Iversoft is committed to having a diverse and inclusive workplace. By partnering with organizations that help break down the barriers that skilled immigrants face when integrating into the labour force, we’re able to meet an important group of talented candidates. Iversoft has been involved with Hire Immigrants Ottawa (HIO) for over two years now, and we have attended a number of their events. As a company, we believe in supporting our local community. By offering career advice to people looking for their first job in Canada, we’re ultimately able to support our neighbourhood and our economy.
HIO hosts coaching events where employers meet with immigrants within the Ottawa area and offer guidance on their job search initiatives. Employers who participate meet so many interesting people, have real conversations about their experiences and hear their stories. Simple things like tips for changing up resume layouts and updating LinkedIn profiles are beneficial for candidates to hear, and helping people is honestly an excellent feeling.
June 4th was the third HIO coaching event I participated in, but it was also their first virtual one, and they did a great job transitioning to a virtual platform. Unfortunately, there was a shortage of coaches and a restricted time limit, so I was unable to answer everyone’s questions. If you’re an employer interested in these events, I recommend connecting with HIO’s team to get involved and help ensure these candidates receive the information they need. Thankfully the applicants and HIO sent me additional questions from their last event, so I can further help job seekers on their career journey. I’ve taken the time to provide answers to these questions within this blog post, and I encourage you to reach out to me personally if you’d like to receive more information.
What can I do to improve my LinkedIn profile and make it look more professional?
This is the number one question I get from applicants, and I can’t stress enough the importance of having a professional-looking LinkedIn profile. The majority of recruiters use LinkedIn to search for talent, and if your profile is not up-to-date, you could be easily overlooked. The main things you need to have in a professional LinkedIn profile are a great headshot, reliable contact information, up-to-date Experience and About sections, a linked portfolio or website, a list of your skills, endorsements from past employers or colleagues, and a headline that states what kind of job you’re looking for.
A professional (and recent!) headshot means no party photos and no group photos. It also doesn’t mean you need to rush out and get a professional headshot taken either as your average smartphone camera will work just fine. To prepare for your photo, use a simple background, and ensure only your chest-up or shoulders-up are visible in the picture. Establish eye contact with the camera and make sure your face is in focus. When your photo is ready to upload, make sure it’s a clear image and not pixelated.
Reliable contact information makes it as easy as possible for people to get a hold of you. The reality is, if a recruiter reaches out to you and doesn’t hear back, they won’t spend time trying to find your information; they will move on to the next candidate.
Use your Headline to give insight into what you are looking for instead of just highlighting your current position. It’s an easy way to advertise your skills, and this should be taken advantage of. A headline such as, “Mobile Developer with ten years of experience seeking new opportunity”, shows recruiters you are open to chatting and increases your likelihood of responses. Make sure you include industry-specific keywords as search results in LinkedIn are based on keywords.
Make sure your About section is up to date with a summary highlighting who you are and what you’re looking for. Your About section doesn’t need to be a recap of your resume. You can communicate what you’re passionate about and why you should be considered for a role instead. For example, you can outline what value you bring to the hiring organization. Highlighting your value gives recruiters some insight into your personality and what makes you unique as an applicant. Ideally, you should incorporate some industry-specific keywords in this section to help with search metrics (but try not to go overboard).
If you have a personal portfolio or website, make sure it’s linked! This way, recruiters can review your work instead of reaching out directly to ask for it. The more information recruiters have about you, the easier it is to find out if you are the right fit for their position.
An updated Experience section with clear responsibilities will let recruiters know if you’re right for the job. Recruiters are looking to see if you can fill their role, and they’ll use your previous experience to verify this. Make sure you have your title, date range, and specific responsibilities clearly outlined, so they get great insights into what you are capable of doing. This includes volunteer experience! Relevant volunteer experience is just as valuable and should be given the same attention as work experience.
A comprehensive list of skills on your profile will help employers find you on LinkedIn. I always recommend this as it’s one of the filters recruiters use on LinkedIn to help find profiles that meet their requirements for a position. This is especially critical for developers because organizations vary on what languages they work in, and will look at your profile to see what you know.
Endorsements on your profile aren’t a must, but if you have them, it’s HUGE. Think about the information you get from product reviews – you’re more likely to purchase something if it comes highly recommended from others. Reach out to past employers, coworkers, or volunteer organizations and ask if they would be willing to write you a recommendation to build your credibility as a potential hire.
Finally, interact with and share content on LinkedIn. This will show that you are active in your respective professional community and can lead to meaningful connections that will improve your job search.
Would you recommend accepting volunteer or internship opportunities to help gain experience?
Absolutely. Volunteering and internships are excellent ways to gain professional experience and to stand out from the crowd. For volunteer positions, I always recommend starting on Volunteer Ottawa – they list most of the volunteer positions available in Ottawa.
For internships, I recommend doing your research and finding out which companies have internship programs. Once you have identified your targets, use LinkedIn to figure out which person is responsible for the intern program and reach out to them for more information. If you don’t find the right contact right away, ask them for help reaching the relevant person. Not every company has volunteer or internship opportunities, so make sure you aren’t too hard on yourself if you’re unable to find anything. Keep moving forward.
What advice would you give to someone who has experience in multiple fields (a generalist)? Is it better to be a specialist in a specific field?
As a generalist myself, I believe there is a lot to be gained from having a wide breadth of experience. With that said, it ultimately depends on what your dream organization and position is. If you aspire to work for a large organization, you may need to be more specialized to fit into the roles they require. However, if you are looking at smaller organizations or start-ups, generalists are often valued as they can wear many hats and tend to be more adaptable. Neither way is wrong. It all comes down to personal preference.
If someone wants to change careers, what is the best way to go about it?
Many people who work, or have worked with me, know that I led a couple of different lives before I settled into HR. For me, changing careers meant admitting I was starting at the beginning and that I would have to be willing to learn anything. I spoke to as many people as I could in the industry, went to industry-specific events, and networked to get into my first job. To this day, I read newsletters and attend webinars every week to keep myself informed. I move forward with the assumption that there is always more to learn. I don’t think there’s a best way, per se, but people often struggle to change careers when they want to come in at the senior level, despite having junior knowledge in their new position. Starting a new career really is starting. You’re going back to the bottom and working your way up. Not everyone who is looking for a change is willing to do that.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to a newcomer with regards to getting their desired job?
Network, network, network. Just because we are currently in a lockdown due to the pandemic doesn’t mean networking events have stopped. More virtual networking events are popping up every week. Have your quick personal elevator pitch ready so you can sum up who you are, what you’re looking for and what makes you unique. This way, as you’re meeting people, you can easily show your potential value-add.
After networking events, make sure you’re connecting with the people you’ve met on LinkedIn, so you can access their network. Most people don’t realize that the LinkedIn recruiter tools work off networks of second and third-degree connections. By expanding your network, you’re getting closer to being within those second and third-degree loops, which may lead you to a recruiter looking for someone with your experience. My only note about reaching out to people on LinkedIn is, please, please, PLEASE include a note. If I’ve met you, tell me where. If I haven’t, tell me why I should know you!
How do you judge a good fit for an organization?
At a base level, I (and every recruiter) use the requirements on the job description. I said this earlier, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure that your resume reflects the requirements outlined. After that, it all comes down to the organization’s culture and values and who will add to it (not fit within it).
For Iversoft, we’re a smaller organization, so we’re looking for people who are willing to learn, are adaptable, and who want to contribute to the organization through their work and ideas. One of our company values is, “A good idea can come from anywhere,” so we’re looking to ensure we’re bringing in a diverse group of people who can use their unique perspectives to bring new ideas to the table.
I recommend researching the company’s history, mission, vision and values to see if they’re a good fit with your value system.
What is your perception about a newcomer who had a senior role but is applying for an entry-level position?
I think this depends on how the person is positioning themselves. Will they be ok with an entry-level salary? Will they be ok with not getting a role in line with their experience in the immediate future? Will they be bored in the role? I recommend a well-written cover letter in these situations to answer these questions and explain why they are applying for the position and what their ultimate goal is within the company.
How do I stand out as a great applicant when hundreds of people apply to the same position?
Don’t use the same resume and cover letter for every application. Most applicants do this, and you may not think so, but it’s obvious when it’s just a template! When you’re applying, put your resume and the job description side by side and update your resume accordingly. Every requirement should be clearly outlined on your resume with examples, and any gaps or transferable skills can be detailed in your cover letter. A recruiter’s first look at you is to see if you are meeting their minimum requirements before proceeding to the next step. By having a custom-tailored resume and cover letter, you’re making their job easier for them.
Another great way to stand out is to try to incorporate elements of the company into your application. Have any colours in your resume? Consider matching it to their brand. Have a website or portfolio? Generate a landing page tailored to the company you are applying for so you can show your dedication. Are you tech-savvy? Include a video resume! This may seem like a lot of work, but I’ve been impressed by the candidates that go above and beyond to stand out. Doing the bare minimum shows a lack of passion and dedication.
What is your opinion about Recruitment Agencies; is it worthwhile to approach them for a job in IT?
I have mixed feelings about recruitment agencies – partially because there are a few bad eggs out there that can give the field a bit of a bad reputation. That being said, there are some great recruiters who treat their candidates very well, and they can be an excellent way to get an interview. I recommend researching the agencies before you reach out to a recruiter. Read their reviews online, and if you can, reach out to people who have used them to ask about their personal experience. Finally, make sure you understand your obligation to the recruiter before signing any agreement with them. You want to ensure they’re not going to be coming after you with a bill should you get a job.
What should I expect from a screening call?
During my phone screens, I usually go over the candidate’s background and resume. Essentially, I use them to ensure the candidate meets the minimum requirements of the role before passing my notes and their resume along to the hiring manager. To prepare for a screening call, I recommend reading up on the company and the requirements of the position. This way, you can come to the call prepared with examples that will help the interviewer understand what you bring to the position.
We all say networking is key to finding a job in today’s economy. HIO’s Coaching Events are an excellent way for employers to meet prime talent and talent to build their network, which could lead to their next role. Frankly, if you’re an employer and you aren’t partnering with organizations like HIO, World Skills Employment Centre or Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization, you are truly missing out.
Even if you aren’t hiring, the support you provide at these events could lead to someone finding their next job. Connecting with skilled talent from these events could also give candidates a second-degree connection on LinkedIn to someone who is hiring. These events provide companies with the ability to give back to the community by offering valuable advice on how newcomers to our country can position themselves in the job market. It’s a rewarding experience for everyone involved and an opportunity you shouldn’t pass up.