Who’s in Your Network?
Applying for jobs is a big part of your employment search, but networks are one of the top ways job seekers find positions, so it makes sense to build a variety of good, solid connections with many people. The people you know are part of your ‘network’ and they can help connect you with employment because they each have a network of people in their lives.
Your networks could include:
• Teachers / Work Experience Supervisors
• Family – including aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws
• Friends (and their families)
• Previous employers and co-workers
How do you use this network?
It’s pretty simple really…
Let people know you are looking for work and ask if they know of anyone you can connect with to find out more about that type of job. If they do – ask for an introduction or their contact information so you can connect with those people or businesses and find out more about possible job opportunities.
Online networks are opportunities to communicate and stay connected with friends, family, colleagues and businesses. Online networks vary between LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and many others. On most online networks, you can create your personal profile by posting your skills, interests, job targets and connecting to people you know and some of the businesses you are interested in. This is a good way to develop your network and be seen by people who might have a job connection for you or who are in the position to hire you.
Targeted Job Search
It is important to find jobs that match for your talents, values and skills. Why? Because these are the jobs you will do best at – and be able to keep. When you know what your job targets are, you can focus on getting those types of jobs.
Here are some ways to find jobs:
• Tips from your network
• Help wanted signs around town
• Online job boards
• Online networks
• Volunteer work (can help build your network and sometimes lead to a paid position)
Applying for Work
When you’re looking for work, it is common to fill out a job application form and/or be asked to submit your resume and cover letter.
What is a Job Application Form?
A job or employment application form helps the employers have a better understanding of who you are and if you are the right candidate for the job. Job applications have a wide range of questions to find out more about you, your work history and skills related to the job.
When a job opportunity is posted online, sometimes there are hundreds of applicants and unfortunately some online application systems are used to screen people out if their experience or applications do not match what they are looking for in a candidate. This is why it is important to engage the employer by making a personal connection.
Engaging the Employer…How Do We Do That?
Call and ask who is in charge of hiring for that position. Is it the boss, a hiring manager or a human resources person?
When you find out the name of the person in charge of hiring, you can try to connect with them directly to let them know that you’ve gone through a whole ‘Career Exploration’ process and that this job is your well-informed and well-researched top choice. You can request a job interview or a job shadow opportunity to prove that you can do the job.
Tell employers about the Employer Resource Section of this Employment Planning Hub. Those resources can help them feel more confident about interviewing and hiring you.
Looking for work is a job in itself and it can take some time.
Stay positive, believe in yourself and don’t get discouraged.
Even if you’re not getting a job right away, you’re building your network and learning new skills.
A job interview is an opportunity for the employer to meet you, ask questions to learn more about you and see if you are a good fit for the job. There may be one or more people interviewing you and asking questions about your strengths and abilities and they will try to learn about why you want the job. Job interviews are usually between 30 – 60 minutes long and sometimes the employer will invite you for more than one interview.
Employers want to make the right choice about hiring someone. This usually means choosing someone who:
1. Knows about the job and the company
2. Is excited about the idea of working there
3. Has the basic skills and abilities to be able to do the job
4. Will keep the job for a long time (commitment)
5. Will fit in with the ‘workplace culture’
How to Prepare for a Job Interview
• Research the company so you know a bit about the workplace. (company website, social media)
• Read the job description or job posting to understand what skills they’re looking for.
• Read your own resume and action plan – what are your skills and interests? Can you talk about them?
• Why do you want this job? Practice talking about your reasons.
• What questions do you have about the job? Practice asking them.
• Practice your interview skills with a variety of people.
Common Job Interview Questions to Practice
• Tell me about yourself.
• What do you know about our company?
• Why do you want to work here?
• What are your strengths or things you are good at?
• What are your weaknesses or things you need to work on?
• What kinds of workplace accommodations might you need?
• Tell me about a time you had to learn something new – how did you do it?
• Do you have any questions for me? (this is a chance to see if the job is right for you)
Don’t forget to think of real-life examples when answering the questions, the employer wants to know how you dealt with situations and how you turned a negative into a positive!
Role-play! Ask a friend, family member or anyone in your network to help you practice answering interview questions. You can practice your answers, work on your handshake, eye contact and body language.
Here are some examples of questions you might want to ask the employer:
• What do people like most about this job? What part do they think is hardest?
• What kind of training do you provide?
• How would you describe your company culture?
• You can ask about things too that are important to you and related to the job.
• Practice, practice, practice – get comfortable talking about your skills and strengths, don’t forget examples!
• Take the time to choose clean, ironed and appropriate clothing and shoes. Make sure your hair, face and makeup are neat and tidy.
• Get enough sleep the night before and be prepared and presentable for the interview.
• Always be 5 – 10 minutes early for an interview, but no earlier – and never be late.
Interview Alternatives and Accommodations
Some job seekers have disabilities that make it difficult for them to do well in an interview. But everyone deserves a fair chance regardless of their disability. Here are some interview alternatives and accommodations that you and the employer could set up for a fair interview and still find out if you are a good fit for the job:
• A support person could attend the interview with you to help you understand and answer the interview questions – or help put you at ease if you have a lot of anxiety.
• If you have a physical or sensory disability, the employer could be informed in advance about the kinds of accessibility accommodations that would allow you to interview and work well.
• Ask the employer to share the questions before the job interview.
• You could request a video or telephone interview.
• Try out the job out through a job shadow or trial, this can show the employer your skills and abilities and you can see if it is a good fit for you.
Not all employers will agree to interview accommodations or alternatives – but as employers seek the right people for the job, they also have to be open to different ways of hiring people for the job.