Robert (not his real name) got his degree in Mechanical Engineering from an Ontario University in 2007. Robert moved to Calgary on graduation and spent 4 years with an automotive design firm before joining a global consulting engineering firm where he spent the next 4 years.
Robert was laid off by the firm in early 2015 as a result of the collapse of the oil industry in Western Canada.
An avid outdoors person, Robert decided to take advantage of this career break and headed off to Australia. After several months of surfing and hiking, Robert decided that he wanted to stay in Australia for a few years and decided to get a job as an engineer.
Here is an email I received from Robert:
“I suspect the word has got to you via mom, but wanted to tell you myself. I’ve landed a job and will be starting on Tuesday!
It was a long journey, from my last day in early January 2015 to now, but I’ve traveled a lot and enjoyed my time off. Much like your article (which is great by the way, congratulations!) states, the value of networking and making personal connections can not be underestimated. After your recommendation, I changed my approach considerably. I developed my own systems for lead tracking and scheduling, but the principle was very helpful.
The role I’ve accepted, I got by reaching out to someone on LinkedIn. I searched for my target company, then searched for people at that company who were Canadian, went to Canadian schools, or had ‘Canada’ in their profile. I bookmarked all that were applicable, then sent the best prospect (who had worked in the oil sands and was now a general manager) a message, stating that I was Canadian, in Brisbane, and keen to buy him a coffee in exchange for his read on the local market. We had coffee at his office, I told him my story, we chatted about the market and their business, then he introduced me to another manager. A few days later the reference check request came through from HR, then when I got back to Brisbane last week, I had an interview scheduled. I met with yet another manager, made a good impression, then received an offer the following day.
Since May of 2015, I had applied to 14 advertised positions at the company, never receiving a call back.
I received 2 other offers before this one. One of them, I met the CEO of one company over breakfast at a hotel while my friend was in Australia for a conference. We hit it off, had a Skype interview while I was back in Canada in June, then I received an offer. The stars weren’t aligning, so I turned it down.
The other offer, was for a role that I’d applied online for. I called HR immediately upon applying and asked them a few fluff questions, just to get the conversation started. Upon doing this, they reviewed my CV and added me to the shortlist. I had an interview and received a lowball offer, which I turned down (much to mom’s horror!).
As a result of all the networking and coffee meetings/informational interviews I’ve done, I now have a large network of people in Brisbane who know me. One of those people ironically called me 2 hours after I’d accepted my new role, to say he has a role for me. His company has turned the corner and he’ll be keeping tabs on me with an intention to bring me on come April when my contract finishes. I’ve got a spreadsheet of these types of contacts (for both here and in Calgary) and notes in my calendar on when to follow up with a casual update.
Anyway, I thought you might be interested in some of those learnings as you coach your clients through the modern-day job search. I’ve certainly learned a lot, lessons that will stick with me through my whole career I suspect.
Thanks for your chats and advice over the last couple years, I’ve certainly appreciated the counsel. Congratulations on the article in the Globe as well. Very well written and informative.
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