Need a Job? Get Real!

Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!” ~ Lewis Carroll, Alice Through the Looking Glass

I work as a career counsellor for immigrants. I help people realize what job they can do and how to get there. Sometimes my job is rewarding and I end the day fulfilled and inspired. Others, I wonder what people really want from me, from life, from themselves…

I can describe people who get professional jobs: they look and act in certain ways; they are proactive, self-motivated, goal-oriented and usually know what they are looking for. Even if what they are looking for is a temporary goal. They are also resilient, positive and open minded and know when to shift career paths if what they are looking for doesn’t happen soon enough.

But it saddens me to see how many miss the chance because of lack of focus…in many cases, it is not lack of focus but the attitude (or expectation) that the jobs will “happen” to them without any effort from their part.

If you want to be successful looking for a job in this market (and, believe me, this is a tough market and it will become more and more difficult and competitive), consider doing the following (the clients who never got to their professional goals did exactly the opposite!):

  • Have plenty of informational interviews: these are interviews with people already working in the industry or field you want to join; they are the ones who have fresh and realistic knowledge of what is going on in their field, so ask!
  • Be active and persistent, knock doors, attend professional conferences and events; follow specialized publications and forums. This way you will be connected (in person and through social media) with real people and industry trends…looking for jobs online (as a sole option) rarely pays off with a good job
  • Have a voice mail and caller ID; employers, potential partners and people you met through networking will call you only once. If you don’t answer and don’t have a voicemail, they will think you are no longer interested and will forget about you.
  • Answer emails promptly: there are lots of people who want to help you (starting by your employment counsellor, That is me!). Not receiving answers is one of the most frustrating and upsetting experiences: this is valid for business partners, employers and counsellors but also friends and connections you have made in this, your new country. Not answering is rude and makes people who care about you to think twice next time you need help.
  • Open your eyes, be adventurous and open minded: there are many alternatives for your career and many ways to attain your goal (including re-designing your goal altogether)…but this will not happen if you don’t expose yourself to different options. People who are too rigid or give up easily don’t get to their goals.
  • Keep yourself thirsty: learn new things, read books related to your industry or field, watch videos, etc. You can do this by registering to formal education and taking strategic courses (courses that will update or refresh your skills and are highly related to current trends in your industry), but you can also do this for free through your local library or by registering at courses through Coursera or Edx. Employers and business partners like people who are continuous learning something new…besides, if you have been out of the workforce for a while, chances are that you are slowly losing your skills. Taking courses reflect well in your resume and tell the employer that you are a proactive professional who can learn things quick and is up-to-date.
  • Be independent and resilient: if you are always waiting for others to check your resume, write letters for you, review and provide feedback in every step or provide job leads to you, you will be waiting for a looong time! If you have the tendency to blame others (the government, the weather, the agencies who are trying to help, the employers, the market, your counsellor or your friends) then your attitude is not helping. Yes, there are many things we can’t control. Yes, there are many things unfair and uncertain in this world. Yes, there are many lazy and mean people. But ultimately, it is up to you, it is your responsibility to pick yourself up and continue the search…
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