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!


A true story authored by life

It is about two years ago that I called my friend in Austria, and asked her how she was doing. She sounded quite depressed, and said that she was very bored and did not know what to do. Mothering her lively daughter takes a lot of energy; yet at the same time she feels completely under-challenged in her life. When I asked her if she had considered getting a part-time job she just laughed. “Yeah, right… a college dropout with a child at home. I am sure the business world is waiting for that.” My lunch break was coming to an end, and I did not want to end the conversation too negatively, so I changed the subject and told her that I found a recipe on the internet  that might be interesting for her, since she always loved to try out new recipes. It was a food blog that had some really good ideas.

After I had sent her the link to the recipe she started researching on food blogs. She loved the idea of creative cooking ideas with beautiful pictures and some private notes of the life of the writer on top of it: the perfect mixture of reading, for anyone who was interested in cooking.

ImageJust a little bit over a year later, after that conversation on the phone, my friend got an award for the best food blog in German-speaking countries in Europe. Her blog is amazing, and the award, by the way, provides about the same amount of money she would have made in a part-time job within a year. The number of her followers grows daily, and if my friend would decide today that she would like to have a job, I know for sure that it would be very easy for her to find one indeed. First of all her confidence grew so much that she no longer links her identity with being a “college dropout”, but rather with a creative entrepreneurial spirit that proved to be successful. Secondly, she just would have to drop a hint on her blog that she would be interested in working, and immediately there would be over three hundred people at hand who care for her, and would go a long way to support her. Also because of her blogging, she has clearly established herself as an expert, which would open many doors right away.

So, what if you cannot cook? Is blogging then not for you? There are thousands of blogs out there on almost every topic. Is there anything in your life that you are really passionate about? Is there something you would like to stay knowledgeable about in a field or topic? Would you like to connect with people like you and also bring likeminded people together?  Would you like to have great support when you go for a job interview one day, and you can point out that hundreds of people follow your writing already? How much easier is it to convince a recruiter, that you are already interesting and have something to say?

Consider starting your own blog and see where life leads you with it. Who knows? The next award might just be waiting for ….YOU!

MCACESBlogs is a series of blog posts created by students and faculty from the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. Be sure to subscribe or come back often for more information and insights about the work search process.

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.


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.

Etiquette in the Workplace Part 3

How NOT to leave a Phone message for your Professor…..   

“please call me back”

There are many ways of reaching your Professor (or other Professional), and with the increased use of cell phones, voice mail messaging is still a vital part of communication in the workplace. 

When leaving a voice mail message, you will need to speak clearly and slowly to have a better chance of being understood.  

Be precise and leave a message that indicates why you want your Professor’s help.  It is imperative to leave your name, your student number, your problem (or reason for the phone call) and how you can be contacted. 

None of this information is important unless you speak CLEARLY and   S  L  O  W  L  Y.  (need to repeat that – cannot be emphasized enough!)

Humour is fine in a voice mail message if it is appropriate, but be sure that your voice messaging is professional.  You do not want to be embarrassed by your Professor hearing it, or give him/her the impression that you are not someone to be taken seriously.   


Here is a better sample of a voice message:


Hi Julie,

This is Meaghan MacDonald.   My student number is ZERO, ZERO, ZERO, ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE, SIX and I am going to be away from school on Friday due to an important appointment.  I understand that I am not missing any tests, but could you please tell me how I can get a copy of the assignment that you were going to hand out in class?

Please feel free to e-mail me at my MoCoMotion or e-learn account, or call me on my cell phone at NINE, ZERO, FIVE, FOUR, ONE, SIX, SEVEN, SEVEN, EIGHT, NINE.

I hope to hear from you soon.



Act like a professional and you may begin to feel like a professional.  This may give you the confidence you need to succeed.

 One thing is true, that being treated as a professional will only be attained by acting like one.



How NOT to e-mail your Professor…Etiquette in the Workplace Part 2

I was sic @ home


pls send assngmnt l8r

It takes just a few seconds for someone to evaluate you in an e-mail, and an e-mail can last forever.  It can form an opinion about you which may be impossible to reverse or undo, and you may have set the tone for the future relationship.

In the sample e-mail above, this Professor does not know who you are or what assignment you need.  He/she may get hundreds of e-mails every day and needs to know who you are, what you want, and how to solve your problem.

Be aware that your e-mail address itself is conveying a message.  “” may have been okay for your highschool friends, but will not convey the professionalism you will need in post-secondary educational institutions, where you are preparing to be job ready.   Some servers will block your Hotmail account.

Avoid slang, swearing and disrespecting other students in e-mails.  Keep language simple, courteous, to the point and use proper sentence structure.   Avoid use of smiley faces and unprofessional simplifications (“C U l8r” “r u ok” “LOL” “@”)  Those are fine when you e-mail your friends, but remember –  e-mailing is NOT texting.

Show respect by addressing your Professor by name as they have indicated; and always use a salutation (greeting) such as.  “Hi ……” or “good afternoon…….” ; do not abruptly start the e-mail without acknowledging them by name.  If you are e-mailing them for the first time and have not yet met them, take the time to look them up the website to see if you can determine how they prefer to be addressed; “Mr” or “Ms” or first name?

Use a helpful subject line that addresses the message and gets to the point of the e-mail.   This is what your Professor will see in his/her inbox.

Here’s a better sample e-mail:

Subject Line:  Missed Assignment COMM LL041

Good morning Julie,


I am Meaghan MacDonald and in your LL041 COMM class.  I was away from class this morning, due to an appointment and missed getting the assignment which was handed out.


Could you please provide me with another copy via e-mail, or give me a time and I would be happy to stop by your office.


Thanks in advance,



COMM LL041; W,F  10:00 a.m. class




Emailing a professor is not the same as texting a friend!  

And don’t forget to follow up with a “thank you” e-mail when your Professor has given you what you need.  After all, he/she’s the one who will be marking your assignment, and that’s really the best reason to be courteous, respectful and professional in your e-mail!

Judy-Anne Sleep is a student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. This blog is part 2 in a 3 part series about Etiquette in the Workplace. MCACESblogs is a series of posts assisting job seekers with tips, tools and the latest job search trends. For more information, please contact Lidia Siino, Professional Development and Communications Specialist at Follow MCACESblogs and improve your job search today!


…. the deadline is tomorrow

….what to do?

…. I am really hungry, maybe I’ll go out for dinner first!


Does that sound like you? Are you browsing around online right now avoiding updating your resume?! Please don’t let time get the best of you and start utilizing all those skills you just might have on your resume: time management, communication and a positive attitude. These are not just words on your resume, but skills and characteristics which will help you obtain employment and maybe even that job you keep missing the application deadline for.

Now that you are thinking about it, it is time to make a plan of action. Start with an area of the job search process that you like, or that has previously caused you the least amount of stress. Since you are online right now, choose to utilize the Internet: do a web search of jobs, search for more tools and tricks to overcoming procrastination, and read more of the MCASES blogs which has tons of valuable and motivating information on the job search process 😉

Here are some tricks that will help you become engaged in your job hunt and stop choosing the route of procrastination:

  • Keep a calendar that includes due dates for jobs that you REALLY REALLY want, and reward yourself with a snack or night out when you make those deadlines.
  • When you want to socialize instead of updating your resume, sign up for a job search seminar or have your resume reviewed by a friend for errors (maybe you’ll meet someone you get along with and become good friends, or get a lead on a new job)!
  • Put down that Gossip magazine and read a journal about the new era of social networking and the uses of social media to advertise jobs.
  • Now that you have read about the uses of social media, start using Twitter and Facebook to your benefit and not just to snoop at your ex’s new girlfriend!
  • Do you like talking about yourself? Awesome! Sign up for a mock interview or have a friend ask you situational questions so you can practice for that interview you are going to get!
  • Are you introverted and missing deadlines on purpose to avoid the interview? Practice smiling while you are working on your resume, going over potential interview questions/responses and whenever you are talking about why you hate interviews (and will still do fantastic)!! This can help you become comfortable with the idea of an interview and help you to smile and relax during  your next interview.
  • Include break times, or maybe a whole day off so that you are excited about your plan and not exhausting yourself. You deserve this break if you are sticking to your plan!

Do not feel bad about procrastinating because change is just around the corner. You might have been holding off on the job search because you are afraid or discouraged as a result of past experiences, or maybe you were applying for jobs that you really did not want. Do not feel bad, rather learn from the past and make change. Maybe in coming up with solutions you will find that you are an excellent problem solver: Great! Add that to your resume and be prepared to explain why because now you are going to get that interview!

Natahsha Thomson is a student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Be sure to check out MCACESblogs for the latest work search tips, tricks and trends! For more information about MCACESblogs, please contact   Lidia Siino, Professional Development & Communications Specialist at Thanks for reading!Image

Get Real! (with Job Search Expectations)

The job search today is more complicated than it’s ever been before, with lots of information and tasks to manage.  You may think that your job search will be a piece of cake, but the truth is, finding the right job may be harder than you think.  The best advice I can give job seekers is to set realistic job expectations.  Too many times I see individuals cause themselves a lot of frustration because they have unrealistic expectations when applying for jobs.

Here are some common mistakes and the reality behind them:

Expectation:  My job search will take no time at all.

Fact: There is no guarantee how long it will take to find a job.

Quite often I see this with individuals receiving Employment Insurance (EI).  They have been collecting EI for months and it is coming to the end in a month or so.  They now feel it is time to start looking for a job.  NOT smart!  The vacant positions you come across may not seem challenging enough, require skills you do not have, require a commute or most commonly, do not pay what you want.  Finding the right opportunity is not always easy and could take months.  Take note that the higher the skill level of the job, the longer it will take to find a new one!  Don’t put off your job search, start now!!

Expectation:  I only need to send out a few resumes.

Fact:  Finding a job is a numbers game.

Employers will receive hundreds of resumes and yours needs to stand out.  You never know when you will be the right “match”, so you need to apply to all positions that are suitable.  While you want to keep your goals in mind, it makes no sense to hold out for the “perfect” job, which you may not find – or which may not even exist.  Also keep in mind; it is a lot easier to find a job when you are already employed.  Take that job that isn’t ideal and continue to pursue something else that meets your needs.

Expectation:  My resume and cover letter look great!

Fact:  Quite often people think they have a fantastic resume when in fact it does not emphasize their knowledge, skills and abilities.

Take a close look at your resume and cover letter.  Do they sell your skills and qualifications?  Have you identified accomplishments?   Make sure they are targeted.  Research the company and the position you are applying for and demonstrate how you are a “match” for them and the job.  There are lots of resources out there now to help you obtain this information.  Asking a career practitioner is a great start.

Expectation:  I have excellent skills. Any company would want to hire me!

Fact:  You may not be as marketable as you think.

A common mistake that job seekers make is over-estimating their marketability.  Make sure you take an honest look at your skills and qualifications to determine how in demand they are.  Keep in mind that your marketability depends on a number of different factors, some of which are not within your control.  What is the labour market like in your area?  Are there a lot of jobs in your field?  Are there a number of unemployed people with the same skill set as you?  The hard and soft skills employers are looking for are somewhat within your control.   Enrolling in courses or workshops that can enhance your competencies is a good way to keep your skills and knowledge current and up-to-date.  Lifelong learning is a great way to show employers you would make a valuable employee.

Finding a new job is difficult and it’s easy to succumb to your frustrations.  But by having realistic employment expectations, you’ll be much further ahead and able to overcome the many hurdles of job searching.

Linda Schumacher is a student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College, in Hamilton, Ontario. MCACESblogs is a series of job search and work search related entries by students from CAR03: Work Search Tools & Techniques. Like what you see? Tell us what you think! Please share this information to fellow job seekers. For more information about our blogs, please contact Lidia Siino, Professional Development & Communications Specialist at