If you are new to Canada and you are about to start your job-hunting journey but don’t know where to start — worry not.
There are people here on LinkedIn who learned everything the hard way so you don’t have to.
Here is a short checklist of the things you need to get sorted.
Let’s get through these aspects one by one.
First, tell yourself that this is going to be a rollercoaster and a marathon. You will have good days, and you will have bad ones. And that’s ok. Keep your eyes on the prize. All rejections are temporary setbacks that redirect you to the opportunity that is truly yours. Keep programming your mind that you will get where you need to be no matter what. You came to this country to succeed and you shall. Don’t strategize 10 steps ahead. Focus on putting one foot in front of the other. Seize the day.
Secondly, shift your mindset from the start from being (if you are) a “job-beggar” to seeing yourself as a “resource”. You have inherent value (we all do, and I know that deep in your core you know that). No one can take it from you, and no one can add to it (except you). Start with self-inventory [Read the book: “What colour is your parachute?” by Richard Nelson Bolles.] You need to get crystal clear on what are your strengths, skills, areas of expertise and knowledge that you can combine and wrap in an awesome-looking offering. Once you have your “unique value proposition” you will start approaching people who have the power to make a difference in your employment situation (hiring managers, recruiters, talent acquisition partners, and other “bridge-people”.
Your resume is your marketing material — the sole purpose of your resume is to serve as proof that you are the right fit for the role you are applying for. Some people say, “customize your resume for the job description”, and that is true. A JD is a reflection of the perfect candidate profile that a hiring manager (HM) is looking for. However, I’d also suggest customizing your resume for the recruiter. The recruiter wants to see the following:
- “An achiever pattern” — evidence that you can deliver results. Emphasize your achievements.
- Skills. Do you have what it takes to get the job done? Populate your resume with the keywords that the recruiter is looking for (but be authentic, never lie on your resume)
- Supporting evidence in your past that you’ve done the same or similar type of job (a clear indication that you will be able to replicate it). Focus on how you phrase your bullets. Again, make it about skills and achievements.
- PDF format, please
- Make it aesthetically looking, clean, and readable — white space, bullets, short sentences and concise language, no overwhelming blocks of text or tiny fonts. Sometimes, less is more. The job of the resume is not to tell your whole life story. The job of the resume is to intrigue enough so that the person on the other end feels compelled to pick up the phone and call you.
- No, ATS does not reject your resumes. ATS is just a candidate management system. The screening work is always done by a human recruiter.
- Research types of resumes — functional, chronological, combinational etc. Choose what works best for you (gap in work — functional, solid tenure to showcase — chronological)
- 2-pager is ok. Try not to do more than that.
If the resume is your marketing material, then your LinkedIn profile is your e-commerce store. People come there to buy a product, and that product is YOU. So who’s your target audience? That’s right. Recruiters and hiring managers.
Facilitate the process of your discovery.
- Banner. Use Canva [canva.com] to create a professional-looking banner. Don’t put quotes there unless they are yours. What are you selling? Your expertise. Showcase it there so that people could get it from the glance.
- Headline. Remember, it is searchable. Be mindful about how you use this valuable real estate. Think like a Talent Sourcer. What keywords will the person type in the search bar? In what kind of search results do you want your profile to show up? Job titles, specific skills, specialization.
- About section. Think like a copywriter. About section is like the first paragraph of the article (copywriters call it a ‘lead’). Your ‘lead’ should be strong because its job is to ‘hook’ the reader. Make it readable. Bullets and white space. Show your personality and think what would make the reader think, “Oh, wow, that’s an interesting person. I feel like I need to talk to this person to find out more.” Don’t forget to give a short snapshot that will cover: key achievements, skills, areas of expertise, current situation and what you are looking for in your next big gig.
- Experience. For each work experience give a 1–2 sentence explanation of the role, and then 3–8 bullets. Again: focus on achievements or skills. Think like an SEO specialist and populate your sentences with industry buzzwords. But not for the sake of the buzz, but again, to showcase that you know your stuff.
- Recommendations. Collect as many as you can. Talk to all people (especially past supervisors) who can vouch for the quality of your work. When you shop on Amazon, you are looking at the reviews section first. Same thing here, accumulate the social proof that you are the professional worth investing in.
Now, this one is the biggie.
I don’t say that resumes are dead. When you connect with people they will still ask you for one, so you need to have your perfectly polished resume ready.
However, if you are not building relationships, you are fighting this battle with one hand tied behind your back. Start expanding your network the moment you land (or even before that, just when you get your PR cleared).
Find your bridge person.
Set up informational interviews and talk to people. Nothing sophisticated. Just ask intelligent questions and listen more. 3 goals here — to get another person like you, to make a connection, and to absorb as much information about the company as you can.
Look for pods.
Meetups, LinkedIn groups, Slack channels. Where does your folk hang around on the web? People know people. People hire people.
Send cold-connection requests and cold emails. Cold calling I wouldn’t recommend.
Before you approach people spend some time thinking about how they want to be approached. What they are trying to achieve in their work? How can you make their life easier or add value to that person?
Even when you are unemployed you have something to give. The most precious gift from one person to another is the gift of time and undivided attention. Think how you can leverage it.
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
James Clear. “Atomic Habits”. If you haven’t read this one I highly recommend it but here is the whole book in one quote.
It doesn’t matter how ambitious you are in your goals, if you don’t have a robust daily system that will serve as a vehicle to get you to your desired state, you won’t be productive.
Job-hunting is tough. It is draining your energy and playing mind games with you. You will be questioning your existence, chosen path in life, and vicissitudes of faith.
Things happen, we can’t foresee the future. But all the things we can control, we must.
Design a good system that works for you. Block time in your calendar and set up reminders on your phone. A block of time for online applications, a block of time for relationship-building, a block of time for upskilling, and the most important block of time — a block of time that you dedicate to self-care.
Be kind to yourself. And then be kinder. You can’t be effective if you are burned out.
Connect with people who will empower you. Connect with those who will take you by the hand and lead you out of the thicket of your own self-sabotaging mind.
You are not your thoughts.
Job-hunting is a process — transformational process. You will not be the same when you reemerge on the other end. Refuse to be scarred by it. Instead, embrace the transformation.
You’ve come to this country to one day call yourself a proud Canadian. Start thinking of yourself like that today.
You ARE Canadian.
You are educated, well-mannered, hard-working, and dedicated to your family and your community.
You have a right to speak up, to be heard, and to ask questions that might be uncomfortable to those who are in the leadership positions but questions that must be answered.
You have a right to employment, which doesn’t just make ends meet but the one that leads to job satisfaction, financial confidence, and eventually realizing your life purpose.
You are the new blood that makes this country beautiful and very much desired place to live.
Live up to the concept of self you have arrived to sculpt. It’s worth it.