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Social Media Tools for Job Search is not Popular with Canadians

In a survey conducted by The Wright Career Solution in 2010, 65.6 percent of hiring managers and recruiters use social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) to look for candidates, yet in another survey by the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC), almost half (46%), of Canadians report that they do not use, nor are they interested in using social media to advance their career goals. What a disconnect!

Get a copy of The Wright Career Solution’s report here: Survey Results of Canadian Hiring Managers and CERIC’s at  Public Perception of Career Development and the Workplace.

Feel free to add your thoughts here

The Business Case for Hiring & Retaining Internationally Educated Individuals

On August 17, I was privileged to share the podium with The Hon. Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and Dr. Yamil Alonso, Program Coordinator for the Skills Without Borders project at the Brampton Board of Trade.

The event was an outreach to employers sponsored by COSTI Immigrant Services and the Brampton Board of Trade and titled The Business Case for Diversity: Hiring and Retaining Internationally Educated Individuals. Read a summary of my presentation in the latest issue of Career Highlights ezine, then click this link to go to the photo gallery.

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.

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.

Tips for Moms Returning to Work – Part II

When you are taking time away from work for motherhood, keep networking. The single most important thing you can do is keep in touch with former co-workers and other contacts.

Stephanie AuWerter, Senior Editor SmartMoney.com

Today’s tip is the second in the series for moms who are returning to work:

Tip #2: Fill in the gaps. You can fill the gaps by reflecting on some of the activities you were involved in while you were off. Focus on the challenges you faced, actions you took and the results those actions.  Think of your multi-tasking and organizational abilities, or your people and project management skills when you led the delegation that met with corporate sponsors for the Girl Guides. Think of how you may have sharpened your Excel skills when you created a budget to manage the household finances. These might not have been paid activities, but you were certainly honing in on your skills.

The next tip in the series will be Tip #3: Choosing the Right Résumé Format.

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.

Monday Morning Career Tips on My Radio Show

Just recorded 2 episodes of my radio show – one on Boosting Your Self-esteem, the other on 7 Career Survival Tips for Turbulent Times @ http://tinyurl.com/bxbvsy.

Self-esteem is based on how you see your abilities and your worth as a person. People with low self-esteem are usually negative about themselves and their abilities. They are afraid to accept who they are, yet self-acceptance is crucial to one’s self-esteem. Listen to this short Monday morning builder-upper, pointers that you can ponder on during the day and boost your self-esteem.

The doom and gloom frenzy seem to be taking over our ability to think straight. Don’t fear, the 7 Career Survival Tips in Turbulent Times will help you see things in perspective. Listen to it on my BlogTalkRadio show or copy and paste this link to read the full article at The Wright Career Solution: http://tinyurl.com/bugd2q

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

How To Secure Your Dream Job

“The most important thing is that you must understand the company you are approaching. Then show them you can marry the organisation with your personal qualities.

“Most companies don’t care about anything except how the interviewee is going to improve the company itself. So tell them: Sell yourself as a package; present yourself as a business proposition. You are delivering a set of expectations related to your education, upbringing, attitude – your brand.

When you are looking for a job, you’re searching for an avenue to show The Ultimate You. Your main selling point should be to show how you will help the organisation reach its goals, while you are reaching your own.

“Also important is how you present yourself. Your appearance must mirror the image of the organisation. Reflect how the head of the organisation presents himself or herself. The CEO is the embodiment of its brand, and you cannot go wrong projecting a similarity. It doesn’t mean you must spend the kind of money that they do on clothing – it is more about attitude and capturing their brand.”

thebe ikalafeng
Brand expert and author