As a jobseeker in New Zealand, you would’ve heard and experienced this statement countless times: “It’s not important what you know. What is important is who you know.” And I can bet, you know or have heard about someone who got the job just because he/she knew someone in the company.

Many times you see someone less capable or deserving taking over a position and you feel, how did that happen and why did it happen to you.

We all like to think and believe that factors such as competence, education, knowledge, and experience should be the ideal determinants for a jobseeker to secure their dream role but who said we live in an ideal world?

It is disturbing to see yourself slogging through your job search doing your best with no or minimum results and losing that chance that you wanted so badly over someone else and as a result you often feel resentful, bitter, and sour.

I am new in New Zealand and I don’t have any references, I don’t know anyone. Wherever I apply, I am asked if I know anyone in the company. I don’t know what to do and where to go.

He had his friends and family already in New Zealand. They helped him with his job. She had her cousin working in the same industry and her cousin went out of the way to get her the interviews.

Interesting (rant), isn’t it?

Here’s my suggestion: It’s not going to do any good to you or anyone else if you go around crying and comparing your situation with others and proving that life has been serving you injustice.

Things are always the way they are and haven’t been much different from than the way they always have been. We are not entirely hopeless in the world where everyone is not equal and fortunate enough to have their brothers, sisters, and uncles in New Zealand before they came here.

How is it possible to play with these rules and still make success more likely? No, I am not suggesting manipulating or blackmailing anyone, I am not suggesting anything immoral or illegal (although some people are doing it), which of course, is a different topic altogether and shall be covered in future articles.

I am, however, suggesting behaving in a sensible way of understanding the gravity of the situation, asking the right questions, promoting oneself well, consistent up skilling, understanding the difference between asking and offering, and always being ready to go beyond simply doing the job well.

So, when you know you don’t have anyone in New Zealand as your support, what did you do to create your references before and after arriving in the country? Do you know how to create your references?

Do you have a list of 50 companies that might need a candidate like you? If English is not your first language, what are you doing to improve your communication skills? Do you need/have a mentor? Do you know how to get one?

Can you give me a job? Do you have a job for me? Can you introduce me to someone who can hire me? Can you sponsor my work visa/permanent residence?

Unfortunately, seven out of 10 jobseekers are asking these questions even before they have properly introduced themselves. I understand your pressure to find work but these questions will not help you.

What sort of social media presence do you have? Do you use LinkedIn/Twitter? Do you use Facebook? Do you know how to use Facebook professionally? What other online platforms does your industry use? Are you using them? Do you know what’s an ‘elevator pitch’? Do you have one?

Have you identified your skills gap, if any? Do you know what your market is looking for in their ideal candidate? Have you been constantly up skilling? Who are the key players in your industry? Are you following and learning from them?

Are you disciplined/punctual? Do you have a ridiculously, sickening work ethic? Are you willing to go above and beyond of what is expected of you? Do you know how to shine in what you do?

Your answers to these questions could be different than mine but if you’re passionate about what you want in life, you will find an optimised answer to your questions or an answer that works for you.

You might start with some answer and slowly and gradually by meeting more people and doing your own research your answer will become stronger and evolve into something that starts working for you. All you need is a consistent effort, a never-ending hunger to know, and a wisdom to ask the right questions.

If someone has convinced you that, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” then you have two options. Either you can sit back and cry about your situation or ask a question to yourself—what should I do to know the people who are important for me?

Raj Singh is the Managing Recruiter at Rent A Recruiter Ltd and is sharing his knowledge and experience with migrants and international students in New Zealand.