Young professionals in Halifax have a new tool to help them find mentors.
The Connector+ app matches experienced business people with recent post-secondary graduates seeking career advice and jobs. It was developed by the Halifax Partnership, an economic development organization.
Participants from an existing, non-digital, version of the program gathered at the Maritime Centre on March 20 to promote the app.
“Instead of just scrolling through job boards, you start off with one connector, who agrees to refer you to three of his people outside the program, and those contacts might refer you to three more, so suddenly you have a whole bunch of people looking to help,” said Robyn Webb, director of labour market development at the Halifax Partnership.
Unlike with LinkedIn, a social app popular in the business world, users do not search through lists of profiles before choosing who they communicate with. Instead, users enter information about their skills and interests, then they’re paired with other users via an algorithm.
When a match is made, the mentor can decide whether or not to meet with their match. If they decide not to meet, the job seeker is assigned a new match.
Meeting in person
Kent Lane, an executive and part owner of engineering firm CBCL Limited, has been a connector for five years. He said that the app will make it easier for potential employers to meet with job seekers in person, rather that relying on the digital realm for hiring.
“It’s about the idea of calling somebody up and saying, ‘Come meet me,’” he said. “Paper skills are one thing, but communication and the ability to focus on the individual when you’re talking to them is very important.”
The current Connector program has worked with over 1,400 mentors and 3,250 job seekers, about one-third of whom have subsequently found jobs in their fields, according to the Halifax Partnership.
Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said he believes the app will help encourage more young people to live and work in Halifax.
“The Connector program will allow young people to find opportunities here, so it’s good for them, but it’s better for the city,” he said. “It’s good for our economy, it’s good for our society, it’s good for our culture.”
Attracting a younger workforce has been a long-standing goal for the HRM.
In 2014, a report from then-Acadia University president Ray Ivany warned that Halifax and the rest of the province would face a demographic crisis if more young people didn’t choose to live here.
The report urged the province to try to retain 10 per cent of all foreign students after they graduate, and increasing immigration from an average of 2,400 people each year in 2014 to 7,000 people by 2024.
Gulf Guan, who recently immigrated to Halifax after graduating from Swansea University in Wales, hopes to build a career in digital marketing. He is considering signing up for Connector+.
“I think this is the most helpful program I’ve found in Halifax, especially for new graduates and new immigrants, to help them get involved in the city,” he said.
The app is free to download and use. The provincial government has funded some of the costs of the development of the app, but the amount has not been “formally released,” a representative of the Halifax Partnership said in an email.