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Networking, Professional & Trade Associations, Mentors
To successfully find a job in Canada you need to know how to network. Some good ways to develop your network are to volunteer, become a member of a professional or trade association or join a professional immigrant network. You can also use social networking websites.
Networking to meet people and let them know about the type of job you are looking for is important for your career. It is a way to discover how things really work in your profession or trade. You can find out where the jobs are, what skills are in demand, and who the good employers are. Many job openings are hidden (not advertised) but are found through personal contacts. This makes networking more effective for finding work than just responding to job postings.
Many organizations, associations and individuals can help connect you to others in your area of interest. There may be formal groups set up to share information and resources and meet on a regular basis. You can make personal contacts through work, community involvement, taking a class, joining a club or child-parent program, taking part in social activities, and so on. Here are some specific ways you can network:
Finding a mentor is one of the best ways to network. A mentor is usually a person who works in your profession or trade and can introduce you to people, offer advice during your job search, and tell you things about working in Ontario that you might not learn otherwise.
If you know someone in your field, you can ask them to be your mentor. You can also participate in a professional mentoring program, where you will be matched with a mentor in your field. There is also online mentoring and speed mentoring in some areas.
Professional and Trade Associations
There are many professional or trade associations where membership is voluntary (not the same as a regulatory body). Joining one can give you opportunities to network, access job postings or promote your services. This is also a good place to find someone who could be your mentor.
Professional Immigrant Networks (PINs)
Professional immigrant networks (PINs) organize professional networking activities. These groups have been formed by immigrants to help other immigrants achieve their professional goals in Canada. PINs cover many industries including both regulated and non-regulated professions. Often, PINs are formed around a specific language or nationality and a profession (e.g., Bulgarian engineers or Filipino accountants). PINs can also be a good place to find a mentor.
Another way to develop your network is to volunteer. Volunteering lets you meet new people, gain Canadian work experience, and learn or practise skills. You can find volunteer opportunities through your local volunteer centre or other nonprofit organizations in your area.
Conducting an information interview with someone in your field is an excellent way to network and to find up-to-date information about a company or industry or career. This is not a job interview, so don’t ask the person you are interviewing if they are hiring! You can call up someone you don’t know for an information interview. You can also interview people you have met through PINs, an association, a class, your volunteer job, or from online networks.
Using social media, especially LinkedIn, to network professionally is becoming more and more important to job seekers these days. Make sure you have a complete LinkedIn profile including a professional photograph. You can use LinkedIn to find people who work at companies you are interested in and then request an information interview with them. You can also join groups in your profession. Group members may provide job leads as well as other information that is helpful to your job search. The How LinkedIn Can Transform Your Job Search article tells you how to use this social networking site to your benefit.
Employers often search the internet to find out more about job applicants. It is important that you do not post any photographs or comments that you would not like an employer to see on social media sites. As this JVS Career Blog article says: “Search for yourself online regularly and become familiar with what employers might find.”