For years I have been a career consultant to many around me – sharing tactics and encouraging them to find their spark. When COVID-19 hit, I had just lost my job. What’s more as a Canadian national, I also required Tier 2 sponsorship which meant convincing a company I was not only worth hiring, but also worth the additional investment of visa sponsorship.
In working every angle and tactic I had, I was able to land a dream job and gain a work visa. Throughout this journey, I developed a list of 10 tips that contributed to my success, and personal growth, that I want to share with anyone looking to grow their networks and influence their career trajectory. I challenge you to keep an open mind. During these unprecedented times, we have to take our careers into our own hands and be open to trying the unconventional.
- Know where you want to go. I always recommend my clients start with some soul searching. Do a personality test like 16 Personalities to discover your preferred ways of working or potential career paths. Take some time to write out an ideal job description. What does this look like for you? What job would keep you passionate and happy throughout the day? From there, you can then understand where you want to go and map out how you want to get there.
- Find your sounding board. The number one thing you can do to ensure success throughout this process of “finding your spark” is to identify your sounding board. We all have one person who knows us well and can remind us of the little things about ourselves we forget. For some, this may be their partner, parent, or a trusted friend. The important quality to look for is someone who is honest and can remain objective (well, as objective as possible). You can then use your sounding board to discuss what you’re good at, what you need to work on, and to help you with next steps.
- Develop a list of everything you’ve ever done. Early on in my career, the best advice I got was to start a list of everything I’ve ever done. I offer this template to my clients as an example of headings and possible areas they can expand on for themselves. Remember this list should include everything you’ve ever done so creep your Facebook posts from high school, find friends who can remind you of the extracurricular activities that you’ve done, and list all of your training. Also, take into consideration any international work and passion projects that have influenced you. This list can help you develop your career story by showing you where you’ve been and in what direction you may want to go.
- Reshape your resume. Now that you have your list of everything you’ve done, you can shape your resume to summarize your work experience. Remember that your resume is an evergreen document you continually develop throughout your career. I always recommend that my clients build out their resumes with the following headings:
A Personal profile
International or Volunteer Experience
Award & Honours
There are many possibilities but solid resumes touch on the above experiences.
Some additional resources include this site for a breakdown of action verbs you can add to your resume. Using strong action verbs not only adds depth to your role descriptions but also helps to better sell your experience and skillset. Canva may also be an additional resource for those looking for a simple way to design their resume – as being visually appealing can keep the eye of readers longer.
- Invest in LinkedIn. LinkedIn has been crucial to my job search and daily career building. I would strongly encourage you to use LinkedIn as a tool to build your network and search for opportunities. When you look at someone’s profile, they get a notification and the first thing most people do is look back at your profile. You can use that to your advantage by driving traffic to your profile.
- Build your network. Now that you know where you want to go, consider the people you need to get to know. Start researching companies and finding people who are gatekeepers (e.g., hiring managers, recruiters, employees who are currently in your target roles, etc. at organisations). Send them a connection on LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid! This is normal practice amongst the best networkers.
- Invite people to a virtual coffee. Become a student again and ask new contacts for a coffee. THIS is the most powerful tool I’ve used to get every job I’ve ever had. I built my network and took contacts out for a coffee. At that time, my £3 investment led to a new connection and left a positive impression on my contacts, so much so they’d reach out when they were hiring.
- Thank you goes a long way. It’s incredible how far saying thank you can take you. For every new touchpoint and new contact, do not forget to thank them for connecting, for their time, or even for joining you for a coffee. It’s important to show gratitude and once again, leaves them with a consistent positive impression.
- Be relentless. It was a tough world pre-pandemic and now, it’s even more difficult to get a job. Don’t be ashamed to message and remessage (when sufficient time elapses) your contacts. Don’t take no for an answer and be unafraid to try every possible avenue to meet with the person who you believe holds the key to your next step. For those who are apprehensive of appearing pushy, please note that anything can be said and done, it’s all in the way you say and do it. Simply put yourself in the other person’s shoes and message them showing both compassion, empathy but also being unafraid to ask them for a meeting. You have to commit and go for it – it will make you stand out.
- Repeat and persevere. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. The contacts you develop may not be for today so don’t forget to keep going and connect with others. We live in a world where human connection, compassion and meaningful relationships are being lost through technology. Find a way to bring that back and showcase to your network that you care.
I can only imagine how confusing this formula is for most as it’s unconventional. What I am trying to do is inspire you to take your career and your opportunities into your hands. When you get to know yourself, your worth and what you offer, you are better equipped to go forth and create opportunities for yourself. During COVID-19, I have had several clients start their own small businesses, find their dream jobs and follow their passion projects. All they had to do was shift their mindset and try new tactics.
I challenge and invite you all to try one thing from the list above and see what opportunities it brings your way.
Other resources you may find useful:
- The skills toolkit – free courses
- Ten top tips for online job interviews
- Making words work for you when you’re applying for a job
- Planning for a new job: what to do when it’s time to move on.
- Embracing transferable skills: why freelance writers should consider a role in charity PR
Image: Matthias Cooper on Pexels