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:

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

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

Flexibility
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.

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

Risk-taking
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!

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Why, thank you! “when gratitude opens doors”

Who likes to be thanked? Everyone. Who doesn’t like to be thanked? No one. So why do so few people do it? Good question!

thankyoujpeg It seems like a no-brainer, but surprisingly, very few job seekers actually take the time to properly thank hiring managers after interviews. A case in point, I was recently talking to a friend who had the unfortunate task of interviewing potential job candidates for her team when she noted that not one person actually followed up and thanked her for the interview.

Invariably without this extra step by the job-seeker she couldn’t gauge who was just looking for a “job” or who really wanted to join the company. So unfortunately for her and the interviewees she’s still on the hunt for the right candidate…

If you need more convincing, take a look at the following stats from an employer’s perspective when thank-you notes are not sent (according to CareerBuilder):

  • Employers are less likely to hire a candidate-22%
  • Employers say it shows a lack of follow-through-86%
  • Employers say the candidate isn’t really serious about the job-56%

Now that you know a “thank-you” is so important in today’s competitive marketplace, you are probably asking yourself the following:

  1. How do I send it?

Generally what I do is bring several thank you cards with me to the interview so I can write it as soon as the interview is over. (Preferably pick a quiet spot far from food… coffee stains definitely don’t impress!) This allows me to refer to points while still fresh and I can drop it off immediately so I won’t forget. If on the other hand spelling is an issue then simply have a friend look it over before you send it but remember don’t wait, it could be the deciding factor!

  1. Who do I send it to?

You should send a personalized card to each interviewer separately, don’t try to save a few bucks and give one card to everyone- remember it’s about the personal touch! This is why you should try to get everyone’s business card at the end of the interview.

I’ll be talking more about content in the next post so stay tuned…

Elaine Logie is a MCACES Blogger and student in the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACESBlogs is a series of posts created for job seekers, friends and peers. Like what you see? Be sure to follow MCACESBlogs and pass our info along.                        Happy reading!

Résumé Deconstruction

There’s never a bad time to assess your employment situation. Many times job seekers miss out on what could be a perfect job opportunity because they have an imperfect résumé.

If the perfect opportunity does appear, it’s far easier to re-save this important job search document as a “Résumé for Company x” as opposed to trulresume_closeupy refining it.  Refining your resume is the basis for a “deconstruction.”

Recently, during a popular culinary related television program, the contestants were faced with the challenge of taking famous dishes and performing a deconstruction.

What is a deconstruction?

As the name implies, deconstructing a dish involves taking important elements and reinventing the meal so that the flavours are similar to the original but the meal’s composition has changed.

Why someone would want to create complexity with food where there is none is beyond me, the concept of deconstruction is completely relevant and transferable when working with your résumé.

Could your résumé use a deconstruction?

Maybe you have a résumé, but it’s not getting you any interview calls. Maybe you like your résumé, but you don’t really love it…something may feel incomplete, but you aren’t sure what’s missing.

The best part of performing a résumé deconstruction is the satisfaction you derive from putting it back together again as a focused, coherent document.

Lidia Siino has over 11 years of experience as an Employment Advisor for Distance Education and Continuing Education Students at Mohawk College. She is designated as a Certified Résumé Strategist through the Career Professionals of Canada. MCACESBlogs is a series of posts created by Career Consultant Students & Faculty. Like what you read? Be sure to follow our blog today! Happy reading!

How Your Resume Can “Make You A Star!”

What the book: “Competency-Based Resumes: How To Get Your Resume To The Top Of The Pile,” Can Teach You.

Competency-based resumes do something really well. What they do really well is, they focus on performance and what are the most essential characteristics and tasks involved in successful performance, at a particular job.

A competency based resume sets one up for a successful career because it also is focused immediately on the employers needs, first. In the job search and its various stages, one has solid knowledge and strong understanding of the specific qualifications for best performance of the job. From the resume, to the interview, to the development of their career, the client can be guided by, and, live up to, a  job that blossoms in front of them. In a chosen career they will excel in the future, because they know it and all its intricacies, and know it well. This is the gist of Robin Kessler and Linda A. Strasburg’s book called: “Competency-Based Resumes: How to Bring Your Resume to the Top of The  Pile.”  What is interesting about this book  is that because of its focus on competencies and capabilities, as well as on the employer, one gets a picture of an approach to a changing job world. The job seeker has a clear, yet specific image of all the job entails. Keywords, appropriate language, and what this job really takes, as well as, the employers needs, are understood wholly by the developers.

We will consider if this approach reveals a holistic worldview, and, method for considering a workplace. The book describes the change from the industrial age to an information age as a basis for the excitement around competency-based approaches to the job search. In order to better present ourselves we must  get in touch with the information age culture that is involved in career searches and career development processes. They claim that job search tools have changed. Competency-based situations that define jobs, training, and its method of selection and promotion of employees, are the wave of the future. “An individual competency is a written description of measurable work habits and personal skills, used to achieve  work objectives.” Many organizations develop core competency lists and include the most relevant ones in the list, developed for groups and individual positions. Organizations are trying to hire candidates to specifically build the competencies needed for the organization. Core competencies and core competency focus can improve a job search and resume, yet, this approach should be taken with a grain of salt and the consequences considered. Core competencies help focus, are powerful and concise, yet alone they do not create a holistic search system where values, mission and vision are essential.

The good things about core competencies is that when we look for core competencies and core competency groups, we are becoming more productive by using information to better our work, and workplace. Competency lists and data can help us grow professionally. The authors liken this to a detective finding clues.  These clues help the person to get noticed because, the searcher has found the treasure, what the job involves and what it is really all about.

In this age this is important because different skills and professions can keep changing, or be too ambiguous, and, we need these tools to be more efficient and concentrate on productivity in the workplace. According to the authors we must become more aware of the competition, be smarter, and attentive to changes.  Competencies help people at their jobs. Job scope and essential definitions, help people to succeed and overcome such a changing work world.

Consider however, that identifying and satisfying employers and their needs first, causes our goals to become muddled. Competency-based resumes pick up on a competitive and changing job world, and, create situations where what we value might be left out of life altogether. Competencies can help you manage your career but it won’t help you necessarily in managing your life.

This book explains how a searcher needs to know what competencies they need to strengthen their job match, and strengthening competency gaps. The edge they will have is focus on the evidence employers need, and fulfilling the competencies. With this knowledge they can promote themselves, and display their personal brand. Here, individual  uniqueness is regarded well. The person is not left out completely.  The competency-based approach is a fresh approach, and helpful in that, the number of skills needed does not get out of hand. “Showing your best side,” is what employers need. One has to remember to still be their whole selves, and maintain their culture and relationships, while, honing in on what the job is and what it encompasses, for one to become proficient at it. Knowledge, skills and attitudes that affect a part of the job can be measured against standards, and, be improved by training and development.

On the resume make it easier for the employers to see your skills, business goals, increased profit, or saving of time or money. The focus is on the company’s needs. Prioritize competencies so that you know what is most important about the job.  Develop accomplishment statements for as many of the competencies as you can and what you have done that demonstrates them. This presents you better to employers and gives you a better fit because you match their core competencies, values, and mission.  Yes, one should never forget to put these latter things first. Is it still all about the profits, the job, and skill set, and no longer about what really matters in life relationships?  It strikes me that relationships are pushed to the background and only influence, and, development take precedence. What about what we most hold dear, the forming and maintaining of relationships with one another. The competency based format leaves something to be desired, who we are behind the job mask, what do we stand for, what really guides us, what about emotion, humanity, sentiment? There are many dimensions of a person and their ways of life. What about the environment we want in and out of the job world?  Let’s cut our losses and preserve the dimensions of people; a striving for the extraordinary and refusing to put up for sale what is essential to life, simply put, that life is never up for sale.

In your summaries, the authors feel you should give the readers a good first impression. If using competency-based functional format use 3-6 accomplishments in this heading. Prioritize competencies in your summary section. Emphasize strengths that match key competencies and highlight how you meet the most critical competencies for the position. Like a detective, do the research, examine the evidence, provide evidence strong enough to convict the suspect. Give specific competencies in areas needed by the employer. For every competency you have you should know and be able to communicate, how it will achieve results that matter to the company.

Use the PAR system. Describe the situation, action you took to change it or improve it, and, the result or outcome. Includes specific details when writing accomplishment statements. Don’t be too general or vague. Make it credible, go into details that prove the experience in a particular area. Don’t overdo it will details, though. Provide evidence that you have accomplished your claims. Then go back, review and polish your statements. Say as much as you can in few words, and, be specific, so the employer is clear about what you have done.

Make sure each word adds something to the content. Keep it brief and to the point. What did I do? What problem was solved? How did I resolve a situation? How did it benefit the organization?  Write as many as you can for each competency. Then add grammar, punctuation and tone. Rank competencies in order. Is the style of the company’s website formal?  Energetic?  Highly technical?  Try to be consistent in styles.

How your resume looks matters. This book shows what all the resume styles are in a competency-based resume.  They consider the employers needs first. As you gain more experience you will become an even better match for the organization.  As mentioned earlier, the authors are very big on always reviewing and polishing  the resumes. Review  resumes from the employers point of view. Look at your skills, competencies and other attributes from many different points of view and only leave in what is essential. Show them you are the kind of person they want to hire.  You are marketing your image as well so show what is unique about your background and experience. Have stories that match the competencies you need to demonstrate. Know well the competencies you have a practice presenting them they are second nature to you. Always be developing competencies, record and review them periodically.

A resume should show balance between who you are and what you do, and what  a person will do for the employer.  It is less inclined toward personality and what the person brings uniquely to the table. This is both its glory and its downfall. The authors of the book do achieve much in this book, and they show a keen sense of drive toward results for the employer, they just leave some of the humanity out of the equation.

Results and profits ca n make people too near-sighted.  This is where the job search can become too overly competitive and focused only on needed results. It puts the people involved, second. Where are the values in that?  This resume style needs to be combined with other  traditional kinds because it can make the employee and employer self-centred, carbon copy types if it doesn’t include an inclusive work culture.

Competency-based resumes alone focus too much on knowledge, skills and abilities than on the characteristics of the person and the kind of workplace. I’ve asked many questions in this blog and I tried to answer some of them. Most organizations are not solely out for profit, but in the work world, seekers really need to be careful, to know themselves, their beliefs, and, their priorities.

A competency-based approach should remain merely an approach, not a narrow guide. If you can answer these questions, you are on your way toward creating a wonderfully diverse and smooth running workplace.

 

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Is there a job called “Anything?”

Is there a job called anything?  I’d really like to know.  In my profession, I assist people with their job search.  The first question I ask is, “What kind of work are you looking for?”  Guess what the response is…you got it…it’s “anything!”  Although I know and understand what insights this response, it drives me crazy!

There isn’t a job called “anything” and if there was, we’d all be doing anything. What I like to suggest to clients is to have a career goal.  In my experience, when it comes to job searching, you need to know what your skills are as most employers are looking for specific skills and therefore you need to be specific in the jobs you apply for.    

Your resume should be targeted which requires you to make a career decision.  It is not unusual to have a variety of resumes targeting different skill sets.   

There are many tools that can help you make the decisions you need to.  You can speak with an employment consultant, you can do online assessments, and you can attend free workshops offered in the community.  There are many facilities you can access.  For instance, if you are a continuing education student attending Mohawk College, you can access MCACES located in F116.  If you are a full time student, you can access the Job Centre in J137 or the Student Engagement, Athletics & Employment in C104 and finally, if you are not in school and need help, there are 7 Community Employment Resource Centres funded by Employment Ontario and in part by the government of Canada of which one is located at Mohawk College in Welcome Centre, J137 at the Fennell Campus. You can find the other 5 locations at:  http://www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/search.asp?chosen=22. Your resources are endless. 

So remember, if you need to explore your career options, need assistance figuring out what your skills are, or just need a little bit of guidance, we are out there for you because there isn`t a job called “Anything!”

Linda Schumacher is a student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACESBlogs is a series of posts created by students for job seekers. Like what you see? Be sure to follow our blog or share with job seeking friends and family. Thanks for reading!Image

 

 

 

 

An Introvert’s Guide to Networking Events

Ok now before the introverts reading this decide to close the tab or run to another room and hide just let me explain…

As a self-professed introvert myself, I know that having the spotlight on you can be unnerving, but as someone who has navigated these tricky waters before I can assure you that networking events don’t require you to suddenly act like the life of the party. Believe it or not you don’t have to stretch too far beyond your comfort zone to be a good networker. Just think of it as a sandwich. Without the bread (the areas that introverts excel at) you won’t have much of a sandwich.

Bottom (Bread)

  1. Do your research

Use your preparations to your advantage. By knowing who’s who in your industry you can often begin a conversation simply by acknowledging and admiring someone’s accomplishments. Plus this is a great conversation starter…

  1. Have a goal

What is it you want to accomplish through meeting certain individuals? – Gain advice? Offer skills or expertise? Understanding this will make the interaction smoother. Also make sure you have practiced a quick (30 second) elevator speech, contacts need to know how your skills can be utilized to benefit you both.

Ham

3. Show your passion

Don’t sweat it! Even if you are an introvert, your deep passion for your industry will inevitably bubble to the surface if you simply focus on what you do and why you enjoy doing it. By taking yourself partly out of the equation and putting your profession in the forefront you will relax a little and share more.

4. Master exit and entrance strategies

If you need to get out of a conversation or move on to meet someone new a good way to end the conversation without causing offence is to ask for the person’s business card or to hand over yours (even if you are not currently working create a simple card with your contact info on it for these situations) This cue usually works – but before you meet someone new quickly jot down conversation points on the back of the card while things are still fresh.

Top (Bread)

5. Followup

This part is so important it can’t be emphasized enough!  Email the person the next day and maybe mention a point or two that you discussed with the person (those business card notes will come in handy) This continues the conversation and could potentially start a great collaborative partnership.

Because Introverts tend to notice the little details others overlook,Image use this strength to your advantage to make yourself standout. More and more, potential movers and shakers realize that introverts contribute added value to their companies. For all you know you may be the best thing since sliced bread!

Elaine Logie is a student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program. MCACESBlogs is a series of posts to assist job seekers their friends and peers with many facets of the work search process. Like what you read? Be sure to subscribe to MCACESBlogs or check back often for the latest tools and tips about work search techniques.