How to Increase your Job Prospects through Online Networking
Written by Karen Grewal
For many, the task of finding the dream job in a new country is often met with frustration and disappointment. As an international, I have been living away from my home country, the UK, for over 2 years, and during that time I have realized that finding a job in another country isn’t necessarily easy or difficult – it’s just different. For anyone who has been searching tirelessly for a job opportunity, especially outside the tech-industry, I would recommend attending as many online networking opportunities as possible. Your goal shouldn’t be to focus solely on finding a job, but to build a new network too.
I have to admit that when it first came to networking, I lacked experience and carried a limited mindset. I was shy and found it incredibly difficult to talk to strangers about myself and what I wanted to do. Over the years, I have learnt many difficult lessons and how to network more effectively, but I am happy to say that this daunting experience has turned into a more enjoyable one, one where I love meeting new people and finding mutual interests. I would like to share some insights from my personal journey about how networking proactively and using online events to find the right connections, increased my job prospects.
Last November, I arrived in the Netherlands, in the midst of a global pandemic. Within a few weeks of arriving, I started working in a part-time job followed by another part-time position in a different company. Within three months, this led to a full-time position in global communications role for an international company. How was this possible? And how does an international increase their visibility in a busy and competitive job market? Network! Network! Network! Having lived as an expatriate in different countries, the biggest challenge I found was how competitive it was to find work in non-tech industries. To help me stand out from the crowd, I paid close attention to how I was networking.
Below are some useful tips to increase your visibility and job prospects through networking
Even before you land in a new country, there are many steps you can take to be proactive in looking for work. Social media is a great starting point and online tool that you can use for familiarizing yourself with different companies and organizations. It is also important to find the leading companies in your industry, or even the ones that are most likely to hire internationals through different social media platforms.
Before moving to the Netherlands, I started researching online the type of jobs that were available and the ones that I wanted to target. I became very determined to get a job within the first 3 months of arriving, and I signed up to every job agency and job alert possible in the city. I attended many online events for job seekers, and on one occasion, I got the opportunity to contact the organizer and tell them about the type of work I was looking for and what added value I could bring – this conversation led to my first part-time job, before arriving in the Netherlands. This is the power of networking.
Due to the Covid-19 situation, it has never been easier to build a new network from the comfort of your home; switch on your screen and enter a room full of talent experts and companies trying to promote the ultimate employee experience. Unlike physical events, online networking opportunities provide more takeaway value, you can rewatch talks as many times as you like, you can download and exchange information with fellow participants and you can also contact companies directly with questions. The more people you reach out to, the more information you exchange – and the deeper your understanding becomes of any given industry. Online events have enabled me to talk to so many different people around the world, from field specialists to entrepreneurs and this has really helped me develop an understanding of how potential employers communicate.
When making new connections it is good to be aware of their time and space, it might take a while for a new connection to respond to your messages or continue further contact. Nurture your online relationships with the utmost care and respect. Another challenge when building a network is connecting with the right people. For example, it would be inappropriate to send a company director a connection request and ask them for a job – but more appropriate to contact the HR department/recruiter first. The right connections will always help you figure out what associations and events you might need to join, in order to learn more about a desired role. It is useful to learn about the company, and whether you both share mutual values and goals before you submit an application. Think of your connections as a great way of obtaining constructive feedback, so don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations and advice based on your skills and experience.
Good luck with your Career Journey and Happy Networking!
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