Key Points:

There are often reports in the media about how difficult it is for migrants to find jobs in New Zealand. Many highly qualified people are landing up doing low-skilled jobs just to get by. But how do people who have come to New Zealand to start a new life get going?

By seeing themselves as a product, says Tom O' Neil, managing director of cv.co.nz. "When you go to market, you become a product. It's as if you're selling a widget or a car - except you're selling 'Jim' to the role of a sales manager. You need to get your mindset right."

O'Neil says you also need to know what the "product" can offer.

"This is especially the case if you come from overseas. Let's face it, if you go for an interview and a Kiwi is an eight out of 10 as far as what the job requires and you are too, the Kiwi will get a job. You need to be a nine."

Migrants need to show that they provide more value than the local product, O'Neil says. "Know thyself. Know what you can offer and where you are offering added value.

"Say you have worked in South Africa for Telkom for many years - that could mean little to the local telecom market, but if you can say that you had an important role on a special project that could be applied to the market here, you're suddenly a person who can bring real value.

"Tell a company what you have done. Often a problem is that people sell themselves as a Toyota when they're a Ferrari. You have to show you're a Ferrari."

O'Neil says it's important for immigrants to remember that companies that seem similar may not be.

"It's easy to come along and think you'll be working by the old rules. Be aware some adaptation will be necessary.

"If you were a managing director with 3000 staff in your home country, you can't expect to walk into a similar job here. You'll be dealing with new laws, new unions and new contracts. You have to be prepared to drop down a level or more. You will have to make some sacrifices."

In this case, he says, perhaps going into executive leasing will help. "That works on a contract basis and means you will earn well. The most important thing is it gives you valuable New Zealand experience. It takes the risk away from the employer as you're there on a temporary basis. Temping can lead to a permanent contract."

Immigrants who come from non-English speaking countries need to be pragmatic about their "product", O'Neil says. "Although it's illegal for employers to judge you by your name, they do. The unfortunate reality is that racism does exist."

He suggests that such immigrants try to "Kiwi-ise" themselves.

"Take on an English sounding name - even if you use your actual name and put an English name in brackets on your CV. That way when a recruiter phones you he or she can say: 'Hi, can I speak to Roger,' rather than stumbling on your actual name."

Also, make sure that the name you choose is a common New Zealand name.

"Names such as Shadow or Tiger cannot be classed as being English names. Show yourself to be as Kiwi as possible. Know the culture, show you share core values."

Another way of opening up job opportunities is for migrants to join social groups and to volunteer.

"Do volunteer work at businesses to get New Zealand experience. Of course if you do this, you must be careful of the employment laws - but it does give you experience if you work short term like this - even for a week. You get to see the business' systems, get it on your CV and gain verbal references from people in New Zealand."

O'Neil also suggests you work voluntarily in sports clubs, community or church groups. It's also about networking.

"You can't be idle. Don't send one CV out and wait. Send your CV directly to companies - many jobs never get advertised."

Auckland Chamber of Commerce CEO Michael Barnett says: "One way we help new immigrants is through our site newkiwis.co.nz. We have about 800 to 1000 migrants registered. It's an opportunity to have your name out there and your skills. About 3000 to 4000 employers use the site.

"There are about 500 placings a year. We use the chamber's membership base and have 12,000 to 15,000 unique visits a month."

He suggests that new migrants participate in the chamber's free activities.

"We have a business club, which is a great opportunity to network."

The chamber also runs week-long courses. One is on Kiwi career success, and helps you get to know the business environment, the culture, behaviour and language.

Barnett says: "In our region, having networks makes the difference as a lot of roles are never advertised. Develop networks in your local communities. Knock on doors, particularly when it comes to small and mid-sized businesses."

Barnett says local companies are better at employing migrants than they were 10 years ago.

"New Kiwis need to look at what they can bring to a workplace, rather than present themselves as job beggars. Always ask yourself what value you can bring an employer - this could be offshore networks and contacts - and express that value."