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If Facebook Were a Country…

Whether you are a job seeker, you are in a career transition or you are an entrepreneur, it’s impossible to ignore social media these days. Career and business opportunities are aplenty via Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter, but are you taking advantage of them? If you are not already convinced, read the following stats taken from an email from John Assaraf, of OneCoach:

Did you know that…

  • If Facebook were a country, it would be third-largest in the world, and growing faster than #1 and #2 combined?
  • YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world. Every minute, 24 hours of video is uploaded to it.
  • LinkedIn is the largest network of business professionals in the world, with over 70 million users in 200 countries. 12 million of them visit daily, and a new one joins every second.
  • Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers. 96% of them have joined a social network.
  • 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations about products. Only 14% trust ads.
  • 93% of all business buyers believe all companies should be on social media platforms.

Although these questions were geared to business owners, it applies equally to job seekers and those in a career transition.  Arm yourself with the tools of the social media revolution. Test the waters and swim in the one that appeals to you. Do something, will you?

The Ups and Downs of Job Hopping

Last week I was sourced by Globe and Mail columnist, Wallace Immen, for his article on Job Hoppers Need to Look Before They Leap. Some recruiters or hiring managers will toss a resume if they notice too many short term jobs; others will be realistic and look for contributions made or value added in these positions. Although there’s a stigma attached to those who ‘job hop’, job hopping has its pros and cons.

Pros

  • It is not frowned upon as it was in the past, given the upheavals in the economy and the rippling effects on the job market.
  • It broadens one’s skill-set and makes the individual more marketable.
  • It allows the person to work in different environments and bring different perspectives of how things are done in other companies.
  • It gives the individual a wider network of people to tap into when seeking other job opportunities.

Cons

  • Because of the cost involved, employers are not going to spend time and money to hire someone they suspect will only be with them for a short time.
  • The potential employee could be seen as a bad decision-maker, a bad fit, or uncommitted, if he or she  is unable to give an explanation for the short tenure of these jobs.

It’s unfortunate that a lot of focus is placed on job seekers, because the reality is that more employers are hiring people on short-term contracts, which then contributes to higher incidences of job hopping. This common practice also breeds disloyalty as the employee develops this ‘one foot in, one foot out‘ mentality, because they know they can be laid off at any time without notice.

It is time that recruiters and hiring managers take a different approach to job hopping based on these realities and, instead, look for what each individual has accomplished during these short job stints. Job hoppers, on the other hand, who have a high performance record should ensure their resumes reflect the significant contributions they made at these different jobs. This will certainly help to divert attention from the number of jobs, to the accomplishments. Another strategy, though loathed by recruiters, is to use a functional resume format.

One thing that’s often overlooked is that job hopping is a choice for some individuals who consider themselves ‘free agents’ and who enjoy the flexibility to work from project to project then move on. What are your thoughts?

2010 FIFA World Cup & the ‘No Canadian Experience’ Myth

Imagine this…A team of professional soccer players arriving in South Africa all eager to participate in the 2010 FIFA World Cup series. On reaching the stadium they are told they cannot play because they had never played in South Africa before. In fact, they are told they do not have any “South African Experience”, notwithstanding that many of them previously played for teams such as Man U, Juventus, Ghana, Team Canada and Team USA.  What a shock! What are they to do? Some will quickly pack their bags and head back to their former teams, but others won’t have that option. They cannot return, neither can they tell their family and friends ‘back home’ that they didn’t have South African experience and therefore, could not participate in the games.

They are perplexed and start asking questions among themselves. How different can playing soccer in South Africa be from playing in the UK or Italy? Don’t they kick the ball the same way? Don’t they have goalies at opposing ends? Doesn’t each game last for 90 minutes with a break after 45 minutes? Don’t they hand out yellow and red cards for the same infractions?

The above analogy is played out time and again when many internationally-educated professionals (IEPs) arrive in Canada. Every year, Canada accepts approximately 250,000 new immigrants from all over the world, most of whom tend to settle in the MTV hubs – Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver.  Many of these newcomers are highly-educated and usually gain permanent residency status under the Independent Category, meaning they applied on their own and were not sponsored by family members. Although their educational qualifications and work experience play a huge part in determining whether or not they are approved for residency, once they arrive, these same qualifications appear to play a less significant role in helping them find good jobs. This is when they are likely to hear that they lack Canadian work experience.

Why is there a disconnect between employers and IEPs?  The reasons vary. Some IEPs come with a set of expectations only to discover a different reality. Employers, on the other hand, are not aware of what IEPs bring to the mix. They struggle to understand if a degree from India, Venezuela or Moscow is comparable to the Canadian standard. They are concerned about the inability of some IEPs to converse effectively in one or both of Canada’s two official languages. They are afraid to take a chance with someone they don’t know, and if a resume indicates that the person’s last job was in another country, it’s automatically relegated to the ‘No Canadian experience’ file.

While the discourse is taking place, Toronto is losing billions of dollars because employers are failing to tap into the IEP’s skills. A recent study by the Toronto Board of Trade states, “Economists estimate the Toronto region is losing as much as $2.25-billion annually because people are unable to get jobs in keeping with their training and qualifications, or because they find these jobs, but aren’t getting paid as much as they could be.”

The next post will shed more light on this challenging situation, look at how the needs and expectations of employers and IEPs differ, and offer some strategies to bring them closer together.

The Green Economy & its Impact on Your Career

We have been hearing about the green economy and green careers, but many of us do not really understand what this means, and staying on top of this rapidly developing new economy is time consuming and can be overwhelming.

On Wednesday, April 28, I will be interviewing Carol McClelland, PhD, one of the leading green career experts and founder and executive director of Green Career Central.  We will be discussing the greening of the economy and its impact on one’s career. This is a timely topic, as it was quoted in the Globe and Mail a few days ago that the Government of Ontario will be investing $8 billion in green energy, which is expected to create approximately 20,000 jobs. In addition to the energy jobs, there are a lot of other green career options for technical and non-technical people.

During the show, Carol will talk about the industries and sectors that make up the green economy and this will help you discover where your skills, interests, and education fit in. Carol will also talk about actions you can take to figure out your green career focus and offer practical strategies you can use to transition into your green career.

Want more details? Visit the CareerTips2Go show page, send an email to careercoach@thewrightcareer.com with Green Careers in the subject line, or post your questions in the comments section below.

Be sure to join me on the call with Carol on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 2 pm Eastern.

I Just Got Laid Off…Now What?

As I listened to the message, the woman’s tone was one of panic and confusion. “I have just been laid off after 20 years at the same job. I received a severance package, but I am in my mid fifties and will need to continue working. I never took any additional training all these years, and I don’t have a clue how to conduct a job search. Can you help me?” My first thoughts were, “Why such a knee-jerk reaction? Didn’t you see it coming? What did you do for yourself and your career during all those years? When last did you update your resume? Do you have a network of people to turn to?” Of course, I banished those thoughts as quickly as they came, and returned her call. She was “still in a daze”, she told me, but I listened to her rants and then gave her the following careertips2go:

  1. It’s OK to be angry. Don’t bottle up your feelings. Anger, as long as it’s not misplaced, could have a healing effect, but choose your venue carefully. Do not vent at work or with coworkers or your boss. Such behaviour could be construed as negative and unprofessional; could damage relationships and thwart your chances of getting a good reference.
  2. Get support. Find a trustworthy person who will listen to you, and give you some good advice. Stay away from anyone who is inclined to help you bash the company or your boss as this is counter-productive.  Find a lawyer to review the severance package to see if it meets, at least, the minimum employment stand. The Law Society of Upper Canada has a Lawyer Referral Service where you can get up to 30 minutes of free legal advice. Visit www.lsuc.on.ca for additional information.
  3. Engage in self-care. For the first time in a long time, put yourself first. This is not the time to beat upon yourself and question your ability or self-worth. Take that long-awaited vacation to clear your head and develop strategies to help you bounce back. Use this time to redirect your energy into something productive.
  4. Focus on what you have gained from the experience. Turn this negative experience into something positive. Begin by spotlighting your assets. Keep a journal of your special job achievements, awards and recognitions received, and comments made by your supervisor, coworkers or customers. Write out an inventory of your transferable skills that could benefit another employer. All of these are your assets – documented evidence that validate your capabilities.
  5. Find resources within your community. There are many free and fee-based resources within your community. One such resource is the Second Career program introduced by the Ontario Government for individuals who have lost their jobs or been unemployed for a long period of time.  Explore this option, and if you are eligible, you could receive funding assistance to help you find a new career path.
  6. Remember that “This too shall pass”. What you are feeling now is real, but it won’t last forever. Sometimes, a layoff is just the prescription you need to propel you to action. Ask yourself some soul-searching questions like, Is it time to go back to school to gain additional skills? Do I have what it takes to start a business? What do I really enjoy doing, and should I be exploring this as one of my career options?
  7. Remain positive. The road to a successful job search, especially in such a competitive job market, is paved with disappointments and frustrations, but don’t give up. Join a support group like a Job-finding Club, or social media groups and engage in networking activities that will put in touch with people who can help you, or are willing to share their network of contacts with you.

These seven tips are not all-inclusive, but steps in the right direction. I welcome additional tips that could help others caught in a similar situation, and asking contemplating the thought “I just got laid off…now what?”

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