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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 E.A.S.Y Way to Ace Your Next Interview

As career professionals, we can learn a lot from our clients. They come to us because of their perceived belief that we have all the answers. They believe we have the expertise to help them when they are seeking a professional resume to distinguish themselves from other candidates, or when they are looking for interview coaching to help them tell their stories and get hired.  Little do they know how much they also bring to the coaching relationship and how much we learn from them.

I am coaching a young man who is interviewing for a position in law enforcement. His contact at the agency suggested he retains a Career Coach to help him prepare for the interview. After our first session and I had given him his homework assignment, he sent a note to say someone in his network heard of an E.A.S.Y. way to practice for this particular type of interview. I was intrigued! After all, I had coached other law enforcement clients before and always used the S.T.A.R. or C.A.R. interview technique. Was this something new?

When I reviewed the concept, I found out it operates on the same premise as the C.A.R. technique we had agreed to practice. Now, we wouldn’t have to ditch our original plan, except that we would now be working with a different acronym – E.A.S.Y.Event, Action, Step taken and Yield (or Outcome). Once we got that straightened out, it was easy to get back on track to prepare for the next session.

If you are a job seeker and would like to ace your next interview, or you are a career coach and would like to incorporate another acronym into your interview coaching toolkit, it’s E.A.S.Y. :

E – Event:                           What event did you face?

A – Action:                         What did you do?

S – Step taken:                  What steps were involved?

Y – Yield:                            What did you get? What was the outcome?

So, Miss or Mr. Job-Seeker, the next time you are preparing for your interview, suggest to your coach that you use the E.A.S.Y. way to tell your success stories and get hired.

What are your thoughts? Please leave your comments below.

Case Study: Interview Coaching Nets Client $20,000 Pay Increase

The above title reads like a headline from your local newspaper, but this is a classic story of what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

Rick is an IT Project Manager, and has been my client for the past three years. He reconnected with me recently for interview coaching as he was pursuing an opportunity through a recruiter. He met with the recruiter and got a clear idea of the challenges his target company was facing. Using that information he developed a strategic plan, prepared a PowerPoint presentation highlighting the challenges and offering solutions, and sent it to the recruiter for review. The recruiter was so impressed with his approach that he asked all shortlisted candidates to prepare a presentation.

By the time Rick came to me for coaching, he had updated the presentation to include matrices and charts, and was confident he knew what the company needed and the value he could offer them. I reviewed the presentation with him, then we focussed on interview questions he would most likely be asked. To cover all bases, we reviewed other questions that could come up based on the problems he identified and the environment in which he was going to work. He left feeling very confident.

At the interview, all eyes were focused on him and the presentation. When the interview ended he was told that he would hear from them by Friday. In less than two hours, and before he got back to his office, they called to offer him the position. Not only did he get the job, but it came with a $20,000 pay increase and an excellent benefit package.

Here are some things that Rick did right:

  • He took his job search very seriously instead of leaving it up to luck.
  • He did not wait until a day or two before his interview to seek coaching. Too many people go to the interview ill-prepared and with high expectation that something miraculous will happen.
  • He researched  the company, found out what problems they faced and offered strategies for solution.
  • He separated himself from his competitors by going the extra mile. He capitalized on his strength and, in so doing, raised the bar by which the other candidates were measured.
  • His expertise and enthusiasm shone during the coaching session and because of that we were confident he would do well at the interview.

Rick’s case is not unusual. More and more hiring managers are asking candidates, particularly those at the managerial and executive levels, to prepare to deliver a 10-15 minute presentation. Rick was not asked to do one, but it gave him an edge, and to a large extent, allowed him to set the agenda and control the interview.

I have coached many individuals to do what Rick did.  In one case, it was a corporate lawyer who wanted to apply for an internal position as Corporate Responsibility Officer. A presentation was not a requirement but I suggested she prepared one anyway, as she was competing with three other internal candidates. From her assessment, they appeared to have had the edge, including one who was with the company for 22 years and was acting in the position. The research that she did and the strategy we developed helped her to ace the interview and get the job!

As competition increases, job seekers are being pushed to find creative ways to stand out from the crowd. Not everyone will have the successes mentioned above; not everyone will be vying for positions at those levels, but if you are serious about moving your career forward, it requires an investment of your time.

Some people spend more time planning their vacation than they do their job search, and from my experience, it’s easy to spot these individuals. They call in a panic the day before the interview to ask “Do you guys do interview coaching, and can you see me this weekend?” or they leave a message wanting to know the fee for a ‘general’ or ‘generic’ resume so they can apply for a job that has a deadline the next day. This quick fix, microwave approach won’t work, and that’s the reason some people’s job search go wrong. Don’t let this happen to you.

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.

Career Coach Roundtable Session at Schulich School of Business

I was one of seven coaches invited to participate in roundtable discussions on career related matters at Connect 2009 – The Annual Schulich Alumni Forum.   This Personal Coaching session was quite popular, and sold out prior to the event.

Here I am with a captive MBA audience facilitating a discussion on Building Your Presence in the Social Media Era. Gist of the session included:

Why Social Media?

  • The traditional approach to job search has changed
  • More competition for available jobs
  • More touch points for recruiters and job seekers

For those who are not aware of two of the more popular social networks, here’s a summary:

LinkedIn is one of the fastest-growing recruiting tools used by recruiters. It is a great source for finding candidates because it’s free and top professionals can be found there.

Twitter, a free online micro-blogging application is also popular with recruiters, HR professionals, career coaches, resume writers and hiring managers. Therefore, in order to connect with these people, it is important to incorporate social media into your job search mix to enhance your chances of being found by employers.

As a micromessaging service with its 140-character limit, Twitter allows you to build your personal or business brand, develop relationships with people you wouldn’t normally meet, and gives you a chance to expand your network and sphere of influence.

So jump on the social media bandwagon, use it wisely and prioritize your efforts so that you don’t waste time.

My next post will take a look at Manpower’s latest research on Social Networks and the effectiveness of social media.

When it Comes to Your Résumé, Focus is Key

One of my clients is currently in staffing, has a payroll background and wants me to tweak her résumé for a job in HR. I asked her to send me a sample HR job, so I can begin the work. She told me that I must use the résumé I have on file. That résumé is all about payroll.

It occurred to me that many people are not aware that a one-size-fits-all résumé, especially if one is applying to a variety of positions even within the same industry, just does not work. As accomplished and qualified as you may be, if your résumé lacks focus and does not address the employer’s needs, it will be tossed in ‘File 13’, which is the garbage bin. You can have one résumé as your master, but be prepared to tweak it for each position.

To begin writing or reformatting your résumé, dissect the job posting to see exactly what the employer is asking for. Think of your experience and see how closely it aligns with the requirements of the job. Do not include any information that does not relate to the position. Then, take your time to reflect on the challenges you faced in each situation, the actions you took, and the outcomes or results of your actions. This process allows you to show your accomplishments, gives an idea of your potential, and let the employer know that you understand their needs, and if given the opportunity, you can replicate youre successes, and even exceed their expectations.

If you would like to give your résumé a better chance of being plucked from the pile, make sure it’s focused and answers the employer’s WIIFM question: What’s in it for me? I tell my clients from time to time that if the employer asks for apples in thejob posting, give them apples, not bananas, oranges and grapes, unless these will enhance their chances of being called for an interview. When it comes to your résumé, focus is key.

If you require help with this very important job search document, don’t be afraid to seek professional assistance. Consider it an investment, not a cost.

6+ Phrases to Avoid in your Cover Letter

In the daily discourse on career matters, a lot of time is spent discussing how to create resumes that are  tight and focused on  the employer’s needs. This attempt to be brief becomes even more relevant in this 140-character Twitter era, when ‘less means more’. If we are going to aim for brevity in our writings, let’s forget the resume for a bit and take a look at the cover letter.

It is widely said that half of hiring managers don’t read cover letters, so it’s safe to assume that  the other half does. For those who do, we wouldn’t want them to throw the cover letter in ‘File 13’ (the garbage bin), because it contains too many clichés or over-used phrases.  Here are some popular phrases to avoid in your cover letter if you want to capture and keep the attention of the hiring manager:

1.     “Please be advised…”. Unless you are in the role of an advisor, eliminate this phrase. Simply state what you have done. “I have sent a copy to Human Resources”.

2.     “Enclosed please find” or “Attached herewith.” If it is enclosed or attached, the reader will find it. Use “Enclosed (or Attached) is…”.

3.     “Yours very truly”, “Very truly yours”, and “Respectfully”. These archaic phrases disappeared many moons ago. Using the word ‘yours’ gives the impression you belong to the reader. Use “Sincerely,” instead.

4.     “Feel free to contact me”, or “Please do not hesitate to contact me”. These clichés have outlived their times. It’s better to say “Please contact me.”

5.      “Above-referenced”. Don’t ask the reader to take his or her eyes back to the reference line. Instead, re-state whatever you are referring to – the subject, title or position.

6.     “I have forwarded…”. Say “I sent” instead. Short and to the point.

Is there a phrase or two you would like to add? Go ahead and comment below.

More Tips on Using Twitter in Your Job Search

Twitter is the one of the coolest job search tools. Click on the link to find valuable tips on how to use this fascinating tool in your job search.

Some topics include:

* How to get the most out of your page
* How to evaluate a recruiter on Twitter
* Job search tools
* Specific job search accounts

Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/daisywright

Daisy Wright to Speak at Sheridan College

Attend this 1.5 hour presentation at Sheridan College in Brampton tomorrow, January 20, at 6 pm. The presentation will include:

**How to Bridge the “No Canadian Experience” Gap

**Creating a Road Map to SUCCESS

**Elements of Effective Communication (and it has nothing to do with Words)

**The 3 R’s of an Effective Job Search

**Using Social Media as a Networking Tool

Do You Want to be Supported or Stretched in 2009?

Hello Readers,

Happy New Year! I would like to share with you a part of an email from motivational speaker Jonathan Sprinkles in which he asks whether the people we associate with SUPPORT or STRETCH us. Do they support us because they care how we feel or do they stretch us so we can question the self-imposed limitations we place on ourselves? Great points to ponder for 2009!

According to Jonathan:

People who SUPPORT you care how you feel.
People who STRETCH you care how you finish.

People who SUPPORT you don’t want you to get hurt.
People who STRETCH you don’t want you to waste your potential.

People who SUPPORT you want you to feel loved.
People who STRETCH you want you to feel challenged.

People who SUPPORT you tell you it’s okay.
People who STRETCH you ask you how you’re going to do better next time.

People who SUPPORT you want you to be safe.
People who STRETCH you love you too much to let you stay where you are.

My wish for you in 2009 is that you will surround yourself with a good blend of supporters and stretchers. Supporters are great, but you need some no-nonsense stretchers to force you out of your comfort zone and set you on the path to achieving your goals. Olympians Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps had stretchers who helped them reach their gold-medal potential…so can you!

Happy New Year!

Daisy