48,000 apply for free trip to Wellington for a tech job interview

$1m LookSee campaign goes viral attracting an army of Indian and American candidates.


LookSee Campaign Site visits: 1.7 million
Total submissions: 48,703
Submissions screened to date: 24,000+

Top 10 countries-of-origin for submissions

  • India: 8000
  • USA: 7453
  • Brazil: 2339
  • Poland:  2093
  • China: 2039
  • Philippines: 1739
  • Singapore: 1702
  • UK: 1684
  • Germany: 1097
  • Argentina: 1056
  • Rest-of-world: 19,501

UPDATE April 4: LookSee organisers say more than 48,000 tech workers around the world have submitted an application in the hope of scoring a free trip to Wellington for a job interview.

The longlist is now being whittled down by Workhere to a shortlist of under 1000 whose online profiles will be evaluated by participating companies including Chorus, Trade Me, Weta Digital and Xero.

100 will ultimately be flown to the capital for job interviews, courtesy of the Wellington Regional Economy Development Agency.

Participating companies will chip in if they end up hiring one of the candidates. 

52 potential employers have registered 265 tech job vacancies with LookSee, which is backed by $1 million in council funding.

Workhere MD Jonny Wyles tells NBR the 48,000 total is not quite as daunting as it sounds. 

Viral hype around the campaign meant many around 7000 signed up who didn't even pass the basic knockout question "Do you work in ICT".

Thousands more failed a passport question. Others were culled for poor English skills.

A team of 16 Workhere recruiters is filtering through around 18,000 remaining applications.

He says the next phase will see 12,000 finalists emailed and asked to record and upload a two-minute video answer to a question.

The Workhere MD anticipates this will eliminate around 6000 "tyre kickers" or others for whom it all gets "a bit too real". The clips will also also provide another chance to evaluate English skills, ICT skills and genuine desire to move countries.

Ultimately, Workhere will put between 600 and 700 applicant profiles online. Registered employers will be able to access the profiles, and sort them according to various criteria.

Applicants who get at least three employer nominations for a job interview will then be reference-checked as part of the process of ultimately winnowing down the field to 100 who will be flown to NZ in May.

March 3: IT skills shortage: more than 11,000 vie for free trip to Wellington
The "LookSee" campaign to fill tech job vacancies in Wellington has gone viral.

Esquire was one of the many US sites to pick up on it, headlining “New Zealand Will Give You a Free Trip If You Agree to a Job Interview.”

Actually, it’s not quite that simple.

First, you’ll have to make the cut.

The Wellington Regional Economy Development Agency’s LookSee campaign will see 100 people flown from around the world to job-interview in the capital.

But first they’ll have to make it through CV screening and video interviews.

A *lot* of screening is ahead.

WREDA says in the first 24 hours, more than 11,000 have completed a LookSee application and a stonking 55,000 are in the process of applying.

Over four days in May, the chosen 100 will interview with a host of Wellington-based companies battling the IT skills shortage, including Chorus, Trade Me, Weta Digital and Xero.

The LookSee campaign has a budget of $850,000.

Of that, $300,000 is being chipped in by ratepayers. The rest will come from participating companies, who will pay a “success fee” for each candidate they end up hiring.

WREDA's LookSee campaign, fronted by new Wellington Mayor Justin Lester.

Xero chief partner officer Anna Curzon calls LookSee "a genius idea" but not everyone in Silicon Welly is 100% convinced.

“Catalyst doesn't see a great need. We grow our own and get plenty great overseas applicants as well,” says Catalyst IT director Don Christie.

Peel off Auckanders
There’s also an interesting criterion, buried on the bottom of the LookSee FAQ page: you don’t have to live overseas to score a free trip to the capital, just outside Wellington. 

The message to high-tech employers in Auckland and Christchurch: watch your back.

Any room at the inn?
With all the publicity about the Wellington rental crisis, will the successful 100 people be able to anywhere to live?

"We can always prop them up in the Xero family I’m sure while they’re looking for more permanent lodgings but when there might be a bit of a shortage in the immediate area of Wellington city, there are some beautiful properties in Eastbourne and other areas around the wider region," says Ms Curzon.

"I’m sure if you’ve been travelling in Silicon Valley and been in traffic for two and a half hours each way, you’ll think it’s an absolute breeze to drive around the coast for 30 or 40 minutes."

Could the newbies afford Eastbourne?

Ms Curzon says her company is offering "world class" jobs in areas like artificial intelligence and machine learning, the better to take advantage of Xero's recent move to the AWS platform.

She won't put a figure on such roles, but agrees when NBR says they could pay up to $250,000.

Long-term solution
Her enthusiasm for the LookSee campaign notwithstanding, Ms Curzon says we have to do more to address the IT skills shortage.

“Down in Wellington, we’ve had a number of vacancies for some time in our product development and design space,” the Xero exec says.

“And we’d love to fill these positions in New Zealand. But the supply and demand equation is really out of whack. The sooner we can get on with driving more tech through our education system the better.”

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