Oakville entrepreneur Randy Pilon knows what it’s like for a young person trying to find a job in the current economy.
The president and CEO of disinfectant producer Virox Technologies Inc. recently completed a four year term as a Sheridan College governor and continues to organize an annual forum for business students at the school’s Mississauga campus.
The 53-year-old executive recently spoke with YourMississaugaBiz.com and shared his advice for students and how to improve their odds.
1. Create your own brand
Pilon said that students have to help people understand what they can do for employers beyond simply being given a job. “I need to understand what your value is,” he said. “That’s why I encourage these students to talk about what they’re good at and what they’re passionate about.”
2. Be willing to do what it takes
Some of the people Pilon has hired to work at Virox started on 2-3 month contracts, in what he described as sort of a “rent-to-own.” “We get to test and try them out,” he said, “And it works fantastically. They’re so motivated and passionate it leads into a full-time position.
Pilon said if he were a grad today, he would be willing to work for free for two weeks at a highly-desired company. “I’d say, ‘Hey, I’m going to invest my time,’” he said. “‘I’m not asking you to invest your money. I’m asking you to give me a shot and show you what I can do.’”
The former Baush & Lombe executive said not many people think that way, giving those willing to take that risk an advantage over all the other potential job applicants.
3. You get what you negotiate, not what you deserve
For those students worried about the prospect of not being able to afford unpaid work, Pilon suggested this line of thinking: If a student or grad is hired, it shouldn’t be unfair for them to ask for those two weeks back in pay because by then they would have proven their value. “Who would say no to that?”
4. It’s worth trying to chase after your dream
Pilon said there’s always a creative way to entice someone into giving you that shot. “There’s nothing wrong with putting yourself on the line,” he said.
In addition to his past term as a Sheridan governor and $700,000 in donations to the college, Randy Pilon recently spoke at the fifth-annual Virox Future Forum on February 14.