CAREERS & JOB SKILLS
By Elizabeth Bromstein
Being likeable is key to pretty much everything in
life — accessing the hidden job market (some say as much as 80% of
available jobs go unadvertised, so you need to access them through your
network), climbing the corporate ladder, running a business, getting a
raise, building solid relationships...
And how do you become likeable? By making people
feel good about themselves, for the most part.
When meeting someone, you've got a fairly short
window before they make up their mind about you. People like to throw
around the old "7 seconds" rule, but that's pretty dramatic. I've
sometimes taken a few meetings before deciding if I like someone. You've
got a few minutes at least. People are going to decide whether they like
you after at least a first conversation, not after a first viewing.
So, say you've got 10 minutes, for argument's sake.
Here are some tried, true, and scientifically proven ways to make people
think you're awesome the first time they meet you.
Smile. When you smile at people you convey positive
emotions. Don't fake it though. Research shows we can tell the
difference between a real smile and a fake one.
Research shows a handshake increases good feelings between people.
Repeat their name. Just once, after you are
introduced. Don't keep saying it, as is sometimes advised. You'll sound
like you took a course in sales. But repeating it once shows you're
Look directly at them. Look right at the person
with whom you are speaking and resist the urge to let your eyes wander
around the room looking for someone more familiar, more interesting, or
more important. You're
not fooling anyone.
Listen. Don't just wait your turn to talk. People
can tell when you're not listening. Repeat the last two or three words
of what they've said back at them from time to time, either as a
question or a confirmation. Don't overdo it, though, or you'll sound
like a crazy person.
Ask for advice. Asking for advice makes
people think you're smart. It also sends them the message that you
respect their opinion.
Ask an opinion, then respect it. Don't argue, tell
them they're wrong, or make a snap judgment. Former FBI behavioural
analyst Robin Dreeke
says this is his number one trick for building rapport quickly.
Include them. If someone is standing on the edge of
a group at a social event or otherwise hovering on the edge of a social
interaction of some kind, invite them in by asking what they think or
doing something to include them. They will be grateful.
Say nice things about other people.
you gossip about another person, listeners unconsciously associate
you with the characteristics you are describing, ultimately leading to
those characteristics' being "transferred" to you," according to the
book 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute.
So, say nice things about people, and people will associate that positivity with you.
Compliment them. Offer a sincere and not overly
effusive compliment — "I enjoy your blog," "I love your hair," "That was
a great speech." People like it when you say nice things to them and
they will response warmly. But not if you overdo it or fake it. I
recently met a friend's new girlfriend who, after asking me a few
questions about myself said, "You sound smart."
The next day I texted my friend to say "I really
I later giggled to myself when I realized that
maybe she's more socially savvy than I am smart. Whatever the case, I
still like her. So, it worked — and that's what matters.
By Elizabeth Bromstein
If you've got a job interview coming up, do your
research. You should know this. We've been saying it for ages. But a new
study confirms what we've been telling you all along — candidates who
fail to research the company before the interview is a hiring manager's
In a survey of 500 interviewers in the UK,
conducted for Barclays LifeSkills, 51% said that lack of research is the
biggest mistake candidates make. The survey found that "candidates are
often underprepared and may be overcompensating in other areas to
impress." Among the other hiring manager complaints were asking no
questions, making stuff up, and lying. They also listed "showing off,"
which probably translates to arrogance or overconfidence.
Here are the top 10 most common interview mistakes
according to the survey.
- Failing to do their research — 51%
- Showing off — 31%
- Asking no questions — 31%
- Not acting interested or engaged with the interviewer — 30%
- Making up answers — 29%
- Lying about achievements — 29%
- Not dressing appropriately -26%
- Rambling on — 26%
- Failing to explain what they would bring to the role — 24%
- Complaining about their current employer — 19%
According to a media release,
"When it comes to the mistakes most likely to cost
a candidate their dream career, 12 per cent of employers said they found
forgetting your manners to be the most off-putting behaviour. Meanwhile,
candidates who acted interested and engaged during interviews were
deemed to be the best (48 per cent), whilst those who appeared genuine
about themselves were favoured more highly (37 per cent)."
This stuff should be obvious. But obviously it
bears repeating: do your research, be engaged, be interested, be
genuine, don't lie.
"In the head-to-head group interview scenario,
dominating the conversation and not listening to others ranked among the
top errors, coming in at 44 and 48 per cent respectively. Being too
quiet or not contributing enough was also prevalent with 45 per cent of
employers often witnessing this in group interviews. In contrast, in the
typical one-on-one interview setting only a small number (6 per cent)
said that being too modest would dampen a prospective candidate's
Kirstie Mackey, Head of LifeSkills, is quoted as
saying, "No matter how old or experienced you are, it's invaluable to
know how to properly prepare for and behave in interviews."
By Peter Harris
As 2015 draws to a close, and many people start formulating their
New Year's resolutions and goals for 2016, we thought that it was a good
time to take a look back at some of the country's most (and least)
lucrative jobs to have.
To start in the middle, according to Statistics
Canada, the average wage for Canadian employees is currently $955 per
week — or just about $49,660 a year. Most of the jobs on our high paying
list earn at least three times that much in 2015. (And the lowest paying
occupations paid less than half the average.)
The highest paying jobs in Canada:
- Specialist physicians at the high end of the pay
scale they can earn over $375,000
- Dentist — $287,303
- Family physicians — $272,750
- Lawyers at the top end of the pay scale make
- Judges — $176,800
- Senior Managers of Goods Production,
Transportation, and Construction — $165,000
- Senior managers in Finance and Communications can
- Actuaries earn $155,000
- Engineering managers — $137,000
- Top paid Airline Pilots make $138,000
Of course most of the country's lowest paying jobs
will simply pay the minimum wage of whatever region the job happens to
be located in. Towards the low end of the scale that is roughly $9.95 an
hour earning someone just over $20,000 — assuming they worked full time
and were paid for 40 hours a week.
The lowest paying jobs in Canada:
- Sewing machine operator — $20,800
- Cashier — $20,800
- Ironing, pressing and finishing occupations $20,800
- Artisans $21,320
- Bartender — $21,000
- Harvesting labourer — $20,800
- Service station attendant — $20,800
- Food and beverage server — $22,000
- Food counter attendant / kitchen help — $20,800
- Babysitters, nannies, and parent's helpers —
Of course this doesn't take into account tipping.
Bartenders and wait staff, particularly at higher end establishments can
make very comfortable incomes with low hourly wages but the bulk of
their income coming from tips.
The Federal government's
Working in Canada website breaks down the salaries for different
occupation by province and even by city. It's a useful tool for seeing
how your paycheque measures up — and preparing for your next salary
By Peter Harris
What do most Canadians want to do? Get paid to
travel the world looking after air passengers' needs and safety. For the
third year in a row, ‘Flight Attendant' was the most popular job title
for job seekers.
The team at Workopolis analyzed applications to
millions of online job postings. We compared the number of applications
per job post to determine the most and least popular jobs. (Only job
titles with at least 50 job ads during the year were considered to
prevent very niche or obscure jobs from skewing the results.)
What didn't we want to do this year? Drive a
forklift or work on heavy-duty machinery underground.
Here are Canada's most and least popular jobs of
The most popular jobs for candidates were:
[Measured by the greatest number of applications per job posting]
- Flight Attendant
- Counter Sales Agent
- Courier Operations
- Mail Clerk
- Clerical Assistant
- Warehouse Operator
- Cad Technician
- Quality Assurance Technician
- Medical Administrative Assistant
The least popular / hardest to fill jobs for
employers: [Measured by the lowest volume of applications per job
- Walkie Operator
- EMT Paramedic
- Order Picker
- General Labour Production Rotation
- Heavy Duty Mechanic Underground
- Tool Die Maker
- Tax Manager
- Cosmetic Manager
- Pharmacist Manager
- Warehouse Inside Sales
By sheer volume, these are the job titles that saw
the most openings being advertised in Canada this year.
The top five job titles being advertised online in
2015: [Not just on Workopolis, but across all online job boards and
- Cashiers / Retail Clerks
- Caregiver / Nanny
- Sales Representative
- Cook / Kitchen Help / Food Preparers and Servers
- Drivers (Long Haul, Truck, and Delivery)
Every job seeker is unique, like a snowflake, and
every job search is its own unique experience. That being said, some
things are unique to the Canadian job search experience, and those are
things in which we can all share.
Here are 13 of them, as we see it. Have you got any
We're pros at dressing for weather extremes.
Rocking the suit with a toque and Sorrels like a boss. Layers to take
off in winter, when the inside of your nose freezes. Layers to put on in
summer, when you lose a litre of sweat walking three blocks. Pack your
shoes in a bag. Dressing professionally for Canadian weather is an art.
We know to give ourselves two extra hours to get
there for the interview. In winter because for every snowflake that
falls, some idiot forgets how to drive. In summer because the entire
route is going to be under construction.
We dream about jobs in buildings with underground
parking. If you get offered a job in a building with underground parking
you should take it. Consider no other offers.
It's really hard to talk about yourself when you
come from a non-boastful culture. We feel it's unseemly to brag. It's
not that we don't think highly of ourselves. We know we're
smarter than Americans, for example, but we only say that among
other Canadians. Similarly, when it comes time to sell ourselves and our
skills, we get stuck, and kind of think, in the same way Americans
should just know we're smarter, you should just know how amazing we are
without us having to tell you.
It's labour, colour, neighbour, dammit. Not labor,
color, and neighbor.
We wish we paid attention in French class. Everyone
elsewhere thinks our entire country speaks French but most of us don't.
And when job seeking in many markets, not being bilingual pretty much
takes you out of the running for a huge chunk of jobs. Too bad the only
thing you remember is the "Danse de canard" and something about a pink
blob who was father to a family of shape shifters.
Hockey is very important. While many of us don't
give a damn about hockey, we understand that everyone else cares a lot
about hockey. They like to talk about hockey, they will probably watch
hockey at work during playoffs, and so it doesn't hurt to pretend to
care a bit about hockey in case it comes up while in conversation with
someone while networking. At the very least, we know never to say
anything like "hockey is stupid."
If your interviewer is from Newfoundland, don't
make any jokes about it. They don't think that's funny.
99% of people will start a conversation by
mentioning the weather or sports. We're pretty sure this is
scientifically proven, we just can't find the study.
Tim Horton's will somehow play a role. When trying
to make connections by buying coffee, you're better off with Tim
Horton's than Starbucks. You can always make friends with Timbits, which
are, in fact, the official friendship offering of Canada. OK, we made
that up. Your interview might even be in a Tim Horton's, even though
it's not for a job at Tim Horton's.
We play our cards close to our chests. Canadians
are not as nicey nice as everyone thinks. Sure, we're polite, but one
might also call it "passive aggressive," and when we say "sorry" we
might mean "I'm sorry," and we might mean "I'm sorry but you are going
down and when you do you won't know what hit you."
By Peter Harris
Can you imagine how much easier school would have been if you'd had
a copy of your exams in advance so you could come up with the answers
and memorize them? Similarly, wouldn't it be great if you knew precisely
what potential employers were going to ask you in job interviews?
You could craft interesting and insightful
responses about your experiences, accomplishments and goals, and
practice relating them in a friendly, conversational manner.
The thing is, for the most part, you actually do
know. There will likely be some industry or job specific questions, or
requests for further detail about some of the info on your resume.
However, there is a fairly standard set of questions, some variation of
which you are almost certain to be asked in every job interview.
The questions that you will always be asked in job
Is that what you're wearing?
Okay, they won't actually ask this out loud, but
you better believe interviewers are thinking it the moment they lay eyes
on you. If you are dressed too casually, you may appear unprofessional
or not serious about the role. If the company culture, or the hiring
manager specifically, has issues with multiple piercings, visible
tattoos or odd facial hair, these may cost you the gig. It's also
possible to dress too formally or conservatively for a company's
Do your homework. Wear clothes that are just a
touch more formal than required on the day-to-day of the job. The key
message is that you take the job — and the opportunity to interview for
it — seriously, so you took the time to dress for it.
I'm going to wear my Crocs, I'll be
comfortable, and they can take it or leave it.
Tell me about yourself?
Just about every job interview kicks off with some
kind of conversational ice breaker where the employer offers you the
chance to introduce yourself. Bear in mind that it's not really yourself
that you're introducing. It's your candidacy. Talk about how your
professional interests make you the right candidate for the role. Here's
how I answered that question when I interviewed with the VP of HR
I'm actually an aspiring romance
novelist. I just need this gig until the royalty cheques start rolling
What makes you interested in this job?
Employers are always more impressed with candidates
who are passionate about working for them specifically — over someone
who is just looking for a new gig. Explain what you think is great about
the company or the role, and how the job excites you.
Don't say: Because I need the money.
What do you know about our company?
As I said, companies prefer candidates who want to
work for them, so they look for candidates who have done their research.
Talk about the company's brand, mission, products or services and how
you'd like to contribute.
Well, I hear that you're hiring!
What would you say your greatest strengths are?
This seems like an easy question — you know what
you're good at right? But don't take this question strictly at face
value. Read the job description carefully, and describe an ability of
yours that would lend itself to being particularly successful on the
job. Just make sure that they're true strengths. You don't want to claim
to be good at something you don't actually know how to do. Think up a
relatable anecdote in advance that demonstrates how you have used these
strengths on the job.
There's too many to count. Really, I'm
great at everything.
What do you think are
your biggest weaknesses?
It feels like a trap. If you answer honestly,
you're admitting to something that could potentially turn off an
employer. If you say "I have no weaknesses. I am perfect," the employer
will know you are either a liar or totally lacking in self-awareness,
and dismiss you outright. You have to say something.
Think of an actual weakness, something that isn't
an essential requirement for the job, and explain how you became aware
of it and are working on improving upon it. This shows that you are
reflective, willing to learn, and striving to get better.
The team discusses
how to answer the ‘weakness question' in this Workopolis 180 video.
Don't say: I'm a workaholic and/or a perfectionist.
Tell me about a challenging situation you
encountered at work and how you handled it?
It's easy to seem positive and confident when
everything is going well. With this question, the employer wants to know
how you measure up when things get challenging. Talk about a conflict or
setback at work, how you dealt with it professionally, and what you
learned from it.
The key things to get across are that you can think
on your feet to problem-solve, remain calm and good-natured in the face
of a challenge, and that you can think strategically and act decisively.
Don't say: Someone got in my face, so I punched
him, or my boss was a jerk, so I quit.
Why did you leave your last job?
If you are currently employed, this question
becomes, ‘Why do you want to change jobs?' Explain that the job you're
interviewing for is just the career move that you're looking for. It's
not that you're moving away from a negative, but towards a positive.
You're looking to grow your career in the direction this new position
can take you.
If you were fired or let go from your previous job,
be honest about what happened, but don't offer up any negative details.
Most people lose jobs at some point in their careers. You pick yourself
up, learn what you can from the experience, and move on.
Don't say: Because my jerk of an ex-boss had it in
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Depending on the role and the level of the job, you
don't have to pretend that you want to still be in it in five years.
Most people want to grow in their careers, and five years has become a
long time to stay in one position.
Instead explain how the job is the right move for
your career growth at this time — and how your excelling at it would
make both you and the employer more successful. Show how what you can
accomplish, demonstrate and learn in this job takes you closer to where
you want to go.
In your job — Or — Successfully running
my own (insert unrelated field) start-up company.
Why should we hire you?
This is an easy one. It's not a trick question —
employers are offering you the chance to sell yourself. Simply explain
why you are enthusiastic for the job and how the accomplishments you've
achieved in the past demonstrate your ability to be great at it. Be
confident, but not cocky.
Because I need the job.
Do you have any questions for me?
This is your chance to take control of the
interview. You can often convey your competence and confidence, your
job-readiness to an employer more impressively with the questions you
ask than the ones you answer.
Asking smart questions can demonstrate that you
have some knowledge of the industry, and that you're already thinking
about how you can contribute to it.
Here's an example of
how a woman landed the job with just one question.
Don't say: No. And don't ask questions such as,
‘how much does it pay?'; ‘how soon am I eligible for vacation time?'; or
‘how long does it usually take to get promoted?'
Ask yourself these questions. Then think of the
industry, company, and job you're interviewing for, and tailor your
answers to be as specifically relevant to the employer as you can.
You'll be top of the class of candidates in no time.