Contributor: Sean Mathews
Strategy Consultant, RBC Ventures

I remember being so excited about my decision to move to Canada and build my career here. I felt the enthusiasm evaporate quickly when I read a LinkedIn survey titled – “85% of jobs are filled via networking”. This was compounded by being told that it is far more difficult in Canada to land a job in my domain – advertising compared to IT or Banking. The LinkedIn study categorized networkers into three groups; Active (5 – 20 % of the talent market), Tiptoers (casual networking about 15-20%), and Passive (about 65-75%). Among those who are less active e.g. (Tiptoers) networking trumps applying directly for a job by a factor of 3:1 and for Passive candidates the ratio of networking to applying is 7:1.

This might be a bit different from India where reaching out to recruiters and applying online does get you an interview and possibly the job. Based on the study, I considered myself a Tiptoer, which wasn’t something that would help me build my network quickly. As a newcomer seeking a good job, it is critically important to put in a lot more effort at the outset to see results sooner.

The decision to put all of that front end work into building my network paid off for me. I landed my first job In Canada in a couple of months. I’ve learned that regardless of your professional background, you need to approach networking with a marketer’s mindset. For those who don’t know where to start, I’ll share my three-step approach to help you hit the ground running.

Step 1: Understand your brand

Start with a bit of introspection to understand who you are, what your key skills are, the value you bring to an organization, and what environment you will be most happy in.

Skills vs. Interests (Know what you will be most effective doing?):

You might be an expert in marketing and communication who is really interested in helping not-for-profit organizations with fundraising. This realization will change the way you position yourself and the kind of people you network with.

Character vs. Values (Know who you will be the happiest working for?)

Example: you might be a person who prefers things being organized and structured, in which case a start-up might not be the right place for you. As much as a potential employer is evaluating your fit with their organization, you need to evaluate the organization’s fit with your values.

Elevator Pitch (Who am I?): This is a short persuasive introduction of yourself for times when you are in an elevator with your target and it’s all the time you have to convince the person to invite you to their office for a chat. Check out this helpful webinar.

Step 2: Define your audience

It is important to start with a dream list of 20 companies you will be happy working for and research these companies well. Start by understanding each company’s culture, structure and how your job exists in these organizations. For example, in India Sales and Marketing might be headed by one person, whereas in Canada, the two exist as different roles. Coffee chats with people in the industry will help gain deeper insight that you will never find online.

Step 3: Connect / Reach out

Most newcomers start connecting on LinkedIn and applying to job posts with little or no success. Canada is a networking culture and there is a right way to go about building your network. It’s a process that takes time, patience and strategy. Stay tuned for our next blog post on the right way to network in Canada, titled – “The Culture of Networking in Canada”

If you are an introvert and feel that networking is not for you, check out this article by Carol Stewart (Coach for high achieving introverts). There are also numerous online courses that can help you succeed in the crucial process of networking.

Your skills, background, and personality make you a unique brand. So get out there and market yourself with the clear objective of claiming your career in Canada.


About the Author:

Sean is a brand and communications strategist with over two decades of experience working with clients in Airlines, Automobiles, Alcoholic Beverages, Banking, Confectionaries, Consumer Electronics, and Quick Service Restaurants across geographies. In his current role he supports marketing and campaign development for Arrive and other ventures. Sean moved to Canada four years ago and shares his experiences with newcomers to guide them.