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Successful Job Search Trends Revealed

By Peter Harris

We surveyed thousands of employed and unemployed Canadians about their recent job searches and looked at more than 7,000,000 employment histories from our resume database to create a snapshot of modern Canadian career moves.

So how long does it take to find a job? Job searches can last anywhere from two days to over a year, but for most people it is roughly four months. That is how long the largest group, 50% of people surveyed, told us that it took them to secure their most recent job.

In order to get hired during those 16 weeks, most people said that they had to submit 10 job applications and conduct two job interviews. A further 30% of people said that they needed to perform five or more job interviews before being hired for their most recent job.

Mondays are the best day of the week to apply for a job. While more people apply for jobs on Tuesdays than any other day, Monday applications have a statistically (10%) greater chance of advancing to the interview stage. Saturday applications are the least successful.

On average, only 2% of applicants for a job are chosen for an interview. This is because a large portion of resumes are never actually read by a human being, as the screening software that more and more companies use will filter out applications that don’t contain the most relevant keywords the employer is looking for.

Of those resumes that recruiters do actually read, Workopolis research shows that most are only scanned for 11 seconds or less before either being shortlisted or passed over. Recruiters view ten resumes for every two that are flagged for closer consideration. 80% don’t make that initial cut.

If you are called in for an interview, try to schedule the appointment in the morning if you can. Research has shown that employers tend to rate the candidates they meet first higher than subsequent applicants. If the person conducting the interview has interviewed particularly strong candidates in the morning and has already given out top scores, they will be less likely to afford those same high rankings to another applicant later in the day.

The average interview is approximately 40 minutes long, but some crucial decisions are made in the first four seconds. That’s how long it takes the interviewer to decide four things about you: Do I like you? Do I trust you? Are you safe? and Who do you remind me of?

Since those decisions are made before any interaction has actually taken place, this leaves the remaining 39 minutes and 56 seconds for you to take charge of making a positive impression.

A lot of that impression will still be formed in the first 30 seconds. Make eye contact and smile when you great the interviewer. When you shake hands, don’t jerk your hand back after contact like you’re reluctant to touch or (worse) end up holding hands. A professional hand shake should last between 2 and 5 seconds – or just long enough to say, “Hi! Nice to meet you.” (And not long enough to be considered holding hands.)

24% of people interviewed hear back from the employer within a week. 42% receive a response within the first two weeks. However, 44% of applicants surveyed said that they never heard from the employer at all after their most recent job interview.

Canadians can expect to hold roughly 15 jobs over the course of their careers. Frequent career changes are necessary for advancement. Only 11.5% of promotions happen within an organization. 88% of the time, people have to change employers in order to move up a rank in their career.

Most of us will work 2-3 different career paths entirely in our working life.

The Worst Passwords of 2014

By Elizabeth Bromstein

What’s your online banking password? I bet I can guess. Is it “123456?” No? How about “dragon?” I got it, didn’t I? You should really change your password.

Password management app company SplashData has released its annual list of the 25 most common passwords found online, a designation that makes them the “Worst Passwords” of 2014. Having one of these easily guessable codes leaves your information more vulnerable than that of people who put a little more thought into it.

This is SplashData’s fourth annual report, compiled from more than 3.3 million leaked passwords during the past year. “123456”and “password” hold the top two spots, where they have sat since the inaugural 2011 ranking (though I think they have switched places with each other). Other passwords in the top 10 include “1234,” “12345,” “12345678,” and “1234567890.”

Ingenious! They’ll never crack that code.

According to a press release, passwords appearing for the first time on SplashData’s list include “696969” and “batman,” while “iloveyou” is one of nine passwords from 2013 to fall off this year.

“Passwords based on simple patterns on your keyboard remain popular despite how weak they are,” said Morgan Slain, CEO of SplashData. “Any password using numbers alone should be avoided, especially sequences. As more websites require stronger passwords or combinations of letters and numbers, longer keyboard patterns are becoming common passwords, and they are still not secure.” (Don’t use “qwertyuiop.”)

You think you can cheat those annoying rules of companies who feel they have to take it upon themselves to create those annoying guideline – Your password must be 12 digits long, contain letters and numbers, plus one capital letter, but not a capital city, plus punctuation, but no question marks, cannot contain your name or any personal information, cannot contain sequential letters or numbers, cannot contain three or more of the same characters in a row – but you’re only hurting yourself.

Other tips from SplashData include not using a favorite sport. “Baseball” and “football” are in the top 10, and “hockey,” “soccer” and “golfer” are in the top 100. Don’t use a favorite team either, as many beloved teams such as “yankees,” and “lakers” are also in the top 100. (Not sure about “bluejays.”) Don’t use your birthday or birth year, or just your name.

The list seems to suggest that people don’t always take the task of setting a password seriously. Nobody thinks identity theft or hacking is going to happen to them. But it can. You should be more careful.

Here are the top 25 “Worst Passwords of 2014”:

  1. 123456 (Unchanged from 2013)
  2. password (Unchanged)
  3. 12345 (Up 17)
  4. 12345678 (Down 1)
  5. qwerty (Down 1)
  6. 1234567890 (Unchanged)
  7. 1234 (Up 9)
  8. baseball (New)
  9. dragon (New)
  10. football (New)
  11. 1234567 (Down 4)
  12. monkey (Up 5)
  13. letmein (Up 1)
  14. abc123 (Down 9)
  15. 111111 (Down 8)
  16. mustang (New)
  17. access (New)
  18. shadow (Unchanged)
  19. master (New)
  20. michael (New)
  21. superman (New)
  22. 696969 (New)
  23. 123123 (Down 12)
  24. batman (New)
  25. trustno1 (Down 1)

The Most Overused Words in Canadian Resumes

By Elizabeth Bromstein

LinkedIn has released a new list of the most “overused” buzzwords in profiles on the site.

The professional networking site has also released a list of overused words in Canadian resumes, according to the Globe and Mail, which differs slightly from the worldwide list. Canadians are accused of most overusing the word “passionate,” followed by “motivated” and “creative.” The world at large is overly “motivated,” followed by “passionate” and “creative.” Are you following? Good.

According to the LinkedIn blog, these are the worst “offenders.” They are “the words that make you go ‘meh’ – the most overused, underwhelming buzzwords and phrases in LinkedIn profiles of 2014 across the world.” So, they’re pretty terrible, it seems. Without further ado, here is the list:

LinkedIn’s top 10 overused resume words worldwide:

  • Motivated
  • Passionate
  • Creative
  • Driven
  • Extensive experience
  • Responsible
  • Strategic
  • Track record
  • Organizational
  • Expert

Now, here’s the list of overused words in Canadian resumes:

  • Passionate
  • Motivated
  • Creative
  • Driven
  • Extensive experience
  • Organizational
  • Strategic
  • Problem-solving
  • Analytical
  • Communications skills

Here’s the thing, though: I wouldn’t necessarily remove all those words from your profile, even if the people at LinkedIn seem to be suggesting that you do so.

Problem solving, analytics, and communication skills are among the most sought after skills by Canadian employers. While we might tell you it’s also a good idea to describe ways in which you showcase these skills, rather than simply saying you have them, employers might still search specifically for these keywords. I would suggest you keep them.

That being said, it’s a good idea to avoid clichés and meaningless buzzwords. Use your judgment. Do you think employers are thinking “Hey, look! That guy’s profile says he’s passionate, strategic and driven! That’s exactly what I’m looking for! My prayers have been answered!” (The correct answer to that is “no,” by the way.)

Also, passionate? Really? Don’t put “passionate” in your resume? It sounds like the back cover of a bodice ripper.

A couple of the LinkedIn buzzwords overlap with our own list of overused words and phrases in Canadian resumes, culled from our own data last year. That list actually contains ten words and phrases you really should avoid. Here it is:

  • Resume / C.V. / Curriculum Vitae
  • Duties included
  • Responsible for
  • Helped
  • Handled
  • Worked
  • Creative
  • Excellent
  • Motivated
  • References available upon request

Don’t say “resume” in your resume. They’ll figure out what it is they’re looking at. Also, of course your references are available upon request. You can’t get a job without them. No need to spell it out. And, instead of saying you “worked,” or that your “duties included,” use action words that demonstrate your accomplishments, of which there are of course many, because you are so passionate.

The Five Basic Job Search Dos & Don’ts for Getting Hired Faster

By Peter Harris

I was speaking with a business journalist yesterday, and she asked me if I could send her some job search dos and don’ts to include in an article she was writing. I was sure this wouldn’t be a problem because we write and publish job search and career advice every day here at Workopolis.

But when I went to look through our archive I found a lot of big picture articles about the job market and labour trends and focused pieces on resume writing, interviewing, and job searching. We didn’t actually have a simple do’s and don’ts summary for people who may not have had to look for work in a while.

So if you’re just beginning your job search and you’re looking for some pointers to get started, here are the very basics for successfully landing a job.

Five job search dos and don’ts:

  • Don’t mass apply to every job you can find with a generic resume.

Do tailor your application to each specific job and company that you apply to.

  • Do have an online presence. Keep up-to-date professional profiles and resumes that are searchable by employers.

Don’t publicly post inappropriate photos, rants about previous jobs, or anything you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see.

  • Don’t try to “wing it” at the job interview.

Do prepare! Research the company and the industry, and practice talking about your skills and accomplishments in ways that are relevant to them.

  • Don’t be late to the interview.

Practice your route in advance, show up early so that you’re not stressed about getting there.

  • Don’t forget to follow up.

Do send a thank you note to everyone who takes the time to interview you. You’ll stand out from those candidates who don’t.

Following just these five basic rules is almost certain to make your job hunt shorter and more successful. A tailored resume, well-prepared interview, and professional follow-up go a long way towards impressing employers.

How Much do the Jobs with the Highest Demand in Canada Actually Pay?

By Peter Harris

Here’s a look at which job titles saw the most online job postings across platforms in the final months of 2014. Since these occupations are likely to continue to trend well into this year as well, we consulted Statistics Canada to also learn the average salaries for each of the roles.

Our friends over at Wanted Analytics recently examined the most commonly advertised jobs in the world’s largest English speaking countries: The UK, USA, Canada, Australia and India. They counted the total number of job ads for various occupations on all websites, paid job boards, free classifieds, and government boards.

The most commonly posted job in Canada is Retail Sales Person. In the US and Australia, it’s Retail Supervisors. (I guess they need more management than we do over there.) Interestingly, ‘retail salesperson’ is also the most commonly held job in North America.

The most advertised job title in the UK is for Registered Nurses, and in India it is Web Developers.

It looks like Sales, IT, and Administrative jobs are in-demand in all the countries examined. Marketing Managers were particularly in demand in each country except Canada where they did not make the top 10 list.

The 10 Canadian job titles with the most online job postings (and what they pay)

  • Retail sales people – $24,128
  • Customer and information services representatives $33,700
  • Retail managers $50,000
  • Sales and account representatives $50,000
  • Cooks $25,000
  • Transport truck drivers $41,600
  • Registered and registered psychiatric nurses $72,800
  • Food counter attendants, kitchen helpers and related occupations $21,840
  • Administrative officers $45,000
  • Computer programmers and interactive media developers $70,000

Interestingly, the average salary for these jobs is $43,400 – just over $5K shy of the $49,000 national average salary for Canadians. You can look up the average Canadian wages for your role by region across the country based on Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey Data at .