your path to work

ready to start work? here's what you need to know

To get your first job, you need a CV, a cover letter and a plan – we can help with those.

decide what you want to do

The work that’s right for you will depend on lots of things – what are you good at? what do you enjoy doing? what do you want to do? 

When you’re choosing a career, you might think about:

  • The environment. Do you want to be outside, in a workshop, or in an office?
  • The kind of work you like. Do you prefer working with your hands, or at a computer?
  • The people. Do you like working alone, or in a team?

Careers New Zealand has plenty of useful advice about finding your career path. It has job profiles that explain what different jobs are like, how much they pay, and what qualifications you need to get them.

careers new zealand: jobs database

Skill Matcher is a free online tool that asks what you’re good at and suggests some jobs you might like, some in areas you may not have considered.

careers new zealand: skill matcher

get the right training and experience

Before you choose a career path, it’s a good idea to find out what training or qualifications you’ll need to get your first job.

Careers New Zealand's jobs database explains what training you need to do different jobs.

careers new zealand: jobs database

School isn’t the only place you can get an education. You can work towards great qualifications in the workplace, at private training establishments, or in polytechnics.

your options for training

write a cv

A CV is a document that shows off what’s great about you – your skills,  qualifications, and the work you’ve already done. When you apply for a job, it’s the first thing an employer will look at, so you need to make it shine!

The School Leaver’s Toolkit has lots of advice about writing a good CV, and Careers New Zealand has a free tool to help you build one.

school leaver's toolkit

careers new zealand: cv builder

write a cover letter

In a cover letter, you explain to an employer why you’re the best person for a job at their organisation. Along with your CV, it’s the first impression you’ll make on an employer, and an easy way to make sure you stand out.

Careers New Zealand explains what a cover letter should include, and has some templates you can use to write one.

careers new zealand: cover letter templates

get ready for your interview

If an employer is thinking about giving you a job, they’ll want to meet you in person at an interview. This helps them learn more about you and decide if you’ll be a good fit for their organisation.

There are lots of things you can do to make sure your interview goes well, like:

  • looking smart
  • doing some research into the job you’re applying for
  • thinking about questions you might get asked before you go.

If you’re enrolled in Youth Service, your youth coach can help you get prepared and set up a mock interview to give you some practice.

make yourself stand out with part-time work or volunteering

Working and volunteering part-time are great ways to:

  • try out different jobs and see if you like them
  • learn useful skills like dealing with customers or using a till
  • discover what’s expected of you in the workplace.

Employers love to see that you’ve worked or volunteered before, even if just for a few hours a week. It shows that you’re a mature, reliable person who wants to do well and makes things happen.

Many communities have databases that list the jobs that need volunteers. Have a look online and see if there’s a match for you!

check your social media

However you apply for a job, most employers will search for your name online – make sure they won’t find anything you wouldn’t want them to see. Do some easy things to make sure your online presence is as impressive as you are:

  • Check your privacy settings on social media. Make all your personal profiles as private as you can.
  • Search for yourself online, and think about whether an employer would like what you see. Hide anything that might let you down.
  • Make sure your email address uses your name, so it’s clear it belongs to you.
  • Listen to your voicemail message. Check it’s polite, professional, and uses your name.