6 mins | 1080 words
By: Randy Gaudreau
So, you’ve decided it’s time to take a leap in your career by landing your next position in tech. Great, but where to start?
For many, the job search process starts and ends with the basics. Browsing the latest job postings and then writing up an appropriate cover letter and attaching a resume. Then, nervously clicking apply and waiting with crossed fingers.
If this sounds generally like your approach to advancing your career in tech, the bad news is, the odds are pretty much stacked against you.
More than likely, your application will sit somewhere in the middle of an inbox filled to capacity with digital submissions that look a lot like yours. But you’re also missing out on what’s known as the hidden job market, and the many jobs that never even get posted (noted by some to be as high as 80 per cent).
Either situation signals that it could be time to try something different to stand out and bring attention to the skills you’ve worked so hard to develop. But how?
Well, you’ve likely heard the saying, it’s not what you know, but it’s who you know. To wrap that concept up in one word – it’s networking, and it’s about connecting with people in the industry and forging relationships that can help support and propel your career growth.
Networking can be a bit daunting no matter what stage of your career. And if you’re new to the Canadian job market, you might simply be looking for ways to get started. With this in mind:
Here’s six networking tips for landing your next role in tech.
1. Plan out your goals and your targets
If you walked into a room with 500 people, would you know who to walk up and talk to? Well, an online platform like LinkedIn has nearly 800 million members, so knowing who you’ll want to connect with and why is key. And carefully identifying your personal career goals can help you narrow down your targets.
Start by identifying tech companies in Ottawa or Ontario you’d like to work with, and what role you see yourself in there. This will help you get started in understanding who you’ll need to approach whether you’re looking to connect online, or at an event.
2. Leverage your 2nd-degree connections
It’s not news to anyone that LinkedIn is the leading tool for job seekers, but that doesn’t mean everyone knows how to actively use the platform. Remember, it’s an online tool as much as it’s a job board. Instead of just looking for posted positions on LinkedIn, try searching for shared connections who could be your ticket to getting in touch.
LinkedIn’s survey data also showed that 70 per cent of people were hired at a company where they already had a connection. Search for people you want to get in touch with and look for 2nd-degree connections that can introduce you to key targets. This can include people you went to school with or have worked with before.
???? After a 2017 survey, LinkedIn noted that over one-third of the professionals polled said a casual conversation through LinkedIn Messaging led to a new opportunity.
3. Events are still great
Although we’re currently in a tricky era for events, virtual events, career fairs, hybrid events webinars and the likes, don’t give up on them. Rather, the shift online has made many events more accessible than before.
While larger networking events are great, don’t forget about the small webinars and workshops that can be found, where networking via comments and questions can still be possible. Keep an eye on Eventbrite and Meetup for industry events you can attend, that could give you new contacts to reach out to.
4. Prepare an elevator pitch
If you found yourself standing next to a hiring manager from the company you wanted to work for, what would you say? That’s the idea behind an elevator pitch – getting your value proposition and selling points conveyed in a clear, short, and concise manner.
Although you might be tempted to use the opportunity to convince this professional to hire you, the actual goal of an elevator pitch is to earn a second conversation.
Putting together a well-rehearsed, comfortable and concise intro of who you are and what you bring to the table can help you feel prepared for when you get your shot. And having a pitch ready to go whenever can equip and encourage you to take the first step more often!
???? For some great, in-depth tips and resources for building an effective elevator pitch, check out this article here.
5. Exercise the muscle
Join in on hack-a-thons, challenges, pro bono projects for your portfolio, and volunteer. Look for opportunities to do the type of work you want to do in the tech industry, regardless if it’s with a top tech company. Showing what you can do and showcasing a few innovative ideas can help you connect and work with new people, give you the benefit of their network, and increase the likelihood that they’ll refer your skills when the opportunity presents itself.
6. Connect for coffee
Meeting up for coffee has little to do with hot beverages – it’s a request for a short connection to pick their brain, and possibly pitch yourself to tell them what you’re looking for, and what you think they can do for you. And as with many things, the digital era has changed the game in this respect. It’s far easier than ever to set up quick chats with people through Microsoft Teams or Google.
So, when you find professionals you look up to that you’d love to connect with, don’t be afraid to ask if they’d have time to chat over coffee. It’s more common of a request than you think. If they say yes, then again, you’re going to want to be prepared so you can make the most of the opportunity.
???? This article offers up quite a few tips and resources on how to reach out for a coffee meeting and ensure it’s a success.
If you’re looking for an exciting role in tech, apply to join the Xtreme Talent Accelerator Program (XTAP).
XTAP is a complimentary program offering exclusive networking opportunities with tech and HR leaders to help talent like you become the future of the technology community.
Through XTAP, you’ll also get access to industry-led tech workshops and career development resources in resume writing, interviewing, communication and personal branding to help you get noticed and hired for your next exciting role in tech.