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Is Job Satisfaction Enough?

By Liz Gobin

A new survey from reveals that 72 per cent of employees are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their jobs overall. However, 41 per cent report that they look for new opportunities on a regular basis.

Leaving a job you hate, or even a job you’re just lukewarm about, is easy to understand, but why mess with a good thing? Optimistically, this overlap could be evidence that workers are gaining confidence in the job market.

“As the labour market opens up and new opportunities arise, workers are beginning to consider their options – 2 in 5 workers regularly look for new opportunities despite many of them being satisfied,” says Mark Bania, managing director of CareerBuilder Canada.

The flip side of the story

This may be less welcome news to employers worried about losing their top talent. In order to understand how to retain valuable employees, taking a look at what factors drive worker satisfaction is a good place to start.

Satisfied workers most frequently point to the people they work with as being a key factor (62 per cent) of their happiness. Other reasons contributing to high satisfaction include:

  • Salary: 55 per cent
  • Good work-life balance: 47 per cent
  • Benefits: 42 per cent
  • Like the boss: 40 per cent
  • Ability to make a difference: 34 per cent
  • Feeling challenged every day: 33 per cent
  • Quick commute: 30 per cent
  • Feeling valued/accomplishments are recognized: 30 per cent
  • Flexible schedule or ability to telecommute: 27 per cent
  • Job title: 27 per cent

“Our findings show that workers want jobs where they not only feel they can make a difference and are recognized for their accomplishments, but have a healthy work-life balance,” Bania says.  “Implementing programs that meet these desires can go a long way toward incentivising employees to stay.”

Work-life balance is of high importance to workers, and for the most part, employers appear to be on the same page. Seventy-two per cent of workers are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with work-life balance, while only 12 per cent are “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied.”

The numbers remain fairly positive when it comes to career advancement opportunities. More than half of employees (54 per cent) report being “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with career advancement opportunities at their current employer, 30 per cent are neither satisfied nor unsatisfied, and 16 per cent are “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied.”

What employers – and employees – can do

It’s possible that ambitious workers may be happy with their current jobs but may wonder if they could have even better opportunities for advancement – and a higher salary – if they were to look for a job elsewhere. Employers hoping to retain their top talent should encourage their employees to discuss career-pathing options and even potential lateral moves within the company that may challenge them in new ways.

At the same time, employees should take it upon themselves to investigate and understand potential opportunities within their current organizations as well. Don’t assume your boss knows your career goals if you haven’t clearly expressed them. Be direct and assertive. Most employers will willingly work with you to help you realize your aspirations. After exploring possibilities at your current employer, if you’re still running into barriers or you’re unhappy with your chances of promotion, then it may be time to look into options outside the company.

Asking the Question: Should I Enroll in a Post-Secondary Program?

By Liz Gobin

In recent decades, attending college after high school has become practically a no-brainer. However, with mounting student loan debt and a notably tough job market, many students and their parents are questioning whether higher education is really worth the investment. But how do you decide whether college is the best next step for you?

Ben Feuer, professional educational consultant with Forster-Thomas Inc., identifies three major points of consideration. As he puts it: “Whenever I encounter a student who is considering skipping college, it immediately activates my GAG reflex. No, not that gag reflex—it’s my little acronym to help students decide if college is right for them.”

The steps of GAG should be considered (and prioritized) in order: Grades, Ability to pay, and Goals.


The first thing to consider is your academic standing. Your GPA and standardized testing scores will heavily influence what kind of schools and programs you can enroll in, as well as impact financial costs if you qualify for scholarships.

“If your grades aren’t up to snuff, it really doesn’t matter that you think you’d be interested in being a doctor” Feuer says.

Ability to pay

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise, but college costs a lot of money—enough that you’ll likely be paying for it years after you’ve graduated. That kind of investment should be made with careful consideration.

The average tuition in Canada for full-time undergrads is $5,959 according to Stats Canada 2014, with the tuition in Ontario projected to surge to $8,756 in 2016-17.

The price tag for a university degree is significant: when books, living expenses and transportation costs are added to tuition and other compulsory fees, the cost of a four-year university education is estimated to reach over $80,000; of that, residence is estimated at about $31,000.  Statistics Canada figures estimate that students with both public and private debt end up owing an average of $37,000 by the time they graduate.

University and College loans are real and that they can cause serious problems down the road if a student is unable to pay them back.

This doesn’t mean you should disregard University as an option if money is tight. There are plenty of scholarships, payment plans and other programs designed to ease the financial burden tuition can put on students. You may also try to look at tuition costs at different schools, sometimes you can obtain the same degree or diploma at a different school for less. However, when contemplating your next move after high school, the monetary cost of University or College is well worth considering.


So much attention is focused on how to convince schools that you’re a good fit for them that it can be easy to forget that not every type of college may be a good fit for you. Whether it’s four-year, or technical college that’s a right fit, or going straight to the workforce while considering your options, you have to determine what’s the best next step for your future.

Making an informed decision

“You have to do what’s right for you,” can be frustrating advice, especially when it’s offered at moments when you may not know what’s “right for you.” How are you supposed to figure it out?

Of course, doing what’s “right for you” is a lot easier if you have a general idea of where you want to end up. “My recommendation is for students to take the time to think about what it is they want before automatically getting into the college search, and for parents to respect that time of introspection,” says Stefanie O’Connell, Millennial finance writer and founder of “Limiting post-high school choices to the selection of a major is just that—limiting.

Everyone thrives in a different environment, and each student should think carefully about his or her options before committing to any one ‘set’ course. Post-Secondary education is too expensive to commit to half-heartedly.”

Are You Ready to Negotiate Your Employment Package?

By Liz Gobin

A job offer and the potential salary and benefits that come with it are something to be excited about. But before you sign any paperwork, read the fine print and look over the offer. There’s likely room to negotiate for a better deal than the initial contract, and there are some steps you can take to boost your employment package. Here’s how.

Consider roles and responsibilities

It’s important to engage in the interview process and learn as much as you can—mainly so you’ll understand your role and responsibilities. However, it will also help to shed light on the value the company places on the position. This will empower you in the negotiation process later.

“Ask to meet with the people [with whom] you will work, manage and collaborate,” says Katie Donovan, a salary and career negotiation consultant and owner of Equal Pay Negotiations LLC. “Departmental structures and organization charts will point to your place in the organization’s food chain, and indicate the role’s importance, which will give you leverage. You will also have specifics to use when researching what the current industry standards are for that occupation’s average wage.”

Let them make the first move

While the interview is an important time to get to know the company, job responsibilities and what your day-to-day life would look like there, there are some questions better saved for when the interview process is over. “Many candidates want to find this out sooner rather than later so [they] bring up compensation, flexibility and other employment package elements during the interview,” Donovan says. “It is to your advantage to wait until the offer. It is at that point the company has fallen in love with you and will engage in negotiations. Talking about it before you are the best candidate easily turns you into an also-ran candidate who never gets the offer.”

Find points for negotiation

Once you’ve received a job offer, you can begin to determine whether or not you should accept the position. Donovan says, “Aim for the perfect employment package and know your personal walkaway items. You have options no matter how many deal breakers are in the offer. Address them first as a group of items. Say something like, ‘I am very excited about the opportunity to work with you but there are a few items in the offer that are making it difficult for me to accept it. They are A, B, C and D.’ Then walk through each of the items with the manager to explain why they are difficult. ‘A, the pay is below current market value, B, the [paid time off] is less than I currently have, C, I currently work from home two days a week and would need to keep that same kind of arrangement, etc…’ Then be quiet and let the employer figure out what to offer to you next. You will find that employers are open to getting the right package for employees.”

Have several plans ready

After the initial salary offer has been extended, and you’ve countered with the salary or supplementary perks you want, give the employer time to come back with their offer. You’ll likely be able to gauge how their decision will go based on their need to hire you, and the interactions you’ve had with the company up to this point. While they’re preparing their decision, be ready to prepare yours. What counteroffers will you accept? What will you do if they refuse your proposals?

 “At the end, if a deal breaker cannot be negotiated away, say no. Surprisingly, sometimes the employer comes back with another offer – but do not expect it,” Donovan says. “Truly be ready to walk away.”

Tips for Good Interview Follow-up Etiquette

By Liz Gobin

Knowing how and when to follow up with an employer after an interview can be a tricky business. Should you send an email or a handwritten thank-you note? Do you chase them up if you haven’t heard back after a week? Contact them the wrong way and you can seem rude. Don’t get in touch and you could miss out on a great opportunity. Get it right every time with our guide to interview follow-up etiquette.

Always ask about timelines

In order to follow up the right way, you need to know what the next steps are.

“A good employer will inform you about the recruitment process. For example: ‘We are seeing three more candidates and will let you know by next Monday who we will invite for second interviews.’ This reply gives you a timeframe to work with,” says career coach Ruth Winden of Careers Enhanced.

Don’t leave the interview without knowing how you are expected to communicate. If the interviewer doesn’t volunteer the information, ask for it. “If you are genuinely interested in the job, say so,” adds Winden. “Then, ask about time frames and next steps. You need to know where you stand, so these are all legitimate questions.”

Remember to say thank you

After the interview, it’s good manners to thank the hiring manager for seeing you. But should you send an email, a handwritten note, or make a phone call? James Field, senior trainer at Debrett’s, which runs courses on office etiquette, is firmly in favour of email.

“Thank them for their time and express how interested you are in the role. If you discussed a specific project during the interview, and the hiring manger was keen to know more, it’s acceptable to attach a presentation. Just keep it short,” warns Field.

Picking up the phone is a bad idea. “This can create awkwardness, and in most cases it is likely that you will not be able to reach the person who interviewed you via phone,” says Field.

Send a handwritten note

If you want to stand out from the crowd, Winden advises sending a handwritten note.

“A note on quality paper, or even a personalized card, differentiates you from other candidates,” says Winden. “An email can get overlooked, whereas a handwritten envelope on someone’s desk will get attention. I recommend this approach to all my clients, whatever their industry. It might feel odd or even slightly cheesy, but it works and people do remember. Who remembers an email?”

If you do decide to send a handwritten note, post it straight after the interview. Alternatively, take the card with you and write it before you leave, then ask the receptionist to forward it on.

When to ask if you got the job

Under normal circumstances you should wait at least two weeks after the interview before following up, according to Field.

If you enquire about timeframes during the interview, you will have a better idea of when you should expect to hear back.

Winden suggests waiting a day or two after the deadline has passed before reaching out: “Hiring is just one thing on a busy manager’s long to-do list. Delays are common, often for reasons job seekers are unaware of. It’s easy to get frustrated and feel affronted. Be polite, don’t assume anything and find out at what stage your application is. In the meantime, don’t stop applying for other jobs.”

Again, it’s best to follow up via email rather than phoning, which can be seen as intrusive.

What you shouldn’t do

While there will always be stories of candidates who broke the rules and impressed an employer with their audacity, dropping into the company’s premises is a particularly high risk approach.

“There is a fine line between showing eagerness and coming across as over-enthusiastic. Unless you have a good reason for being in the building, it is best not to show up uninvited,” warns Field.

Another no-no is contacting the employer direct if you have gone through a recruitment agency.

Follow the rules and behave with professionalism and you will be remembered for the right reasons – and more likely to get the call back you’ve been waiting for.

6 Tips for Mastering Body Language During an Interview

By Liz Gobin

You’ve conducted extensive research on the company. You’ve practiced answering potential questions and come up with a thoughtful list of your own. You’ve picked out the perfect “I want this job” outfit.   There should be nothing standing in the way of having a successful interview. Right? Wrong.

While what you say during an interview is important, your nonverbal cues can play just as big of a role in whether or not you move forward. According to a new survey, 51 per cent of employers say they know within the first five minutes of an interview if a candidate is a good fit for a position. Therefore, body language that makes you appear unenthusiastic or uncomfortable can cause the employer to lose interest before you’ve even had a chance to prove yourself as a candidate.

When hiring managers were asked to identify the biggest body language mistakes jobseekers make, failing to make eye contact (72 per cent) and failing to smile (44 per cent) topped the list. Other top responses include:

Body Language Survey March15

To rid your interview of distractions and ensure the employer is focused on your experience and skills only, here are six tips for mastering body language:

Practice with an audience. If you were presenting to a group of people, you’d most likely practice your presentation beforehand, so why wouldn’t you rehearse prior to an interview? Mark Bania, managing director of CareerBuilder Canada, recommends practicing your interview skills ahead of time with friends or family so they can provide feedback on nonverbal cues such as your eye contact, posture and facial expressions. If you’re aware you’re making mistakes, you’ll be more likely to avoid them during the actual interview.

Play it back. Bania also suggests taking the practice session a step further by recording yourself answering common interview questions. Perhaps you never realized that you relied so heavily on your hands to make points, or you tend to cross your arms when you’re nervous about answering a question. By watching yourself, you’ll quickly catch any of these idiosyncrasies.

Consider your clothing. You might have a suit that looks professional, but if you’re uncomfortable in it, you’ll end up looking anything but. Make sure you pick an outfit that fits well and doesn’t itch or rub your skin, to avoid fidgeting with it throughout the interview. Also keep your hairstyle in mind; if you have longer hair and are prone to playing with it, slick it back or put it in a ponytail so it won’t be a distraction.

Come prepared. Bania suggests researching the company beforehand and coming prepared with questions for the interviewer. If you haven’t done your homework, you’ll be more prone to nervousness, which can quickly cause your body language to suffer. By being prepared, it also lets employers know you’re just as interested in them as they are in you.

Be sensitive of personal space. Sure, leaning forward when listening can give the impression that you’re engaged in the conversation, but be mindful of just how close you get to the interviewer. Invading personal space could make the hiring manager feel uncomfortable and take the focus away from what really matters.

Don’t forget to breathe. Good breathing techniques can help calm nerves and relax your body. By taking a few deep breaths before the interview, and being aware of your breathing during the conversation, Bania says it can help relieve some of the anxiety that leads to fidgeting or other nervous tics.

6 Jobs for Workers with Introverted Personalities

By Liz Gobin

When it comes to personality types, introverts may be one of the most misunderstood. Their quiet disposition can sometimes be mistaken for a lack of enthusiasm, a lack of interest or even rudeness.

In reality, introverts get as excited as anyone about things that interest them – they just have different ways of showing it. Ultimately the biggest factor in finding the ideal job for anyone – introvert or extrovert – should be passion.

That said, some jobs do lend themselves more readily to introverted personalities. Here are six to consider:

Writers and authors

By its very nature, writing is a solitary task. Whether generating advertising copy in a downtown high rise or crafting a novel in an empty mountain hotel, writers require plenty of alone time to organize their thoughts and ideas on the page. One of the beauties of writing is that you can do it anywhere, and with the ease of electronic communication, writers often enjoy a high degree of control over how much social interaction they get day-to-day.

*Pay: $58,406 average annual earnings.


If you’re an introvert with a passion for art or history, it doesn’t get much better than being an archivist. Archivists appraise, edit and maintain permanent records and historically valuable documents. They typically work in museums, colleges and universities and similar institutions; in other words, big, quiet, private rooms full of interesting reading material. What’s not to love?

*Pay: $51,916 average annual earnings.

Court reporters

Introverts may not always have much to say, but they typically make for great listeners. And while introverts may actively avoid getting involved in social drama, that doesn’t mean they don’t find it interesting. Court reporters literally get a front row seat at trials, depositions, administrative hearings and other legal proceedings.

*Pay: $44,907 average annual earnings.

Film/video editors

One might reasonably assume that everyone who works in show business is extroverted, but that’s far from the case. Film and video editors work independently or in small groups. They are a crucial element to any production – from major blockbusters to the local news – without being in the spotlight.

*Pay: $53,248 average annual earnings.

Postal service mail carriers

Just because you enjoy keeping to yourself and limited social interaction doesn’t mean you have to be physically hidden away from the outside world. Mail carriers spend the bulk of their day out and about while still working on their own.

*Pay: $68,452 average annual earnings.

Web developers

Much like writing, creating and managing a website requires a lot of independent work. Web developers typically meet with their clients or company early on in the process to go over goals and expectations, but apart from big-picture guidelines, Web developers enjoy the type of autonomy that many introverts crave.

*Pay: $53,040 average annual earnings.

* Canadian Job information, including pay, from Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., a CareerBuilder company.