Networking to get a job

You may hear this many times while looking for job – ‘most recruitment is done through referrals, they are not even advertised’. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. If you were the hiring manager and someone you trust said they have the perfect candidate to suit the job profile you want to fill, would you serious not look at that candidate? Or if you had worked with a person earlier that you knew would do a great job in the role that you were hiring for, would you not ask that person to join your team?

But as a newcomer to Canada, how do you get referred if you hardly know anyone? Well, the answer is through networking. If you read how I got my first job, it was also through a referral and networking.

Networking is not as complex as it sounds. Simply put, you need to take every opportunity to meet people and tell them that you are looking for a job. But the first thing you need to do is create your ‘elevator speech’.

What is an ‘elevator speech’?

An elevator speech is a short speech about yourself that you can deliver in 30 seconds (the time it takes to introduce yourself if you meet someone in an elevator, and before they get off on their floor).

You need to craft this elevator speech really well so that when you deliver it, you make a great impression. It needs to talk about your key skills and biggest achievements. It needs to tell the other person what you can do and what your expertise is. Making a really good elevator speech takes a lot of time. You need boil down your resume to its core essence so that when the person you met thinks about you the next day, s/he will still be able to remember what you can do. When drafting your elevator speech keep telling yourself – ‘LESS IS MORE’, so you should aim to communicate 2-3 key points about yourself in total.

Once you make an elevator speech, you will also need to practice on delivering it. Remember, delivery of an elevator speech is as important as the content. The delivery does not need to sound rehearsed, it needs to be natural and conversational. And don’t hard sell yourself; otherwise you will turn off people.

Where and how do you meet people to network with?

The simple answer is to attend as many free events that you can like seminars, conferences, job fairs etc. Some of these will be paid events, and you carefully evaluate which ones you want to invest in. Not all paid events that you attend will be helpful. The point is to try and connect with as many people as you can and build your network.

I would strongly recommend attending the free workshops and seminars that are conducted by newcomer settlement agencies. This would give you can opportunity to meet councillors that can help you in your job search and many newcomer like yourself. You can share your ideas with them and get ideas from them. You never know who could lead you to you first job. You can find list of newcomer settlement agencies in your city by visiting Canadian Citizenship and Immigration website (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/newcomers/map/services.asp).

Besides this, many people underestimate the value of meeting and talking to people during their day. For example, speaking to other shoppers while you are shopping for your daily groceries. You never know who you will bump into. Or talking to your pharmacist about your situation. S/he may not able to give you a job, but they may know someone who may.

Social networks are a great place to connect with people from the industry you are targeting. Introduce yourself via an e-mail or connection invite and ask them for an information interview. Ask your friends and family for references of people they may know, and meet them for information interviews.

What is an information interview?

An informational interview is where you meet a person working in the field you are targeting so that you can learn more about the job, industry or company. An informational interview is not a job interview; the person is meeting you to answer your questions and not offering a job. So don’t focus on selling yourself. At the information interview you want to understand from the person you are interviewing how it is to work in your field, what are the job responsibilities and learn about the company.

Some recommendations for questions at an information interview are:

    1. Duties of the person in the job
    2. Qualifications (education and certifications) that are needed for the job
    3. Work/internship experience that employers look for in a job applicant
    4. Advice on how you can improve your resume and cover letter to help you in your job search
    5. What are the key skills and personal characteristics that employers are looking for?
    6. What professional organizations can you join to build your network?
    7. What are the salary ranges you can expect?
    8. What types of technology are used and how are they used?
    9. References that s/he can give you that will help build your network and help you get a job
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