Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Let's Do Better for Immigrants

I learned about the Ontario InMyLanguage web site this morning. The home page says, "Information You Need in the Language You Want" and it provides links to versions in English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Gujarati, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil and Urdu. I was delighted to find an offering like this, and immediately jumped to look at what it offers in the way of advice about looking for a job in Canada?

I'm obviously biased about this—I think finding a job is of outstanding importance to most people—but I really hope the rest of the site is much better than this page.

The first paragraph is about the best sources of information about jobs. It should not be about which ones might be 'helpful' (whatever that means). Rather it should be about how a job seeker should allocate their time and resources to the exploitation of these sources—in Canada. In my view the paragraph would be confusing. Why does the paragraph open by mentioning newspapers at all, when in Canada the major newspapers and many smaller chains post their job ads on web sites? Simply point out that the efficient way of finding job advertisements here involves using the web. Rather than suggesting that some ways of looking for a job are easy but 'not always the most effective' (whatever that means) why not say that we counsel job seekers to adopt a mixed strategy involving a variety of information sources and techniques.

Do some cold calling, do some shmoozing at networking events, maybe do some volunteering, learn to find suitable jobs on the web and apply for them (practise doing the real interviews that result), do some information interviews, and so on. Monitor your results carefully and keep a diary. Record how much time you are spending on each kind of activity and adjust your allocations to better effect.

Cold Calls

'Hello. Have you got a job for me?'

You don't call a company and ask them if they have a job. Or if they want to buy storm windows. Or about various other sales propositions.

You can call a company or an individual that seems to be involved in some form of enterprise of interest to you and ask for their advice. And that advice can include information about jobs in their sector of the economy.

Not every person you call will welcome your calls. When I started making cold calls, about twenty-five years ago, it scared the bejeebers out of me. I assume that it would scare a few newcomers too. Which brings me back to the idea of allocating time and resources. As a job seeker you can spend some of your day on, say, looking for jobs on web sites and as much time as you can stand doing cold calling.

Just (a) prepare yourself with good questions, and (b) don't ask for a job. But be ready if someone invites you for a job interview. (Yes, sometimes it happens if you've given attention to point 'a'.)

Networking

In the page I'm discussing they've left out linkedin.com. There are over 60 million people on there, several of us Canadian. You can post your achievements, market yourself in various ways and form a network as big as you like. I understand that more jobs are posted there than anywhere else. Obviously, however, just the fact that it's the largest collection doesn't make it the best for any one of us.

Job fairs are cattle markets. Newcomers should be warned.

Find an organisation in your region such as HAPPEN. Such things are specifically designed for networking.

I wonder if networking is overrated?

Volunteering

I think that volunteering might be a good way of learning about work culture. I don't know. In any event, it's probably a good way of learning about Canadian culture. For many newcomers it could be a good way of perfecting language skills and getting used to our quirks.

Jobs Online

Egad. This section needs work.

I can understand that government-funded agencies, like InMyLanguage, might have to avoid seeming to endorse commercial ventures. However, we need to tell newcomers about the most useful general sites and about finding niche sites. General sites include indeed.ca and eluta.ca. This blog (the one you're reading right now) has a note or two about finding the niche sites.

And whilst I'm on this topic, let me ask why so many people would have job seekers all but ignore job sites to favour of networking. Although some recruiters definitely post nonexistent jobs, some of them as a matter of routine, most employers do not. Why would a job seeker avoid learning to use job sites efficiently and applying for suitable jobs posted by real employers?

We want our newcomers to do well.

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