As a new immigrant looking for a job, you were probably startled by one of the successful rules to landing a job called “networking.” Many of you did not even know what it was when you heard it the first time and once you learned about it your first response was most likely “how can this really work?”
And as you started your job search, first thing you learned was that about 80% of jobs are not advertised and you need to learn how to tap into that hidden job market.
The statement about hidden job market has become a regular part of every career advice, website or workshop. It’s usually followed by recommendations to look for jobs by networking and asking for referrals. The advice also suggests talking about your job search quest and qualifications to family, friends, “people to whom you wrote a check in the last year”, your kids’ friends’ parents and anyone else who may listen and ask for referrals.
You may have also tried to contact companies directly for job opportunities or informational interviews. You have probably tried to find the right person to whom you could forward your resume, trying to avoid HR intermediaries.
You may be thinking that networking can work well when and if you have established long-term professional relationships in your field. You can’t do it on the spur of the moment, but instead it can take years and a lot of hard work to establish a network. Getting a job through a contact usually means that the contact actually knows you professionally; has seen your work, can vouch for your performance, and support a business case for hiring you.
But…does it really work?
My best advice is to start using professional employment support services. Join the employment resource center, get involved in the job search program or club, and connect with a Career Advisor. These people are in the business of supporting others to secure employment. Your Employment Counsellor or a Career Advisor will actively look for the opportunities for you, seek job openings, refer you to companies he or she has connections with.
This is how it works:
Please meet Natalia, Computer Programmer and Web Developer from Russia. She immigrated to BC almost two years ago and was “lucky” to find work as a cashier in a supermarket. As she was looking for job opportunities in her field, she started her “networking” with friends in her community and learned about the Skills Connect for Immigrants Program at which point she decided to give it a try.
When she joined the program at Back in Motion, first thing her Employment Counsellor did was refer her to the networking event Breaking Down the Barriers sponsored by the Burnaby Intercultural Planning Table (BIPT) and referred her to a number of workshops on job search including the Power of Networking facilitated by the Job Developer at Back in Motion.
Natalia learned all she could about necessary job search skills inCanadaand did not stop here. Major challenge she faced was the lack of knowledge and experience in the IT industry inCanada. She started to upgrade her current skills and build on her 10 years of experience by taking courses at BCIT. She learned the importance of continuing with one’s professional development for personal growth and learning. She attended an IT Industry Insider event at the local library where she listened to presentations and gained knowledge from industry professionals. She actively got involved in her own self-promotion and kept working closely with her Employment Counsellor and Job Developer.
When Back in Motion was looking to hire a Senior Net Web Developer, Natalia showed strong interest in the position and was supported by the her Job Developer who then referred her for the position. All of her training, experience, interviewing skills, and well developed resume helped her to nail the interview and as a result, she was offered the job. Natalia’s new job fully utilizes her previous skills and experience that she acquired prior to immigrating toCanada.
So, do you think that networking works?