Indeed, it’s an intriguing question to all job seekers, no matter if they are fresh graduates or a manager with 10 years of experience in the industry. What really works in looking for a job? I truly wish there was a clear-cut method and if we followed it, we would have landed on our dream jobs. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
As an international student in Toronto, while doing my masters program, I was honestly quite worried about finding my first job after graduation. There were quite a few reasons for the worry. I was looking at some of my friends who were laid off, some were looking for jobs for several months with no luck and some were going back home as they couldn’t get a proper white-collar job in their respective fields. A point to be noted that, all these individuals finished either their undergrad or post-grad in one of the most reputed universities in Canada. Hence, looking at all these scenarios, even though I had 2.5 years of international experience in consulting industry, I was very much certain that this might happen to me as well and kept myself preparing for it so that I can deal with it mentally and emotionally.
However, I was truly lucky and blessed that I got the job offer before graduating my masters program and even though I say luck played a big role, I cannot deny the fact that, some of the methods I used actually worked for me. Throughout the time I made a lot of mistakes and got a lesson from it.
Networking Truly Works:
I’m quite sure, you’ve heard this hundreds of time and have been working on it, but what I learnt from my experience is, you have to be strategic in terms of how you network with people. Networking does not mean attending the event of going for coffee-meetings. It’s way beyond that. Once, one of my professors told me, it doesn’t matter how good you are in your resume, if the hiring manager doesn’t know you or you are not referred, the chances are quite low that you will face the interview. I believe, it is true. But I am certainly not saying, people did not get jobs only through applying, I’m sure they did but the probability is quite low. And we cannot really blame the recruiters for it, because, they get hundreds of resumes each day and somethings needs to stand out in order to get an interview call.
So, what should be a strategic way to network efficiently? First and foremost step is to, connect with industry experts in your field through platforms like LinkedIn, Ten Thousand Coffees, Angel list and so on. However, it is not a good idea to send each of them a generic message or asking for a job. It’s a BIG No. Rather, you should connect them in order to gain insight from their experience and sort of connect yourself with something that they have done.
Keeping your first message brief and clear is also a good idea, because, they are busy people and wouldn’t spend too much time reading your message. Once you chat with them or meet over a coffee, you aim should be to nurture that relationship. Try to make to mutually beneficial. I understand, fresh graduate do not have much to offer, however, you can still try. For example, if the person is a professional coach/mentor, you can send them interesting articles on mentorship or coaching. Also, at the end of the meeting you can ask them to connect you with someone else in their network, who’s experience might be beneficial to you and gradually that is how you build and foster your own network.
- Being Focused and Pro-active:
When I started looking for jobs, I created an excel sheet and targeted 30 companies that I wanted to work in. I made sure to subscribe in the job alert so that whenever a new position came up, I’d get a notification. While I was much pressured with my course load, I made sure I’d spend at least 2 hours every day on job applications. It didn’t matter if I had a midterm, a whole day plan outdoor or a party on the weekend, I never took out those 2 hours from my schedule. You truly have to believe that you want this and actively progress towards your goals. Every time I applied for a job, I tried to look for a person in my network, who might refer me to the hiring manager, and I don’t know what others say, but this actually works.
I got rejected in so many job applications, but it would never hold me back not to apply for the position again. I made sure nothing would break my determination and focus. Of course, I am blessed to have a family that supported me at each step.
- Research on the Company:
One of the most challenging aspects of job applications is cover letters. When I first started applying for jobs, I would use the same cover letter for all the jobs and I quickly realized how wrong that was. I can understand it takes time and energy but through this you will be able to stand-out in your application. Always make sure you know the company background and relate how you can contribute through your expertise and skills in the company.
Once I went for a coffee meeting with a recruiter of a leading bank in Canada, and she asked me a few questions on the company to see how much I knew, and I did not know much! Because, no one told me at that point, that I should always research the company. After that, I learnt my lesson, and I never repeated that mistake again. And once, when I was meeting this another HR person from a company and mentioned how intrigued I was by the diversity speech of the CEO. She was truly impressed by my knowledge and has been a great mentor since then.
- Find a Mentor:
A lot of times, people have misconception by mentor as they think the mentor will find them a job. This is quite wrong. A mentor is a person who will guide you towards your goal through their own experience and lessons as they followed the same path. He/she should be a person on who’s judgement you can rely and who will nurture you and actually wants to help you. People often get confused between coaching and mentoring. Even though they require similar skill sets, coaching is short-term and task-based whereas mentorship is a long-term relationship. You should carefully choose your mentor as it might have vast effect on your personal and professional life.
Finding a proper job and progressing towards career goal is one of the most important things in our lives. Hence, it’s always a good idea to be strategic towards it and always keep a good balance between social and work life. I understand, sometimes it can get frustrating and tiresome but key is to be persistent and goal-oriented.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.