This blog was written by Next Stop Canada mentor Tyson Dimayuga.
Professional networking is deemed a valuable tool in exploring new opportunities and can lead to a successful job search. 85% of all jobs are filled via networking, but the Covid-19 pandemic has driven people to change the way they connect professionally. One of these is through virtual networking. This concept isn’t new but may become the norm, even after the pandemic is over. As a newcomer in Canada, it’s challenging enough trying to build your professional network in person, but trying to connect with employers virtually can be an even bigger barrier. However, barriers are meant to be broken, and they should not stop you from reaching your job search goals. Here are just some of the many ways you can get started:
Planning makes a difference.
Start by drafting a plan for your career and professional goals. Make a list of short-term and long-term goals you want to achieve. After you’ve done this, think long and hard about what to do to meet these goals. Doing this before you arrive in Canada will give you time to sit down and gather your thoughts. If you don’t know where to start, you can live chat with an Information and Referral Specialist at Next Stop Canada who can help you through your planning.
Make a list of people you plan to connect with. If you have some family or friends in Canada, that is great! Make them a top priority to reach out to. Let them know of your plan to move to Canada, as it could be your chance to reconnect. Since you have an existing relationship with them, your approach can be casual. You can also reach out to former coworkers, classmates, or co-alumni from your home country. They will have valuable information and insights from their settlement journey that will go a long way.
But what if you don’t have any networks in Canada? Do not worry; networking beyond your circle is very common for newcomers. Search for people who have the experience, roles, and professional background you wish to know more about. Networking is part of the Canadian work culture, so it is acceptable to reach out to strangers. Do not be shy. You will be surprised that people are willing to connect and help you. This may be challenging, but once you achieve your goal, it will be rewarding.
Create or improve your digital professional portfolio.
The best digital platform to connect with professionals is LinkedIn. This is your online resume, so you definitely want to make a good impression! Make it substantial but not lengthy. One thing to keep in mind is always to have relevant content that will impress potential employers.
You might be asking, well, “where do I start?” Before creating or updating your LinkedIn profile, it’s a good idea to look at the profiles of people you admire or have a similar career path as you for inspiration. Do not copy their style or format, but draw inspiration that will help you create and build yours. Always remember that a LinkedIn profile is not stagnant. You can make updates and changes to it daily, allowing you to reinvent yourself every step of your job search.
Join online networking sessions.
There is so much free content online, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. However, try your best to narrow down your search to companies and organizations that provide webinars (live online information sessions) for newcomers in Canada. Of course, you shouldn’t limit yourself to these, but if you want to start your digital networking in a “safe space” where other immigrants like you will be, you’ll want to be there too. These sessions are interactive, and the best part of it is getting answers to your questions right away!
Virtual career fairs are also where you need to be. This is where employers meet with potential applicants online. These fairs are organized by companies, trade or professional associations, and settlement agencies. At these events, you will meet hiring managers or HR professionals who will consider you for the job and assess if you fit the role on the spot. This is also your chance to ask for feedback regarding your qualifications and what work you may need to get your desired position. Remember, to impress employers and make new connections directly!
Professional networking combined with other settlement adjustments can be overwhelming for Canadian newcomers. There is no perfect formula for job search. Trying different methods and finding which one works for you is your best bet. However, if you will follow these tips, equip yourself with the right information and persevere with your career goals in mind you can be successful.
"Since a lot of people are online nowadays, this is the best time to send a quick note to a person whom you want to connect. Make the message brief. Include the reason why you want to connect and request a time for a quick chat. Do not falter if you do not get a desirable response, just keep on trying!"
Tyson Dimayuga, Next Stop Canada Mentor