Career-boosting strategies to give you an edge during the pandemic

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Did you lose your job during the pandemic? Maybe you’re looking for a new job, or thinking of shifting careers. This is a great time to rethink your strategy. To help you get started, here are three activities to boost your career success:

Polish your online profile

Online activity is up on all fronts, especially in the professional world. As Bill Gates said, ‘if your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business.” This is why it’s the best time to level up on LinkedIn. It is where employers and industry leaders are, so it makes sense to boost your presence to get the exposure you need and build your professional network. You may also find the right opportunities on the platform. It can alert you to jobs or training in your field.

Here’s how to start on LinkedIn:

  1. Create an account if you don’t have one yet. If you have an existing account, clean it up and improve your profile. Become familiar with new LinkedIn features to help increase engagement and exposure. For example, you can now choose to add media files on your profile, (for example a video introduction) create polls, create a blog, send messages to people to connect, and create “Live” posts for real-time engagement.
  2. Become active on LinkedIn. There are many activities you can do to get noticed. You can post questions, ask for assistance, share your professional experiences, write a blog or share helpful resources, ask to connect and network, like and comment on posts, share job leads, ask for job recommendations, and many others. If you are new to the platform, you can observe for a while before you try these activities.
  3. Learn more strategies to be successful on the platform. Watch this online webinar for more tips:

    LinkedIn strategies for newcomers (webinar), Arrive

Find a mentor

This is also the best time to ask for informational interviews. Professionals are more receptive to requests from job-seekers even through cold calls or LinkedIn messages right now. This may be because they are willing to help because of the situation (a lot of people losing their jobs due to COVID), or due to the shift to remote work and they are spending more time online.

If you’re not familiar with the practice, an informational interview is a short meeting to learn about the experience of a professional working in a field or company that interests you. You can ask questions about how a particular job or field looks like in Canada, learn what kind of training and education are needed to be hired in a particular field, or what kind of soft skills employers are looking for. Remember that the goal of the interview is getting information, not a job offer.

Some notes on how to ask for an informational interview:

  • Send a message via LinkedIn or better yet, send an email. Emails are more formal and will allow your prospect to answer easily.
  • Introduce yourself especially if it’s a cold call or if you’re sending a message to someone you’re not connected with on LinkedIn. Consider attaching your resume to the email or give them a link to your LinkedIn profile to give them an idea of your professional background.
  • State the objective of your request clearly and be specific with your request.
    Example: “I am a newcomer to Canada exploring marketing opportunities in the Winnipeg area. I’m hoping that you might have 15-20 minutes to meet with me to talk about your perspective about the industry and what it’s like to work at your company.”
  • Don’t ask for a job. Ask specific questions about the organization or the job you’re interested in. The aim is to know more about the field and to expand your professional network.
  • Don’t ask very basic questions (for example, questions that you can easily answer via Google). Do your homework first. Professionals appreciate it when you know a little bit about the field and the organization. It shows that you are really interested to know more and have done your due diligence.
  • Be polite and grateful. Don’t forget to thank them for responding. Make an effort to update them about your progress after the meeting. It’s a great way to sustain your connection and show that you value their advice and help.

Improve your digital skills

Many activities moved online during the pandemic. We normalized virtual classes, work, events, and grocery shopping. We became more aware of the power of the virtual space and the importance of digital tools. Related to this development, soft skills like adaptability, flexibility, openness to learning, and awareness of digital trends (online security, the ability to evaluate online information, social media use) became more important than ever before. These skills are essential to succeeding in the post-pandemic world where remote work and hybrid workplaces will soon become the norm.

We are fortunate that we have many learning options. You can choose to learn on-the-job, or be proactive and take online courses. There are many free, high-quality trainings you can take depending on your skill level and the type of digital tools you want to learn. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Computers for Life – Two levels of computer classes for beginners. Eligible students are newcomers with limited English (CLB1-4) and no computer experience. Participants take home a free/low cost desktop computer after completing level 1.
  2. Microsoft Digital Literacy courses and resources – This is done through LinkedIn learning. Learn the basic digital literacy skills to engage in a digital economy. Courses are available in various languages.
  3. GCF Learn Free.org – Contains hundreds of lessons about various topics. However, it has great content on technology from the very basic to advanced which are presented via tutorials and videos.

 
Sources: Tips for starting a new job while social distancing, Interview with Laura Stürmer, Arrive; and 11 powerful LinkedIn features you didn’t know about, Jacqueline Zote, Sprout Social. Accessed November, 2021.

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