Are you a sugarplum, rum ball or candy cane?

Are you a sugarplum, rum ball or candy cane?

Are you a sugarplum, rum ball or candy cane?

I’ll admit, this post required a bit of research, first off I honestly didn’t know what sugarplums were, apparently they were a popular Christmas treat in 16th century England and are basically stewed plums in sugar cane cooked to gooey perfection…sounds pretty yummy! So now the big question, when job searching what are YOU most like? A sugarplum, rum ball or candy cane? It’s a question for the ages! Take this sweet questionnaire and find out:

1. Do thoughts of you keep dancing in an employer’s head long after an interview?

A) No, I just hang around and see what happens

B) Yes, I make sure I send a positive thank you card and follow up later

C) I’m not sure, I can’t remember!

2. Are you multifaceted and have many different colourful skills to offer?

A) Yes, I have many skills and I’m always looking to add more to my repertoire

B) No, I don’t have a lot of skills but what I have has stood the test of time

C) I have a sprinkling of skills here and there but only on the surface

3. When you’re not offered a job do you tend to stew about it or hook up with new opportunities?

A) I figure it just wasn’t the right fit and use the chance to catch the interviewers attention and ask how to improve my skills

B) Yes, I stew and think constantly about what happened

C) I just roll with the punches!

4. Do you leave your job search space a big ol’ sticky mess or do you make sure that everything is hanging in its proper place?

A) In my space everything has it’s spot. I use a job search and network-tracking sheet. You just never know when you might get a call for an interview!

B) Yeah I have papers everywhere but my memory is good and I can recall information when needed

C) I’m a bit messy but at least it’s all in one spot!

5. Are you able to fit into many different situations or are you relegated to only one type of environment?

A) Yes I’m adaptable and can move from site to site if needed

B) No I can only be in a specific place and don’t feel comfortable in situations outside my element

C) I’m adaptable and can roll from one thing to another within reason of course!

Well this is not exactly a scientific questionnaire, but if you answered mainly:

A) You’re a candy cane; you’re minty fresh and up for anything!

B) You’re a sugarplum baby! And although not exactly current or neat, you’ve stood the test of time

C) You’re a rum ball; you know how to keep your cool no matter what!

Elaine Logie is an Employment Advisor at the Career Foundation and infamous MCACESBlogger! Elaine has just completed her Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario. Congratulations, Elaine! If you enjoy our MCACESBlogs, please spread some Christmas cheer and spread the news! Merry Christmas!

Show me the $! Salary Expectations & You

Picture this. You’re at a job interview. You’re charming everyone with professional poise and company knowledge. Everything is going according to plan. Even that nasty, no eye contact person has cracked what could be defined as a smile! The session is going extremely well until the employer asks that one loaded question:

“What are your salary expectations?”

If unprepared, those 5 words can kill any chances of a job offer.

What’s in a wage?

It’s always an awkward thing, having to put a price on you, face to face. It’s funny how many people have no qualms advertising how poorly paid they are, but when asked what that number may be, they clam right up!

How does one find out their worth?  That really depends on three key factors; what you can afford to be making, your previous experience and what’s considered standard in your industry.

The following website will provide you with national wages by occupation:

This website might be a good starting point to see what the average wage of someone in your field would be. Keep these wages in mind when considering your own salary expectations.

Whenever possible, always opt for a salary range i.e. “35 000 – 40 000 per year” or rate “19 to 22 dollars per hour.” Always consider your level of experience with what you need to survive, but also something that will allow you to exist comfortably.

So, how should your expectations read within a cover letter? Show that you’ve given this question some thought; “After careful consideration regarding the position requirements in relation to my current experience relevant competences, I would aspire toward a salary range between ___ and ____.”

You could also mention how this salary range could also be negotiated upon receiving a job offer, or once a probation period was completed.

By utilizing the salary range route, you leave room for flexibility. Say if you were content to make $18 an hour and the employer was willing to give you $20 per hour, then a rate range between $18-22 per hour would be put you in a great situation.

Give your salary expectations some thoughtful consideration.

As much as you want the job, you don’t want to get a second one in order to survive.


Lidia Siino is the Professional Development & Communications Specialist for MCACES, the Mohawk College Association of Continuing Education Students in Hamilton, Ontario. She has over 12 years of experience working with adult learners and post-secondary students on their respective career development journeys. If you like what you read, be sure to follow our blog and share with your network!

What’s Your Brand?

A brand is how a person feels about a person, product or oganization.

A brand is how a person feels about a person, product or oganization.

I am not an avid Coke drinker by any means but during the holidays I cannot resist purchasing a six pack of those little glass bottles of dark, sweet, caffeinated liquid! And even though we become inundated with the holiday polar bear commercials, this is not what provokes me into making the purchase, either.

What is it then, you might ask? Well, it’s the way that those little glass bottles make me feel. That’s right, drinking soda from glass bottles elicits a feeling of sheer, unadulterated happiness that reminds me of my childhood.

Coca Cola wasn’t even my drink of choice as a kid; it was Cream Soda by The PopShop, for crying out loud! But, soda in any kind of glass bottle brings me immediately back to the carefree days of my youth when during ‘special occasions’, we popped the cap of any icy cold bottle of pop and drank in its syrupy goodness! So, kudos to Coca Cola and their brilliant job at branding!

Branding is not a product, a logo or a mission statement. A brand is how a person feels about a product, service or organization. Strong brands like Apple, Google and Coca Cola are all highly credible, high quality brands that promote a general feeling of trust and security amongst consumers.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you yourself could convey that kind of feeling to an employer?!? Well…you CAN! It’s called Personal Branding. Start by developing a brief statement that communicates who you are, what you are looking for and how you can benefit an employer.

Often referred to as “the 30 second elevator speech”, this pitch is like a mini commercial about yourself! Practice this statement often so that it comes across naturally when you are networking or introducing yourself to prospective employers.

Continue to build your brand through a professional resume, a portfolio, and don’t forget your online image! Be consistent and work to maintain your brand. A strong, clear brand can help you become known for what you are good at and hopefully set you apart from everyone else!

Karen Cake is a student from the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, ON. For more information about the Career Consultant Certificate Program, or how MCACES helps students with Employment Advisement, please contact Lidia Siino, Professional Development & Communications Specialist at

The best present of all

the greatest gift of all

the greatest gift of all

Be open to the present! “How to create unexpected opportunities”

With Black Friday signaling the upcoming holidays, it’s easy to start worrying about the job market in the New Year or reminiscing about how your job search efforts went in the past. While it’s hard to keep your mind in the present, you may miss potential job prospects.

It’s sounds like a paradox but you need to construct unexpected career opportunities. This concept is summed up in what John D. Krumboltz calls “Planned Happenstance.”

As an example of this theory, Krumboltz uses the story of high-powered professional sports agent, Leigh Steinberg. You remember the movie Jerry McGuire? Well, it’s based on Leigh’s life and career, most of which he chalks up to “pure, random chance.” But was it really random? Did he in fact manufacture his future career, albeit unknowingly, through a series of circumstances and choices?

In an interview Leigh recounts how it all started while attending the University of California at Berkeley while studying environmental law in the early 70’s. As luck would have it a freshman football team moved into his dormitory and after befriending several students he ended up eventually representing Steve Bartkowski, at his request, in contract negotiations with the Atlanta Falcons and well the rest as they say is history…. If you look closely at Leigh’s story you’ll realize that what happened wasn’t really “pure, random chance” but a set of circumstances that Leigh choose to act on, setting aside his own fears, he grabbed the opportunity before him.

You’re probably asking yourself how do I create these types of opportunities? Well, first you’ll need to develop 5 important skills:

Explore new learning opportunities. Take a course, try a new idea talk to insiders you would never have talked to before.

Even when things get hard you need to re-exert your efforts and try again.

With emerging technology and changes in the workplace you need to adapt. For example, if a strategy in your job-search isn’t working, change your tactics.

You need to keep positive and believe that you can attain your goals.

Take a page from Leigh and go for something even if it’s risky, sometimes it’s in the process of trying that opportunities happen.

Now you’ll be able to say “show me the money!” sooner than you think!

Elaine Logie is an Employment Advisor at the Career Foundation and frequent MCACESBlogger. MCACESBlogs is series of posts aimed at helping job seekers with their respective paths. Be sure to follow our blog today!

EEEEEK! Are you a scary Networker?!?!?!

Ever wonder how you come across to others while networking? Don’t you wish you could take a potion and become a network sorcerer or wizard, the likes of which has never been seen? Maybe a little eye of newt or wing of bat will do the trick? Well probably not…thankfully networking doesn’t require magic; just a few simple tricks to keep you from being one of the creatures that go bump in the night!

Speaking of bumping …try not to network like you’re all thumbs and awkward to boot! So how do you avoid dropping your drink on a company CEO or inadvertently elbowing a server? If possible go to the event venue early before the crowds, look around, check out the guest list and then come back later. It helps to know your surroundings so you’ll feel more comfortable, plus nothings worse then not being able to find the washroom.


What kind of scary networker are you?

What kind of scary networker are you?

You’ve finally got a chance to chat with an important contact, when suddenly the conversation starts to unravel, what do you do? Easy! Rise to the challenge and ask them about an upcoming trend in their field. You’ll show them you’re not ancient but on top of the latest information while gaining valuable insight into their opinions to better tailor your marketing strategy. Plus, everyone feels flattered when you take a genuine interest in his or her thoughts.

Don’t suck the life out of a room! Pause between breathes and allow your other networkers to speak, it’s often in the pauses that “real” information can be gathered. Good listening skills show others that you have consideration for their ideas and opinions.

It’s true that most people go to networking events to pick each other people’s brains but don’t go overboard and treat it like a buffet! Gently ask people questions, your not interrogating a helpless subject but sharing valuable information. Remember conversations are a two-way street, plus by sharing you’ll show others you’re not just out for yourself.

Hey wallflower…yeah I’m talking to you! Try not to shrink away from the crowds and disappear into the scenery. If it helps take a friend, even if they aren’t really there to network they can offer some moral support… just don’t hang on them for dear life!

Now that you’ve tricked yourself into not focusing on the horrors of networking, the chances it’ll be a treat instead. Happy Halloween!

Elaine Logie is a student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College and MCACESBlogs blogger. MCACESBlogs is a series of posts, tips and musings for job seekers and their respective networks. Follow our blog and be less scared of the job search process. Happy reading! Happy Halloween!

The one thing you should be thankful for…

As the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone, we lethargically dust ourselves off, find a forgiving pair of pants and go back to the daily grind of life.

What does your life entail? It could be a turkey pot pie of work, family, education, volunteering …and all of those layers in between.

We forge on, back to old habits, seemingly managing routines without giving conscious thought to who we’ve become, how we got there, and how the hell we’re going to fit back into our normal clothes.

If you’re reading this post, I encourage you to pause for a moment.

Pause, and give thanks to the MVPs within your network.

“How do I do that?”

Think about your accomplishments as well as your failures. Who has been there for you? For the wins? The losses? Both?

Your MVPS can be anyone–a sibling, an educator, supervisor, mentor or friend.

Give thanks to these key players in your life.

These are the people who believed in you long before you believed in yourself.

“What if it’s been a long time? I feel awkward!”

Know that taking quality time out of your chaos to acknowledge others is almost always welcome.

Expressing gratitude takes a minimal amount of time and hardly costs any money. And, by doing so, you are setting a fantastic example for your peers.

A phone call, email, text message, written note—in the time it takes you to heat up leftovers, you can thank a network MVP.

So, with that said, it’s time to practice what I’ve been preaching!

Twelve years ago to this day, two very special people took a chance on me. In spite of my protests, I began a job that many thought should not have been created in the first place.

From these two amazing women, I learned many things. Most important, I learned to the power of internal strength—the courage to stand up for what I felt strongly about, and the poise to do so with diplomacy.

Thank you for being my MVPs.

Without you, I’d be a turkey without any gravy or stuffing.

Lidia Siino’s background is in career development, communications, adult learning and facilitation. With a Diploma in Journalism and Certificates in Career Consultant, Workplace Leadership and Teaching the Adult Learner programs through Mohawk College, she enjoys teaching these topics to adult learners.
She has spent over 12 years as an Employment and Communications Specialist for MCACES, the Mohawk College Association of Continuing Education Students.

Mentorship is a Two-Way Street

It’s a lot like asking someone to hire you because you need a job. What’s in it for them?!

It’s a lot like
asking someone to hire you because you need a job. What’s in it for them?!

Ask a highly successful person about important milestones on the path to a rewarding
career and he or she will most likely credit the influence and help of a mentor. We can all agree on the value of a mentor, but how to acquire one is not as obvious. Simply approaching a more senior professional that you respect and admire and asking him or her to be your mentor feels awkward and there’s a good reason for that. It’s a lot like asking someone to hire you because you need a job. What’s in it for them?!

From the outside, a mentor may seem akin to a fairy godmother who taps us with her
magic wand and transforms us into more successful versions of ourselves, never asking
for any favours in return. In reality, a true mentorship is much more of a partnership and the benefits have to go both ways.

To illustrate, imagine that you are just starting out in your career and you are being interviewed for internships by two different managers. One of them admits that he doesn’t have a project in mind for you just yet, but that he is happy to hire you anyway and is confident you will have a good learning experience just hanging out with the rest of his group. The other is very keen to hear that you have some of the skills she requires for a project already on the go. Her group is smaller and she really seems to need an extra pair of hands. She lays out what your contribution will be and you are surprised by the level of responsibility you will have. This is definitely not a “make work project”. Which position is more likely to result in a mentorship? !

While there are no guarantees that you will acquire a mentor at critical stages in your career, you can choose to work in environments where mentorships are more likely to flourish. A true mentor will have a vested interest in your success, usually because you are bringing something to the table which increases her chance of success. A two-way street. Win, win.

Caroline Burgess is an Educational Consultant and student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACESBlogs is a series of posts aimed at assisting job seekers and those in career development. Like what you read? Be sure to share our info to your network. Happy reading!

Risk Failure to Achieve Career Success!

If I told you that I have been downhill skiing for more than forty years, you might assume that, by now, I must be really good. You would be wrong. I am what I like to call a “cautious skier”. I seek out the green runs and my goal is always the same – to stay
upright. I would like to ski better, or at least enjoy it more, but my anxiety about the possibility of falling down and hurting myself causes me to tense up unless I am well inside my comfort zone, skiing along trails that barely qualify as hills.

Recently, I asked a friend, who is a ski instructor, for some advice on how I might improve. She told me that if I genuinely want to become a better skier, I will have to get out of my comfort zone, take on more challenging hills, build up some speed, and risk a wipe-out. Sage advice, and also an excellent prescription for career success.

We all enjoy feeling competent at work and school and many of us gravitate to tasks we find easy with the goal of pats on the back at work or high grades at school. Challenges come with the risk of failure and possible confirmation that we are not smart enough or talented enough to handle a more difficult problem or a more complicated situation. Unfortunately, over time, this strategy can result in negative career growth. It is associated with what psychologist Carol Dweck has identified as a “Fixed Mindset”,

People with this characteristic believe that they have fixed intelligence and abilities. In their minds, if a skill requires effort to master, if they are not “naturals”, then they must be missing that talent. They avoid challenges, and failure may cause them to withdraw from a particular field of endeavour altogether (e.g. “I will never be good at math” or “I’m just not management material”).

Taking risks may lead to career success!

Taking risks may lead to career success!

In contrast, Dr. Dweck’s research has shown that people with a “Growth Mindset” believe they can build their capabilities through effort and practice. They see setbacks as a part of their growth and look for ways around them, applying even more effort and seeking even greater challenges. They are committed to learning. Not surprisingly, people with a growth mindset are more likely to realize their potential in all areas, including their careers

Stepping outside of your comfort zone to accept a new challenge at work may feel scary, and contemplating a public failure may make you cringe. But situations which make us the most uncomfortable can also offer the most opportunity for growth. If you are serious about taking your career to the next level, you may have to risk a wipe-out.

Caroline Burgess is an Educational Consultant and student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACESBlogs is a series of posts aimed at assisting job seekers and those in career development. Be sure to share our info to your network. Happy reading!

Convince Yourself First!

Many of us would put “looking for a job” right up there with “root canal surgery” in a list of least favourite things. The idea of trying to convince potential employers that one is worthy of a second look is daunting. We all angst about résumé styles and possible interview questions, wondering what detail might make the difference between success and failure.

Before you even start worrying about how to convince a potential employer of your worthiness, take the time to convince yourself. An exercise that can be very helpful in this regard is to contact at least four people from amongst relatives, work colleagues, friends and neighbours – people who have known you for some time – and ask them to list what they perceive as your skills in three categories: !
• Personal/self management skills (example, “conscientious”)
• Technical/work knowledge specific skills (example, “teaching”)
• Transferable skills (example, “customer service”)

Hearing from other people about the qualities and skills you might bring to a job is helpful in two ways. Firstly, you should see some overlap in the reported skills and this indicates that you project these particular skills well. Secondly, you may find that some of the skills you are most proud of have been overlooked by your peers. This may have a situational cause (you may not be using all of your skills in each context), or it may reflect that you are not projecting these skills as well as you could. If the latter, it is worth digging a little deeper to understand why not. Possessing a skill that no one is aware of is a bit like that question “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”. You have to employ a skill and demonstrate your proficiency to others in order to prove its value.!

Confidence comes from self-knowledge. Seeking feedback on goforthegold-620x298your skill set from trusted individuals, before you launch yourself into the job market, is time and effort well-spent.

Caroline Burgess is an Educational Consultant and student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACESBlogs is a series of posts aimed at assisting job seekers and those in career development. Thanks for reading!

The Purpose of a Thank-You Letter

Writing a thank you letter after an employment interview has become the norm, some employer’s think less of those candidates who fail to follow up with a thank you letter.

The purpose of a thank you letter is to acts as a follow-up “sales” letter, it will restate why you want the job, remind employer of your qualifications, how you might make significant contributions, discuss anything of importance that your interviewer neglected to ask, summarize a question you failed to answer well or you neglected to answer thoroughly, help to remind employer who you are and make yourself standout (among several candidates).

A normal timeframe to submit a thank you letter is normally Between 24 – 36 hrs after interview but try to do it sooner rather than later, it shows interest and enthusiasm.
There are different ways to send a thank letter:
• Send or drop off a thank you card
• Send an email
• Post a thank you letter

Each of these may have pros and cons but nonetheless it is something important and needs to be done after your interview.thank you note

Blogger Maribel-Sanchez Rojas is a student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACESblogs aims to assist job seekers and peers with their search and career development. Be sure to share our info! Happy reading.

An Unexpected Career Change

I never expected to be interested in the field I am in currently, due to life’s circumstances or destiny as some may say I find myself in the Employment Services field. For the most part of my life I have been working in the administration field but during the time I’ve been with the Region of Halton, Employment services I have had the opportunity to be part of different projects.

In 2011, I was part of the team that developed the Halton Newcomer Portal, a website that provides information to potential and current newcomers about all the services available in Halton Region. This portal was part of another project, the Halton Newcomer Strategy this was formed by group of community members, service providers and people from government and funders that got together and formed a steering committee with the following vision: Halton will be a welcoming, inclusive and supportive community that values diversity.

In 2012, I was the Program Assistant for the HNS, being a newcomer myself I was able to relate to the topics and share my personal experience and contribute to ideas of improving the services available.

Within a couple of years of having the privilege to work with a great team of Employment Specialist and Job Developers, I have learned to admire the work they do
helping people reach their employment and/or career goals. They inspired me to want to do the same and pursue this career.

I always planned to return to school and furthering my education and career but by unplanned life events, my plan was always delayed. One of these events happening in 2010, the birth of my third child, and another one was our immigration process here in Canada taking longer than expected.

Finally, in 2013, after being employed with the Region of Halton for almost five years and becoming a permanent resident of Canada, I decided to start acting on my career goal. I researched different counselling programs, discussed them with my manager and supervisor and the best that suited my career goal was the Career Consultant Certificate program.

In my current role as Program Assistant, besides supporting the team I have the opportunity to meet and screen clients (Ontario Works referrals and Halton residents) that come to our resource centre for job search and career counselling assistance. I’m able to discuss with them their goals and depending on our
discussion, their field, experience or interest, I then assigned them to the corresponding sector’s Employment Specialist.

I see myself in a few years, or maybe sooner, successfully in the role of an Employment Specialist. My hope is that this new step towards my career goal will enhance my counselling skills and knowledge and help me guide others in accomplishing their own career goal.

Maribel Sanchez Rojas is a student in the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario. MCACESBlogs aims to assist job seekers and their peers with their work search journeys. Thanks for reading!

Newcomers and the Gaining Canadian Work Experience Journey

I’m writing this blog based on personal experience when I arrived in Canada 6 years ago. My family and I moved to Canada in March of 2008. Once in Canada, I discovered that finding employment was very difficult if you did not have the “Canadian work experience” that all employers were requesting, therefore, I decided to start volunteering.

I volunteered at the Halton Multicultural Council in Oakville, Ontario as a receptionist, interpreter and host, my duties at HMC varied from front desk, to helping clients by serving as an interpreter in their appointments, to being part of the Bridge to Work program by contacting potential employers to offer the services of volunteers, to meeting up with ESL students to practice their English.

This volunteering experience and having received assistance and guidance from a job coach myself awakened some new interests and opened opportunities for me in the non-for-profit sector. The guidance and counselling I received from my job coach was of great help throughout my difficult first year of job searching Canada. I said to myself, “I would like to help future newcomers by sharing my experience and guiding them through the unexpected Canadian job search journey” and so I did, every time I met someone new, often through mutual friends, I always ensured I had the opportunity to share this experience and information with them.

After a few months of volunteering, I started applying to job opportunities in this sector and was able to secure Employment in January of 2009 with the Region of Halton, Social and Community Services Department in Employment Services as a Program Assistant.

My volunteering at HMC played a big role in me securing this position and I use this as an example to newcomers on how important it is to volunteer.

Maribel Sanchez Rojas is a student in the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario. MCACESBlogs aims to assist job seekers and their peers with their work search journeys. Thanks for reading!

Work Search Tips for New Canadian

Work Search Tips for New Canadian


Want a Job? 4 Things You Must Do Before Graduating (Part 4)


Meet with your school’s Career Development Professional

 This action comes down to utilizing the supports available to you. Who else is better equipped to help you find employment post-graduation than the Employment Advisor at your school? The answer is no one.

Start this process early. The sooner you meet with a Career Professional, the sooner they can coach you in the direction of success. These professionals are able to assist you with:

  • One-to-one appointments
  • Access to job postings
  • Creating a resume & cover letter
  • Creating a portfolio
  • Preparing for an interview

 And more!

Utilize the supports available to you. Don’t make employment an afterthought. 


MCACESBlogs is a series of blog posts created by Career Consultant Certificate students at Mohawk College aimed at assisting fellow job seekers with job search and career development. Happy reading!

Want a Job? 4 Things You Must Do Before Graduating (Part 2)


Schedule and attend informational interviews.

Yes, it needed to be said. Scheduling the interview isn’t enough. You also need to show up for the interview to be effective.

Informational interviews are a meeting you schedule with someone who works in the field you are interested in. This can be a manager, supervisor, or employee. There are generally two occasions to schedule this type of interview (although anytime is a good time).

This first occasion is before applying to schools to gauge if the industry is a good fit for you.

The second is before graduating to ensure your education and experience match what is required for the job and what the employees is looking for. Informational interviews should be treated as a typical job interview.

Arrive early, dress professionally, and come prepares. This means, know who you are scheduled to meet with, have your questions ready, bring your cover letter, resume, and references. After all you never know when an informational interview could turn into an opportunity for a volunteer placement of even a job.


MCACESBlogs is a series of blog posts created by Career Consultant students at Mohawk College to assist fellow job seekers with job search and career development. Like what you read? Be sure to follow our blog and pass it along to fellow job seekers. Happy reading!

Want a job? 4 Things You Must Do Before Graduating:


Want a job?? 4 Things You Must Do Before Graduating:

Part 1 of 4:
Volunteer in the field where you intend to work.

You’re approaching graduation, you’ve made good grades, maybe you have a part-time job or a summer job that you’re planning to return to until you find your career job. Does this sound like you? If it does, keep reading!

A lot of students graduate with little to no hands-on experience in the field they have pursued through post-secondary education. Utilize this summer as your opportunity to start networking and gain the practical work experience that all employers are looking for. You have spent a lot of money and time earning the qualifications for the job, now is your opportunity to show you can do the job. It’s a lot easier to find a volunteer position than the salary job you’re expecting will find you.

You have the rest of your life to make money.

This summer is your opportunity to learn about your career, develop connections with employers, and acquire a working knowledge of your industry that is priceless.

MCACESBlogs is a series of blog posts created by Career Consultant students at Mohawk College to assist fellow job seekers with job search and career development. Like what you read? Be sure to follow our blog and pass it along to fellow job seekers. Happy reading!

Leaving the Military and get a job that doesn’t suck: Know yourself and find your perfect path

My aim here is to make things easy, why bust a gut on 12 mile march in full combat gear when you can achieve the same results jogging around the park in your Nikes!

Face facts and ‘grow a pair’ – (Please note this is not a male thing, women also have a pair)

The date is fast approaching and there is nothing you can do about it and the sooner you accept that fact the better. You are about to enter a civilian world and you cannot change it into a military one. You have already proven that you ‘have a pair’ by your military service, now just continue to use that pair as you have in the past. As I moved up through the 6 different ranks from Private to Warrant Officer I changed job 10 times in 24 years.

With each new job came different roles, responsibilities and training. Although there are many challenges moving from a military job to a civilian one you have the experience of changing jobs many times throughout your career. The only difference between a military job and civilian one is that in a civilian job your uniform is different. You were most likely trained for the different appointments and roles you played in your military jobs and you will be required to train for your civilian jobs as well, why would you think any different? One main advantage you have over your civilian counterparts is your adaptability and capacity to be trained and change roles. Maintain the same drive and enthusiasm that helped you climb the Military ranks and you will be successful in whatever civilian role you set your mind too. If you feel your pair shrinking and you want to roll up into a ball and feel sorry for yourself read the book ‘Grow a Pair’ by Larry Winget. This straight-talking, New York Times bestseller will help you get back on track for sure. If you’ve ‘lost your pair’ uncle Larry will help you find them.

Establish your direction – I joined the military when I was a spotty 16 year old youth. I would love to say I joined because I wanted to proudly serve my country but that would be a crock. Like many young Scottish men and women in 1978 I joined to secure a job and avoid unemployment. Was I suited to a military career and lifestyle at that time? Probably not, however strict discipline, training and operational deployments trumps unemployment and poverty any day of the week. As I moved up through the ranks and my job changed with each rank and appointment I discovered that some military jobs suited me better than others, but I never really thought why. I loved being outdoors and training troops but hated being stuck at a desk, in an office, writing reports and completing files and paperwork.

My current job working in the employment field has shed some light on why some jobs suit some people better than others. My post-military training in career consultancy and employment counselling has taught me that the jobs in which we excel are those that closely matched our personality type. One employment planning tool that I find extremely useful, particularly with clients who are unsure of which career path to take, is the ‘Self Directed Search’ (SDS).

The SDS tool produces a report that explains the user’s personality type and corresponding ‘SDS Summary Code’ (Holland code) and also generates a list of jobs, hobbies and interests that matches that Summary Code.  The SDS website has a section specifically for ‘Veteran and Service members’. This section allows you to explore career options that correspond to your military experience. Used in conjunction with the SDS Summary Code, the Veterans and Military Occupations Finder can:

Help clients explore career options by linking military occupation titles with civilian occupation titles.
Match each individual’s Summary Code to Occupational Information Network (O*NET) career options and required education levels.
Helps active-duty personnel—or those considering the military—to better understand how military paths career may relate to civilian career options.

The ‘Self Directed Search’ is an excellent tool for military personnel who are unsure of which employment field to enter as it allows them to better understand the types of skills and activities they have honed while in the military and to explore civilian occupations that require similar skills. If you are unsure of which direction to head or simply want to explore different career options use the SDS. It is certainly worth the $10 (Canadian) dollar investment.

In phase 2 (blog 2) we will narrow down your options and help identify the best career choice for ‘you’.

This post is the second in a series of blogs relating to finding work after the military. Author David Quinn is currently a student in the Career Consultant Certificate Program offered at Mohawk College. Be sure to follow MCACESBlogs, a series of posts assisting job seekers and their peers with the many facets of work search and professional development. Happy reading!military work

How to leave the Military and get a job that doesn’t SUCK!

Part 1 (of 4) Exploring Your Options

Regardless of which countries flag is on your uniform, if you are about to make the momentous move from a Military life to a civilian one, you probably have some niggling concerns. If you are handing in your combat gear, camouflage cream and personal weapon in exchange for overalls, a business suit or medical scrubs, you are probably wondering how you will fair in the transition from serving your country to serving yourself.

I know this feeling well as I experienced it firsthand 12 years ago when I left the Military after serving 24 years in the British Army. During my service I completed operational deployments in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Belize and the first Gulf War. I participated in special operations including dealing with the aftermath of a terrorist attack on an American plane which was blown up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, I helped to rebuild schools, churches and Mosque’s in the war torn former Yugoslavia and worked in partnership with the American Drug Enforcement Agency and the Belizean Defence Force to help stop the flow of drugs moving through Central America into the United States.

As I moved up through the ranks during my 24 years of service I learned and experienced a lot and lost some good friends and colleagues along the way. In that time I change rank 6 times and had 10 different job appointments. When it came time to leave the military I was excited to be making the change but also fearful of the uncertainty of what lay ahead. I wondered where I would end up and what kind of employment field job, if any, I would actually qualify to work in.

As I began to look at civilian job postings I quickly realised there was very little demand for a 40 year old retired Company Sergeant Major. The pre-release training provided by the British military at that time was of very little use and consisted of a series of lectures delivered by a team of civilians with no military experience or knowledge. The pre-release training was designed to turn military personnel of 24 years back into civilians in 4 short days. I left the training with a half completed resume, a pile of leaflets on life insurance and investment information and a rapidly growing feeling that perhaps I had left things a little too late. 2 short weeks later my discharge date was up, I was a mister not a rank and appointment, my number was up and I was not ready. Wow, ‘brain freeze’ what the hell am I going to do?’

 Fast forward 12 years from my discharge date– I now work as the Program Coordinator of a Youth Employment program in the city of Hamilton near Toronto, Canada. Yes that’s right Canada, land of the beaver, moose, ice hockey and really, really, really nice people. Oh yeah and poutine (Google it). I have a degree from Edinburgh University and a string of diploma’s and other qualifications that I can now hang my big, moose eared, civilian hat on.

Am I the most successful of all of my military peers? Not by a long shot, but I do feel that I have now made a successful and complete transition into civilian life. Do I think I am the best person to advise you on how to make the move from a Military career to a civilian one? Not particularly, however as a trained Career Consultant and Employment Counsellor who has experienced the military / civilian challenge first hand, I do feel I may have some snippets of information you may find useful. Any well planned military operation has a clear mission and is broken down into clearly defined phases each with its own objective. Career planning and job searching are no different. Your mission is to obtain the best job possible that maximises your strengths and potential and also matches your personality type. The phases are clear, specific steps that help you achieve your mission.

This blog is therefore a 4 phase operation and its mission is to help ‘you’ make a smoother transition between military and civilian careers.


This post is the first in a series of blogs relating to finding work after the military. Author David Quinn is currently a student in the Career Consultant Certificate Program offered at Mohawk College. Be sure to follow MCACESBlogs, a series of posts assisting job seekers and their peers with the many facets of work search and professional development. Happy reading!

Freaky Friday!

What’s the difference between internships, placements / co-ops, job shadows, mentorships and protégé relationships? I get this question a lot so what better place to answer than in a Freaky Friday post!

Let’s start with Internships

Internships have been in the news a lot lately due to growing backlash concerning exploitation of interns who are unpaid. The definition for an intern is basically “A professional working position that is often offered to students and inexperienced workers, which allow them to gain both, work experience in a particular field and on-the-job training.”

Services for Youth, Government of Canada

Ability Edge

Co-ops / Placements

I placed these together since technically a co-op is basically a structured way to combine in-class learning with periods of work, and the work portion is usually called a co-op placement. The purpose of a co-op is to network, gain experience in the workplace and earn credits towards completing your degree or diploma. They are often paid however sometimes they are not, particularly those in high school.

Job Shadows

They are unpaid and often involve observing what someone in a particular field does day-to-day on the job. There are no particular rules around job shadows, it really depends on the person being shadowed, the situation and how much observation is allowed in the industry (for example some health and safety or confidentiality issues many prevent a full job shadow experience) They can also last anywhere from an hour to several prearranged visits over weeks or months.

Exploring Careers through Job Shadowing

Lastly, Mentorships / Protégé Relationships

We’ve covered mentorships in previous posts, but just to recap, mentorships are defined as a personal developmental relationship with someone who is often more experienced or knowledgeable in a particular field. Similar to job shadowing, the relationship structure varies from meeting occasionally to ask questions to frequent contact and exchanging of ideas. Previously, the recipient of this kind of relationship was called a protégé, however more recently the term mentee has become more common.

When it comes to mentoring the more the merrier

Hamilton Immigrant Mentoring Partnerships

So there you go! Hope that clarifies the wonderful world of work “ships”

Awkward moments of interns courtesy of the muppets

Happy Friday!


Walk the walk and talk the talk “Why the path to being a leader means acting like one”


When you think about “leadership” do you think about Top-level Executives? Politicians? Coaches? Now what about Customer Service Workers, Mechanics or Landscapers? Why does the concept of leadership seem to only apply to those with fancy titles or bigger pay cheques? Unfortunately if you picked the first group as obvious leadership material you’re not alone, so what can you do if you’re in the second group? Taking a page from Malcolm Gladwell’s new book “David and Goliath” you can use your underdog status to your advantage! How you ask?

By displaying leadership skills on the job, everyone around you will start to think of you as a leader and when that happens, well….you get the picture!

Steps that will show others that you are leadership material:

  1. It seems counterintuitive but some of the best leaders listen to the team. Those who talk over others or try to push their agendas come across as pushy when true confidence comes from taking all ideas into consideration and coming up with a solution that satisfies everyone.
  2. Lead by example! True leaders do what they say and follow through on commitments.
  3. True leaders aren’t afraid to get dirty! The business owners and high level executives that get the most respect from their staff are those who are willing to get outside their job descriptions to get things done.
  4. When push comes to shove true leaders lend support to their team when times gets tough, this shows they are in it for the long haul.
  5. Learn about others. I’ve met a few business owners over the years who’ve impressed me with their knowledge regarding their employees. I’m not talking about gossip or prying into their personal lives but rather displaying kindness and interest that shows they value people beyond what they can do for them.
  6. If you don’t always know the answer don’t be afraid to say so. But be willing and gracious enough to ask others or find out.

If you want to find out more about leadership check out some great books on the subject:

“Drive” by Dan Pink

“The Orange Revolution” by Godstick and Elton

“Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath

“The Goal” by Eli Goldratt

“Servant Leadership” by Robert Greenleaf

“Good to Great” by Jim Collins

“On becoming a leader” by Warren Bennis

“The 21 Irrefutable laws of Leadership” by John C. Maxwell

If you want to lead, read these ten books

Are you an employee superstar or a new hire dud?

Take this quick quiz to find out!

1. When an employer asks you to tidy the lunchroom,

A) I say yes but after I check my job description I realize that it isn’t listed so I get another co-worker to do the job instead.
B) I immediately do the job since I’m a new employee and I should try to show that I’m a team player and can do duties that don’t necessarily fit within my job description.

2. You just started your job; within a few days you’ve gotten a cold, you

A) Figure that it would be better to stay home, besides I don’t want to infect my co-workers or customers
B) I come to work anyway. It’s my probation period and not coming in just because of a cold will reflect badly on my motivation.

3. I know that I have a 15 min break every 3 hours but I see that regular staff stays outside for longer then that, so I figure…

A) If they are outside for longer, it must be ok
B) I can take a break (I don’t want to seen as anti-social) but promptly return to my work station before the 15 minutes are over

4. It’s a slow morning on the job so I quickly…

A) Check Facebook I figure that no other staff are in yet and it’s just for a few minutes so it should be ok
B) Look around and see if I can tidy up or do some other task, I’m being paid to work NOT do personal things!

1. I hear a group of co-workers talking about another staff member in a disparaging way. Should I go and tell the supervisor?

A) Yes, I want to show the supervisor that I can be trusted.
B) No I don’t, since I’m new I don’t yet know the office politics. The supervisor may already know this information so telling would waste their time and if the other staff find out they will immediately ostracize me for what could have been a one-time incident.

2. I’m invited to my first office meeting and a new project is announced. I immediately offer to lead the team

A) Yes, I want to appear that I’m eager and willing to contribute.
B) No, I can offer to be a part of a team but leading a team immediately unless explicitly asked to do so can make me appear to be a “know–it-all” to other staff members, besides someone else may be in-line for the project that I don’t know about.

If you answered mainly:

A) RiA7azKiLYou might want to brush up on your workplace social skills to make that new job last!

B) You are ready for work and will no doubt make a great impression on your supervisor and co-workers

How to survive your first day of work and live to talk about it!


So you’ve just been hired, Congratulations! Now that the interview jitters are behind you, you’re probably eagerly anticipating your first day of work. No doubt, much like your first day of high school your mind is spinning as you try to envision every possible situation that could happen, both the good and the bad, during your first day on the job. Some questions you may be asking yourself are…

Do I have the right time and location?

Who will I be working with?

What will I be doing exactly?

Will I be able to do what’s expected of me?

Rest assured you’re not the only one who’s had questions on their first day! Just keep a few of these Do’s and Don’ts in mind


  1. Clarify the date, time, place and who you’ll meet and always arrive at least 10 minutes early.
  2. Find out if you need to bring specific info such as your SIN #, a blank cheque and/or photo ID.
  3. Know if you’ll need to wear any particular piece of clothing or equipment ahead of time. For example, steel-toed boots or black dress pants. As well, always bring a notepad and pen to write notes during training.
  4. Introduce yourself and smile when talking with supervisors and colleagues.
  5. Ask questions. If some of your skills are a bit out of date find out who could quickly get you up to speed. Flatter them into sharing by considering the importance of their knowledge.
  6. If you have some extra time on your hands offer to help out co-workers. You do have to be a bit careful because you don’t want to step on any toes so tread lightly!
  7. Turn off your electronic devices during working hours.


  1. Assume they already have all the information needed to complete your hiring paperwork.
  2. Pretend you know something you really don’t especially with regards to safety! It will backfire at a later point and you may be called out for it.
  3. Get too familiar with your new co-workers; you want to be social but first understand office politics before you end-up in a group with a “bad” reputation.
  4. Be too casual in your dress and behavior. It’s easier to dress down later once you’re more aware of the workplace culture.

For more info:

The first of two articles on covers tips to keep in mind for your first day on the job, while the second article covers proper dress attire for both office and retail environments. &

 This article by David Roos covers 10 easy to remember tips for your first day on the job, such as planning your commute and knowing when to listen and when to speak.

Who are you REALLY?

Every career journey begins with a single step…whether it’s a step in the “right” or “wrong” direction is entirely up to you, the best way to know for sure is to hold up a mirror and truly recognize the person staring back. That means accepting both your strengths and challenges, they do after all define you! Honestly ask yourself the following:

Who am I?

What do I want out of my career?

What situations / experiences energize me?

What situations / experiences deplete me?

What am I truly interested in?

Where do my values come into play?

How important are my values in what I do?

You won’t necessarily come up with answers right away; after all, if we could we’d miss the excitement of discovery! To get the juices flowing think about taking some assessments to start things off.

Here’re a few you might want to check out:

At Mohawk College you can access StrengthsQuest, a free strengths based assessment that generates a list of your top 5 strengths along with a description of what they mean.

Community Employment Services

This site by the Alberta Learning Information Service has a free version of the Holland’s code quiz. It isn’t as comprehensive as the original test but it’s a good introduction.

Alberta Learning Information Service, Planning Tools

If you want to do the full John Holland’s Self-Directed Search (SDS) assessment, you can complete it for 10 dollars by clicking on the link below. It gives you a 3 letter code that best represents your work personality type, along with a list of occupations with descriptions that correspond to your code.

Self-Directed Search

The Strong Interest Inventory assessment is similar to SDS however it looks less at personality as a driver for career choices and more at interests as a starting point for career exploration.

Strong Interest Inventory

Personality Dimensions, is a test that identifies aspects of your personality such as core values, needs, talents and behaviors and how these things affect your interaction with others and therefore which work situations/environments best “fit” your personality. There’s also a Canadian version of this test called “True Colours.”

Personality Dimensions

Of course this is really just the tip of the iceberg in available assessments, as long as you begin your journey towards discovering yourself you will ultimately discover your own unique career path!


How YOU can control the interview!

What do you do when you’re asked an awkward interview question? We’ve all been there! It can totally cause us to um, er , what was I saying? Oh right! …lose our train of thought. That being said, it is up to you as to whether you want to continue with the interview. If you do, here are a few strategies that can help you take control of the interview process when things go off the rails!

Firstly, always prepare for the “unstructured” interview, interviewer and process. You can do this by preparing for your interview just as you would if you were on your first sales call pitching a new product to a new prospect…you ultimately control the sales call.

Continuing along these lines, you should arm yourself with documentation; resume, work samples, portfolio’s etc. At the beginning, these items can be put on the table in front of the interviewer. This powerful “tool” will allow you to drive the questions towards ones that really highlight your skills and steer things away when things get tricky.

How do you do this? 

  1. Refer the interviewer to a section or page of the document for further explanation or confirmation of something you’ve said.
  2. It also has the additional benefit of showing the interviewer that you’re prepared and organized.
  3. Additionally, by having a “safety net,” you will feel more confident.
  4. Always be prepared with extra questions just in case

When the interview starts to go into a “no go zone” halt it by asking permission to ask a question or give feedback to get things back on track. This is a powerful “behavior interrupter” By having them talk, it shifts the focus. Contrary to popular opinion you don’t have to wait for the traditional “Do you have any questions for me?” portion of the interview at the end. Most interviewers encourage a two-way dialogue and reciprocal fact-finding, so it’s not unusual to ask questions throughout the process.


Freaky Friday!

In the last few posts I’ve touched upon the use of body language and perception. Basically, how your verbal message should match your physical mannerisms. What I didn’t get into was how to use your body (and voice) to convey the strongest and most compelling message possible to employers.

If you think about it, it’s not just about how you carry yourself but how you use all aspects of communication to present your ideas. With so many great online talks from TED to INCITE, it’s easier then ever to watch and study the best speakers to get ideas. Great presentations are really both an art and a science and despite what many people think, IT CAN BE LEARNED!

When you’re networking or in an interview, you are basically presenting yourself, so in that context think of the following:

  • The “story” you want to tell (goal)
  • What you want the audience to get out of it (aim)
  • Why they should care
  • Keep it short and to the point (the average listener can only focus for 15 minutes at a time)
  • Speak with passion!

For more info, check out Steven Knight’s 4 part Linkedin series:

How to produce and deliver a winning presentation

Present with power: voice and body language

Why passion and facial expression matter

Your voice is the key to your success

If you really want to delve into improving your presentation skills, here are two books I would recommend on the subject:

Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun

How to deliver a great TED talk by Akash Karia

Happy Friday!


Create a brand that appeals to EVERYONE!


I’m sure most of you reading this have probably heard about the importance of personal branding especially when looking for work. Basically, your brand conveys a positive feeling about you that can be both tangible and intangible…think Coca Cola or Mac products. What do you think of when you imagine these brands? Are they: Cool? Hip? Modern? Progressive?

What would a person think of you when they read your resume? Think about it. The key is to create an image or brand with a broad enough appeal that every employer would want you on his or her team. You would fulfill everything on their checklist. So how do you do that?

Take every buzzword possible and inject them into your resume. It really doesn’t matter if it represents who you are; the point is that you get that interview!

Here are a few you can pick from:



Forward thinking










APRIL FOOLS! Don’t do this!!


  1. You don’t want to water down your brand just to appeal to every perspective employer going.
  2. You need to be true to your own strengths and look at companies that share your values.
  3. Sure, by using this technique you’ll get your foot in the door, but in the end both you and the employer will be unhappy when you realize that your “brand” doesn’t fit the company culture.

Here’s a great video on how generic advertisements create an image that is really meaningless because by trying to appeal to everyone many brands end up appealing to no one. Most savvy consumers can see through this falsified image or can they? What do you think? Let us know.

This generic brand ad is the greatest thing about the absolute worst in advertising

Overused phrases that drive employers crazy!


Some phrases are used so often on resumes they’ve become totally generic and scream, “I can’t think for myself!” To avoid this trap before you use a phrase, think about what you’re really trying to say and how an employer will interpret it.

Here are a few examples of common resume phrases and what they REALLY mean.


Phrase: “Able to work both alone and with others”

What it really says: “I’m a human being, whoopdeedoo!”

What you can say instead: “Successfully coordinated ad hoc committee of up to ten staff members in the implementation of new design process”

 Phrase(s): “Helped with…” “Responsible for…” or “Duties included…”

What it really says: “Yawn!”

What you can say instead: “Orchestrated” “Implemented” “Designed”

Phrase: “Hard-working”

What it really says: “Well you had better…that’s what I pay you for!”

What you can say instead: “Completed software design project ahead of projected timeline through the use of exceptional time-management skills”

Phrase: “Multi-tasking”

What it really says: “Wow, I can both walk and talk at the same time…I must be a multi-tasking!” (yes this is sarcastic)

What you can say instead: “Designed and completed three simultaneous interior renovation projects, while remaining on time and under budget”

Phrase: “Knowledgeable in the use of Microsoft Office and various other types of software “

What is really says: “Knowledgeable can simply mean awareness, it doesn’t imply actual use plus it’s totally vague I need specifics!”

What you can say instead: “Proficient in the use of Microsoft Office Suite: including a strong working knowledge of Excel and Word, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator CS5, as well as 3D modeling experience using AutoCAD”


Remember, don’t just say a phrase; by quantifying it you’ll automatically add strength to what you’re saying. Below are a few great articles on overused phrases and how a few simple changes will improve your resume.

10 most over used words and phrases in Canadian resumes

45 Quick changes that help your resume get noticed

7 Phrases to remove from your resume


How to be a body language superhero!

So now that you know about some of the negative things that could be coming across to potential employers through your body language, how can you change it?

Try Power Posing.

Ever since Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy’s TED talk in 2012 on power posing and confidence, this seemingly small move has become a huge sensation. Basically the pose, which consists of placing your hands on your hips and your feet apart (think Superman or Wonder Woman), when held for around 2 minutes has been scientifically proven to build confidence. Subsequently, Amy’s famous quote of “fake it’ til you become it” has quickly become a part of our modern vernacular. Check out the full talk and see for yourself:

 How Power Posing can work to boost your confidence

Now that you’ve tried power posing repeat the suggestion in the last post to either record yourself or have a friend watch you while answering common interview questions. Notice the difference? You may now be using the following positive gestures while speaking without even realizing that you’re doing it!

Action: Brisk erect walk

Meaning: Confidence


Action: Standing with hands on hips

Meaning: Readiness


Action: Open palm

Meaning: Sincerity, Openness


Action: Steepling fingers

Meaning: Authoritative


Action: Quickly tilted head

Meaning: Interest


Action: Stroking chin

Meaning: Thinking about a decision


Action: Consistent eye contact

Meaning: Confidence, honesty


Now there will be no mistaking your message to employers as your confidence will match your words.


Opps did I just say that! “What your body language is telling employers”

Did you know that 50-70% of language is unspoken?  Our bodies reflect our true state of mind and during interviews and cold-calling it’s probably like a blinking red light that says…VERY NERVOUS! It’s often because of our nerves, that we have no idea our physical “message” is running counter to what we’re actually saying. For example, you may be talking about your capable leadership skills while not being able to look the interviewer in the eye. Your words and your body language need to match despite your inner turmoil! 

To help keep your confidence up, keep this in mind:

  1. You wouldn’t have been asked for an interview if you didn’t already have the skills and abilities the employer is looking for.
  2. When cold-calling the very fact you came in-person is hugely impressive for employers
  3. SMILE! and show sincere warmth, since most employers get a distinct impression of you within the first few seconds this can offset nervousness and immediately make a good impression.
  4. Most employers want to hire you! They don’t want to waste time in the interview process so the quicker they can make a decision the better.

Now what is your body language really saying?


Action: Hands in pockets

Meaning: Dejection


Action: Touching your neck

Meaning: Insecurity


Action: Touching or rubbing nose

Meaning: Rejection, doubt or lying


Action: Rubbing eye

Meaning: Doubt or disbelief


Action: Hands clasped behind back

Meaning: Anger, apprehension


Action: Locked ankles

Meaning Apprehension


Action: Rubbing hands

Meaning: Anticipation        


Action: Patting / Fondling hair

Meaning: Lack of self-confidence


Action: Looking down face turned away

Meaning: Lack of confidence and disbelief


Action: Biting nails

Meaning: Insecurity, nervousness


Action: Pulling or tugging at ear

Meaning: Indecision


If you’re not sure whether you’re doing these things try recording yourself or have a friend watch you while answering interview questions. Remember everyone feels some insecurity at some point it’s just a matter of how you project those feelings.

Stay tuned for the next post on how to become a body language superhero!


The greatest tragedy

“You know what the greatest tragedy is in the whole world?” asks novelist Terry Pratchett. “It’s all the people who never find out what it is they really want to do or what it is they’re really good at. It’s all the people who never get to know what it is that they can really be.”

If that description applies to you even a little, what are you waiting for? Now is the perfect time to fix that problem! How? Open your mind to the possibility that you don’t know yourself as well as you think you do. Take interest based assessments; ask friends and family members you trust what they think your special aptitudes and unique abilities are, you might be surprised by their answers. And don’t forget to be wildly honest with yourself about what truly excites you.


R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to your boss!


One of the drawbacks to the so called “selfie” culture is the loss of the true meaning of RESPECT.

Numerous times I’ve heard this common interview blunder…

Question: “What kinds of traits would you most like to see in a manager or boss?” or “What would your expectations be from a supervisor?”

Answer: “Someone who respects me”


There are 3 reasons why this answer is incorrect:

  1. Respect is a strong word that gives the impression that you’ve felt a lack of it in a previous position. They’ll read that you have a “chip” on your shoulder so whenever possible leave past feelings at the interview room door!
  2. While the lack of respect may have been true, it invariably screams “entitled” or “self-centered” and therefore not a team player.
  3. Most employers are old school and had to work their way up the ranks the hard way. Therefore, they inevitably see respect as something earned NOT given

Remember, when answering these questions you need to think from a manager’s perspective and how you’d like to be viewed by your employees.

So, how should you answer this question?

You can say:

 “Someone who’s knowledgeable”

 “Someone who has an open-door policy”

 “Someone who’s fair”

What boss or manager wouldn’t want to be seen as approachable or equitable? As well, since these are “soft” traits they are less likely to elicit strong reactions, which is definitely something you want to avoid!

To read more about how the so-called “selfie” culture is affecting workplace dynamics check out this blog post:

From “Selfie-ism” to Teamwork

How would you rate your professional correspondence skills?


Take this quick quiz to find out!

1. I get an angry email from a professional nemesis in response to a simple request.

A)    I forward the email to all my friends, highlighting the jerky parts; I then invite them to make nasty comments.

B)    I take a moment to write back then place the email in my draft folder, returning to it an hour or so later to reread it before officially replying.

2.  I use my iphone or other personal electronic device in responding to hiring managers. 

A)   Yeah why not! I can multitask while I’m waiting in line for coffee.

B)    No, I don’t use my personal devices to answer important contacts. “The medium is the message” and I’m more likely to answer in a tone that’s way too casual.

3. When I email someone, I then follow up with a phone call to make sure they got the original email I sent.

A)    You never know with email, it’s good to follow up with a phone call a few hours later then show at the person’s office to make sure they got the phone call and keep showing up until they agree to finally to see me.

B)    When sending the original email, I made it clear the exact reason for the email and how a follow-up would be conducted if I don’t receive a response back within a reasonable amount of time.

4. I invite an employer I’m interested in to become a linkedin contact without a message as to why or how I know them.

A)    Why not? Linkedin is like Facebook the more the merrier!

B)    I make sure that I write a clear message as to why I’m contacting them (the more personal the better, maybe I could mention that I saw them at a conference or networking event) and if they agree I respond immediately with a sincere thank you.

5. After sending my resume, I email the employer several times to make sure they got it.

A)    It’s probably a good idea since I have a Hotmail account and it regularly goes into people’s spam folders.

B)    No I don’t email, I don’t want to waste an employer’s time and give them the impression that I can’t follow simple instructions.

6. When I drop off my resume (for an unlisted job) and I don’t get a call back in a few days from the manager, I

A)    Assume that they must have hated my guts!

B)    Call them up (making sure to get their name when I dropped by) to see if they actually received it. I’ll have my elevator pitch ready if they have any questions or send another resume in case it wasn’t received.

7. When I attach my resume through email I simply name the file “resume”

A)    Of course, that’s a no-brainer! They know what they’re getting as long as I include the position title in my cover letter.

B)    I include my name and the position title as the file name. HR reps often get resumes for many different jobs, this way mine won’t get lost in the shuffle.

 8. When my resume goes onto two pages, I include the page number on each page.

A)    That sounds like a good idea! It’ll keep things organized.

B)    Instead of page numbers, which are more suitable for essays or reports, I include the same header (with my name and contact info) on each page in case the pages get separated.

9. When composing my cover letter, I address it  “Dear Sir or Madame”

A)    If I don’t have the employers name this makes the most sense.

B)    Whenever possible I try to get the person’s name by looking it up online or calling the company. When in doubt, I can address it to the “Hiring Manager or Hiring Supervisor” this sounds more professional and less like a form letter.

10. After I finish an interview, I write a thank you text to show my appreciation. 

A)    A thank you text would be really appreciated and show an employer that I’m technologically savvy.

B)    Texts are way too informal for a potential employer! Instead I’ll write a thank you card/letter or thank them through a carefully composed email. 

If you answered mostly: 

A) Yeah you guessed it you’re a caveman correspondent and are most likely to take the easier route or let your emotions rule the show!

B) Congratulations you are a professional writing genius! You show amazing tact, restraint and business know-how.

Freaky Friday!


Since March 8th is International Women’s Day, I thought this would be a perfect time to talk about women in the workplace.

Here’s a great website that grew out of the Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.” The site contains lots of positive messages particularly around women in the workforce.

While I can’t say that this is a particularly women based issue, but it seems that most people in the workplace are hesitant to place themselves ahead due to a fear of failure. Although it seems counterintuitive, I believe that it’s the failures that make you a better jobseeker, employee and leader. A perfect example of this is from Tiffany Dufu the Chief Leadership Officer with Levo League who shares some great advice on finding strength in failure.

Why you need to fail to succeed

Here are two rather interesting articles on women and social media. The first is on how women are leading the charge in the use of social media yet strangely linkedin, one of the largest work related social media platforms, doesn’t have a high level of female engagement. The second article from linkedin is on whether or not women should be using their linkedin accounts more to promote their successes than they already do.

Women dominate every social media network-except one

Should women be using linkedin differently?

 Happy Friday!

What does “talent” acquisition actually mean?


There’s been so much talk lately in the business world about acquiring “talent” like they’re buying new shoes or a new car…sounds rather impersonal doesn’t it? And really what does it mean anyway?

From what I’ve read, “talent” acquisition is about placing potential employee’s skillsets at the forefront of the hiring process and then nurturing those skills. With so many buzzwords floating around it’s hard to know exactly what’s really going on in the job market, so the BIG question is, is this really happening? Is it done at the outset but then later promptly forgotten when the buzz has passed? To avoid unmet expectations, hard feelings or worse employees jumping ship, employers can keep their talent onboard and engaged.

Here’s how: 

  1. Instead of filing away a new employees resume and never looking at it again, how about having a quick sit down with them after the whole hiring process is over and ask them what specific skills they believe they can offer the company. Making a note of what they believe are their strengths will give you some options beyond the job description.
  2. Although some new hires may embellish or have incorrect assumptions regarding their skillsets you can better assess this by setting up a meeting between the team leaders or supervisors and the new hire. This will go particularly smoothly if you’ve included the supervisors in the hiring process; they’ll be more likely to properly assess the person and see them as less of a burden and more of a valuable addition to the team.
  3. Make note of all your employee’s strengths, but beware of lumping people together into similar “talent” pools. Most people’s talents come out the most when working in a team with a variety of skillsets. Also take into account that employees can gain or discover new skills that should be added to their repertoire.

The truth is that most people will often take less pay or a lesser position if they feel that their “talents” are valued. Unfortunately, most new employees will rarely point out they feel undervalued or that their skills are underutilized and will instead remain quiet while plotting an exit strategy.

Maybe we could change the buzzword from “talent” acquisition to “talent” management!

Best advice I’ve ever got: “Shutup and Listen!”


When I think back to the past, the advice that resonated with me the most was the unfiltered, unadulterated  “truth.” Basically the stuff that wasn’t sugar coated to prevent hurt feelings or bruised egos…the stuff that had teeth. But then again, I also received lots of great advice that I completely ignored but probably shouldn’t have. Sadly, when it comes to receiving and giving advice it really comes down to hearing what you need to hear at just the precise moment when you need to hear it! Which is most often after an epic fail…

This is why, the “shutup and listen!” advice I got from an instructor in the Fundraising/Development program at Mohawk College was so valuable. So often when it comes to “selling” ideas we’re so focused on convincing the other person to see our point of view that we figure just yammering on and on about it will somehow magically work.

The truth of the matter is that employers are like anyone else and aren’t easily talked into things they aren’t already sold on. That’s why it’s up to you to give them a convincing reason to “buy” into your idea then have them sell it to themselves by holding your tongue. When people are allowed to talk without interruption they often talk themselves into or out of ideas very easily, all you need to do is plant the seed as to why your ideas are the best and let them do the rest.

So how do you “sell” someone on your idea?

As Dale Carnegie said in his famous book “How to win friends and influence people” most people think about themselves 95% of the time, so if you can spend at least 50% of the time thinking about the needs of others you’ll have a unique advantage over those who can only see things from their own narrow point of view.

Selling others hinges on the idea that you’ve thought of their needs first and foremost and are proposing a way to fulfill their need, which is essentially hiring you!

With all the hot air being blown by your competition your silence will be a breath of fresh air!

Between the sheets: “Dirty little secrets of cover letters revealed”

When it comes to cover letters no one seems willing to discuss what it takes to write a good one or much less a passable one, everyone just seems to think you’ll somehow “know” what to write and how to write it without a script or guidelines. Not surprisingly the results are cover letters so vague they end up saying little of anything or too personal they say way too much!

Let’s start with the basics

Resumes are like movie credits (where the movie was shot, who was involved, songs used etc.) while cover letters are the movie trailer or teaser (filled with drama and excitement that’ll draw a potential audience)

The teaser also makes it known immediately what kind of movie you’ll be watching. You wouldn’t expect lots of explosions in a romantic comedy now would you? So, you’ve gotta make sure that what you write fits with the reader’s expectations and is conveyed quickly.

You ever wonder why Hollywood keeps recycling blockbusters? Well, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! The same goes for cover letters. Don’t go too far outside the box and stay within the parameters of what the employer expects.

Why resume copycats get more interviews

What do you include in your cover letter?

Identify the Needs

Go through the job posting and highlight the things you’d consider to be the employers “needs,” these are what you must have to do the job.

Examples could be:

Driver’s License

CPR/First Aid

College Diploma

Identify the Wants

These are the “sexy extras.” They’re the additional skills or qualifications that’ll put your resume ahead of someone who’s only addressed the “needs.”

Examples could be:

Specific training in software or equipment

Experience leading a team

Knowledge in certain protocols

Now that you’ve identified the employer’s “wants” and “needs” you must tailor your cover letter to include this information. If you really want to grab their attention you should try to quantify the information with facts, figures and accomplishment statements.

How to develop Accomplishment Statements

Examples could be:

Knowledge of special protocols helped increased productivity by 40%

Led teams of 20 product developers in integrating new software program

Now don’t make your cover letter a snooze fest but the next sexy summer blockbuster everyone’s talking about! 


Putting the FUN in Functional Resumes!

Functional resumes always seem to get a bad rap, like they’re the ugly stepchildren of the resume pantheon. But it simply isn’t true! Just because the chronological style gets all the fame and glory doesn’t mean the functional style shouldn’t have its place in the sun too… it’s just a matter of knowing when to use it!

Functional style resumes are used for 2 reasons: 

1. To hide/ bury information

2. To condense similar information

Who should use it?

Job Hopping (for students)

Large work gaps

Lack of work history

Several positions in the same field

Those changing fields

How to use it:

  • Usually after an Objective or Personal Profile statement you’ll want to create a list of skills in point form under several categories
  • The categories you use should relate to major skill sets for the position. For example, if your goal is to work in a business environment you might include titles such as: Business Acumen, Technical Skills or Professional Expertise, while a Customer Service position might have titles such as Retail Knowledge or Sales Skills
  • For those without a work history this allows you to use transferrable skills you may have gained informally through volunteering, education or hobbies without having to point out exactly where you gained those skills
  • Then below your key word list you can put the work experience section, for those with large work gaps this helps to push the jobs lower on the resume and therefore less of a focus
  • If you are a student you can sometimes put your education higher on the resume after the skills list to communicate quickly that the resume belongs to a student since the graduation date will be highlighted. This will also make the job hopping seem less negative to the employer
  • For students, also make sure that when writing your work experience, include next to the dates that the job was “Seasonal” or a “Summer Job”.

Things to remember

The purpose of a functional style resume is to highlight and align your skills as closely as possible to what the employer is looking for by using key words from the job posting. The idea is that you’ll sell them on your suitability for the position within the first few seconds of reading your resume so that they might overlook any work gaps you may have. Don’t forget you can also use the cover letter as a vehicle for addressing work gaps as well.

What a Functional Resume won’t do!

It won’t allow you to omit dates. A lack of dates is a definite red flag!

Make up or change your work history

If you held a job for only a few months and it’s not relevant to the position you’re trying to achieve remove it, there’s no rule that says you must include every job you ever had!

Some examples

Functional Style – Business

Functional Style – Several positions in same field

Functional Style  – Work gap


Freaky Friday!

Lately there seems to be an influx of articles on following your passion on the job or how to find a position you love (not sure but maybe it’s a reaction to the gloomy winter weather we’ve been having) but personally I’ve always thought that work is work and not play so if you expect your place of work to be a playground you’ll be sorely disappointed!  In theory, it sounds great to have loads of great times on the job but having this viewpoint seems like a bit of a fantasy.

Before I sound like a total downer, I did find an article by Kurt Heinrich that takes a different perspective. In it he says you shouldn’t expect to love your work but instead you need to love your craft and have a desire to hone your skills, that way you won’t be forever looking for an “image” of the perfect job:

Don’t love your work, love your craft and your career

This next article ties directly to this idea and how when faced with a toxic work environment you need to stop thinking of what the company isn’t doing or why the job isn’t good and instead think of what skills you can get out of the position now that will ultimately provide you with the leverage you need for getting a new job.

In Liz Ryan’s linkedin article entitled “When good jobs go bad,” she calls this leveraging “data mining” or “flame growing”

When good jobs go bad

Happy Friday!


How to job search like an Olympian!

With the 2014 Winter Olympic Games under way it’s tough to imagine the grueling work each athlete had to endure to get to where they are today. I know I could never do what they do … I get wobbly just trying to walk to a skating rink yet alone trying to skate! But at the very least we can learn a few things from their mindset and how thinking like a champion is half the battle.

Expect to win

When you enter an interview, as hard as it may seem, try not to think “I hope to get this job” instead practice saying to your self “I’m going to get this job” it does make a difference in the confidence you’ll project.

Set your self up for small wins

The many small wins that qualify an athlete for the Olympics are just as important as the BIG event. So for example, if cold-calling a potential employer seems daunting, try calling a friend who’s an employer or try calling businesses you’re not as interested in first. This will give you practice and confidence when you make the more important calls.

Don’t make excuses

It’s rare to hear interviewees take ownership for why they didn’t get a job, but for those who do, 9 times out of 10 they’ll get hired much sooner. Why? This is something that most Olympians are all too aware of, human error is inevitable but instead of laying blame they use it to improve their technique make corrections and ultimately become better athletes.

Focus on what you can do

Does a figure skater bemoan the fact they can’t bobsled? NO! They focus on what they can do and make the most of the skills they have. It’s perfectly normal to focus on the negatives as to why you won’t get a job, but you can overcome this attitude. For example: Look at the job posting and list in bullet points all the ways your skills and experience fulfill the company wish list, this not only builds your confidence but it’s also good interview practice because you’ll be prepared when the employer asks “Why should we hire you?”

They don’t give up

Many athletes have an inner tenacity and desire to win that is admirable. Whether it’s called the “X” factor or “Heart” it’s clear, that after all the training and hard work this sometime it can mean the difference between gold and silver. Cultivate your passion and purpose and you too can experience victory!


Will you be my Reference “Valentine”?

Similar to asking someone out for a date, when calling a potential reference person we’re usually just happy they said YES! It’s rare that we go beyond the initial excitement and actually ask questions to find out if they’re really the best person for the job.

In reality, a bad reference can mean the difference between getting hired or not. So it’s definitely a good idea to do a bit of prep work beforehand. Not only will it take some of the guesswork out of what they may or may not say, but many referees may actually welcome the practice. Don’t forget that most HR professionals are experts at asking open-ended questions that cause referees to spilling the beans… so make sure what they spill is good!

10 of the most common questions HR asks References

  1. First verify the candidates’ employment dates, title and role
  2. If you could rehire the candidate, would you? Why or why not?
  3. What was the reason for the person leaving?
  4. What kind of duties and responsibilities were assigned to the candidate? Did he/she complete them to your satisfaction? Did he/she show initiative and go beyond what was required of them?
  5. What would you say were the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses?
  6. How would you evaluate the employee’s performance with the tasks likely to be assigned in the new position?
  7. Was the candidate punctual? Were there any issues with absenteeism?
  8. Did the employee get along with their peers, how about managers? Customers?
  9. How did the employee handle conflict or pressure?
  10. 10. Is there anything else I should know about the candidate before we hire them?

Just like in a new relationship, you wouldn’t want your date standing at your front door without any notice; you likewise wouldn’t want your references to be receiving calls from employers without a heads up! Also as a courtesy, ask them how and when they prefer being called.


Since giving references is now mandatory, you don’t have to include the statement, “References available upon request”  at the end of your marketing material and PLEASE don’t include your reference contact information on your resume!! You wouldn’t write your date’s phone number on a bathroom wall now would you? It’s private and confidential and only given at the interview.

Now go out there and find that one er, I mean five special people…Happy Valentine’s Day!


5 things you MUST ask when choosing references

Reference checks are now standard practice, so really everyone should have their reference people lined up WAY before the interview even happens. So how do you start? You’ll need to put together a list of possible candidates, and then from those candidates you must ask yourself who would best represent you. Remember you need to think like an employer!

1. Are they a work, character / personal, or volunteer reference?

It’s a good idea to have a few under each category, especially if you are going for several different positions or changing careers. Although more and more employers are requesting work related references only, you can include these other types if it isn’t specified and don’t forget about teachers or trainers!

2. What skills, attributes and experience can they speak to?

If they can’t say anything about you other then that you worked for them or they’re unclear on what you actually did, then they won’t be a good reference. However, if they’re a recent employer you may have no choice, in this case your other work references need to be stronger and able to speak to what this employer can’t. Consider supervisors or co-workers as additional options.

3. Can they even be a reference?

Be aware of company policies regarding references, for example those who work in sectors with vulnerable persons, such as children, victims of violence or other protected persons will find that confidentiality may be an issue.

4. Is distance an issue?

If your references are not local or are a great distance from HR, try to get their email or if possible a 1-800 number, few employers would be willing to incur extra costs unless they have a great long distance plan!

5. Reference letter vs. Reference call

Many employers prefer to give reference letters yet it’s often these same employers who won’t accept them when hiring new staff! To be honest this is perfectly understandable, wouldn’t you rather talk to a living, breathing person?

Lastly, even though most employers will ask for 3 reference people, always have at least 5 lined up. With vacations, sick or MAT leaves you don’t want to be down a person at the last second.


Freaky Friday!

Tricky or illegal questions can creep up into many interview situations sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally. Before you get your back up and think a grand conspiracy is at play, the majority of times I’ve heard or witnessed these blunders or missteps they’ve been unintentional, nonetheless it’s good to know how to handle these types of questions with tact particularly those that involve “too much information” or TMI

This article on Careerealism is a good example of how TMI could inadvertently sabotage your chances of landing that job:

How to Sabotage your Interview

Now that we’re on the topic of jobs and the whole hiring process, I thought I would share this article in USA Today from the perspective of a Hiring Manager regarding what they really think of all the resumes they receive:

What do Hiring Managers really think of your resume?

Finally here’s a bit of info on personal business cards- Why they’re so important for your brand and the kind of information that you should be including on them:

Reasons why you need personal business cards and 7 facts to include on them

Happy Friday!


The nitty gritty of a “YOU” centred job search

Now that we’ve covered how to start a “YOU” centred job search, sticky notes, relying on your memory or your email sent box just won’t cut it! You’ve gotta get organized! 

Here’s what you’ll need:

1.    Network tree

2.    Job vision board / Mind map

3.    Application and company research spreadsheets

4.    Calendar

1. Network Tree

This is a list of contacts. It could include people from your last job, friends, neighbours and/ or family members who might be able to help make connections. Make sure to include on the spreadsheet how you know them, their contact info, date contacted and follow-up date.

2. Job Vision Board or Mind Map

You need to clarify what you need out of your new position; these can be both logistical and value based. Logistical might include: the location, hours, and benefits, while value based might include: what the company does, and the corporate culture. If you aren’t clear about these things you may apply to a position only to find out later that the “fit” wasn’t right and you’re on the hunt again.

Here’s a youtube video on how to create your own  Mind Map

3. Application and Company Research Spreadsheets

Each row in your table, whether electronic or handwritten, should have a line that represents a job opportunity. It is important to list in the columns the company, position name (this helps you focus your search if  titles tend to vary, for example: customer service rep or sales rep) where you saw it, deadline, your application date and follow-up. If you want you can include a comment column as well. A similar spreadsheet should be created to track specific companies within your industry so you can check their websites on a regular basis.

4. Calendar

If you’re promising to get back to an important contact you definitely don’t want to forget and lose out on a job or informational interview. Remember your future is on the line!

Once you’ve sorted out which tools you’re going to use and how you’re going to use them it’s time to organize your week…remember job searching is a full time job. Here’s a great example by Brooklyn Frontiera of Michigan Works on how to do this: Job Search Weekly Schedule

Organizing may seem painful at first but you’ll be thankful later when you get a call for an interview!  


How to create a job search that “fits” YOU!!

So you’ve lost your job, it’s scary isn’t it? So where do you start? If you’re like me you want to dive right in…checking the job postings, modifying your resume and basically driving yourself crazy right out of the gates!

Well, I can tell you from experience this strategy is based on fear and will ultimately take you in circles. To proceed you need to ask yourself the following questions:

What am I comfortable doing?

What position(s) am I looking for?

In what sector/industry am I looking?

Then you can organize your search…

A “you” centered strategy

1.Sometimes it’s good to stretch outside of your comfort zone however, it has to make sense. For example, if you’re not comfortable with computers tying to track your job search using Excel will only result in frustration. Use a paper copy instead, lots of employment centres offer sheets that you can use.

What do you want?

2. What kind of job are you looking for? Are you staying within your field or are you making a career change? You have to identify this information or you’ll stretch yourself too thin and try to grasp at anything that comes along…

What’s your industry/field?

3. Your strategy has to fit the industry. If you are looking for a 9-5 office position, then your in-person cold-calling and networking will generally revolve around those hours. On the other hand, if you’re looking for work as a server, you’re not going to drop by a restaurant to talk to the manager on a Monday or during the dinner “rush” on a Friday?

Now that you’ve answered the 3 main questions, it’s time to get organized. Trust me you’ll feel a thousand times better when you’re controlling the process and it’s not controlling you!


How to create unexpected opportunities

With the Superbowl this weekend and everyone, myself included, speculating about who’s going to win it’s easy to forget to be present and let the excitement unfold. The same goes for job seeking. Even though you definitely need a game plan, if you’re too set on the end goal you may miss unexpected opportunities.

The paradox of creating these opportunities is summed up in what John D. Krumboltz calls “Planned Happenstance.”

As an example of this theory, Krumboltz uses the story of high-powered professional sports agent, Leigh Steinberg. You remember the movie Jerry McGuire? Well it’s based on Leigh’s life and career, most of which he chalked up to “pure, random chance.” But was it really random? Did he in fact manufacture his future career, albeit unknowingly, through a series of circumstances and choices?

In an interview, Leigh recounts how it all started while attending the University of California at Berkeley while studying environmental law in the early 70’s. As luck would have it a freshman football team moved into his dormitory and after befriending several students he ended up eventually representing Steve Bartkowski, at his request, in contract negotiations with the Atlanta Falcons and well the rest as they say is history…. If you look closely at Leigh’s story you’ll realize that what happened wasn’t really “pure, random chance” but a set of circumstances that Leigh choose to act on, setting aside his own fears, he grabbed the opportunity before him.

You’re probably asking yourself how do I create these types of opportunities? Well, first you’ll need to develop 5 important skills:


Explore new learning opportunities. Take a course, try a new idea talk to insiders you would never have talked to before.


Even when things get hard you need to re-exert your efforts and try again.


With emerging technology and changes in the workplace you need to adapt. For example, if a strategy in your job-search isn’t working, change your tactics.


You need to keep positive and believe that you can attain your goals.


Take a page from Leigh and go for something even if it’s risky, sometimes it’s in the process of trying that opportunities happen.


Here’s hoping an unexpected opportunity helps me win my Superbowl bet this weekend! 

The 12 days of job searching…and a partridge in a pear tree!

Day 1 (Partridge in a pear tree)

Start your network tree!

Day 2 (Turtle doves)

Work with your wingman to navigate tricky networking situations.

Day 3 (French hens)

Learn something new, maybe even a new language. Being bilingual in the work place is always an advantage in Canada’s changing cultural landscape.

 Day 4 (Colly birds)

I don’t know what the heck Colly birds are! I always thought it was “calling birds” so I’m going with that! Call your reference people and contacts to let them know you’re looking for work.

Day 5 (Gold rings)

Well not everything that shines is gold and vice versa. Sometimes a position that doesn’t look that good on paper can still lead to other opportunities within the company, remember some jobs are a foot in the door.

Day 6 (Geese-a-laying)

Make sure to lay the groundwork for new network opportunities in the New Year!

Day 7 (Swans-a-swimming)

Keep your head above water, even when things get tough take a break and go for a walk (or swim…)

Day 8 (Maids-a-milking)

Try to milk your network for advice and who knows you might be able to become a protégé to one of your mentors.

Day 9 (Ladies dancing)

Keep your feet moving! Look outside the computer “box” so to speak and hit the pavement by visiting businesses in person. A friendly introduction may even get you speaking to the hiring manager!

Day 10 (Lords-a-leaping)

Be open to the unexpected and leap on new opportunities even if they don’t follow your career plan exactly, you just never know where it might lead you.

Day 11 (Pipers piping)

Next time you’re at a networking event, pipe up and let potential contacts know about your unique skills.

Day 12 (Drummers drumming)

Ever heard the saying ‘”dance to the beat of your own drum”?  Well it’s true! Job search strategies are not a one-size fits all solution. Sometimes you have to try different methods to find out what works for you and your industry. 

Is it just me or are there a lot of birds in this song! I had no idea…Happy Holidays Everyone!!


Perception & the Employment Interview

Job seekers need to remember that your perception is your reality when it comes to the interview process. Many of them may have had some job interviews already and others may not have had quite as much opportunity to experience that part of the hiring process. People learn how to perceive things as they grow up by what they see, experience and hear. For instance, a person’s experiences and how they deal with them will all have an impact on that person’s individual perception. In the world of employment, there will be many opportunities and different ways to perceive a particular situation. Quite often, how a candidate perceives a situation can be completely different from how a recruiter sees them and how they answer the interview questions. Don’t let your become of one of those unprepared candidates. You cannot afford to risk having a poor interview performance in this tough economic climate and job market.

First Impressions

The initial impression you make on others certainly plays a huge determining role in how people feel about you and for quite some time. This judgment is magnified at job interviews — an activity designed to make sure you fit in, both personally and professionally. You need to make the best possible first impression at the interview. The perceptual experts tell us we have 6 seconds to make a first impression. That is the visual side of perception. Poor personal grooming and sloppy attire, such as dirty hair, wrinkled clothes and unpolished shoes all give the perception that the individual does not take good care of himself or herself. If they can’t take care of themselves when going to an interview — what will they do when they get hired? What does it say about an interviewee who does not care about personal appearance or punctuality? These can all negatively impact that all-important first meeting. It does not take a lot of time to check your overall interview presentation, and it is all definitely worth the effort.

Beyond the physical appearance, recruiters & hiring managers will get a more personal picture in the first two minutes of an interview. These are often awkward moments that begin with opening questions of – hi, how are you, thanks for coming; did you have any trouble finding our location? Etc. These initial moments are a good indicator of an individual’s behaviour when dealing with the unknown and determining a level of people and interpersonal skills. This initial chit-chat really sets the stage for the rest of the interview going forward and candidates need to take advantage of this opportunity to interact with the interviewer. The sole purpose of the interview is to find out which applicants will be the best fit and asset for the company.  Yet many applicants do not understand this simple concept. Recruiters have a very short period of time in order to determine if the candidate will be appropriate and the most suitable for the position.

Observe Interview Etiquette

During the interview process potential employers will be trying to get a perception of you and assessing your skills from the beginning. There are several   other things you can do beforehand in order to help give a positive perception of yourself to that potential employer. It is important to remember basic rules such as arriving 10 – 15 minutes early and be polite to everyone you meet for the first time, especially the receptionist. These early first impressions and your behaviour will be relayed back to the hiring manager or human resources. Have you ever been in an elevator with someone who applied too much cologne or perfume?

Here is some interview advice: Less is definitely more when it comes to applying a fragrance, particularly in the workplace now as many workplaces have become scent-free and many people have health concerns such as suffering from allergies or asthma. For people who smoke, even more restraint may be necessary. While a smoker is usually immune to the smell of nicotine in their clothes, the interviewer, who is also sharing the same small space, – like an office – may find that odour unpleasant. And if the smoker has tried to mask that smell with mints or strong perfume, the resulting atmosphere may be downright offensive. I personally have been on the wrong side of this encounter as a recruiter and it didn’t leave a lasting positive impression.

Be Prepared

Enlist the help of someone you trust to review your choices at least a day before your interview. Model your interview clothes and style your hair just as you would for the interview. Then have a friend or family member critique your appearance and give you feedback. Ask them to be brutally honest about what works and what you may need to change or fix. Better to find out now at home that an outfit is inappropriate or non-flattering than to discover this after the interview. Next, ask them for some interview advice about some of your non verbal communication cues that may hurt your chances in an interview? Do you absent-mindedly crack your knuckles, jingle loose change in your pocket, fidget in your chair, slouch or avoid eye contact? If your friend or family member finds this behaviour to be distracting, acknowledge the habit, avoid it, and channel that nervous energy toward interview preparation and focus.

Always have some questions prepared to ask the interviewer about the job or company as you never want to say “No” I don’t have any questions. This will show them a lack of preparation, initiative or ambition despite possibly having a great resume.  By making sure your interview appearance is picture perfect and that you are well-prepared, you will leave a positive and memorable first impression.

Clean Up Digital Dirt

It’s always important to watch what you say in an interview but it’s becoming also very important to pay attention to what you post on-line such as on social media sites such as your Facebook page, Twitter, blogs, etc. It’s becoming increasingly common for employers to search your online presence by simply “Googling” you to see what you are posting on-line or blogging about. Employers want to hire someone who will be a good fit within their company structure and possibly represent them within the community. Potential job offers have disappeared after employers have found inappropriate photos or messages posted online. These could come back to haunt you and prevent you from being hired or even accepted into a professional post-secondary program such as law school.

People also have been fired from a job by posting inappropriate photos of their bad behaviour like what happened to many people after their discretions were made public following the Vancouver Stanley Cup riots. Good luck trying to get a reference from your former employer after the fact. It is better to clean up your online presence now by removing inappropriate photos, comments and increasing your privacy settings on such things like your Facebook page so only friends and family may view them…not your boss!

After all, you only get one chance to make a good first impression so make it a memorable one.  To those of you going on an interview soon, good luck and hopefully this advice will help you navigate the process and obtain the position you are seeking.

When it comes to job interviews, perception is reality.

When it comes to job interviews, perception IS reality.

Greg Thomas has 3 years’ experience in Employment Services as both a Resource Information Specialist and Case Manager.  He possesses a University Honours degree from McMaster University coupled together with a HR Post-Graduate Certificate from Sheridan College. He is currently taking the Career Consultant Certificate at Mohawk and also has been employed within the field of human resources and has lots of direct experience conducting and administering the interview process.

The Ins and Outs of Telephone Interviews

When a possible job opportunity is on the line, the telephone line that is, it may seem that ‘normal’ interview rules don’t apply, but you’d be wrong!

 As they say “the more things change the more they stay the same!” Although the technology and the medium is different, the same rules apply but with a bit of a twist. So how do you avoid some of the common miscommunications, confusing connections or voicemail mayhem that come with the new medium? Here are some tips to make for a smooth process:


 ImageIf the technology is new to you (like Skype for example) let the employer know, sometimes the HR person can get you in touch with IT and they can talk you through the process of setting it up.  Also make sure you do a test run before hand to make sure it works! I once had a client who found out a few minutes before his interview that the phone he was using didn’t have a long-distance calling plan making it impossible to call an employer in the U.S. If you run into this problem, check the company website to see if you can call a 1-800 number instead or if they would be willing to call you directly.


Pick your place


If you have a rough idea of when they will call you, or when you are need to call them, prepare your spot ahead of time. Have your resume laid out and a piece of paper and pen for possible questions. If you have children at home or a pet that could interrupt during the conversation make sure they are out of the room. I know it sounds strange but even if you’re not using Skype, dress up in formal attire; it will automatically put you in a more professional mindset.


Be honest


Often telephone/online interviews are a prerequisite to in-person ones. It is a way for employers to filter out unsuitable candidates and it’s a chance for you to ask questions. Therefore, make sure you do your research on things like wage expectations beforehand since this is most certainly going to come up.


If the timing of the interview doesn’t work or they catch you off guard let them know, don’t try to wing it you’ll end up sounding scattered. Just politely ask them if you can call them back in a few minutes so that you can give them your full attention.


 Have you ever talked to someone on the phone, like a customer service rep, and it’s obvious they weren’t happy? Well chances are your hunch was right! Practice smiling in the mirror beforehand it will come through to the listener and convey a friendly and open attitude.

 Now don’t forget to practice as you would for an in-person interview, you don’t want to miss the chance to connect and land that job!

Elaine Logie is a student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College and a MCACES Blogger. MCACESBlogs helps readers with all sorts of job search and career development tips and tricks!

Networking Tree

Networking. What kind of image does this word conjure up for you? If you’re like me, you probably imagine having to schmooze with higher-ups in suits at stuffy after work functions. Not exactly fun! Now before you break into a cold sweat, I’ll let you in on a little known secret, networking is actually not that hard or scary.

It’s all in your approach. Just think of each part of the process as corresponding to the growth of a tree. First, you need to plant your seed, take care and nurture your tree, then through persistence you will be reaping the fruits of your labours!

1. Research (planting the seed)

2. Cultivation (tending your tree)

3. Persistence (harvesting your leads)

Planting the seed

Think of research as the beginning stages of growth. Take for example the field of medical administration. If you are interested in getting into that field, you will need to research medical establishments then find the administrators or HR persons’ contact information at those companies. Once you have collected several contacts, you will need to make a cold-call. This is the hardest part of networking, but fear not most contacts will appreciate your efforts and may even be flattered that you view them as leaders in their field. When you are ready to call keep the following in mind:

Introduce yourself and explain why you are calling i.e. For advice regarding getting into the medical admin field. Make sure you are not interrupting your potential contact. If the person doesn’t have time ask when they may be available. Don’t push and always be respectful!
If they are available to talk, make sure you have some well-researched questions ready to ask. You are making an impression so make it positive!
If the conversation goes well and the contact is helpful thank them for their time. You can also send them an “official” thank you card or letter if you want.
Tending your networking tree

Now that your contact is no longer “cold” you’ll need to cultivate the relationship to keep it “hot.” This is accomplished through staying in touch. You need to remind your contacts that you are available and still looking for work. Do this through follow-up emails or calls for advice or answers to any follow-up questions you may have regarding the field. Be careful not to call too much…you don’t want to become bothersome!

Harvesting your leads

Contacts or leads may bear fruit through persistent cultivation. Even if a contact may not have job leads at their company, they may hear of positions opening up at other companies and let you know. When you have a positive relationship with your contact they may even be willing to be a reference person, which will prove very handy especially if you are a new grad or changing careers.

Whether your networking tree is a sapling or a mighty oak, it’s important to set aside your fears and start the growing process!

Elaine Logie is a recent graduate of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, ON. For more information on how MCACES helps students with Employment Advisement, please contact Lidia Siino,

Cultivate your network and watch it grow!

Cultivate your network and watch it grow!


That’s a wrap! “How to survive the holidays on a budget”

Survive the holidays on a budget!

Survive the holidays on a budget!

So the holidays are just round the corner and you’re not looking forward to having to scrimp and save when it comes to gift giving… but who’s to say being on a budget means you can’t have a little fun showing your gratitude to those who count?

Family and Friends

It’s important to show your closest supporters your appreciation for their patience and words of encouragement!

What to give?
You can give a personal “gift” card for various things like helping them shovel snow from their walkway or make them a special dinner or if you’re particularly handy maybe offer to do some DIY work around their place.

Your references

Why give them a gift? It’s simple; by giving a gift to your references you’ll show your appreciation for their support and remind them you’re still looking for work.

What to give?
Make it personal; place the ingredients for your favorite soup mix (with instructions!) in a reusable jar or bowl, or a hot chocolate or mulled spice mix in a mug. The bulk barn is a great place to get affordable and unique ingredients. You can make a whole care package like this by placing everything in a basket from the dollar or second hand store, then wrap in cellophane and viola you’re done! You can always hand deliver your gift or drop it off at their place of work. By making up your own basket you’ll save a bundle of money!

Your network

Why give them a gift? Similar to your references you want to remind them that you’re looking and available to work.

What to give?
For your network, it’s usually better to keep it simple. Either create homemade cards, or if you’re not particularly crafty pick up a few cards at your local dollar or discount store.

And remember by showing appreciation when it counts you’ll keep yourself off the naughty list!