It’s been 10 years since my wife and I left NZ for our ‘Overseas Experience’ (OE). Lots of Kiwis do this, and we trotted off to the United Kingdom (UK) to do the same. It feels like it was only yesterday that I was a young Kiwi guy trying my best my best to run a Labour Hire desk in London. When I entered the UK, it was 2009, and we were in the midst of the global financial crisis. The immigration officer looked at me and asked me what I did. I told him that I worked in recruitment, and he scoffed at me! What I didn’t tell him was that in fact, I already had a job lined up—this was one of those times I just shut my mouth and carried on! This was my first proper introduction to how people can make quick and unfair assessments, and 10 years later, I still remember this vividly.
After travelling around Europe on a Contiki tour, my wife and I started in our new roles. I had been lucky enough to get a transfer from Wellington, and this really helped me find my feet. Same system, same process and I was given a phone, computer and was told to go and make money. I thought I knew what to expect – but I was wrong! Whilst recruitment is essentially the same in any country, the challenges that I faced were immense. Not only was I a foreigner in another country, I was also dealing with lots of different nationalities. This meant that I had to become super savvy at understanding accents really quickly, but also, understanding where these people came from, and their story. This is where working in the UK really opened my eyes to just how different life can be for other people, and was the part that I enjoyed the most.
On a daily basis, I dealt with candidates from a wide range of different countries and cultures. I really enjoyed sitting down and talking to these people about how they came to the UK, what they wanted to achieve, and how I could help them. As a result of this, I had some very loyal temps who worked for me the bulk of my time in the UK. I was also very fortunate to work with a great bunch of people. My local office ripped the pish out of me every day, but they were incredibly supportive, were very generous with their time, and the ‘Hairy Kiwi’ was sad to go when I left in 2011.
I think back fondly on those years I had in the UK. I worked incredibly hard, made some lifelong friends, but it also changed my perspective on the world. I consider myself lucky to have what I have, as I have seen what extreme poverty looks like. My eyes were opened to the struggles people go through, and this also helped me understand why people get stressed when they need a job; why we need to be understanding of their plights, and take the time to truly listen. Everyone has a different story, and I still to this day enjoy meeting with candidates and clients to find out their story, and figuring out how I can help. Seeing what other people go through has cemented my passion for recruitment and trying to help them into their next role. When I am having a bad day, I remind myself that my life here in the Waikato, is pretty good!
I’ve been back here New Zealand since 2011, and I truly appreciate how lucky we are here. Seeing the world and what it has to offer was amazing, but as Dorothy said ‘there is no place like home’ and I agree with that. It was great to broaden my horizons, and my overseas experiences certainly helped me become a better recruitment consultant. I look forward every day to doing the job I enjoy and will continue to help candidates and clients to meet their goals.