March 14th, 2017

Lessons from the IEP Conference: Advice for Job Seekers

Recently, I had the pleasure to be part of an industry panel at the IEP Conference. My fellow panelists and I spoke to a group of Internationally Educated Professionals who were seeking advice about how to gain employment in accounting and financial services. There were lots of great insights provided by the panel so I thought I would share some of the tips here.

Network, network, network

Get out there and talk to people. Start with the people you know. Then, expand your reach and try to access people in your target industry. You can connect with them on social media websites like LinkedIn, or perhaps participate in industry events or activities. Consider inviting them for a coffee or requesting a quick phone call. Take this opportunity to ask for career advice. Let them know you’re looking for work and specify the type of work you want. Opportunities can arise in unexpected places so the more people you can talk to, the better.

Prepare your elevator speech

An “elevator speech” is a brief sales pitch about you that can be delivered in 30 seconds, the approximate time it takes for an elevator to reach the top floor. Being able to articulate who you are, what you are looking for and your value proposition in a clear and concise manner will help you to get your message across. You’ll improve your chances of being heard by keeping it short and sweet and focusing on what you can bring to the table. Make sure you rehearse your pitch until you sound natural and confident delivering it.

Think skills rather than job

Frequently, job hunters may not have all the experience that’s being asked for on a job description. Take a step back and consider what skills you may possess that could be a match. For example, let’s say a job asks for customer service experience. Can you demonstrate your communication, conflict resolution and problem solving skills? These skills are all necessary in a customer service role. You may have acquired these skills in your previous employment or through volunteering. Provide examples on how those experiences can relate to the new role.

Another consideration is that the job market keeps evolving and we don’t necessarily know what jobs will be available in the future. Just a few years ago, jobs like digital marketer, blockchain developer and Uber driver didn’t exist. Concentrating on developing skills that are transferrable between jobs will help you remain relevant.

Get your foot in the door with temporary work

Accepting temporary work can be an excellent way for you to get your foot in the door and gain work experience. It’s an opportunity for employers to get to know you and see how you perform. It’s also a chance for you to see what the organization and the particular role are like. Examples of short-term contracts include covering maternity leaves or implementing a big project. In some situations, contract work can lead to full-time employment. But even if it doesn’t, you’ll gain a reference, some valuable perspective and another contact for your network.

Don’t forget the soft skills

Some people focus solely on acquiring the technical or “hard” skills for a job and often forget about the soft skills. Employers do expect employees to be knowledgeable and competent at their jobs. But what can help make employees really successful is their ability to communicate, collaborate and work with others. In most jobs, the better you can get along with colleagues, the more successful you’ll be. In addition to these interpersonal skills, consider how you’re developing your problem solving, conflict resolution, leadership and time management skills. Above all else, be enthusiastic and bring a positive attitude!

It was a great experience participating on the panel. I hope these tips can help you in your job search.

Read more tips about resume writing and interviewing. Also check out case studies of past IFSE students.

To learn more about the other panelists from the conference, click here.


Christina Ashmore

Managing Director