Being comfortable with being uncomfortable — one of the valuable soundbites that came from Majid Kazmi, an immigrant who successfully integrated into the Canadian workforce almost two years ago. As a new job seeker in Toronto with a unique cultural background, Majid was determined to crack the code on how to stand out from the crowd. In his effort to move beyond the obscurity of online applications, he put away his laptop and went to meet people face-to-face. Here are the key takeaways from his journey:
Be flexible and adaptable
Getting his first connection through a quick and unexpected networking interaction with a gentleman at a bus stop, Majid quickly realized that he needed to better understand this new reality that he was a part of. The same successes, and the same achievements that worked for him in his past experience weren’t necessarily going to work for him here. Being more flexible and adaptable to new approaches like networking were key to finding work in his profession.
Being unemployed in the GTA is a full-time job. It’s frustrating and stressful, to say the least, but staying positive was key for Majid. Putting yourself out there, lending a hand, and offering employers something based on your experience, skill-set, and education always led to a positive conversation. Don’t dwell on the past or on the negative aspects of your struggles are Majid’s words of advice for job seekers.
It’s a science and an art. There’s a lot of analytical work involved before deciding who the right people to reach out to are. LinkedIn is a great place to start. It’s also an art. Standing at a networking event trying to tell your story, putting your best foot forward to convince a prospective employer that you’re the right person he or she should hire, isn’t always the easiest. Finding a way to showcase your strengths at present is critical, whereas focusing on your areas of improvement should be considered a long-term goal and a constant journey.
Understanding what a personal brand is and how to brand yourself, as a professional and as a person, involves a steep learning curve. Majid’s best advice? Start with creating your own business card. You don’t have to be working for an organization to have one. It’s a call to action when you meet a prospective employer. Blog, and create your own website if you have time, it shows commitment and makes you stand out.
Look at different ways to approach the same solution. When Majid was faced with the challenge of not having Canadian experience, he was inventive. He would always hear that it’s a chicken and egg hunt – you can’t get experience unless you land your first job, and it’s hard to score a job without “Canadian experience.” What did he do? He registered a business and made a website – it took him one night. He was now an entrepreneur in Canada. He put that on his resume, above his former experience, and his employer never asked where his Canadian experience was. He ended up landing an interview with two directors at CIBC, who he had met through networking. Three weeks after his second interview, he secured the job!
If you’re willing to stand out against the competition and step outside of your comfort zone, good things shall come.
Majid Kazmi is an immigrant who successfully integrated into the Canadian workforce a year and a half ago. Majid is a seasoned banking professional, board member, speaker, writer, mentor, and entrepreneurship coach based in Toronto. He currently works for CIBC as a Channel Strategy Consultant and sits on the Board of Directors for the Toronto Workforce Innovation Group (TWIG). At CIBC, his role revolves around strategic planning, product management coaching, training, and management of stakeholder relationships across functions. Majid can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org