A group of private individuals (sponsor network) can provide a very valuable employment resource. It can help a newcomer or refugee find employment in a number of ways:
- One or more members of the group might employ the newcomer personally. This could be within the group member’s own company, if a business owner, or on a personal basis. This type of work does not have to be full-time. It can be part-time or on an occasional basis and can be for any type of work that it is acceptable and beneficial to the newcomer. This provides Canadian employment experience and references that can be listed on a resumé.
- A support group member can lobby his or her own employer to employ the newcomer being assisted. Again, if not full-time, the work can be part-time or even occasional/short-term.
- Members of a group can help by accessing their personal and professional networks on social media, at social gatherings and events, at professional events and through direct outreach to family, friends, business connections (including among suppliers and customers.) Some groups may even have HR specialists within their membership, who will be particularly knowledgeable and experienced in leveraging contacts.
The extended network of contacts can be used to not only open the door to specific job opportunities, but also at an earlier stage, to set up practice interviews and friendly conversations about specific sectors. In fact, a meeting set up with a sponsor contact as a practice interview or a friendly conversation, could open a door to a job offer. However, to avoid disappointment, the sponsor should make it very clear that the purpose of a practice interview or friendly conversation is to prepare for job interviews and not to lead to a job offer from that meeting.
When a group of five to 20 sponsors acts to tap into job opportunities, the reach can be very extensive and productive. However, steps should be taken to ensure that all members of a group who are going to reach out on behalf of a newcomer understand the employment strategy, the newcomer’s objectives and the criteria for a job being sought. Everyone should be as aligned as much as possible. The newcomer should also be made to feel that he or she should feel comfortable expressing doubts about particular opportunities that may arise. In accordance with the customs of their origin country, he or she may feel obliged to pursue any opportunity that is offered, even if it does not truly fit with the employment objectives.