For Young Professionals and Recent Grads
Building a professional network is challenging with the lack of networking events and job fairs. For young professionals it’s more important now than ever before to utilize virtual networking tools. Networking is an essential tool for young professionals and jobseekers. Building a strong professional network can make all the difference when looking for new opportunities. With no in-person networking opportunities, LinkedIn is a great alternative. Remain visible by engaging with posts, attending virtual events, and reaching out to new connections.
Networking can also be a great opportunity to show your soft skills to employers. A soft skill that is common across many industries is the idea of having a good attitude in the workplace and working well with others in a collaborative space. It is not uncommon for employers to meet for coffee to chat and result in a job offer because employers are judging whether you are the right fit for the organization based on your attitude and how well you got along.
“I think first and foremost, well developed interpersonal skills is the first key. If you don’t interview well, or if you have a problem connecting with people, it is tough to break into that first opportunity because the gold standard for recruitment and selection is interviewing. So it really is important to practice your communication style and make sure you are presenting professionally.”
-Nick Misener, Venor
It’s important to emphasize soft and transferable skills to a potential employer. However communicating these skills can be a challenge in a virtual setting. While technical skills are important, they can be learned. The right mindset cannot be taught. Employers are looking for candidates with soft skills. Some of these include:
The ability to get along with others and work well on a team
Independence and an entrepreneurial mindset
Curiosity to learn and grow
Thinking outside the box
A lot of our insights also revolved around the soft skill of time management because employers want to trust their employees while working from home. If you are using your time wisely your work can speak for itself because it will show your progress and your determination. This can be a comforting thought for young professionals worried about their qualifications or work through practising their time management to complete their required daily tasks and always give their highest effort.
To show that you have these soft skills in a virtual setting can be difficult but sometimes your qualifications listed on your resume can justify soft skills such as your motivation, drive, and personality. For example, employers want to see that young professionals can take initiative to look for resources to learn more about a topic on their own. If you can list resources you have found and learned about on your resume this can show that you are a hard worker.
We are focused on finding individuals who have the desire to learn, be coached and grow into a role here, rather than having all the skills already. We hire a lot of young people because of their ability to learn and their eagerness to self-start. -Anonymous Participant
During the pandemic, most companies that are able to have moved to some form of a work-from-home model. Remote working allows for greater independence, flexibility, and work-life balance for employees. Many businesses are seeing the success of remote work and are not moving back to a traditional office model any time soon. Working remotely also allows employees to choose to work wherever they want - we may see a migration of workers to less expensive cities.
However, we also found some downfalls with remote work, especially for young professionals, or employees who have not been in the professional workforce for very long. Young professionals are feeling stressed about their job security with the organization, along with the stress about not feeling “productive enough” when working remotely. From a young professional’s perspective it can be intimidating to join, or recently join a company then suddenly have much more autonomy. It leaves more time to stress about if you're keeping up with company standards since you can't compare or ask others in the workplace.
“There are a lot of benefits to working remotely. One part of it is commuting. As someone in Atlantic Canada I'm kind of excited because I think we will see more of a migration from bigger centres to cheaper accommodations here in the Maritimes. I'd love to see more people move back into our region. If you can do your job from anywhere, you can move somewhere affordable.” - James Caldwell, Alongside
As virtual recruitment and zoom interviews become the norm, it becomes more difficult as a candidate to make yourself stand out beyond your resume. We know that hiring managers are looking for soft skills, and it’s not always easy to articulate these virtually in an interview. It is important as a candidate to speak to your experience that illustrates these skills. Show that you are resourceful, have drive and motivation, and let your personality shine.
Some employers have mentioned that they are not currently doing any active recruitment, however, a lot of employers are always looking for good talent and analyzing their networks for people looking for opportunities. Therefore, as a young professional you can often be recruited to a job through your network so you should be prepared to have a professional conversation with those in your networks or others reaching out to you through a referral. This can be common for positions in a junior role.
“I wish there was a formulaic way for new grads to show transferable skills. How can someone look at their English degree and show that they have excellent research, analytic and critical thinking skills? Being able to articulate those in a way that you can back up is important.” -Gina Patterson, Venture For Canada
Training and Onboarding
Hiring is still happening, and therefore so is training and onboarding of new employees. However now it’s taking place virtually. As a new hire, virtual onboarding can be difficult to absorb and take longer. Without that in-person interaction, it’s not as engaging or effective. It’s challenging to get a good understanding of the organizational culture, and to build relationships with new coworkers. Many of the employers we spoke to agreed that there needs to be a better way to engage employees virtually.
“My virtual experience onboarding had its ups and downs similar to how it could be in person. A positive was that the organization made a great effort to get feedback from all of us as new hires and they were really interested about anything that helped us learn better or anything they could do better.”
-Andrea Murray, IBM