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Construction and property services industry overview

Allan Ruddy

Accounting for 6.3 per cent of New Zealand’s GDP, this industry of more than 245,000 people is determined to see their hard work translated into tangible contributions to the built environment.

A career in construction and property development could see you overseeing large projects from start to finish in the commercial, industrial or residential markets. Alternatively, you could find yourself working as a construction manager, property manager, property advisor, project manager, facility manager, private or government valuer, estimator, or quantity surveyor.

Stakeholder management is an important aspect of this line of work, so grads with natural interpersonal, communication, and teamwork skills will thrive.

A career in construction and property can provide you with skills that are transferable to many other industries and professions, providing you with plenty of opportunities to move sideways as interesting new projects become available.

According to the New Zealand Tertiary Education Commission, the 2018 median salary for those employed in the construction and road sector was $60,000, with salaries ranging from $37,000 to $145,000. The median salary for those in projects and contract management is $105,000; in surveying, $95,000; in site management, $95,000; in estimation, $85,000; and in labouring, $45,000.  

Job market outlook

New Zealand’s construction industry is growing rapidly due to population growth in Auckland; ongoing rebuilding efforts in earthquake-affected areas like Christchurch, Kaikoura, and the surrounding Canterbury region; and increased investment in housing, offices, road and rail links, sewers, and other infrastructural projects. 

As a result, the job market outlook for New Zealand’s construction industry is extremely positive, with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment predicting that the demand for construction-related occupations will increase by 11 per cent by 2022, creating approximately 56,000 new jobs.

How to get hired

Competition in the construction and property industry is high, so get ahead of the pack by putting together an impressive CV that emphasises any industry-specific experience.

When writing your CV, robust verbs work best: introduce your experience with ‘analysed’, ‘organised’ and ‘implemented’, rather than just ‘put’ or ‘did’. Don’t shy away from detailed job descriptions; explain the consequences/results of your actions; and use numbers to quantify your achievements wherever you can. 

For example, during your internship:

  • If you were involved in putting together a series of reports on improving property’ values, consider writing it up as: ‘Contributed to a series of reports on improving the saleability of properties [say which type of property, e.g. mixed-use developments] by [e.g. checking data]’; or
  • If you went on-site visits organised by your supervisor, you could write this up as: ‘Gained exposure to different property types and business departments by attending site visits’.

However, don’t inflate your responsibilities. You might think that describing yourself as the ‘project leader for the accounts of 10 high-profile clients’ looks impressive, but if you were only doing a few weeks’ work experience, a recruiter might get a bit suspicious and call your references to do some fact-checking. 

If you’ve impressed your employer enough to get to an interview, the next step is to demonstrate your understanding of the market and the organisation’s place within it. You can prepare yourself by researching topical issues in the property industry and reviewing the firm’s major clients. This will allow you to drop relevant insights into your conversation with the employer.

Key skills you need


Entrepreneurialism is important because clients come and go depending on their needs, so firms always need to be on the lookout for new business opportunities. For example, the number of university student numbers living in the inner city is expected to increase over the next couple of years, so you might mention that property professionals should anticipate increased demand for student housing.

People skills

Construction and property professionals must liaise with clients, customers, and team members. So, in an interview, show off your people skills with a firm handshake and some small talk; show an interest in what the recruiters are saying by maintaining eye contact, and contribute to the conversation by asking intelligent questions.

A ‘can do’ attitude

Projects can and will run off course from time to time. It could be that a supplier misses a deadline, perhaps a client changes the brief halfway through a project. In any case, a ‘can do’ attitude will hold you in good stead when times get tough. Employers want people on the team who will pitch in and get things done, even when projects aren’t running quite to plan. Be sure to demonstrate this in your interview by sharing examples of times when you’ve achieved positive results even in the face of tough circumstances.