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Job Search Articles

A series of articles designed to assist individuals looking for work

What's Important to You? Identifying your "Career Anchor"

What do you really want from your work? How does this desire align with your main motives, drives and goals in life?

These are the questions that led Edgar Shein to conduct research around motivation in the world of work, which developed into the creation of a values inventory in 1971. The results of this inventory help one to determine one’s “Career Anchor”

According to Shein, there are 8 main Career Anchors. Below, find descriptions of each to determine which Anchor describes your main motivation in your work life.

1. Security/Stability

Motivated by a desire to stay with a company for a long time, or to stay in a geographical location

2. Autonomy/Independence

Motivated by the need to do work one’s own way, in one’s own time, with as much independence as possible

3. Technical/Functional Competence

Motivated by a need to be competent and knowledgeable in one’s area of expertise

4. Managerial Competence

Motivated by a need to advance to higher levels of responsibility

5. Entrepreneurial Creativity

Motivated by a need to create a new business and the willingness to risk-take

6. Sense of Service/Dedication to a Cause

Motivated by a need to dedicate one’s work and sometimes one’s life to the service of others

7. Pure Challenge

Motivated by the need to be challenged at the highest possible level

8. Life Style Integration

Motivated by the need for a balanced life, with work not being the major vehicle of self-expression

The content of this artice was copied and paraphrased from the book: “If you knew …Who you were, you could be who you are! “ Gerald M. Sturman

Creating a Strong Support System During Career Transition

The people in our lives have unique strengths that can offer us various forms of support in times of need.

Such was the insight that I took away when I first came across the Heads, Hands and Heart exercise used for planning a support system during times of career transition. I recalled times when I was frustrated in my attempts to seek emotional comfort from someone who was more of ‘task-oriented doer’, and, in light of this new information, it all made sense.

We may think of a support system as having people to go to for emotional support and this is true. However, this exercise suggests that besides emotional support, in times of transition, we also need mental and physical support.

Let us examine the how this would look if we were planning our sources of support from the Head, Hands and Heart perspective:

  • Head - The mental aspect of our career transition journey would include creating a vision of where we want to go, and setting goals to support that vision. We may need someone who can help us by suggesting or finding resources for us, and/or help us with brainstorming ideas. Can we identify the creative ‘ideas-oriented’ person in our life? Who is the resourceful person our life?
  • Hands - When setting goals, we may realize that there are many small steps we need to take, such as updating our resume, LinkedIn profile, creating networking cards etc., which take up a great deal of our time. Many of us may get detracted from our goals at this time as practical life matters take over. Finding someone to support us with childcare, running errands, or doing chores will free up some of our time. Is there someone in our life who is task-oriented, who can do some of these things for us?
  • Heart - To find the motivation to keep going when self-doubt or disappointment sets in, having someone to lean on who can listen non-judgementally, and offer a safe space to share our thoughts and feelings will provide the emotional support to assist us in moving forward. Who is the people -oriented listener in our circle of friends and acquaintances?

When it comes to creating a circle of support, only when we include people who represent the head, hands and heart can we come, as they say, full circle. Turning to the right person for the appropriate type of support will ensure that we have a solid community from which to draw on to manage the challenges of a career transition.

Home Child Care: An Employment Option

The high cost of daycare and before and afterschool care has some families struggling with whether it is worthwhile to have a caregiving parent get a paid position, or whether to stay home altogether. For some staying home may not be an option, but it may leave some parents struggling with their desire to be home with their children while also needing to earn some extra income.

If you find yourself in this position, and you enjoy nurturing and caring for young children, being a home care provider may be an option for you. As a home care provider, you would work as an independent contractor, but for an agency that finds the families for you, conducts the screening, essentially bringing families and providers together.

This is a sample of a couple of key agencies in York Region that train and hire Home Childcare Providers:

  • York Professional Care and Educational: http://www.yorkprofessionalcareandeducation.ca/
  • J & F Home Daycare Services: http://j-f.ca/
  • Home care providers are provided with training courses to prepare to offer this service in their homes. An Early Childhood Education Diploma/license is not required as providers receive support and supervision from agency consultants.

    Here are some important points to reflect on when considering this option:

    • Do you have the space to care for up to 5 children in your home?
    • Do you mind arranging your space so that it meets fire and safety regulations?
    • Do you mind making an initial investment to purchase the equipment you need to set up your home childcare space? (Stores such as Once Upon a Child or Boomerang Kids sell second hand equipment such as playpens, games, highchairs etc., in excellent shape for very reasonable prices.)

    If you are torn between staying home and/registering your children in a daycare, home child care may provide a solution for you, especially given the high cost of daycare. With most families needing to earn a dual income to make ends meet, there is always a need for home childcare providers.

The Formula for Effective Interview Storytelling

We all know at least one good storyteller – the person who takes center stage at parties, who manages to captivate the attention of guests, and leaves everyone feeling entertained. If, like myself, you’ve never managed to be that person, thankfully, when it comes to storytelling in a job interview you are not at a disadvantage! When prompted to “Tell me about a time when you did ….this or that…” you can capture the imagination of the interviewer by following a few simple tips to tell memorable stories every time.

Having interviewed hundreds of people when supporting them with interview coaching, I find that the one big factor that prevents people from giving a dazzling performance is a lack of details. Clients tell me that they are afraid to share too many details, for fear of the response being too long. Fair enough. It is true that you don’t want to talk for 20 minutes at a time. However, again, without the details, the potential employer will not be able to understand fully the ACTION you took to deliver a RESULT, which ultimately demonstrates your skills and achievements. Here are the key details needed when structuring your interview story:

Use the S+A+R (SAR) Formula. SAR stands for: Situation + Action + Result

When describing the Situation include:

  • What your role was - Example: I was the project manager
  • What the responsibility was: I was leading the construction of a 500 residential unit project
  • What the problem was: the client, a huge developer decided that they wanted to change the exterior finishing of the units, which would increase the costs, and potentially change the project milestone as we had to source the new materials.
  • Why was this a problem: The developer wanted us to meet the original budget, despite the change in material
  • When describing the Action you took to address the problem:

  • Describe step by step both your thinking process and the key actions steps taken to resolve the issue
  • Use keywords associated with the soft skill being addressed. In this case the employer is assessing your problem-solving ability, use keywords like: evaluated, assessed, researched, and analyzed
  • When describing the Result of the problem being addressed:

  • Use specific, rather than general details to create a powerful and memorable statement. For example: Rather than saying: “In the end, everything was ok and the client was satisfied”. Be specific: “After holding 3 weekly team meetings we managed to source new materials, have them shipped to the site; we rescheduled the staff after reducing the number of contractors from 30 to 20. As a result, we were able to get the project completed with only a 2-week delay, while meeting the original budget.”
  • The next time you’re at a party and someone asks you about your work, perhaps you can use the opportunity to practice your storytelling. Who know? You might even entertain a few people in the process!

    How to Target Your Resume to Specific Jobs

    When it comes to writing your resume, one size does not fit all. So, if you think that you’ve written the perfect resume, and your work is done, unfortunately, that is not the case. To be effective, resumes need to be targeted to specific jobs, as Canadian employers are only interested in reading content that is directly related to the position available.

    This may come as a surprise if you are a newcomer to Canada and accustomed to a workplace culture where mentioning skills or education that are unrelated to the immediate opening are considered valuable for future career development. The specialized nature of the Canadian workforce, however, requires a specialized, or targeted resume.

    Here are some tips for doing just that:

  • Rather than writing a vague objective statement such as: Looking for a role where I can utilize my marketing, sales and business analysis experience in a growing company, at the top of your resume, after your contact header, simply write the title of the position you are applying for. For example: Target: Business Analyst
  • The Profile section of your resume should include a couple of achievements that provide evidence of the outcomes you were able to deliver in business analysis, for example.
  • The Professional Experience section of your resume, should only, in most cases, include jobs that are related to the position you are applying for. Removing unrelated jobs, or short term jobs may be a good strategy. If you are newcomer to Canada, ensure that your job titles match job titles in Canada. For example: “Expert”, “Managing Director” or “Specialist” may translate in Canadian terms to “ Manager”, “Team Lead”, “Director”, “Senior Manager” or CEO.
  • Remove education, such as professional development certificates and workshops, that either took place in the distant past, or are unrelated if you have a long list of entries in this section of your resume. Also remove graduate level training, especially Phds if the job requires an undergraduate degree.
  • Any effort made to make your resume an easy read, and a good match for the job posting will go a long way in terms of increasing the potential for an interview invitation.

    Which Sectors or Jobs Are in Highest Demand?

    Although an important aspect of the career decision making process, many newcomers find the prospect of researching the labour market to discover which jobs are in demand too overwhelming. Thus, I am often asked by those eager to bypass this process altogether, “What are the top industries in Canada?” and “Which jobs can I easily get right now, that don’t require any or little additional training?” What follows is a list that I have complied, not based on research conducted for the sake of this article, but simply on my knowledge gained from continuously reading about labour market trends, and also by observing thousands of people find work; thus this is not a complete report. I have also included links where one can read job descriptions for the main jobs in each sector:

    The main industries in Cnadad where there is a high demand for skilled workers are:

    Healthcare: http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2011/Occupations.aspx?val=3
    Engineering: http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2011/Occupations.aspx?val=2
    Information Technology: http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2011/Occupations.aspx?val=2
    Construction: http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2011/QuickSearch.aspx?val65=construction
    Finance: http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2011/QuickSearch.aspx?val65=finance
    Insurance: http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2011/QuickSearch.aspx?val65=insurance
    Real Estate: http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2011/QuickSearch.aspx?val65=real%20estate
    Security: http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2011/QuickSearch.aspx?val65=security
    Skilled Trades: http://www.collegeoftrades.ca/trades-in-ontario

    If You Need an immediate Job, Consider:

  • Delivery Driver
  • Courier Driver
  • School Bus Driver (Training is provided by employers)
  • Truck Driver (AZ or D license required)
  • Assembler (Working in a factory on the production line)
  • Stockperson (Stocking items for large ‘box’ stores or in a warehouse)
  • Food Service Worker
  • Customer Service Representative/Retail Sales Associate
  • Security Guard – license required. Training is about 1 week in length
  • Where Do I Apply for a Government Job?

    In the face of labour market uncertainty, many job seekers have their eye on government jobs, in the hope they will provide some measure of security. While no employer can offer that any longer, the government does remain a large employer and there are many opportunities across sectors, although competitive. Positions can be sought at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. Below is a list of links where one can access government jobs.

    Federal Government: http://jobs-emplois.gc.ca/index-eng.htm
    Ontario Provincial Government: https://www.gojobs.gov.on.ca/Jobs.aspx
    Albert Provincial Government: https://www.jobs.alberta.ca/
    Saskatchewan Provincial Government: http://www.careers.gov.sk.ca/
    British Columbia Provincial Government: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/careers

    The government of Canada also offers specialized recruitment programs for roles such as: fellowships, policy analysts, research associations and others. For a full list visit:
    http://jobs-emplois.gc.ca/centres/specialized-specialize-eng.php.

    The Federal Internship for Newcomers (FIN) Program provides newcomers with valuable temporary Canadian work experience and training opportunities with federal, municipal and private sector organizations. For more information visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/newcomers/work/fin.asp.

    For municipal government jobs in the Greater Toronto area:

    Region of York: http://ow.ly/YZpzl

    City of Toronto: http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=c3ae1f42c1744410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD

    City of Vaughan: https://www.vaughan.ca/cityhall/employment/Pages/cov_opportunities.aspx

    Town of Richmond Hill: http://www.richmondhill.ca/employment/currentOpp.asp

    City of Markham: http://www.markham.ca/wps/portal/Markham/MunicipalGovernment/EmploymentVolunteer/EmploymentOpportunities

    Town of Aurora: https://www.aurora.ca/TownHall/Pages/Jobs.aspx

    Town of Newmarket: http://www.newmarket.ca/TownGovernment/Pages/Employment.aspx

    Town of Georgina: https://www.georgina.ca/municipal-government/careers

    Township of King: http://www.king.ca/Government/Departments/Human%20Resources/Current%20Opportunities/Pages/default.aspx

    Town of East Gwillimbury: http://www.eastgwillimbury.ca/Government/Town_Departments/Chief_Administrative_Officer/Human_Resources/Job_Opportunities.htm

    Painting a Picture with Words - Effective Interviewing Technique

    Paint a picture with words. Keep this tip in mind the next time you are invited to job interview. If you can give your interviewer an image of the action you took to deliver a result, they will remember you. People remember stories, but like any good writing piece, it has to be rich with details to be memorable.

    Your responses to behavioural questions such as: “Can you describe the most complex project you had to work on how you handled it?” should be structured using the Situation + Action + Results formula, each step with specific details. Start your story with by sharing which company you were working for, what your role was, the nature of the challenge you were facing, and, if necessary who was involved. This sets a solid foundation from which the interviewer can imagine clearly the context of the story.

    In the next part of the story, describe in a step by step logical fashion the action you took to resolve the issue. This part of the story provides an opportunity for you to show off your skills, so, in relation to the question of a complex project, use keywords that remind the listener of the skills you have that suggest strong problem solving ability such as: analyzed, evaluated, researched, investigated, planned, and brainstormed. Be specific, rather than abstract and vague about how you solved project related issues. Examples of vague responses include: “My team and I analyzed the issue and after discussing it with management we suggested a new CRM system”. This response does not give the interviewer enough content to form an image in their mind, leaving too many unanswered questions such as: who is the team comprised of? What was involved in the analysis of the issue? How was the idea proposed to management?

    Finally, a strong closing statement about the outcome of your action, will bring a powerful conclusion to your story. Again, be specific. Saying “We completed the project successfully” doesn’t tell the whole story. Clear descriptive closing statements such as: “After 3 months, where we had to re-orient the team and train new staff we were able to deliver the project to client satisfaction within budget and on time. This won us accolades from management” will be sure to impress.

    Create an Attention Grabbing Resume Profile

    Prospective employers are at times faced with hundreds of applications for a single job posting, so it is critical as a job seeker to place the most important information from your work history in the very first section of your resume, after your contact header.

    This section, often called your profile, summary of qualifications or executive summary can be written in either full block paragraph style or bulleted form. My preference is the bulleted format, simply because 4-5 brief bulleted sentences are easier to read.

    As the heading title suggests, the content of this section of your resume, really should read like a summary of your resume. I like to ask my clients: “If you were trying to convince an employer to invite you to an interview, and you only have 4-5 lines in which to do it, what would you say to him or her?” In other words, this section should try answering the interview question:

    “Why are you the best person for the job?”

    What are, employers essentially looking for in a new hire? They want to know that you have the skills and experience required for the job, that you have delivered results, and that you have the right training to do the work. (Other important factors include whether they think a candidate will fit into the company culture, and whether they feel that a candidate is genuinely interested in working for them, however, these factors can be addressed in the cover letter which is sent with a resume to introduce yourself).

    The profile section of your resume provides the perfect opportunity to give the potential employer a list of reasons why they should invite you to an interview, by giving them the information they need to make a hiring decision. Firstly: Number of years’ experience and the areas of knowledge: Example:

    • Results-oriented project manager with over 10 years’ experience overseeing all phases of the project management life cycle from: concept, planning, executing and transferring, ensuring all project met standards, codes and client requirements

    The next point should highlight a key achievement – this can be one achievement highlighting your ability to deliver results, or it can be a summary of your achievements over a given period of time. Example:

    • Managed over 30 residential, commercial and industrial construction projects including overseeing technical teams of over 10 staff as well as tradespeople, over a 5 year period, meeting all deadlines and budgets within a reasonable timeframe

    The third point would be another achievement that is related to an outcome the employer is seeking. Example:

    • Keen ability to communicate effectively with key project stakeholders including: engineers, site supervisors, estimators, tradespeople and clients by holding regular meetings for project status updates and addressing concerns, creating highly functional project teams

    The final point should address your relevant education or other key training which would demonstrate your qualifications. Example:

    • Bachelor of Civil Engineer, coupled with a PMP certification and P.Eng designation

    While soft skills, (personal attributes such as being detail-oriented or analytical) are a key factor in hiring decisions, it is hard skills that will get you the initial interview. A profile, written as such is hard skill and results-focussed and should increase your interview invitation rate.

    Are you suddenly unemployed?

    Becoming unemployed will give you a roller coaster of emotions and you will most likely feel overwhelmed and stressed. Like many Canadians, you may be facing a difficult time with a sudden loss of work. The real question is, what’s next? And how do I get there?

    Remember these tips if you find yourself in this situation:

    1. Apply for EI
      • Don’t wait to apply, do it immediately! You can start the application, online or in-person, even if you have not yet received your Record of Employment.
      • Obtain your Record of Employment from your employer or find out if they will be sending it directly to Service Canada. Understand how much you will qualify for and budget accordingly. Assess all of your back up plans.
      • If you are not eligible for EI, obtain information on other financial supports, such as Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program.
    2. Keep focused and try to keep a structured job search and personal routine
      • It is important to keep yourself in a structured routine, both physically and mentally. Schedule time for breakfast, lunch, dinner and time with family and friends. Keep yourself busy, this can relieve the stress of job search!
      • Have a structured plan for your job search. Even though we look at job postings and think to ourselves, “I’ve never done that, but I know I can”, the employer may not see this. You need to keep the job search focused in the field you are qualified for and if you are pursuing a new career make sure your resume reflects this with transferable skills.
    3. Use all of the available resources
      • ASK FOR HELP! There are many individuals who are trained to assist the unemployed and provide guidance. Unfortunately, in our society unemployment is more common then you may think, don’t be embarrassed!
      • Free resources in your community are available to assist you with your job search. Find out where they are and utilize them. Contact your nearest Employment Ontario Employment Services office.
      • Inquire about programs that you may be eligible for and meet with an Employment Consultant to help research your next career and your next steps.
    4. Understand the importance of networking
      • Keep in contact with past co-workers and supervisors as they will be important references.
      • Meet new business professionals, attend job fairs and speak with friends and family. They may know of internal opportunities with their employer and could provide you with leads. The more people that know you are looking for work, the more eyes you have for new job opportunities.
      • Remember to keep in mind that any online social network you use is a part of your identity. Make sure they are work appropriate and don’t have anything offensive or discriminating that may be used against your character.

    There is a job out there for you, stay calm and carry on.

    I lost my job and I’m bitter, I’m mad and I feel lost – but why?

    In today's world hearing the words "He/She lost their job" is becoming more and more a common statement. Friends and family have the best intentions when they say "don't be so upset, you will find something else" or "they seem so bitter and need to get over being so upset about the layoff - there are better jobs out there for them".

    What is hard for the person faced with unemployment is the feeling of loss. They themselves may not understand why they feel lost and the sadness that accompanies it, but it does have a name: The Job Loss Cycle. It is likely that everyone who loses their job will go through the cycle. It's not as easy as saying "on day one you will feel ... and on day two you will feel...." each person will move through the Job Loss Cycle is not a static state, recognizing the stages helps those in the cycle to move through it and experience positive successful outcomes. So what does all this mean?

    The Job Loss Cycle

    Shock & Disbelief

    ... is the realization that your job has been eliminated. This phase typically does not last long, perhaps a few minutes. "All I remember is hearing them say the factory is closing, and we were being laid off". This is a momentary disbelief that it is really happening.

    Anger & Resentment

    ...often quickly follows and is often directed at key decision makers who have played a direct role in the factory closure. Why would they do something like this to me? How could they do this to me? I am really mad!

    Denial & Bargaining

    ...is a form of wishful thinking, "I will just wait for them to call me back to work, and it will get busy again". Or spend a considerable amount of time trying to sway the decision maker to keep them.

    Self-doubt & Put Downs

    ...are natural, people ask themselves questions like: “If I had done more overtime, they would have been more impressed” They begin to question their abilities and skills.

    Withdrawal & Depression

    ...set in when the person realizes the job search process is difficult and they feel they must "get any job” Nothing much seems to be happening. People begin to avoid others; doing shopping at irregular times when they are sure they will not see friends at the store.

    Acceptance & Affirmation

    ...are when a person can say "I was laid off from my job, which I had no control over, but I have lots to contribute elsewhere".

    If you have lost your job, it is important to recognize the stages of the Job Loss Cycle. Meet with an Employment Consultant, who can help set you on a course of positive action planning.

    Unemployed! Now what? Where Do I Start? What Can I Do?

    Losing a job can feel like the world is coming to an end, especially if you were in the job for a long time. If you are suddenly unemployed, whether fired or laid off, you could be feeling anger, embarrassment, disbelief or shame.

    However, the idiom “when one door closes and another one opens” is still true. Changing jobs can give you the opportunity to re-evaluate your occupation. Maybe this is the opportunity to take that course or try a new career? If you are in receipt of Employment Insurance contact Service Canada or your closest Employment Ontario Service Centre for guidance.

    This is the time to reflect with an Employment Consultant on your self-assessment, strengths and attributes and also to develop a new work objective, work on your resume and improve your networking skills. No matter how angry you may feel, do not project negative comment towards your previous employer. It will only impact negatively on you. Your Employment Consultant can help you by talking about your anger and assisting you to move on.

    Before you start your job search, consider your objective for the next job, re-write your resume and spend some time networking, so you can convey your image of a positive, competent employee, now ready to take on the world.

    Employment Ontario Employment Services can help. They provide individualized support which can include:

    • an assessment of your skills and experience
    • information about different careers and occupations
    • local labour market, employment and training opportunities
    • advice about and referral information to other community services and support
    • Workshops on site to assist with your specific needs
    • Learn about developing effective job search strategies

    Individualized assistance is provided to job seekers through the creation of an Employment Service Plan. This Plan may include activities such as career exploration, coaching and job development. Services are also available to those who simply want to access job search resources.

    Depending on your particular employment needs and career goals, an Employment Consultant will support you to develop and set goals, assess your skills and interests, and prepare you for interviews and employment.

    Is Your Job Search Organized?

    Looking for a job can be hard work and, at times, feel daunting. So what is one to do when trying to find their way to the job of their dreams (or just a job that pays the rent)? There is a model which can help guide the process and make it a little less frustrating.

    The first section is titled “who am I?” and is where the job seeker does some self-exploration in order to understand their strengths, skills, abilities, interests and values, as well as their limitations. There are those who might read this and say “I don’t have time for this” or “I already know myself pretty well thank you very much, why should I bother?” The response is simple, this section is the foundation to your job search and by skipping it you will be at a huge disadvantage.

    The second section is titled “what’s out there?” and is where the job seeker looks at labour market trends and the options that are available to them. This is where the information from the first section is critical because you need to know who you are and what you want (generally speaking) in order to determine where you will fit best in terms of employment. A key consideration in this phase is to try and determine what the forecast is for a particular field of interest, is there a demand for workers or is there limited opportunities?

    The third and final section is titled “how do I get there?” which is where, unfortunately, many people start their job search and without a clear employment goal (which would have been formulated in the first two sections), these individuals are most likely going to find landing a job a very frustrating experience. The effective job seeker will look at the different marketing tools available and how to best use them in their own job search. Resumes, cover letters, interviews and networking are all included in this section. Remember, this is a general model and you have to adapt it to what works best for you. Having some direction and a method for planning your career is the biggest benefit to this model, but you are the expert on you and as such must take control of your own destiny.

    What Employers Look For In New Employees

    Part of the job-hunting process involves trying to figure out what employers look for when hiring new employees. You don't necessarily have to be a mind reader in order to know what corporate headhunters are interested in. But you do have to have a sense of what motivates people. It can be difficult to come up with a general list of the expectations employers have for job applicants. This is because there are so many variables involved. Each workplace is different, and each particular position is unique. However, there are a few generalities that can be drawn from a careful assessment of today's job market.

    An upbeat attitude

    Employers want job applicants who are enthusiastic both for work assignments and for their companies. They want new hires that are enthusiastic about their futures and the future of their particular business. Nothing can be accomplished with a negative attitude; therefore, it is critically important that employees remain upbeat.

    A willingness to learn

    There is a learning curve that is involved in all jobs. Therefore, it is important that a new hire not believe that he or she knows it all. He or she must have the humility to learn an operation from the ground up. There may be a myriad of things a new employee must learn, everything from deadline schedules to the boss' work style. If an employee is not willing to learn, he or she will not grow and the company could suffer as a result.

    The ability to take criticism

    New hires must be willing to accept constructive criticism with grace and style. Far too often, people become defensive when they are criticized. As a result, they erect walls that are difficult to break through. It is important that employees are willing to learn from their mistakes. Otherwise, they can become intransigent and can become a drain on the company.

    Original thinkers

    In today's highly competitive workplace, it is also essential that new hires be original thinkers. Workers must be willing to break through the mold so that lofty goals can be accomplished. Today's workplace problems demand creative thinking on the part of employees. While employees must be willing to conform to workplace rules, they should have the courage to think ‘outside the box.’

    Strength of character

    It is important for a business to hire workers who have good, strong characters. This is because employees will face a number of challenges in their careers. They need to be able to demonstrate trustworthiness, commitment, and compassion. These are the types of traits that can simply not be gained through on-the-job training.

    Flexibility

    Another key ingredient for success is flexibility. Because of the pressing demands of today's workplace, it is important for employees to have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. They cannot be rigid in their thinking. Instead, they must be willing to pitch in and help the team even when a particular duty is not in their job description.

    How do I Find a Job I Enjoy?

    The first step for any job searcher should be self-reflection, which is simply a process by which you learn more about yourself. This could be as simple as making a list of what you like, what you are good at, what you do not enjoy and your areas of weakness. Having a solid understanding of yourself is instrumental in finding work that is best suited for you. That in turn will provide you with a better chance of success and satisfaction in the long run. I often hear people say, “I want a job that I enjoy”, or “I don’t want to dread going to work everyday.”

    But how can you know what you would enjoy or dislike doing without some knowledge about who you really are? This section is the foundation of your job search and skipping this will most likely result in a job that is a poor fit and major dissatisfaction in your working life. There are many great tools out there to help with the task of understanding yourself better, many of which can be found online. Some are listed below:

    • The Keirsey Temperament Sorter is the most widely used personality instrument in the world. It is a powerful 70 question personality instrument that helps individuals discover their personality type, which is extremely useful in the job search process.
    • The University of Waterloo has created the Career Development eManual, which breaks the job search process into six sections and has step-by-step instructions on how to complete the exercises provided. The first step focuses on self-assessment and covers personality, interests, values, skills and more.
    • TestingRoom.com This site requires you to sign up, although it is free and all you need is an email address. You can take the assessments online and an overview of the results will be generated for free. If you would like a more in-depth explanation of your results there is a fee.
    • Quintessential Careers Here you will find links to other assessment tools as well as helpful information on how to use them and the limitations they may have.

    There are also many books that can help with self-exploration and can be found at your local library. One book that I really like and would recommend is “What Color is your Parachute - A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers” written by Richard Bolles.

    Warning – Assessments are not crystal balls: When doing any kind of self-assessment exercise remember that it is merely a tool for you to explore and if you do not agree with the results don’t worry about it. You are the expert on yourself and these tools are merely meant to guide the introspective process. Job Skills offers many great tools to help with the task of understanding yourself better. Register today for one of the Career Exploration Workshops available and get one step closer to a job you love!

    Four Elements of an Outstanding Cover Letter

    I’ve read thousands of cover letters in my work as a career development practitioner. What I’ve seen through this experience is a consistent writing pattern that leaves job seekers with professional yet uninspiring documents, which do little to peak the interest of weary hiring managers. If you want to stand out from the competition, there are four critical steps which will take your writing to the next level:

    1. Start with an attention grabbing opener
      Stay away from what I call a standard opener such as: “It is with great excitement that I apply for the position of….”. You may be genuinely excited, but so is everyone else apparently. Employers are interested in what you can do for them, so starting with a key achievement which highlights how you can benefit the company is much more effective. An example might be: “Maximizing operational efficiency by decreasing downtime and streamlining technical processes is the cornerstone of what I have brought to companies during my 8 years of experience as an IT professional”.
    2. Address the cover letter to the hiring manager
      Even if the job posting encourages you to send the application to the human resources department, it is wise to find the name of the hiring manager and address it him/her as well. It is easier to find such contacts today with technology such as LinkedIN, however, tap your network as well, or call the company and ask. If, despite your best efforts, you cannot get the name, then remove the salutation altogether rather than addressing the letter to “Dear Sir or Madam” or worst “To Whom It May Concern”. Hiring managers want to hire people who demonstrate a genuine interest in his/her company and a cover letter addressed to anyone does not give that impression.
    3. Mention your key achievements
      While the body of the cover letter provides an opportunity to expand on your personal qualities, or soft skills, usually far too much emphasis is placed on soft skills in the cover letter, with the description spanning sometimes 2-3 paragraphs. Instead, insert a bulleted section in which you highlight your 2-3 key achievements to keep the focus on results.
    4. Mention why you want to work for that company
      As hinted in the second point, including this paragraph and describing in detail why you want to work for ABC Company will go a long way in terms of convincing employers to invite you to an interview.

    Although writing cover letters in this fashion requires some reflection on how your skills and interest match the job, and seems to be less efficient, in the end, by having your letters stand out from the sometimes hundreds of applications hiring managers receive, you will most likely get more interview invitations - which is the biggest hurdle to overcome in the job search process.

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    Effective Job Search Techniques
    1. Tips on Writing a Targeted Resume
      • Look for keywords in job ads, notice the commonalities between common job titles.  Usually the first couple of keywords early in a job description are the most important
      • Include credentials, certifications and training that pertain to the job. 
      • Always use industry specific words, for example if you are applying for a position as an administrative assistant, use words like: compiled, coordinated, administrated and filed.
      • Include soft skills as well, for example: teambuilding, problems solving and customer service.
      • Go to company websites and identify some of the key values, look at the mission statement.
      • Don’t include phrases such as, responsible for; this takes up unnecessary space and should be avoided. 

    2. Tips on preparing for an effective interviewing
      • Get enough sleep.  Be alert at all times.
      • Arrive early.  Try out your travel route the day before.
      • Look professional.  Regardless of the job, it’s always easier to dress down than to dress up.
      • Avoid heavy perfumes/colognes.  When it comes to fragrances…’less is best’!
      • Ask questions. If you don’t understand…ask.  This shows interest in the position.

    3. Tips on Creative Networking
      • Be creative and reconnect with your contacts - former co-workers, customers, clients, vendors and other business associates.  Remember that the purpose of these contacts is to build relationships, not to ask for a job or share your job-hunting woes.
      • Send your business calling cards to all your contacts with whom you have recently been interviewed. Write a personal note, mentioning something you enjoyed about your last meeting with your contact.
      • Many organizations need volunteers throughout the year, especially to cover ongoing vacations.  If you are interested in working for a particular organization, volunteering is a great way to get an "inside look" at the organization and to meet people who work there. This option will give you the opportunity to meet many business people in your community or industry.

    Schedule at least one job search activity each day.  Accessing the services and advice of a professional can always enhance your present job search techniques and your employment opportunities.  Visit one of the Job Skills Employment Ontario Employment Services sites in Markham, 4961 Highway 7, Ph: 905-948-9996; Keswick, 155 Riverglen Drive, Unit 7, Ph: 905-476-8088 or Brampton, 50 Sunnyvale Gate, Unit 12, Ph: 905-453-7896.  to find an Employment Ontario Employment Services site near you, check http://www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/search.asp

    Five Simple Steps to Employment

    Follow these five simple (but not always easy) steps and dramatically increase your chances of finding work:

    Step 1: The Right Attitude

    Before starting on the process of getting a job, it is important that you are:

    • Confident in your ability to get a job
    • Prepared to “do what it takes” to get a job
    • Honest and truthful with yourself
    • Flexible in your approach and thinking
    • Able to take advice and act upon it

    Once you are in the right frame of mind, move onto Step 2.

    Step 2: Take Some Self-Assessment/Career Planning Evaluations

    By taking the time to evaluate your skills, traits, values, experience and interests, you will have the necessary information to make a more informed choice on your next career move. In addition, self-assessment helps you market yourself during the interview process. How can you answer that all important question, “Why should we hire you?” if you don’t know who you are and what value you bring to the workplace.

    Step 3: Develop an Outstanding Resume and Cover Letter

    There are three types of resume: The chronological, the functional and the combination. It is important to choose the type that best suits your work history and how it relates to an employer’s expectations. Taking the time to develop a proper resume – one that clearly demonstrates your skills and experience and how they match the requirements of a prospective employer – will pay-off and increase your chances of an interview.

    In the majority of cases, a cover letter should be submitted with your resume. A cover letter is a very valuable document and a wonderful marketing tool. It reiterates your qualifications and clearly demonstrates how well suited you are to fill the position that is being offered. Keep in mind that what you are actually doing is marketing yourself.

    Step 4: Tap into the Hidden Job Market Using Networking

    Networking is something you do naturally anyway – speaking to someone you know to get the name of someone else. Networking for your job search is the systematic gathering of names and contacts to help you find job leads or labour market information. Other people can “look out for you” – be your eyes and ears in places where you cannot be.

    A ‘Direct Approach’ is making contact with a company directly, without networking, by making a telephone call, sending an email or visiting in person.

    Step 5: Ace the Interview

    Prepare, prepare, prepare! Research the company, dress for success, remain calm and remember the reason you have an interview is that the employer liked what he saw in your resume, so back this up at the interview and above all, don’t stress it.

    To get help with all the above steps and more, visit Job Skills or your local Employment Ontario Employment Services site – they provide a multitude of employment services including workshops, highly-skilled employment specialists and fully equipped resource centres. Drop by and start with step one on your road to employment.

    Make Your Resume Talk

    It is just words on a sheet of paper, however it is crucial for you to find a job and it is the first glimpse a potential employer has about who you are and what skills you have. Making your resume talk to that employer is the only way you will get noticed and get that face to face chance to sell yourself.

    • Highlight your skills according to the job posting. Yes, it means you have to change your resume time and time again. Keep in mind that you are trying to get noticed!
    • Use key words from the posting. Sometimes large companies will scan resumes into a data base and the person responsible for hiring will only do key word searches for resumes with particular skills.
    • Make your resume an easy read. Do not use flashy fonts and different fonts throughout the resume. Keep it professional looking and clear.
    • Apply for the job exactly as instructed. If the job posting ask you send it in a certain format, ensure that you do so. If it asks that you quote the job posting number make sure you do. If you don’t follow the instructions, your resume could be one click away from the “Deleted Items”.
    • Do not send a resume that reads like a novel. Resumes are meant to introduce you and highlight the skills and experience you have that match the job posting. Shorter is better, maximum two pages.
    • Proofread and proofread again. Nothing turns employers off more than spelling errors and poor grammar. If you are careless representing yourself, the employer will believe you will do the same on the job.
    • Seek help! Visit Job Skills, or go to local employment agencies and have your resume reviewed by a professional, take their advice, it’s free. Sign up for workshops that teach you how to enhance your resume and skills, and workshops that focuses on job search techniques.
    • Network your resume. Joining social networks is a great way to find out who is hiring and are an easy way to market your resume. Most jobs these days are filled by networking with different groups and agencies. The more leads and avenues you have into the job market, the quicker you will find employment.

    Don’t be afraid of change, open your mind to different ideas, one may help land you that job you are so desperately seeking.

    A Career Portfolio: An Essential Job Interview Tool

    They say that actions speak louder than words. In a job interview, demonstrating evidence of your accomplishments by presenting a career portfolio speaks volumes about you. Besides dressing professionally and exuding confidence, I can’t think of a better way to make a good first impression.

    The career portfolio is a collection of a few carefully selected documents from your work and educational history that back up claims that you will make about how you delivered results. The documents can be presented in print or digital format, neatly organized in either a portfolio or stored on a laptop or tablet.

    If you are being interviewed for a project manager role for example, you can provide a sample of a project plan you created. A manager can provide tables of sales figures or data that highlights growth in profits, market share or customer loyalty. However, it is important to not disclose any private company data while compiling these documents.

    Other documents that can support your achievements include: a list of courses or certifications, samples of customer commendations, recommendation letters, presentations created , photographs of designs, certificates, licences, patents, or a list of training sessions delivered, along with samples of handouts.

    Advise the interviewer at the outset of the interview that you have brought along your career portfolio, and show the relevant document or image while sharing a particular story rather than showing all content all at once, if the interviewer agrees.

    Keep control of the portfolio. If the employer wants to keep part of or the entire portfolio, offer to make a copy rather than leaving with the employer.

    Practice using the portfolio by conducting a mock interview with a friend or family member, so that your presentation will be smooth during the interview process.

    In today’s competitive job market, taking the extra step to compile evidence of your achievements will go a long way in making a favourable impression during the job interview.

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    Be Confident…or at least Appear to Be Confident!

    You have applied for a position and your resume and cover letter have just landed you a job interview. You now need to portray confidence during your interview – here are five methods to help you during the interview process and hopefully land you that job!

    1. Smile
      • People are attracted to those who smile. Always use your smile to your advantage. Keep a smile on your face during your interview, but don't stop there. Make sure your voice has a smile in it as well. Practice in the mirror if you're worried about how that smile looks on you. Don’t forget the eyes need to be smiling as well. Another benefit of smiling is that you will feel better, especially when others smile back at you. Feeling better tends to result in feeling and showing your level of confidence, which is an important feature at any job interview.
    2. Eye Contact
      • Make eye contact with everyone you meet before, during and after the interview. Eye contact acknowledges their existence. This is easy to do if there are more people in the interview/meeting room. If it's just you and the interviewer, feel comfortable to look away as you think about an answer, then immediately look back at the individual conducting the interview.
    3. Posture
      • Standing and sitting up straight makes you look better and feel more confident. We all have a tendency to slouch forward….be aware of this during your interview.
    4. Handshake
      • No matter how someone shakes your hand, your own handshake needs to be a firm handshake. A quick pressure or gentle squeeze is all that is necessary; then let go. Often others are not sure how to shake properly or how long to hold onto your hand. By doing a quick grip and then letting pressure go, you are signaling to the other person that the handshake is over.
    5. Show You Are Prepared
      • Don't just be prepared - show them you are prepared! Have a file folder or a clipboard with copies of your resume and cover letter with you; you should also have a pen/pencil handy to take out immediately once you are sitting down to take notes if need be. Also, it is a good idea to have some questions ready; for example, questions about the company and actual position you are being interviewed for. You can quickly check this sheet and see if all your questions have been answered. This shows you have researched the company because you are interested in working for them, not just getting “a job”.

    You do need to be prepared with how your experience and skills will help their company in the position you are applying for. All of these methods together help you to shine at the interview; and they all help you to feel better in a tense situation. Taking control helps you to feel confident and be your best at the interview.

    Visit an Employment Ontario Employment Services Centre for more assistance with interview preparation, and other job search skills.

    Avoid this Job Interview Mistake

    You practiced your interview responses in advance, showed up on time, and gave a glowing performance, and just when you thought the interview was over, the interviewer asked: “Do you have any questions for us?” That’s when you realized, while scrambling for a response, that you missed this one crucial preparatory step.

    Asking the interviewer questions is an important part of a job interview because most hiring decisions are made from the perspective that the candidate is genuinely enthusiastic about working for the company. Conducting some research on the company beforehand will allow you to ask intelligent and informed questions which show a proactive approach to your managing your career. Here is a list of key resources to find information on companies:

    • Ask your network of contacts. If you start asking people about whom they might know, you will be amazed by how connected you are.
    • Social Media sites. Check the company’s social media sites, and Follow or Like the company page or feeds.
    • Industry Databases. Accessible via public libraries.
    • Industry Associations. A great resource for learning more about industry trends.
    • Annual Reports. Visit www.sedar.com as a source for annual reports.
    • Company Websites. This is an obvious resource for company information. It is important to read it in its entirety.

    Once you have gained some insight into the nature of the company and how it is being impacted by larger industry trends, create a list of questions that will give you the opportunity to either understand the nature of your potential role, the company or the industry as a means of helping you decide if this company would be a good fit for you. Samples include:

    • What are some of the objectives you would like to see accomplished in this job?
    • What is the first project to be addressed?
    • What are the major problems to be tackled?
    • What do you value about this organization?
    • How is the recent passing of Bill XYZ impacting your organization?

    Taking a proactive approach allows you to conduct an empowered job search. By thinking about what questions you want to ask the employer, not only will you demonstrate interest, but when listening to their responses, you can also decide, if, in the end, you truly are.

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    Interview Tips: Why Are You the Best Candidate for the Position?

    You’ve done your best to impress the employer in an interview by sharing stories of how you delivered results by using your strengths during the initial part of the interview. It is important to keep this momentum going by delivering a powerful conclusion in response to the final question which usually involves asking directly or indirectly why you think you are the best person for the job.

    Rather than telling a story, or listing skills in your response, it is important to end the interview with 4-5 strong brief statements which will ‘close the deal’ by sounding a like a sales pitch.

    When preparing for this question, ask yourself what are the 2-3 top results that the employer is looking for? What examples can you provide that demonstrate that you have already delivered similar results in the past?

    For example, if you are being interviewed for a civil engineering/project manager job you might say:

    • I have worked on over 50 residential and industrial construction projects, consistently meeting all deadlines and budgets through strong project planning.
    • I have been involved in the design of high profile construction projects such as the key governmental hospital in the city of Tehran, and won awards for engineering excellence.
    • I have a keen ability to develop positive relationships with all members of a project team including: engineers, architects, clients, suppliers and contractors through highly effective communication skills, leading to smooth project operations.

    Besides your top achievements, it is also important to mention key training or education you have related to the position, or some other critical asset, and then end with why you are enthusiastic about working for the company. In doing so, your response will align with the main reasons people get hired – that is, the employer is convinced that you have the knowledge, experience and training to deliver results, and that you genuinely want to work for them.

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    Interview Tips: What are Your Strengths?

    It may appear at first that this interview question is relatively easy to answer. After all, you know what the interviewer wants to hear, no? Looking for a job as a receptionist? Then, you may think, I can share how I am organized, friendly and able to multi-task. True enough. However, if you want to stand out from other candidates in a competitive market, a richer response in is order.

    While preparing for an interview ask yourself what makes someone truly successful in the role you are applying for? If you are applying for work as trainer, for example, it is true that communication and organization are the key strengths needed for that role, however, most interviewees will respond by sharing these as their top 2 strengths. Think about it some more. What is the essence of good communication for a trainer? Why is being organized so important in this role? A more careful consideration may reveal that your strength is the ability to covey complex information in a clear manner, which is easily retained. An excellent trainer has an intuitive understanding of group dynamics, and is thus able to ask questions which create group cohesion. Finally, a competent trainer is able to plan effectively, while being flexible to the needs that arise while the dialogue unfolds. This deeper response will demonstrate that you have strong sense of what it takes to excel in the role.

    In order to complete the response to this question, it is necessary to convince the potential employer by sharing a story that illustrates your strengths in action, and how they ultimately brought about a positive result. For example, in the case of a trainer, you may share a story of how you were delivering a training session where you had to explain complex material, while trying to bring a group together to support one another, despite the fact there were some challenging personalities in the group.

    Interviewers want to be able to envision you in the role and in the company. By carefully reflecting on what you bring in terms of strengths and how those strengths ultimately will benefit the company, you can distinguish yourself from other candidates, and assist employers in seeing the job as a good fit for you and for them.

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    After the Interview

    Most people think that their interview is over when they exit the interview room. Well, this is not actually the case!! These next steps will help you make an impression with the employer and boost your candidacy!

    • Show you’re interested in the job and speak up
      • You want to leave a lasting impression with the employer. In the last few minutes of your interview, ask the necessary follow-up questions to know where the employer stands and find out a timeline. Asks questions like, “will there be a second interview?” and “how soon is the company looking to fill the position?”
    • Collect business cards
      • At the end of your interview, be sure to collect business cards from each person that interviews you. It is important to get employers’ titles, email addresses and correct spelling of their names for follow up.
    • Inform your references
      • Make sure you call or email your references before your interview to inform them of the company name and information on the position you applied for.
    • Evaluate
      • Reassess how the interview went. Find a quiet spot to sit down and write out your assessment of the position and the employer. It is also a good idea to write out questions that you struggled with so that when you have another interview, you can improve on your responses.
    • Write a thank you letter or email
      • Show the employer that you want the job and write a thank you letter or email within 24 hours! This is not only a beneficial networking tool for you but shows the employer you are serious about the position. Make sure to be pleasant and brief in your email/letter, but be sure to provide just enough information to recall your interview.
    • Know when to follow up
      • By asking the follow up questions after the interview, you will know when a good time is to follow-up. Be sure to respect the interviewer and if they tell you two weeks, do not call them tomorrow. You want to show you’re interested and enthusiastic about the position but don’t want to seem desperate.
    • Do your salary research
      • Conduct your own investigation into what comparable jobs pay for the same position in your general area in case the employer asks you this information in a follow-up interview.
    • Continue actively job searching
      • Just because you’ve had an interview, does not mean you should stop your job search. Keep your options open until you have a contract waiting to be signed!
    • Accepting rejection
      • If the employer calls and does not offer you the position, thank them for their call. This is also the perfect opportunity for you to ask for feedback or recommendations for improvement for your next interview.

    Employment Ontario Employment Services in your area may be able to further assist you on this topic. Look for workshops on Interview Strategies that will help prepare you for your interview.

    In Demand, Skilled Trades Jobs You May Not Have Considered

    As the demand for skilled tradespeople continues, the Ontario government remains committed to investing in apprenticeship training programs which also includes raising awareness about the different trades one can pursue.

    Ask anyone to name a skilled trade, and probably the first occupations that come to mind are plumber, electrician and mechanic. While these trades are indeed in demand, there are other, lesser known trades which offer excellent employment prospects and wages, with less competition. The following is a description of some such trades (Source: National Occupational Classification):

    • Crane Operator:
      Crane operators operate cranes or draglines to lift, move, position or place machinery, equipment and other large objects at construction or industrial sites, ports, railway yards, surface mines and other similar locations. They are employed by construction, industrial, mining, cargo handling and railway companies.
    • Heavy Duty Equipment Technician:
      Heavy-duty equipment mechanics repair, troubleshoot, adjust, overhaul and maintain mobile heavy-duty equipment used in construction, transportation, forestry, mining, oil and gas, material handling, landscaping, land clearing, farming and similar activities. They are employed by companies which own and operate heavy equipment, and by heavy equipment dealers, rental and service establishments, and railway transport companies and urban transit systems.
    • Appliance Service Technician:
      Appliance servicers and repairers service and repair domestic and commercial appliances. They are employed by repair shops, appliance service companies and repair departments of retail and wholesale establishments, or they may be self-employed.

    Most skilled trades people earn their licence through an apprenticeship training program, where one can get paid while working an apprentice to fulfill the necessary hours to qualify to write the licensing exam. For newcomers considering transitioning to one of these trades as a new career, a pre-apprenticeship program would provide initial training which would make it easier for employers to hire you through an apprenticeship training program.

    If, on the other hand, one has international experience in a skilled trade, one may be eligible for a Trade Equivalency, in other words, one may be able to write the qualifying licencing exam, with the assistance of translator if needed, rather than working the required numbers of hours.

    For more information about apprentice training visit: www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/employmentontario/training/
    For a list of skilled trades in Ontario visit: www.collegeoftrades.ca/about/trades-in-ontario
    For information about earning while you learn visit: www.earnwhileyoulearn.ca/

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    What are Green Jobs?

    Green Jobs contribute to conserving and enhancing environmental quality and awareness. To join the green workforce, workers and job-seekers need specialized or re-directed skills that fit green-oriented fields. For example, a roof installer may become a solar installer or an electrician may become a building retro-fitter.

    Now is a great time for job-seekers to transition into new green jobs. They can build a sustainable career future, earn a decent living and save the planet. Here is list of resources for finding and learning about green employment opportunities in Canada:

    • WorkCabin.ca

      Find environmentally friendly jobs or environmentally conscious employers. The listings cover many positions including coordinators, program managers, journalists, directors, engineers, biologists, educators, and social marketers. Users can post their resumes, connect with prospective employers, register for green job alerts and receive a wealth of information about the new trends in green work.

    • GoodWorkCanada.com

      Employment in the growing Canadian green economy. The site also lists green events for those interested in networking with employers and workers in various industries. The site has job search tips for landing an environmentally-friendly job or creating a green oriented self-employment opportunity.

    • Eco.ca

      From the Environmental Careers Organization for those interested in green career development in Canada. The site provides with links to educational opportunities, schools with environmental programs and information on new trends in the green job market. Job-seekers can search a large listing of current jobs available, post a resume and find information for networking events across Canada. This site also offers a unique email service for career advisors and educators to receive relevant information on green career development.

    • Green-jobs.ca

      Assists people to build their dream jobs in the growing Canadian green economy. There links to job search strategies, listings for green jobs and subscribe for e-mail notification about new jobs.

    Eco Canada Environmental Careers Organization develops programs that help individuals find and build meaningful environmental careers through employment and career development resources; Provides employers with resources and tools to find and keep the best environmental professionals; Informs educators and government of employment trends to ensure the ongoing prosperity of this growing sector.

    The green economy offers hope and opportunity for job-seekers who have lost employment. The constant increase in demand for workers indicates the need to invest time and effort in integrating a green focus and support a green shift. By doing so we not only help people and regenerate economies, but also help our planet.

    As governments, groups and individuals around the world work to ease the impact of climate change on lives and planet, new environment-friendly policies, products and lifestyles are emerging. This worldwide environmental awareness is accelerating demand for new jobs, new practices and new skills. In fact, it is creating a new economy driven by an emerging workforce and green technologies.

    The growing green economy has many sectors including green construction, renewable energy, recycling, and sustainability education, which are responding to the increasing demand for environmentally friendly products and services.

    Networking Business Cards: An Important Job Search Tool

    I have heard incredible stories over the years about how people find jobs, which usually involves meeting ‘just the right person’ who provides an important introduction. This person could be your neighbour, your dry cleaner and I have even heard of people getting interviews after chatting with the person standing in line with them at the local coffee shop!

    If you are in job search mode, taking advantage of these surprise encounters means being prepared to share your contact and work history information, but it’s not always convenient or appropriate to carry hard copies of your resume. The solution? A business networking card. Unlike a regular business card that you may have from your place of employment, the networking business card is used as a separate contact card, especially when networking while job searching.

    The format should be clean and simple – like a good ad, the less content the better, but all key information should be included such as: your name (of course), your job title “headline” (more on this in a moment), your phone number(s), email address, LinkedIn and Twitter URLs. In this way, the networking card becomes like substitute for a resume.

    Your headline describes what type of work you are looking for, and while it can be a specific title, sometimes it is more effective to keep it broad. For example, someone with experience in various aspects of the supply chain industry, may choose to write: Supply Chain Professional as a headline rather than Procurement Manager on their business card if they are open to other job opportunities within the supply chain. The headline on your networking business card should match the headline on your social media accounts for consistency in personal branding.

    Although you can print your own cards at home using Microsoft Word or a design program such as InDesign, you can also use web-based companies such as www.vistaprint.com that offer reasonably priced business card packages.

    Carry your networking business cards with you wherever you go, so that you can be prepared for that unexpected meeting which might land you your first job in Canada!

    How to Find Companies You Want to Work For

    “I sent out 100 resumes and no one responded.” This is a common complaint among job seekers who hope that by spending most of their job searching time online, someone will eventually contact them for an interview. For a lucky 5 % of job seekers, that does happen, but for the rest, it’s an exercise in frustration.

    There is another way to approach the job search which is much more effective – decide where you want to work, and then research the company to find out whether they are poised to expand and need someone with your skills. Although this may seem idealistic, I have seen time and time again, that this approach does indeed work. When job seekers become very specific about what they want in terms of a new employer, their energy becomes much more focussed and thus the chances of success increase dramatically.

    Start by asking yourself: What is my preferred geographical location? Do I want to work for a small, large or medium sized company? Do I want to work in a more formal environment, or do I prefer a casual environment that doesn’t require that I wear a suit? What problems do I enjoy solving? Which type of companies have those problems? How will you find companies that match your preferences? Here are some key resources to get you started:

    Check with your network

    Ask friends, family members, neighbours and your hairstylist for any suggestions once you share with them what your preferences are. Then ask if they know someone who works for that company, and ask their permission to contact them for more information. Your goal is to determine whether the company is expanding, and whether the work environment matches your preferences.

    Use directories – both hard copy and online

    • Scotts Directory – search for companies by geographical location, product/service or name. This directory is available at public libraries.
    • Industry directories – If you are interested in working in the manufacturing sector, for example, Ontario Manufacturers is a directory that publishes a comprehensive list. The Blue Book is a list of organizations in the social service sector. Ask a business librarian to help you find directories for your industry.
    • Industry Canada for searching companies by industry
    • Search annual reports for publically traded companies
    • Search companies by municipality
    • yellowpages.ca – search for companies by product or service

    Industry Associations

    Some associations list key companies on their website. You can get a list of all the associations in your industry by searching the Associations Canada directory found at the information desk of a public library. For example, the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers lists engineering companies in their “Engineering Bluebook".

    Use “Best of” Lists

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    Immigrant-Specific Articles

    Articles written for newcomers and immigrants.

    NEWCOMERS TO CANADA: What to say and what NOT to say in a Job Interview

    Newcomers to Canada are often highly skilled professionals who have much to offer in the Canadian workplace. It is no wonder that with a clear occupational goal, a strong resume, cover letter and LinkedIN profile, most land interviews in their line of work. At this stage, some newcomers struggle with using the correct vocabulary to express their ideas effectively in a job interview. I have written much about how to respond to typical interview questions. Here, I would like to highlight some of the verbiage that I often hear which undermines the excellent efforts my clients put into interview preparation. What follows is a list of “Do-s” and “Don’ts” to support a stellar job interview performance:

    Do NOT Say: "Back home" or "In my country"

    Do Say: "In Iran" or "In Jordan" etc.

    DO NOT Say: "I'm new to Canada" or "I don't have Canadian experience"

    Do Say: "Now that I’m in Canada, I’ve learned a lot about our industry. (Next, explain what the steps taken to get informed about current issues and trends in the industry). Then say “ I see this job as the next step in my career because I can help with ……”

    Do NOT Say: "My weakness is my language skills"

    Do Say: Pick a minor duty of the job that you would genuinely like to learn more about and explain your plan to improve in that skill set

    Do NOT Say: “Whatever you are paying is ok” Or: “Since I am new to Canada, I’ll take whatever salary you are offering”

    Do Say: “My salary range is $60-70 thousand (for example), which is in alignment with what the industry is paying.

    Other Tips:

    • Do NOT share personal information such as marital status, number of children, if any, your health status or age. It is illegal for employers to discriminate on these basis, amoung others.
    • Do NOT share work related stories that highlight skills that are not directly related to the job you are applying for.

    Making these changes to the wording used in job interviews is a simple process, yet they can go a long way in taking the focus off of the fact that one is new to Canada, placing it instead on the valuable contribution that newcomers can make in this country.

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    Choose Just One Path - And Stick to It!

    Jiro Ono, considered to be the most renowned sushi chef in the world, is quoted as saying: “Once you decide on your occupation... you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That's the secret of success."

    It seems paradoxical to take this approach when job seeking, but it does work. Narrowing your job search to just one occupational goal creates an unparalleled energetic focus. Whenever I mention this to newcomers to Canada, the reaction is usually a puzzled look. Then comes the predictable “but”: “But, Luciana, I can’t afford to be picky – shouldn’t I open myself up to various options? After all, it’s a tough market out there and I’m new to Canada”.

    Think about it. Imagine searching for work as Sales Engineer, Procurement Specialist and Financial Analyst at the same time. Yet, many of my clients, coming from countries were they juggled multiple roles, think that this approach is also effective in Canada. But this is the land of specialists.

    Choosing an area of specialization requires that you conduct some labour market research to determine which path would be a best fit for you. Some criteria to consider would be: which job involves using my favourite skills? Which job is best aligns with my values? And my interests? Which job has the best employment prospects? Or, the best career advancement opportunities (if this is important to you). What training would I have to do, if any, in order to pursue this path? Once all these factors are considered, you can be confident that you have selected a path which will be in alignment with your motivation and interests for the long term.

    With this type of focus, you can then create a personal brand for yourself – you can tailor all your job search tools: your resume, cover letter, social media profiles, business card and portfolio to that occupation.

    With this type of focus you can then determine which companies require people with the skills you have to offer. And finally, you can then be very specific when talking to your network of contacts about what you are looking for, and then go about expanding your network of contacts to fit the desired goal.

    You may not reach Jiro’s stature, but if you continue to hone your skills and develop your expertise in an area that you love, you have, indeed, found the recipe for career success.

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    Advice for Internationally Trained Construction Professionals

    As an internationally trained civil engineer or construction professional, there are some key things to keep in mind to facilitate your labour market integration into one of the largest industries in Canada:

    • Ensure your language level is at least CLB 7
    • Decide what your area of specialization will be whether: scheduler, cost control, co-ordinator, manager or estimator and focus your job search efforts on one career path only
    • Tailor your resume very specifically so that you only show experience related to the job you are seeking (you may need to use what is called a functional style resume)
    • It is important to mention specific work related experience such as estimating for a hospital project if that is what is required for the posting, as Human Resources staff will be scanning for such details
    • Earn a Canadian certificate or designation. Here is a sample of some bridge and certificate programs:

    Bridge Programs:

    Engineering and Skilled Trades:

    http://www.accesemployment.ca/index.php/engineering-connections

    http://newtocanada.humber.ca/bridging-programs.html

    Project Management/ Mid-Level Management:

    http://www.ontarioimmigration.ca/en/working/OI_BRIDGE_NONREGS.html#_project

    Certificate Programs:

    George Brown College:

    https://coned.georgebrown.ca/courses-and-certificates/general-subject-area/construction-and-trades/

    Humber:

    https://www.humber.ca/continuingeducation/programs/certificates

    Seneca:

    http://www.senecacollege.ca/ce/environment/building/construction-estimator.html

    Note: Check the websites of specific Ontario Public Colleges for Distance Learning Options. For a list of Ontario Public Colleges visit: http://www.ontariocolleges.ca/colleges

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    5 Reasons to Use LinkedIn

    In many foreign countries, social media has not taken a prominent role in both personal and professional realms as it has in Canada. For this reason, many newcomers feel some reluctance at first when encouraged to embrace LinkedIn as a part of their career development plan, with concerns stemming from a simple lack of familiarity to privacy. The benefits however, of using LinkedIn, far outweigh these concerns. LinkedIN is easy to learn and use, and there are ways to manage privacy if one is truly concerned.

    As a newcomer and job seeker, the main reasons to use LinkedIn actively are:

    • It is a very efficient way to expand your network in Canada. Once you connect with people you know, you will be prompted to be connected with people that your connections know which are called “Second Level Connections”.
    • LinkedIN’s “Get Introduced” function allows you to ask your connections for introductions to these second level connections. It is a convenient way to discover how your connections may be connected to others at companies you are interested in working for.
    • LinkedIn allows you create a professional online presence. When employers “Google” you, having your LinkedIn profile appear in search results allows them to view your career history
    • LinkedIn allows you to be visible to recruiters. A very high percentage of recruiters use LinkedIn, and more and more I am hearing stories of clients who were contacted by recruiters via LinkedIn.
    • By joining Groups related to your industry, you will not only expand your network of contacts, but also stay informed about current issues in your field.

    Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. For job seekers, especially newcomers, embracing it as important step not only for seeking work, but also for integrating into Canadian workplace culture.

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    Job Search Advice for Internationally Trained Engineers

    As an internationally trained engineer, pursuing a Professional Engineer (P.Eng) license offers the obvious benefit of allowing one to work as a Professional Engineer and gain the recognition of employers and credibility in the field. It can take time to obtain the license in Ontario, it is therefore important to note the advantages of starting the process as soon as possible after landing in order to reap the full benefits for your career.

    Following are advantages of pursuing the P.Eng license from a job search perspective. The information in this article was taken from a webinar hosted by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers

    • Registering with the Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO) and delivering all required documents to the regulatory body within six months of landing allows newcomers to register at no cost.
    • Once registered, candidates will have their credentials assessed, and if deemed equivalent to Canadian standards, candidates are eligible to write the PPE exam (Professional Practice Exam). This information is useful to share on a cover letter, as it may alleviate any concerns employers have about international education.
    • Once candidates pass the PPE exam, it demonstrates that they have an understanding of engineering law and ethics in Ontario, which is also a key point to mention on cover letters.
    • Having passed the PPE exam, candidates can then apply for a provisional (temporary) license, rather than waiting to get the required 1 year Canadian experience, another key point to mention on cover letters.
    • Finally, applying for P.Eng allows candidates the possibility of being eligible for the EIT program (Engineering in Training), which is a designation job seekers can write on both their resume and cover letter.

    There is a high demand for engineers in Canada; however, the competition is also present. By taking the steps to register with the PEO and start the licensing process, newcomers can demonstrate to employers their commitment to the practice of engineering in Canada.

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    Earn While You Learn – Apprenticeship Training

    Do you want to go back to school to get retrained in a different occupation, but lack the financial resources to do so? If you have a desire and talent for working with your hands, supporting children, youth and/or people with disabilities, you have the option of getting retrained while also being paid. It’s called Apprenticeship Training.

    Funded by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities,“apprenticeship is an on-the-job training program for people who want to work in a skilled trade or occupation and includes learning new skills from skilled journeypersons.” Source: https://www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/apprentices/app_train.html

    The process involves finding an employer who is willing to take you on as an apprentice, completing the required number of on the job and classroom hours, and then passing a qualifying exam before obtaining a license.

    There are government funded incentives in place to encourage employers to train an apprentice such as an Employer Signing Bonus, an Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit, the Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit, and the Employer Bonus, which amount to thousands of dollars per year.

    Apprentices are also eligible for financial incentives including earning a wage while fulfilling hours, as well as well scholarships and loans for tools. For more information visit: www.earnwhileyoulearn.ca

    There are currently over 150 apprenticeable trades in Ontario in four sectors: construction, industrial/manufacturing, motive power and service. For a complete list of skilled trades visit: www.collegeoftrades.ca/public-register-old

    For newcomers to Canada who worked in a skilled trade in their home country, you can have you skills and experience compared to an apprenticeship training program in Ontario. According the licensing body Ontario College of Trades, “if you meet all the training requirements of that apprenticeship, you will qualify to apply for certification in your trade.” Source: www.collegeoftrades.ca/trade-assessment. This means that rather than completing the apprenticeship training process, you may be eligible to move right to the certification stage of the licensing process.

    There is support available for both apprentices and employers through the whole process. To find a service provider near you call the toll-free Employment Ontario Hotline at 1-800-387-5656, TTY (telephone service for the deaf) 1-866-533-6339 for the phone number and location of the apprenticeship office in your area.

    Newcomers to Ontario can ask for this information in the language of their choice.

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    What is Your Weakness?

    The common interview question, “What is your weakness?” often leaves people confused about whether to admit that they have one (or many) or whether to reveal what they perceive to be a personal fault. But this question, when handled properly, can instead become the easiest question to prepare for and manage in a job interview.

    When describing your weakness (and we all have them) keep in mind the following “do’s” and “don’ts” from a newcomer’s perspective. Do Not:

    • Do not choose to use your language skills as a sample of a weakness. I find that when I conduct mock interviews with newcomers, almost everyone will choose their English language skills as their weakness. Because most newcomers feel very self-conscious of their language skills, they often believe that others notice every small error in their speech, which is not the case. Highlighting English language skills as a weakness may shift the employers attention to an issue which is in most cases is not a real concern.
    • Do not say that you lack Canadian experience, as in other responses you can focus on how your skills are transferable to a Canadian context
    • Do not say that you can’t think of any at the moment, or that you don’t have any. In so doing, you will come across as either insincere or unprepared.
    • Do not share a personal example such as your shopping or chocolate addiction. Not only are these not relevant to the job, but it is not the employers business what your personal struggles may be.
    • Do not mention a weakness that is totally unrelated to the job. For example, saying that you are not familiar with Photoshop, when that software is not used in the role you are being interviewed for.

    The opposite is also true – do not choose a weakness that will make the employer wonder whether you have the ability to handle the job. For example, if you get impatient when team members don’t fulfill their responsibilities and you are being interviewed for a management role, it may create some concern about your leadership ability.

    Responding effectively to this question entails reflecting on a work-related weakness that you sincerely want to work on, which is not a major component of the job you are being interviewed for. For example, if you are applying for a job in which knowledge of social media is an asset, but not an essential component of the job, then then saying that you need to work on improving your social media skills would be a good example of a weakness that is appropriate to share. Do state, however, what your plan is around how to manage this weakness in very specific terms. For example you can say: “I have a proficient understanding of LinkedIN, an intermediate understanding of Facebook and a basic understanding of Twitter. I am going to take online tutorials on both Facebook and Twitter by the end of the month and will open a Twitter account in the process.”

    Proper preparation will allow you to handle this tricky and awkward question with confidence.

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    “I Don’t Know Anyone in Canada” Newcomer Tips for Expanding One’s Network of Professional Contacts

    When newcomers to Canada discover that most jobs in Canada are “hidden” they may feel frustrated by the fact that having landed just recently, they may not actually know anyone or have a very limited circle of contacts. That’s a dilemma indeed, but one that can be rectified in a relatively short period of time. Although they can meet people just about anywhere, the most efficient sources for newcomers to meet people in their field for job seeking purposes are:

    1. Industry Associations. Find a list of associations for just about any industry in the book: “Associations Canada” which is found at the information desk of the local public library, and look up associations by keyword. There may be several associations in an industry. Join associations that will offer the most events and professional development opportunities. While searching for associations in the Associations Canada directory, newcomers may want to consider joining associations that are specific to their culture. Look up associations by cultural keywords. Here are some samples:
      In the Iranian community: iraniansoftoronto.com/ and knowdiff.net/
      In the Chinese community: www.chineseprofessionals.ca/ and www.rhmcba.ca/. There are many others.
    2. Professional Immigrant Networks. Professional Immigrants have created networking groups for others like themselves for many sectors. Find a list of PINs here: www.networksforimmigrants.ca/directory
    3. LinkedIN Groups. There are thousands of groups available where newcomers can join industry related professional conversations to share with others to develop relationships that can quickly expand their connections.
    4. Informational interviews. Once newcomers establish connections with people using the first three sources, they can have a contact introduce you to someone at a company they are interested in working for by asking for an informational interview. Here is an excellent online resource which explains this process in detail: www.quintcareers.com/informational_interviewing.html

    Newcomers can take heart in the fact that it doesn’t take a long term relationship to peak a potential employer’s interest. The key is visibility. One conversation alone is sometimes all it takes to make a good impression which can give them inside information about hidden jobs.

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    What’s the Difference between an ELT, Co-op and Bridge Training Program?

    The variety of support programs available for newcomers to Canada has increased in recent years as the federal government’s Skilled Worker Program continues to attract global talent. Newcomers are often unclear about the difference between these programs and which one(s) would be a best fit.

    This is an overview describing the difference between the main categories of programs and suitability.

    ELT programs

    These are essentially language training programs that offer industry specific language training for certain occupations such as: Office Administration and Customer Service, Accounting and Finance, IT, Sales and Marketing, Hospitality, Healthcare and Engineering. The language training component of the program runs for 8 weeks and is tailored for students who have achieved a Canadian Language Benchmark of 6. The programs also include a job search component, as well as a 6-week unpaid work placement component.

    Newcomers who have taken these programs tell me that they helped them to feel confident about their industry specific language skills and often through these programs people may land their first job in Canada.

    In York Region, the main service provider of ELT programs is Welcome Centre Immigrant Services: www.welcomecentre.ca and in Toronto, the Toronto District School Board: www.tdsb.on.ca/AdultLearners/LearnEnglish/EnhancedLanguageTraining.aspx. Please visit their respective websites for more specific information.

    Co-Op Programs

    As a high school or college student, you may have access to an unpaid co-op work placement as part of your program to help you gain work experience. Adult Learning co-op programs, on the other hand, are unpaid work experience programs available for newcomers to Canada to support them with gaining experience and insight into the Canadian labour market in their respective occupations.

    For newcomers who feel confident about their language skills and who are having trouble getting interviews as part of an effective job search strategy, this may be a good solution.

    The following are some centers that offer or co-ordinate such co-op programs for newcomers in the Greater Toronto area:

    • Skills for Change
    • Yorkdale Adult Learning Centre
    • Bridge Programs

      Bridge programs offer newcomers the opportunity to gain industry and occupation specific training without duplicating what they have already learned. Some bridge programs offer an unpaid work placement opportunity as well. For people who require a license to work in their occupation, a bridging is a fast track to getting licensed in Canada. For others who are pursuing unlicensed work, it offers an opportunity to learn the Canadian content of their occupation such as Canadian building codes as a means of preparing to work in their occupation in Canada. For more information visit: www.ontarioimmigration.ca/

      Newcomers should also check industry associations for other bridge programs that may be available or contact Job Skills for more support.

      By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    Informational Interviewing: A Key Career Planning Tool for Newcomers to Canada

    Imagine working as an electrical and civil engineer at the same time; as a plumber and carpenter or juggling being both a family physician and a specialist. Accustomed to a marketplace where occupations are highly specialized, for a Canadian this is unheard of. But for a foreign trained professional, understanding how to transfer one’s foreign work experience from a country where occupational duties are more generalized, can pose a significant challenge.

    Getting credible information is the key to effective career planning for newcomers, and one of the most powerful tools to that end is a process called informational interviewing. Unlike a job interview, the informational interview is simply a process whereby one speaks with an industry or occupational expert for information and advice.

    Because this process is also an opportunity to expand one’s network of contacts, it is important before making contact to prepare effectively, so that one can make a favorable impression. Three key steps to take in preparing effectively for an informational interview are:

    1. Research the occupations and industries one is interested in to get a general sense of how occupations are structured in Canada. Useful tools are:
      • The National Occupational Classification (NOC). A Government of Canada Occupational Database, the “NOC” provides an overview of Canada’s 10 main industries and they key occupations within each industry.
      • The Working in Canada Website. Another initiative of the Government of Canada, this tool allows one to search for job postings, employment outlook and training information as means of expanding on the preliminary information offered by the NOC.
    2. Research Industries to get a general sense of industry trends, training and certifications and resources.
      • Industry Association websites are an important resource for such information. A complete list of associations in Canada is found in the Associations Canada directory available at public libraries. The Industry Canada Website is also a good resource for conducting some general industry research.
    3. Prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewee. Some examples include:
      • Given my background, what are some roles that I should consider?
      • What are the employment prospects for those roles?
      • What are the growing trends in this industry?
      • What is the best way to get into that occupation?
      • Is there any additional training that you would recommend? Where is the best place to get the training?
      • What industry publications, journals, and conferences should I be aware of in order to keep abreast of industry trends?
      • Is there any other advice that you would have for me?

    Having done this initial research, one is ready to start talking to industry experts. The most credible source will be people at industry associations. Simply call an industry association, introduce yourself and say for example:

    “I am an internationally trained industrial engineer, and I am interesting in learning more about the Canadian engineering industry. I am wondering if I can set up an appointment to speak with someone for 20-30 minutes for some guidance and advice.”

    During the informational interview, never ask about a job, or go over the allotted time.

    At the end of the interview it is important to ask the person if there is someone else that they would recommend you speak with for more advice and to also ask whether it would be ok to mention his/her name when calling the next person.

    Sending a thank you note in the form an email, following up a couple of weeks later to let the person know how the research progressed and inviting him/her to connect on LinkedIN are important follow up steps in order to expand one’s network of contacts.

    A series of conversations of this nature is an efficient way to clarify one’s occupational objective. Newcomers to Canada should not feel skeptical about calling industry associations for information. If the proper process is followed as indicated above, most people will be happy to help.

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    5 Steps to Changing Careers in Canada

    “I never wanted to be a dentist”. This is a familiar story for those supporting newcomers with their career development in Canada. Many newcomers see their transition to a new land as an opportunity to leave an unfulfilling path behind and start afresh with a different vision of rewarding work, however, are not sure how to begin the process. There are 5 key steps to changing careers, and, as with most key transitions in life, the first step is to begin with oneself.

    1. Examine Your Preferences. Learn more about what is unique about you in terms of your personality, your interests, your values and skills, so that the work you ultimately choose supports the expression of who you are. There are informal and formal exercises and assessment tools that can be used to explore your preferences and generate occupational options.
    2. Research Your Occupational Options. This step involves two stages. The first stage involves examining key occupational databases and other resources (books, websites) to get a better understanding of job responsibilities, work environments, salaries, training and local employment prospects for each occupation you are considering. This initial research will help to narrow down your options. The second stage involves talking to people who are doing the work you are considering to get additional insight into the realities and rewards of doing the work.
    3. Career Decision Making. After researching occupations thoroughly, you may be left with 2-3 choices. Examining how your options match your preferences from the self-assessment process in step 1 can help with final decision making.
    4. Create a plan. Once you have a clear occupational goal, creating a step-by-step plan to identify how to reach your goal will help you stay focussed and motivated in moving forward. The plan should address any gaps in your knowledge, experience or training that may prevent you from doing the work immediately.
    5. Start Job Search Process. The process of looking for work involves preparing a resume, cover letter, and online profile that represent you well in terms of highlighting how your former experience, training, or new training allows you to use transferable skills to benefit potential employers. Understanding who potential employers are and building relationships in your industry to uncover unadvertised jobs/opportunities would also be key components of the job search. Finally, preparing effectively to convey your strengths and accomplishments in the form an interview would take the career change journey to final stage.

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    Volunteering: An Effective and Ineffective Job Search Strategy

    If you’re new to Canada and looking for work, you have most likely been told to do some volunteer work to help you gain “Canadian experience” and learn about Canadian workplace culture. While this can be a very valuable approach to landing your first job in Canada, it can also take you in a completely different career direction and lead to needless frustration.

    Choosing any volunteer position, even if it is in your field, in order to list a Canadian employer on your resume is the wrong approach. If you will be using skills that are completely different from the job you hope to get, and you are working in an environment where the workplace culture is different from your ideal workplace, then the volunteer role is really not going to be of much benefit. Moreover, if the company where you are volunteering is not poised to expand, then, as I have often seen, you may be stuck there for some time, without any hope of getting hired. That only creates a greater gap between related work experience and your next paid position.

    Having said all of this, volunteering, when done strategically, can be a very effective job search strategy, leading to the job you desire. I recently supported a client who wisely chose to volunteer as a research assistant at a prominent hospital. Her work there impressed her peers, and as a result, she was able to develop strong relationships with people in her industry. Those connections later became excellent references which was a key factor in her landing a post-doctoral fellowship.

    How does her story provide the keys to strategic volunteering? Before choosing a volunteer position, it important to do the following:

    Know your career objective

    It is critical to choose a career goal that is realistic in the sense that it matches your skills and experience and also for which there are good employment prospects.

    Know which industry you want to work in

    If you have a background in administration, for example, rather than telling yourself, you don’t mind working in any industry, ask yourself where your interests lie. Each industry has its own language. Would like to work in the engineering industry as an administrative assistant and be involved with discussions about projects plans, technical reports and specifications, or would you rather work in an administrative role in a healthcare setting and talk about patient histories, diagnosis and diseases all day?

    Know what type of company you would like to work for

    The type of company one prefers is usually value driven. If it is important to you that you work close to home, then of course, you will look at which employers are within a reasonable distance from your home. If career advancement is more important, then you may decide that a company of a larger size is a better fit.

    Know what the trends are in your industry and which companies are on the forefront of that trend

    Learn about industry trends from associations, newspapers, industry journals and social media. What conclusions can you draw from this research? Where will investments be made and funding be allocated? This can provide you with clues about which companies will be poised to expand.

    Once these preliminary steps have taken place, you are now in a position to choose a strategic volunteer position. You can either call a company directly and offer to assist them by explaining how your skills can address some of the challenges they face, you can volunteer with an industry association to a make valuable contacts, or get assistance from a volunteer bureau in your community.

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    Negotiate Like a Professional: Salary Negotiation Tips for Newcomers to Canada

    “What are your salary expectations?” If one is not prepared for this interview question, the outcome could mean not getting the salary or job offer you deserve.

    Looking for work in this economy is a difficult task for anyone. Imagine being a newcomer to Canada, who, after having had to learn about Canadian style job searching, finally gets the anticipated interview invitation and is asked this question up front – and over the phone.

    Many of my professional newcomer clients are often unprepared for this question as they take the advice of well-meaning friends and family members who suggest that as a newcomer you should be prepared to accept any salary that is offered, or to ask for less than what the industry is paying because you have never worked in Canada. Consequently Medhi, an engineer from Iran, has shared with me that his responses to the salary question have been: “Whatever you are paying is fine”, or “Since I am new to Canada I can start at ….”, and then name a figure which is too low. His story is unfortunately a familiar one to many newcomers who are being underpaid for their outstanding skills, or lose credibility with the interviewer, and thus are not granted an in-person interview. Thankfully, a little preparation is all that is required to empower you as a newcomer in your job search.

    Key steps to preparing for an effective salary negotiation process:

    1. Do some research to understand what the typical salary ranges are for your occupation. The best sources of information are: industry associations, asking people working in your occupation, or salary surveys found on websites such as:
    2. Based on you research, ask yourself: “What is the lowest salary I am willing to work for?” That figure should be close to the industry range so that you do not undersell your skills. Be prepared then, to offer a salary range of about $5 thousand. So, for example, if a typical salary range for your occupation and industry is $50-60 thousand, and the minimum you are willing to work for is $57 thousand, then your range could be $57-62 thousand.
    3. Understand how to delay giving a figure until you have a firm job offer. The book 101 Salary Secrets by Daniel Poirot is the best source I have ever come across for this. It lists several responses such as: “I would be happy to provide you with a figure, once we are both clear that I am the best candidate for this position” which allows you to assertively respond to premature prompts for a salary range. At times, employers insist on a figure despite your attempts to delay negotiating before you have a job offer. In that case, your homework will have paid off as you can then provide the employer with an appropriate salary range.

    Having done your research, and learned how to delay the negotiation process until you know the employer is interested in hiring you, you may run into the issue of the employer not being willing to provide you with the salary you had hoped for. If your salary range and the employer’s range are close – say there is a difference of $2 000 for example, know what other forms of compensation might suit you. Examples might include: an extra week of vacation, paid parking or the option to work from home occasionally. If the difference between what you are willing to work for and what you are offered is too great – well, then you have a choice – take it or leave it. At least, your choice will be an informed one.

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    “Tell Me About Yourself” – But Not Your Life Story

    The interview question “Tell me about yourself” is often interpreted as an invitation to share one’s life story. The confusion is understandable. Rather than being specific and concrete, the question is open-ended and vague, leading many job seekers to wonder: Where do I start?

    Newcomers to Canada, who, unaccustomed to Canadian-style interviewing, find themselves often starting their response by explaining their age, marital status and other personal information that, in their home country, is considered perfectly acceptable information to share in such circumstances.

    Since this question is usually asked at the outset of interview, the critical time when first impressions are made, here are some general strategies, from a newcomer’s perspective, to respond in a more effective and powerful manner.

    Do Not:

    • Do not start by sharing your name (you would already have had an opportunity to introduce yourself at this point to the interviewer)
    • Do not share what is considered personal information: age, marital status, whether you have children or the condition of your health.
    • Do not explain how you are new to Canada and you are focussing on learning English and trying to get your family settled. While all that may be true, that is not the focus of the interview and only brings attention to language and settlement issues which may raise questions in the employer’s mind.

    Do:

    • Do start with how you entered the industry, and then mention your first key role and your key achievement in that role. Continue the story by sharing the title of your next key role and achievement, continuing as such until you reach your present situation.
    • Do explain how moving to Canada is the next step in your career journey, how you see this position fitting in with the natural progression of your career. Focus on how your skills are transferable to a Canadian context after having done some research on the industry to learn about industry trends.
    • Do end your ‘story’ with a question either about the company or the industry. The question is an opportunity to demonstrate the research you have done, which shows the employer that you are taking active steps to immerse yourself into the Canadian labour market. Asking a question also creates a two–way dialogue, which helps both parties to relax and have a conversation.
    • Do take about 1-2 minutes to respond to this important question – but no more.

    With a little preparation and research, newcomers can position themselves to explain how their experience is relevant to a Canadian context. Being an active participant in the interview, by initiating a dialogue is a proactive and informed strategy – and doing so says a lot about you!

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    Cover Letters – Why You Need One

    Many newcomers to Canada discover at the onset of their job search that they need a resume. However, they don’t always discover right away that a well written cover letter is also an essential job search tool.

    “Do I really need one?” I am often asked with the hope that somehow this difficult task could be avoided. The answer is almost always “Yes. You do”. Of course, if you are planning to walk into a retail store or onto a construction site, and hand your resume to a manager or supervisor, you can probably get away with just handing in a resume. However, in most cases, a job application is not considered complete without a cover letter.

    Crafting a cover letter allows you the opportunity to clarify in your mind why you want a particular job and then explain that to a potential employer. In order to reach that level of clarity you would have had to have done a few things:

    • Have a clear vision of the type of work you want to do
    • Be able to clearly explain your key achievements in that line of work
    • Researched companies that hire people with your skills
    • Narrowed down your list of companies to those that also match other preferences you may have such as location, size, nature of the business so that you can share why you chose that company specifically.

    This level of preparation is powerful, as clarity is the engine that moves the job search forward. Once job seekers have a specific and realistic job objective, can clearly explain what they achieved in the past, understand where they could potentially work, and have a plan around how to connect with potential employers, interview invitations arise, which eventually leads to a job offer.

    Do you need to send a cover letter then, if the application only indicates that a resume is needed? Absolutely! If you don’t send one you would miss the opportunity to explain why you are a perfect fit for the job, and, more importantly, express your enthusiasm – two key factors in hiring decisions.

    Professional Advice is Key for Effective Career Planning in Canada

    “I decided I didn’t want to listen to my friends anymore and I’m here to get some professional advice”. These were the words of frustration and hope spoken by a recent newcomer, who, utterly confused and disoriented from the barrage of advice from well-meaning friends, found a place of clarity within that told him he needed to get some professional help.

    Like many newcomers to Canada, he almost fell into the trap of believing that getting any job, regardless of whether it matches one’s experience, skills and education level is needed in order to gain Canadian experience. Indeed, I see this all too often. Many people find work that, when added to their resume, raises many questions to my mind, looks awkward, yet they are happy to mention it since, to them, it shows that they have worked in Canada.

    Sadly, many people then get trapped by these jobs, since most of their day is occupied by their hectic work schedule, little energy and time is left to devote to long-term career planning. Let me be clear - working in an unrelated, entry level job may be necessary to pay the bills, however, without a solid long-term plan, years can go by in this ‘survival mode’, making it more difficult to re-enter one’s field of choice later on.

    The solution? A solid career plan is in order – and support with creating such a plan is readily available in places like the Welcome Centre Immigrant Services Centres throughout York and Durham Regions. Having a short and long-term career plan can the mean the difference between working temporarily at something to support your dreams, or facing the possibility of postponing - or worse - never realizing your dreams at all.

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    Five Limiting Beliefs that Block Newcomers in their Job Search

    As a career development practitioner, I have had the honour of being present with and supportive of thousands of people through the very difficult transition from unemployment. Over the years, I have noticed that as humans, we tend to develop belief systems particular to the characteristics of our demographic group as a subconscious way of avoiding the challenges of moving beyond our comfort zones during the job search process. Mature workers will develop mental stories about being “too old”, new graduates will develop mental stories about being too young and inexperienced, returning to work mothers will focus on the “gap” in their “work history” and skills.

    In recent years, having worked with newcomers, mainly foreign trained professionals, I have come to witness belief patterns emerge for this group as well. While there is some truth to each of these beliefs and it is quite natural to develop these defence mechanisms while in transition, sharing the truth about what the reality is based on witnessing thousands of people successfully transition to meaningful employment will hopefully inspire newcomers to move forward.

    No one will hire me without Canadian experience

    While one cannot be naïve and assume that there is no truth at all to this perception, time after time, I have witnessed engineers, nurses, bankers and other professionals move into professional roles without any prior Canadian workplace experience. The reality is: if appropriate licensing is obtained, language barriers addressed, and industry specific knowledge is gained (Canadian building codes for example), then one is adequately prepared to transfer one’s knowledge and experience to the Canadian labour market.

    I have to start at the ‘bottom’

    Tied to the ‘no one will hire me because of lack of Canadian experience’ story, is the perception that it is best to always start in an entry-level position. Reality: it may be necessary to take on a “lower level” position initially to understand an industry from a position of less responsibility, but it is certainly not always necessary to start at the entry-level. Newcomers successfully obtain management level positions in banks, for example, after completing some industry based training, rather than starting as Customer Service Representatives. The same holds true for other industries; once training gaps are addressed, the only thing stopping one from going for mid-level positions or higher is the belief that one’s skills are not transferable.

    I have to ask for a low salary

    Related to the “starting at the bottom” perception is the belief that if one asks for a salary that is in line with industry standards, one will be overlooked because one is a newcomer. Many times I have heard clients share in mock interviews that they will “take anything” in terms of salary because, so the thinking goes, they are new to Canada. Reality: asking for “anything” creates the perception that one is desperate, losing credibility with the potential employer, which then results in a lost job offer.

    No one will hire me because my language skills are too weak

    It is true that a certain level of language proficiency must be attained before one can competently carry out the duties and responsibilities of one’s role for certain occupations. However, once attained, it is not necessary to have perfect English before anyone will hire you in your profession. Reality: People get hired in professional jobs without perfect English. Feeling confident about one’s ability and speaking fluidly are far more important that hesitating to correct every small grammatical error. With time and practice this confidence comes.

    People are too busy to talk to me

    Often a cover-up for fear of speaking of English, this perception blocks people from developing relationships in their industry, which of course stalls the job search. Reality: as long as one respects people’s time by setting up informational-type meetings in advance and sticking to the agreed upon timeframe; and one doesn’t use the meeting for personal gain, but as an opportunity to share ideas and nurture genuine relationships, most people are interested in helping others.

    5 Steps to Effective Resume Writing

    As a newcomer who may be writing a resume for the first time, take heart in knowing that although the process may seem challenging, once the mechanics of writing the key content are understood, the process can be mastered. Most people struggle with the bulleted body of the resume, in other words, how to explain what one accomplished during one’s work history. Indeed, to create a powerful resume, it is necessary to move beyond merely listing responsibilities to highlighting the results of performing those duties. Past accomplishments can then indicate to employers potential future accomplishments.

    There are 5 steps that one can take to successfully craft a memorable “Accomplishment Statement”

    1. Start with a list of duties. Go through your work history and then write down all the duties you performed in detail. You may need to categorize them by job or skill area
    2. Convert the duties into accomplishments by applying the “Keyword” + “Action” + “Results” formula.
    3. Start your sentence with a keyword which is a verb, using a key skill the employer is looking for. For example: Managed, Co-ordinated, Wrote, Examined
    4. Add details to the description of your duty to allow the reader to clearly visualize the context. For example: Co-ordinated the compilation of 5 quarterly financial statements, marketing plans, operations reports for senior management strategic planning purposes
    5. Finally, add the result or outcome of your carrying out that duty. Using the previous example, one might complete the statement by adding: effectively communicating with all departments to consistently meet all deadlines.

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    Top 5 Ways to Gain Canadian Work Experience
    1. Strategic Volunteer Work
      The value of volunteer work cannot be underestimated, not only because it allows a newcomer the opportunity to develop relationships in an unknown land, but from a career development perspective, it allows for great insight into industries which would be difficult to gain through more indirect means such as online research. A strategic approach to volunteering is key, however, in order to reap the true rewards of landing a job in one’s field. A strategic approach to volunteering stems from an informed and clear vision of one’s short and long-term career goals, in order to then carefully choose opportunities that would position one to be ‘at the right place at the right time’. Many newcomers lament that volunteer work did not support their career goals. That often stems from their choosing any volunteer work, unrelated to their industry or preferred role, for the sake of gaining “Canadian experience”.
    2. Internships or Co-op Placements
      Paid and unpaid internships and co-op placements offer the newcomer the possibility of gaining experience in one’s field of expertise by providing the opportunity to work in a business setting for a certain period of time lasting anywhere from a few weeks to a year. The following is a list of sources for internships and co-op placements in the Greater Toronto Area:
      • Career Bridge is an organization that assists eligible newcomers with the co-ordination of paid internships lasting anywhere from four months to one year.
      • Professional associations may offer internships or work placements for newcomers, as part of their integrated work experience programs. For a full list of professional associations in Canada, the Associations Canada directory is the best resource. It is published annually and found in most libraries.
      • The Government of Ontario offers an internship program for Internationally Trained Individuals.
      • Adult Learning Centres offer co-op placements for newcomers. Similar to an internship, however always unpaid, co-ops offer newcomers the opportunity to work in a role in their industry to gain experience and awareness into the Canadian workplace. The following are some centres that offer or co-ordinate such placements in the Greater Toronto area:
    3. ELT programs
      These industry-specific language training programs offer a work placement component lasting several weeks. For more information visit: www.welcomecentre.ca or www.tdsb.on.ca
    4. Bridge Programs
      Bridge programs offer newcomers the opportunity to gain industry and occupation specific training without duplicating what they have already learned. Some bridge programs offer a work placement opportunity. For more information visit Ontario Immigration - Bridging Programs
    5. Apprenticeship Programs
      Apprenticeship programs involve learning a skilled trade “on the job” for the most part with the assistance of an experience tradesperson. As an apprentice, one can earn wages as one learns.

    Youth-Specific Articles

    Articles with specific information for youth who are looking for work.

    Land that Dream (Summer) Job!

    Don’t wait until school ends to look for a job, get started now to maximize your opportunities! Remember, a summer job is more than an opportunity to save for college or university; it is the foundation of your future working career. So how do you find that perfect summer job?

    • Plan your job search:
      • The first step is to decide what you want to do, and what skills you have to offer. There are a number of different entry level jobs, which one best suits you? Some entry level jobs for students include: camp counselor, cashier, general construction labour, lifeguard, landscaping, child care, food services, general office clerk, and many others. Decide what skills you would like to develop while you’re working for the summer. For example, if you’re planning on pursuing an education in marketing, developing experience in customer service is a great way to build your resume while saving for college.
    • Create a professional resume:
      • A good resume can be the difference between getting a great summer job, or spending the summer weeding your neighbour’s garden for pocket change. There are a ton of great resources out there to teach you how to write a resume – books, workshops, websites. Better yet, find an Employment Ontario Employment Services Agency and register; find one here:
    • Google yourself:
      • Social networking is a part of everyday life nowadays and companies are well aware of that fact. If your Facebook profile is not something your future employer should see, take the time to clean it up. Should your potential boss search for you on the internet, you want them to find only positive information, not the hilarious-but-inappropriate photos posted on your friends’ timeline.
    • Make it public:
      • Let everyone know that you’re looking for work, and ask them to tell others. 80% of all jobs aren’t advertised, so spread the word! Don’t wait for a job posting to appear at a company you’d like to work for, contact them and ask to send a resume. Network as much as possible and always appear positive and eager to work.
    • Make it your job to get a job:
      • Treat your job search professionally and invest your time and effort. Make use of every possible resource in your search, such as the internet, newspapers, local bulletin boards and community agencies. Check the Service Canada website for government funded initiatives, or email youth@jobskills.org and ask about Youth Job Connection: Summer. Look beyond the government job bank, there are tons of great websites for job postings. There are sites devoted to industry, such as Charityvillage.com or Green-Jobs.ca, as well as websites like Talentegg.ca which is specifically for students and recent grads.

    Remember, looking for work can be hard work – but the end result is a great summer job!

    I am working in a trade, how do I become a registered apprentice?

    If you meet the educational requirements for the trade, you should self-identify to your employer that you want to become an apprentice. Keep in mind during the first three to six month of employment your employer is evaluating your skills and abilities, including your attitude, attendance, and punctuality, willingness to listen and respond to feedback, as well as your general motivation and willingness to learn. New employees shouldn’t expect to be instantly registered as an apprentice. At the point that your employer agrees to formally register you, the employer will contact their Ministry of Training, Colleges & Universities - Apprenticeship Branch to start the ball rolling. When the Training Consultant meets with you and your employer, make sure you are prepared; have your transcript from your last high school or college if you took a pre-apprenticeship training program. This document will identify to the Training Consultant that you meet the academic requirement(s) for the trade.

    If you have previous co-op or employment history that is related to the trade, you should provide proof of employment, job title and number of hours worked, as the Training Consultant may take this into account when registering you as an apprentice. Prior to the meeting ensure you are aware of any registration fees, or other documentation that may be required in order to complete the Apprenticeship Training Agreement.

    Once you, your employer and Training Consultant have signed the Apprenticeship Training Agreement, you are now considered to be a Registered Apprentice with the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities. As a Registered Apprentice, your on-the-job training/work hours will now count towards the total number of hours which are assigned to each trade. Both Service Canada and the Ministry of Training Colleges & Universities offer various grants and subsidies which are developed to support both apprentices and employers. The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities offers grants such as:

    • The Apprenticeship Completion Bonus for non-Red Seal trades
    • Employers may access supports through the Apprenticeship Tax Credit - in conjunction with the Canadian Revenue Agency
    • Employers and potential apprentices may be eligible to access supports through the Apprentice Scholarship & Apprenticeship Employer Signing Bonus

    Service Canada offers grants such as the:

    • Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for apprentices who have finished either their first or second year of training in a Red Seal Trade
    • The Apprenticeship Completion Grant for apprentices assists those who complete their training and become a certified Journey Person and who obtain either the Red Seal endorsement or a provincial or territorial Certificate in a Red Seal trade.

    How do I get more information?

    Contact Job Skills, or an Employment Ontario Service Provider site near you to find out about:

    • Working in the trades
    • The various financial supports programs/grants for both employers and apprentices
    • Career Development with an Employment Consultant
    • Career Exploration Workshops
    • Job Search Workshops
    • Help in finding employers willing to take on apprentices

    Earn While You Learn – Apprenticeship Training

    Do you want to go back to school to get retrained in a different occupation, but lack the financial resources to do so? If you have a desire and talent for working with your hands, supporting children, youth and/or people with disabilities, you have the option of getting retrained while also being paid. It’s called Apprenticeship Training.

    Funded by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities,“apprenticeship is an on-the-job training program for people who want to work in a skilled trade or occupation and includes learning new skills from skilled journeypersons.” Source: https://www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/apprentices/app_train.html

    The process involves finding an employer who is willing to take you on as an apprentice, completing the required number of on the job and classroom hours, and then passing a qualifying exam before obtaining a license.

    There are government funded incentives in place to encourage employers to train an apprentice such as an Employer Signing Bonus, an Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit, the Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit, and the Employer Bonus, which amount to thousands of dollars per year.

    Apprentices are also eligible for financial incentives including earning a wage while fulfilling hours, as well as well scholarships and loans for tools. For more information visit: www.earnwhileyoulearn.ca

    There are currently over 150 apprenticeable trades in Ontario in four sectors: construction, industrial/manufacturing, motive power and service. For a complete list of skilled trades visit: www.collegeoftrades.ca/public-register-old

    There is support available for both apprentices and employers through the whole process. To find a service provider near you call the toll-free Employment Ontario Hotline at 1-800-387-5656, TTY (telephone service for the deaf) 1-866-533-6339 for the phone number and location of the apprenticeship office in your area.

    By Luciana Longo, Employment Settlement Specialist

    Entrepreneur-Specific Articles

    Are you thinking about starting your own business? These articles will provide some basic information. Still have questions? Check out our Business Services page!

    What’s It Like To Be Self-employed?

    Entrepreneurs are the first to tell you it’s an endeavour for self starters only. Although there are benefits to setting their own hours, making decisions and acquiring business, they usually put more time into their work week than anyone else. It’s often an exciting, rewarding and satisfying experience for those who want a challenge and strive for achievement.

    Using your own creativity and ideas, as well as learning from a few mistakes along the way are often interesting aspects of self-employment. Getting that first few clients is, for most, a great adrenalin rush. Figuring out which marketing avenue works and trying to understand why it works is one of the mysterious and exciting aspects of business. Using social skills and networking are so important and often the most fun for young entrepreneurs. However, polishing that winning approach with friends and business associates is necessary, requiring an open mind and tolerance for criticism that not everyone is prepared to accept. Knowing when to “speak” and when to “listen” is critical! Being aware of your limitations and having a sense of humour can take you a long way in developing rapport with others including clients who usually appreciate candour.

    It’s also necessary to recognize that input and feedback from others is a requirement when getting started in business. Finding trusted people to advise you will be key in getting your business off the ground. There is a process to opening your business and certain steps are required by the government in order for you to operate legally. Registering your business and determining if someone else is using the name you want, are a couple of areas that you must investigate before you move ahead with making sales.

    Should you advertise in newspapers, magazines, on billboards, radio? How do you find the most cost-effective way to get your name out there? Should you hire someone to help when you have a period of brisk sales? What is involved in hiring someone? Guidance from experienced professionals will help you feel confident you’re on the right track and help you answer the many questions that sometimes stall progress in the early months of self-employment.

    Being self-motivated, goal-oriented and disciplined are necessary, but sometimes these skills can be developed with guidance and persistence. Individuals with drive and inspiration can become successful when getting the right encouragement and information. Don’t forget to explore opportunities for assistance — mentoring support from local Chambers of Commerce/Boards of Trade and Community Futures programs are some of the many valuable resources that can help you get started on your way to great things! Job Skills has reasonably priced supports for those contemplating self-employment, visit our Business Services page for more information.

    Do You Have the Drive to be Self-Employed?

    Many people ask themselves this question and it should be pondered carefully before steps are taken. Drive essentially means motivation and that is a vitally important key to going the distance over the long haul. Find out from other self-employed people what their typical day is like to see if you could be happy doing this kind of work. If you’ve worked in this field before and know what’s involved you are much closer to getting started. If you know you would enjoy it, you should explore the idea a bit further.

    There is some risk involved but that can be minimized if you choose a business with little start-up capital required. If you provide a service, sometimes not as much financial investment is needed to get started. If you require equipment you may be eligible for financing or possibly a grant to get you started. If borrowing isn’t an option ask yourself if you can get started at a very basic level and grow the business when funds allow. For example, if landscaping is your passion, you can cut lawns with a hand-mower and do gardens in your own area until you can afford that truck, trailer and ride-on mower.

    Are the services you’re offering in demand and will people pay for them? Check on-line to review articles about the demand in your area. This is called market research and it will help you determine if you have a viable business idea. By searching the yellow pages, you may find only a few competitors in your town. That could be very good news!

    Social media and conducting surveys can give you exposure and help you see if you can really get clients. Creating and participating in blogs could help with your research without costing a dime. Watch what other people are doing to get business. Talking to small business owners on-line or in person can provide a wealth of valuable information that will help direct your efforts. These are all things successful people do when starting and growing their businesses.

    Often the first couple of clients give you the confidence to keep trying and refining your methods. Pay close attention to what clients tell you about your product or service. Big companies pay thousands of dollars to get this information through things like surveys. Successful companies know what their customers like and dislike about their company and are prepared to change and adapt accordingly.

    If you’ve decided this is for you, accessing some self-employment training is very important. Financial management training and a business plan will smooth your way forward and further ensure your success. Guidance from experienced professionals will help you feel confident you’re on the right track and help you answer the many questions that can stall progress in the early months of self-employment. Check our Business Services page for more information.

    Are You Ready to Be Your Own Boss?

    Although it’s very appealing to answer to no one, the reality is you must answer to your customers if you expect them to part with their hard-earned dollars to buy from you. The sales process starts with developing a relationship and this takes hard work. You are essentially your own motivator, problem solver, and deal closer when taking on self-employment.

    Entrepreneurship means forging your own path and destination. Do you have the passion and stamina to continually develop new ways to reach your target market and increase sales? It takes creativity, a willingness to learn from mistakes, and fearless decision-making to succeed in today’s business environment, where change is constant and technology is a tidal wave that can crush or sustain you.

    Social networking can be done for free to some extent but you have to know how to use it effectively or you may not be reaching your critical target market. Who are you trying to reach? What is their age range? Where do they live? You must be the solution to a problem or need your potential customer might have.

    One method of staying afloat in self-employment is to develop and nurture a network of business associates with whom you can sub-contract, refer business, and gain support. With the most successful businesses I have worked with, this is the key to early and sustained financial success. Don’t burn bridges with those difficult people who often cross our path. Be friendly with those you meet, even if they don’t seem to be able to positively affect your revenue stream.

    Social skills and the ability to build a rapport with someone else will often make or break your business in the long run. Practice developing a comfort level with those you wish to get to know and you will develop mutually beneficial relationships both personally and professionally. Remember your friends, neighbours, people in line-ups, and even at summer barbeques, could be your future customer. Your ability to develop a relaxed conversation with almost anyone anytime is a powerful asset. It is often the key to sales and business longevity.

    If you want smooth sailing you have to learn the skills to navigate your ship in any kind of weather. Job Skills offers a range of Business Services, click here for more information.

    image of a dove, with the word Peace in multiple languages

    image depicting Job Skills' hours over the holiday season: All locations closed on December 26, 27, 28 andJanuary; Normal hours resume on January 3rd. When open, hours at all locations will be 8:30 am - 4:30 pm. The Keswick Employment Services location will be open until 7:00 pm on January 3rd, the Markham Employment Services location will be open until 7:00 pm on January 5th.

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