Fun Fact: Five out of Six JET Alumni are in Jobs Unrelated to their Education*
*based on a completely unscientific survey
Coming back from JET and needing to kickstart your career? Between the stresses of readjusting to life back home and navigating reverse culture shock, it can be a bit overwhelming when considering your future. The good news? We’ve all been there – and even with a little old chestnut called COVID in the mix, we think we have some solid ideas to help you get your professional life (re)started.
You Have a Wealth of Experience
It can feel like a challenge to market yourself effectively after a stint away. How do you land your first ‘real’ job back home without ‘relevant experience’? How do you explain to interviewers that your time in Japan wasn’t an all-expenses-paid holiday?
The skills you use every day on JET are valuable skills relevant to any job, and you need to communicate this to your interviewers. Explain your skills, give them real examples, and draw analogies to the position you are applying for.
To give a few very brief examples:
- Time management – planning your lessons out or marking tests between team teaching.
- Adaptable – living and working in a country with a completely different culture, travelling on your own
- Navigating difficult situations at work – unexpected teaching situations, difficult colleagues
- Effective communicator – teaching kids and working with colleagues with varying levels of English comprehension
It is not difficult to link these to common work scenarios. For the example of time management, you could link this to managing your daily schedules, getting work done between meetings, or being flexible around your personal and work schedules if required. Or, for an example of effective communication, being able to tailor your communication to the audience, being able to communicate clearly, and drawing lines where required.
Keep in Touch
The connections you had before JET and the ones you make from here on can be valuable when looking for opportunities. There can be many different outcomes.
Your connections could lead directly to jobs. A friend could introduce you to their workplace and set up an interview. A family member could tell you about a job you didn’t know existed. An old workplace could be hiring again – or may be happy to create a position for someone who knows the business and would provide value to the company.
They could also lead to less direct, but equally valuable outcomes. A faculty member may inspire you to pursue further study. A casual conversation could offer you a different perspective and new options to explore. A catch up with a friend who is further along professionally can provide valuable advice on pursuing (or avoiding!) career paths.
It can be difficult to reconnect with those from your former life, but there is much for you to gain professionally, and personally, from reaching out.
A Side-Step can be a Step Forward
Job finding can be a difficult and prolonged process, even for those who are well qualified and have a clear picture of their ideal career progression. There are a range of factors which are out of your control, including the economic climate, growth trends, and skill shortages or surpluses in your chosen field. With that in mind, what can you do that doesn’t involve spending all your effort pursuing or waiting around for something that might not happen?
Consider taking temporary employment or doing volunteer work. It’s not unheard of for temporary work to lead either directly to permanent positions, or put you in touch with people who could help introduce you to other positions. Moreover, the work experience can give you that extra leg up when applying for positions which are a bit tougher with their preferred candidate requirements. For those of you who have been away for a significant period, this work can also provide valuable local references to support your CV.
Similarly, consider jobs for which you are qualified, but aren’t necessarily in line with your future plans. You may find you enjoy the work, opening up a new range of opportunities. Alternatively, it may be easier to change roles once you are in a company, or a role may provide upskilling opportunities which can help you land that next role.
No experience is ever wasted, and that holds true for these ‘side-steps’. However, do keep in mind your end goals, strategise effectively, and be realistic. If the side-step you are considering is limited in what it can offer you directly and the opportunities it will provide, then perhaps give it more thought before diving in. Also consider that if you need to upskill in your own time while having full-time employment, this may require significant effort. In this case, a more practical option might be to go back to full-time education and retrain.
Hopefully this article has given you some ideas to take away and work on, or bolstered your own thoughts and given you some confidence to get out there. Even if you haven’t yet decided on your career path, it can be worthwhile to act on these ideas and get a better picture of what is out there and what you might like to do. It might feel like a lot of doom and gloom at the moment (if the papers are to be believed) but remember: people have found jobs in Auckland (and elsewhere) during this period. It can be done! So get out there and start working towards your future.
Job finding resources:
Careers information and financial support
New Zealand Careers website
Lots of detailed resources on job profiles, CV preparation, and general career advice.
List of New Zealand job vacancy and recruitment agency websites.
Work and Income
Check your eligibility for financial assistance, get an assessment and apply online. Straightforward process, you may have to visit the closest WINZ to your house. It’s worth checking your options. WINZ can also help you with work to start grants and accommodation supplement support.
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