Dumb Down, If You Want To Get A Job In NZ

Edward Gay in The Herald is telling the story of a graduate who was allegedly told to by the Department of Work and Income ( WINZ) to remove her degree and experience from her CV if she wanted to find short term work.

Work and Income staff told a woman with a university bachelor degree to “dumb down” her CV before applying for jobs.

Natalie Meehan hopes to join the Navy later this year and said she wanted to take on some short-term employment before the next in-take later in the year.

She went into her local WINZ office in Napier for help finding a job or a short-term allowance and was told to remove her Bachelor degree and any mention of her two administration jobs from her CV before approaching prospective employers at Pak’n Save and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Work and Income deputy chief executive Patricia Reade said the WINZ case manager was trying to help Natalie target her CV at the kinds of jobs available for short term periods…

Ms Meehan said

“They said in order to get interviews I would have to dumb down my CV.

She said she hoped to get some part-time temping work but the WINZ officer told her to apply for jobs that do not require qualifications including Pak’n Save and KFC.

“She said: Make it look like you’re completely unqualified because otherwise employers in Napier will feel like they’re less qualified than you,” she said.

Ms Meehan is living with her parents before she joins the Navy but said she felt sorry for anyone who had to pay their own way.

“What are you supposed to do?” She said.

Ms Meehan emailed the Minister of Social Development Paula Bennett and told her what happened. She said she also asked the Minister to look into the practice of WINZ staff telling people to leave qualifications off their CV.

A spokeswoman for Ms Bennet told nzherald.co.nz the Minister did not approve of people “dumbing down” their CVs.

She said the Minister was looking into Ms Meehan’s case.

Ms Reade said WINZ did its best to help Ms Meehan. She said the Hawkes Bay Regional Manager will meet with Natalie to discuss her concerns.”

Back in May WINZ  struck up a deal with global fast food giant McDonalds to provide 6,000 new jobs in New Zealand over the next three years.

The arrangement was later changed to allow for 7,000  McDonalds jobs to be advertised and trained for by the Department of Work and Income over the next 5 years.

The Dom Post told its readers that “McDonald’s restaurants will receive up to $16,000 a year of taxpayers’ money every time it recruits a beneficiary under a partnership with Work and Income“. That’s a $112 million bill for the tax payers (see “Would You Like A Future With That? The Burgerization of McZealand, Up To $16,000 A Head (updated) for the full story“)

At the time MP Jacinda Arden asked the minister of youth affairs Paula Bennett this question across the floor of parliament:

“Will the Minister adopt any ideas other than those generated by McDonald’s, such as those ideas generated by the Youth Jobs Summit I hosted last week, including greater investment in skills and training, lifting the cap for tertiary education, and introducing a guaranteed employment or training scheme for the long-term unemployed under the age of 25 years, given that the Minister sees the power of working together to create creative solutions?”

Was this the best they could come up with? Is a job with a fast food company a career for life which will give all Kiwis higher wages and a bright future? and was this THE initiative that will give “young New Zealanders a country that they’ll want to stay and work in” or just a cynical attempt to hack a few digits off the unemployment figures?

On 20 May 2007 John Key promised:

“If I have the great honour of becoming Prime Minister of this country then I want to leave a legacy too.

My legacy will be a strong New Zealand economy with higher wages, lower taxes and greater competitiveness. My legacy will be a country that young New Zealanders want to stay and work in.That’s what a National government will give you.”

What we’re getting is a country where a government department  is telling job seekers to dumb down their CVs to get low paid, unskilled work. Looks to us like a gradual de-skilling of New Zealand is well underway.

Interestingly, today it was announced that unemployment fell to 6% in New Zealand over the last quarter, in a country where engineers, teachers and radiographers are driving taxis it makes you question in what sectors the employment has been created doesn’t it.


This story generated a massive readers’ response on the Yahooxtra.co.nz webpage. Here’s a selection of their comments:

“I can understand the frustration the lady has with her qualifications, my husband has been told many times he is ‘over qualified’ for the positions he has applied for, having been out of work for many months(being made redundant) we have lived off our savings and not gone ‘cap in hand’ to the dole office pleading for a hand out, we have worked all our lives but it seems if you have no debts are not drugs dependent, not a ‘overseas visitor’ or are not from a ethnic…”

“Our case sounds a lot like yours – when my husband was made redundant they told him numerous times he was to overqualified and they wouldn’t suggest him to employers for jobs. He would have done any job, and done it well, rather than getting the benifit but they wouldn’t help us out on that front at all. Makes me so mad!”

“like many other people out there in newzealand. I have worked hard to get myself into better positions with companies this has now been a waste of time as alot of companies do not want to employ me as i have too much experiance and skills. i was also told to DUMB down my cv by winz.”

“Work and income treat everyone out of work like f#cking morons, My husband has never previously been out of work, but was recently made redundant. He went to a “seminar” provided by W&I and came home demoralised and angry, He was treated like a desperate pauper, this “service” is neither productive or in any way helps jobseekers, I think a review is desperately needed”

When I lost my job due to government cuts I went to WINZ to help me find a job, I was told to dumb down my CV in order to get a job as well. reading other comments on here I see that this is a common this. Its a sad thing that to get ahead in life we are told to hide who we are and pretend to be stupid.”

“I was also asked to dumb down my CV by WINZ, so its nothing new. The few companies that have ever bothered to get back to me when I sent my CV have said that I am far too experienced, and this includes several so called Recruitment agencies. I have got the same comments when the job I have applied for is exactly the same as the last two jobs I had. Age discrimination is also rife, given that WINZ supplied me with a list of jobs where there were age restrictions, even though this is in…”

I was told a similar thing after I left my husband 10 years ago – I was studying at Uni and I was told to give up the study as, and I quote “it wont get you any where, look at me, [The WINZ person] I did the same degree and now I work here.” I was encouraged to stop study and get a cleaning job! I didn’t listen, I found a job on my own and continued study and now have a great career.”

“Well, our eminent Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is on public record saying in Parliament, that there is a ‘job available for everyone.’ Perhaps she should get her well-paid backside out of Wellington and direct her staff to find these elusive jobs for the unemployed, including those public servants who were recently sacked by this caring Government.”

“I have recently been told by WINZ not to tell a future employer about a medical condition that I have that would affect my ability to do the job. WINZ said leave it out until I were asked. I was also told to dumb down my CV. Nobody wants to employ somebody over quilified because they will only be there until something better comes up. Edwin, I used to think a wee bit like you, but after being fully employed for 35 years and being made redundant I have changed my views somewhat. Better go pubs…”

“I did an unemployment thing with WINZ a couple of years ago. The most depressing thing I have ever done in my life. I have sworn that I would rather become a wino and live under a bridge than ever repeat that experience. I have a Masters degree and they thought the appropriate job for me was cleaning. When I get my doctorate next year, there is no way I am takeing that off my CV.”

Nothing new for all immigrants. We have to do this to run our families. Though NZ immigration requires qualified people (with master/bachelor degrees) but do not (can’t) offer jobs of their profession. It is pity that it has come up in news now.

“I have been told to omit the fact that i have had back problems by acc. While it is not the same as taking a degree out of your cv, it does show that these people are basicly dishonest!”

“I got the same treatment twice, once from Winz and once from an independent agency. However, I don’t know whether the recruiters or employers are at fault. I was told to remove astronomy from the interests in my CV in case, an employer thought I would not be able to, “talk to workmates during smoko.” Laughable or ridiculous?”

“I agree regarding the seminars provided by WINZ. I went to one years ago and was disgusted how they treat you like a dole bludger straight off the bat. The guy giving the seminar told everyone that the unemployment benefit was a privilige not a right. In my books it is a right, I pay higher taxes here than in other countries who don’t provide unemployment benefit simply as an insurance in case I need, making it a right as far as I am concerned.”

“This seems to be the standard case manager bs line at Work & Income: “You’re obviously not going to get a job in ______ (your trained field), is there any reason why you aren’t working at McDonald’s?” or cleaning?”

One thought on “Dumb Down, If You Want To Get A Job In NZ

  1. How would you like some specifics from someone in a certain business.

    Here is what you are dealing with in New Zealand, in this profession.

    In the United States, a funeral arts professional has to study this, IN ONE SEMESTER:

    FSE 1105 Thanato Chemistry
    FSE 1000 Intro toFuneral Service
    FSE 2060 Funeral Directing
    FSE 2080 Funeral Law
    FSE 2100 Embalming I
    FSE 2101 L Embalming I Clinical
    FSE 2120 Restorative Art
    FSE 2120 L Restorative Art Lab
    FSE 2140 Embalming II
    FSE 2141 L Embalming II Clinical
    FSE 2160 Funeral Pathology
    FSE 2201 Funeral Merchandising
    FSE 2202 Funeral Home Management
    FSE 2930 Professional Review
    HSC 2946 Funeral Service Practicum
    HSC 1524 Infectious Disease
    FSE 2061 Thanatology
    FSE 1204 Funeral Service Computers

    In New Zealand, all you have to do is graduate from high school and persuade a family member or friend to employ you – and Bob’s Your (Dead) Uncle!

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