How networking can help get you into your field

Credit to Author: Staff Writer| Date: Mon, 01 Mar 2021 13:00:51 +0000

Why in-person or virtual networking is a critical job search technique in Canada.

Networking is a powerful tool that can help skilled immigrants access relevant career opportunities. Daniel Yeung, director of customer experience strategy and operations at TELUS Health, has been mentoring newcomers for several years and shares with them the many advantages that developing a professional network can have — as well as how to create one.

Building connection and credibility

Yeung highlights that informal meetings (even virtual) that happen through networking provide the opportunity for authentic connections not possible in a formal recruitment setting. “In an interview, hiring managers have a different lens, judging someone and trying to make a decision whether to proceed or not,” Yeung explains. “Typically, hiring managers don’t think about the context or background of the candidate. But if you have an informal meeting through networking, people really get to know who you are.”

Despite the skills and experience listed on your resumé, newcomers are an unknown to employers in Canada, so they can be hesitant about hiring them. But if that newcomer is referred to them from someone in their network, their chances of being considered go up. Thus, personal connections created through networking, even when they are not made directly with employers, can serve as a valuable reference.

Networking creates a pathway of connection through trusted sources, which goes a long way in reassuring employers of your credibility. “When I leave a meeting with you, I walk away with an impression of who you are and I can relay that to the hiring managers,” Yeung says. “Coming from me, it’s credible. Seeing only your resumé or your cover letter, you’re a stranger.”

You still need a great resumé and cover letter though to serve as your calling card! Read our tips for winning resumés here.

Access to information and opportunities

To make the most of networking, Yeung advises newcomers to diversify their network as much as possible. The more people you make authentic connections with, the more information you will learn and the more opportunities may open up. Even networking with different people connected to an organization you’re interested in working for — whether employees, customers or competitors — is useful as together they can reveal a broader picture of the organizational context. He points out that networking can give you insight into the reality of an organization, inside information that you will not find through internet research.

It is also an entry point to accessing job opportunities that are not formally advertised.

Moreover, through networking, jobseekers may discover alternative career possibilities in their field they had not yet considered, thus broadening the scope of the options they are able to pursue.

Tips for effective networking

Yeung recommends being intentional in your interactions, personalizing your messages and being clear on what you are asking from people. Having been through the immigrant experience himself, he acknowledges it can be hard to reach out to people you don’t know, and newcomers may face a high rate of rejection. His advice is to search online for people who do coaching or mentoring, as they will be more likely to respond to such requests. “For those who respond to you, chances are through the six degrees of separation, that they know people in the field, and people who, generally speaking, are more willing to accept an informal coffee meeting or informational interview,” he says.

Mentorship is another way to grow your network. Yeung notes that the National Mentoring Partnership, a collaborative effort between employers and non-profits assisting immigrants in their career search, is a good starting point. He explains that an important part of the commitment the mentors in this initiative make is to open their personal networks to mentees.

Read more about mentorship and the Windmill Mentorship program in our upcoming article coming out in early March.

Yeung’s last piece of advice is to “approach networking not from a jobseeker mindset, but from a knowledge acquisition one, focusing on learning more about things you don’t know as opposed to selling yourself. Leave the selling at the interview!”

The Skilled Immigrant Career Success Guide, a roadmap to help internationally educated immigrants achieve their full career potential in Canada, is sponsored by Windmill Microlending. To learn how a Windmill affordable career loan can help move your career in Canada forward, visit windmillmicrolending.org.

  ROADMAP TO CAREER SUCCESS: Checklist #10

As you start networking, here are some other job search considerations for you.

□ Networking starts with a strong first impression. Want to learn how to share your story with impact to new connections? Check out our upcoming article on creating a 30-second elevator pitch on March 12.

□ A great place to network is among peers in the same profession. Learn some tips and tricks on joining professional associations here

□ Need more advice? Want to be mentored? Check back in the first week of March for an article on finding a mentor, including through Windmill’s Mentoring Program.

□ See if you’re eligible for a low-interest affordable career loan from Windmill Microlending here: https://windmillmicrolending.org/applicants/eligibility/

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