Don’t complain about Auckland’s traffic or Wellington’s wind, he says. Be happy and pay attention to the good things in your new location such as the beaches in Auckland, the cultural life of Wellington and access to the outdoors, or the mountains in Christchurch.

To search for an opportunity in another region, head back to SEEK’s Job Search.