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2015 Apprenticeship Student Outcomes Survey

The former traditional apprentices and those from progressive credential programs who were surveyed in 2015 were satisfied with their in-school training, and their programs were helpful in the development of key skills.

Relative to the average labour force participation and employment rates for a similarly aged BC population, the employment outcomes for former traditional apprentices were exceptional. At the time of the survey, almost all of the former traditional apprentices were in the labour force. Their unemployment rate varied by region, but was 6.2 percent overall.

Almost 9 out of 10 former traditional apprentices had a job in their trade to go back to right after their training, and a majority of these were still working for the same employer at the time of the survey. For traditional apprenticeship respondents who were working at the time of the survey, their employment conditions were good — almost all were employed full-time and most had a single, permanent, training-related job, earning a median hourly income of $31.

The labour force participation rate among former progressive credential apprentices was high, although somewhat lower than that of traditional apprentices, and their employment rate compared favourably with the rate of the BC population for the period. Employed former progressive credential apprentices also had jobs with favourable conditions — they tended to be salaried employees working in a single, full-time, permanent position.

BC Stats Infoline

Province Invests $400,000 to Train Roofers

The British Columbia government has announced an investment of $401,000 for the Roofing Contractors Association of BC (RCABC) that will go towards skills training in high-priority trades seats.

The investment, through the Industry Training Authority (ITA), will fund 320 seats in the roofer, architectural sheet metal and residential steep roofer programs through to March 31, 2017.

The funding is part of the ITA's allocation to BC post-secondary institutions and training providers to run various training programs throughout the province.

In response to the objectives outlined in BC's Skills for Jobs Blueprint and the McDonald Report, the BC government has worked in partnership with the ITA to begin building a demand-driven trades training system with funding aligned to specific indemand trades.

The provincial government invests more than $94 million annually in industry training through the ITA. The ITA leads and co-ordinates British Columbia's skilled trades system by working with employers, employees, industry, labour, training providers and government to issue credentials, manage apprenticeships, set program standards and increase opportunities in the trades.

Journal of Commerce

Study: Overqualification, Skills & Job Satisfaction, 2012

In 2012, about one in eight workers aged 25 to 64 with a university degree were identified as overqualified for their job because they reported that their job required no more than a high school education.

Overqualified individuals with a university degree, however, were more likely to have lower levels of literacy and numeracy than other university graduates.

These results are from the new study "Overqualification, skills and job satisfaction," which focuses on the literacy and numeracy levels of overqualified university graduates (individuals with at least a bachelor degree).

The study is based on data from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), which assessed people's level of proficiency in skills related to literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments.

In this study, individuals with lower skills are those who have a score corresponding to a level 2 or below (out of 5 possible levels) in PIAAC tests. The results in this release are based on literacy scores, but similar results were found with numeracy scores.

Overqualified university graduates have lower skill levels

In 2012, 12% of workers aged 25 to 64 who had a university degree reported that they were in a job requiring no more than a high school education (namely, they were overqualified). Another 19% said that their job required a college education, and 69% said that their job required a university education.

Among overqualified university graduates, 47% had lower levels of literacy. This compared with 18% of university graduates who reported that their job required a university education.

Lower levels of literacy indicate that individuals may be less able to integrate information across multiple sources, and may be only able to undertake tasks of limited complexity.

The factors associated with overqualification vary by skill level

The factors associated with overqualification varied depending on the skill level of university graduates. Within the lower-skilled population, some factors were particularly more likely to be associated with overqualification.

For example, lower-skilled graduates who had a university degree in social science, business and law had a 24% probability of being overqualified, even after taking other factors into account.

Among those who had a degree in the same field, but who had higher literacy skills, the probability of overqualification fell to 7%.

As well, among individuals whose mother tongue was neither French nor English, those with lower literacy skills had a 25% probability of being overqualified. This compared with 10% among their higher-skilled counterparts.

Overqualified workers use fewer skills in the workplace

Overqualified individuals use fewer skills in the workplace than their counterparts who are in jobs requiring higher levels of education.

For instance, in the PIAAC, respondents were asked to indicate whether they perform a number of information and communication activities (ICT) as part of their current job, such as working with a spreadsheet software or programming.

On average, overqualified workers performed 25% of ICT activities listed in PIAAC on a weekly basis. This compared with 55% among those who reported that their job required a university education.

Overqualified workers were also less likely to perform other types of activities in the workplace, including activities involving numeracy, literacy and "generic" skills (such as instructing people, giving presentations, or persuading others).

Overqualification is related to lower job satisfaction

Overqualified university graduates were also less likely to report that they were satisfied with their jobs, even after taking into account other factors associated with job satisfaction.

For example, overqualified individuals with a university degree had a 13% probability of reporting that they were not satisfied with their job.

Among university-educated workers who reported that their job required a university education, that probability fell to 3%.

5 Signs You're Interviewing for a Horrible Job (and How to Leave Gracefully)

By Kirstie Jeffries

You read a job listing that is exactly what you're looking for as the next step in your career. You send in your resume and get called in for an interview, but something seems off. Are you interviewing for a horrible job? Here are five red flags and what you can do if you spot them.

There is no solid job description

Roles evolve over time, but the employer should have a clear idea of the position's responsibilities — and the skills required to carry them out — from the start. Most companies or recruiters will provide you with a written description of the job and what they are looking for in an ideal candidate, and there should be no ambiguity about what your role would entail.

Your interviewer can't sell the job

A job interview is not only a chance for you to prove your potential to a company; it's also an important opportunity for the company to sell the job to you. Your interviewer should devote a portion of the interview to explaining the role and its key selling points. If the interviewer neglects to do so or is unable to provide a convincing argument, this could be a sign the role isn't nearly as ideal as you once thought.

The interviewer asks inappropriate questions

Employers must have a clear understanding of what questions they are and are not allowed to ask in an interview. Under The Human Rights Act, it is discriminatory and illegal for an employer to make hiring decisions based on factors including age, marital status, religion, disabilities that don't relate directly to the job, political beliefs, race or ancestry, or criminal records that are irrelevant to the role's responsibilities. If your interviewer asks you about any of these topics, it is well within your rights to refrain from answering, and, more importantly, it's a significant sign you may want to reconsider working for this employer.

You just can't see yourself working with the people you've met

In the job application process, you'll likely interact with at least a few people from the company: a hiring manager, your potential teammates, support staff, and more. What vibes do they give you? Do they seem to be enthusiastic about their roles and the company? Do you perceive a positive rapport between employees, or could you cut the tension with a knife? Do they seem like people who would inspire your own productivity and creativity and make you eager to come to work each day?

The interviewer is unable to answer your questions

The interview is your chance to assess whether the role is right for you, so don't hesitate to ask questions about the position. Doing so demonstrates your interest in the job and can give you important insights into the role and company. What is the work environment like, and how is the relationship between employees? If anything strikes you as the slightest bit fishy, pursue that line of questions to determine if there would be a problem if you took the position.

So, what happens if, during your interview, it becomes abundantly clear to you that this simply is not the right place for you to work?

How do you bow out of the application process gracefully?

Complete the interview

If you can, stick the interview out until the end. What could come across as a red flag at the start could turn around by the end, and you may be able to directly confront any issues that arise and have your interviewer iron them out. Even if you are unable to turn prospects around, you'll likely be finished within less than an hour.

Don't burn any bridges

Even if you are 100% convinced that you have no desire to work for this company, you never know how the connections you've made in this interview process could benefit your career in the future, so do what you can to maintain a positive relationship. Your interviewer may later be employed by your dream company, or circumstances within the company may change and you'll decide to reapply for a job there in several years. Leave all options open.

Communicate clearly

Once you have determined the job is wrong for you, be sure to communicate clearly with your main point of contact about why you are no longer interested in the role. If your contact is an agency recruiter, they will be able to use this feedback to find you more suitable positions elsewhere. An internal recruiter or hiring manager, meanwhile, may be able to refer you to other roles or divisions within the company.

Stay positive

Even if the interview was a total nightmare and your instinct is to run screaming, give yourself some time to step back, get into a rational mindset, and provide positive but constructive feedback. For example, rather than complaining about the uselessness of the department manager, suggest that you are looking for a role in which a supervisor could provide more hands-on support. Anything that comes across as overly negative or critical could be taken as a poor indication of your character, and you never know when a positive relationship with the company will come in handy.

Learn from the experience

After you've bowed out of the application process, spend some time thinking over how and why it went wrong and what positive qualities — or, alternatively, warning signs — you can keep an eye out for when applying to other roles. Rather than getting frustrated about having devoted time to what turned out to be a disappointing opportunity, remember that you're now one step closer to finding the right job.

Just as every person you date doesn't have to be the person you marry for the rest of your life, neither does every job you interview for have to be the one you take. Remember, there will be other interviews, so if something rubs you the wrong way, move on. Shop around, stay optimistic about your prospects, and, before you know it, you'll be in your dream role. Good luck!

When a Pay Cut Could Benefit Your Career

As you progress in your career, you might think it's natural for your paycheck to keep growing. That's the way things are supposed to go, right? After all, you keep gaining experience and your skills are improving; you're like a fine Italian wine. Unfortunately, that's not always the way things go, and sometimes, taking a pay cut can actually benefit your career. Consider it one step back for two steps forward.

Here are some instances when taking a pay cut could actually benefit your career.

It's time for a change

If the first thing you feel in the morning is anxiety about the workday ahead, it might be time for something new. Often, that means a fresh start, which could involve moving to a new industry (or even a new city). This could mean starting from scratch, in a junior position with lower pay. The payoff here, though, is to get on a path toward your ideal career — something that is not anxiety inducing. The question you have to ask yourself is, would you rather stick it out at a job that isn't right for you or be engaged and motivated all day for lower pay? For many people, the latter is an obvious choice, and it can often lead to more lucrative opportunities down the road.

Your work-life balance is out of whack

Sometimes the work (or industry) is just right. The work load, though, is a problem. A happy career isn't always about climbing the corporate ladder to the very top. For some people, the key is in finding the right balance between the demands of the office and your own passions, interests, and family. Finding the balance that works for you might just require shifting to a less demanding position, even if it means accepting a lower salary.

If this appeals to you, you're not alone. We recently asked our Twitter followers what would motivate them to take a pay cut, and a better work-life balance came out number one.

Your dream job (or company) comes calling

The company you've dreamed about for years has an opening that fits your experience. You apply and get an interview, and it goes great, greater than you ever thought it would, except for one thing: an awkward silence fills the room when you tell them your salary demands. This happens more often than you think. The fantasy of a dream job doesn't always mesh with our financial realities, but that doesn't mean you have to give up on your dreams. Think about what it was that first attracted you to that company and position. Do those things still interest you? Can you still picture yourself in the position? Does the thought make you feel warm and tingly and motivated? If you answered yes to these questions, this opportunity is probably worth a pay cut.

You're looking to get ahead

The corporate world can be strange, and sometimes, taking a step down on the salary ladder can actually put you in a better position to climb higher in the future. For example, moving from a smaller organization to a larger one can mean more opportunities for career advancement, skills training, networking, and picking up industry-specific expertise. Making less money in the short term can be challenging, but in that scenario, the benefits to your long-term career far outweigh the sacrifice.

You want more perks

Compensation packages usually involve more than just a paycheck, and sometimes accepting a smaller number on your pay stub can be a smart move if it's offset by more vacation time (or unlimited vacation time), better health coverage, a flexible working schedule, training possibilities, or other benefits that you care about.

You can't deny your entrepreneurial spirit

If you're consumed by a can't-miss business idea (or if you're just sick of working for someone else), it's probably time you gave it a shot. Sure, losing a stable income can be a tough adjustment, but there is a lot to gain going this route: you can be your own boss (and you might one day be hiring your own employees). Just make sure you have enough savings before you take this leap of faith.

In the end, accepting a lower salary is not always the setback it appears to be. Sometimes it's a strategic move that can lead to a happier, more fulfilling, career.

How to Tailor Your Resume to Any Job Posting

Written by Natalie Severt

Every day, hiring managers wade through hundreds of applications to locate the elusive Goldilocks Resume. With so many applications, they only have time to spend an average of six seconds scanning each resume for relevance.

What are they looking for? Skills.

How do you know which skills they want? The job posting. If you want a hiring manager to see your application and think: "This person is perfect," it all begins there.

Here's how to tailor a resume to any job posting: 

Mine the Job Posting for Keywords

Start by highlighting any skills and required experience you can find in the job posting.

There are three types of skills:

  • Job-related Skills: These are the skills you have to have to do the job.
    Example: Managing social media campaigns
  • Transferable Skills: These are skills that you can use across multiple jobs.
    Example: Speaking Spanish
  • Adaptive Skills: These are survival skills that you need these for basic human interactions.
    Example: Discretion

Look for job-related skills first. What skills are "must have"? You should have most of these skills. Otherwise, you won't be able to perform the work.

When you put them on your resume, they should show up in the top third of the document so that they are easy for the hiring manager to find.

Next, look for skills that you could translate from one job to another. These are more of the "nice to have" skills. Make sure they show up in relevant places in your experience section.

Finally, find the adaptive skills. These are usually adjectives like "ambitious" and "hardworking." You can use them to describe yourself.

For example: Articulate Communications Coordinator

Add Numbers and Details for a Spotlight Effect

Draw attention to the skills you find most important by adding numbers and details. By being specific, you can demonstrate how you've used these skills in the past. Using facts and figures has two benefits:

  • Numbers pop out on the page and are easy to find.
  • Details make it easier for hiring managers to imagine you achieving similar results in the future.
    • Don't write: "Customer Service."
    • Write: "Decreased returns by 10% through effective customer service."

Don't Make the Mistake of Sending a Generic Cover Letter

Yes, you still need to send a cover letter. And yes, you need to tailor it to match the job description as well.

Make sure you add keywords to your cover letter, but try to avoid copying your resume. Your cover letter should complement and augment the content of your resume.

A Quick Trick to Check Your Tailoring Skills

Try dropping your resume into a cloud generator. You will see which words are the most prominent.

If the words that appear are not skills or keywords, reconsider a rewrite to make your keywords show up more often.

Key Takeaway

Tailoring your resume is crucial. If you can't pass the keyword scan, there is no way a hiring manager will give your resume a second look.

If you take the time to tailor your resume to every job description every time, you will increase your chances of a hiring manager being impressed by your resume.

About Natalie Severt 

Natalie is a writer at Uptowork – Your Resume Builder. She has always loved helping others create successful resumes, and she now shares her knowledge and experience with readers around the world.  Natalie spends her free time eating tacos, reading complicated novels, and binge-watching TV series.

6 Surprising Ways You Can Find Your Next Job Through Facebook

By Madisyn Mckee

No, the title is not a typo and it's not supposed to say LinkedIn.

You may be scratching your head right now wondering how you could find your next job through the social platform known best for baby pictures and catching up on gossip. But you can.

Surprisingly, a recent study from Jobvite found that over half of all job seekers are already using Facebook as a way to find employment. How you ask? Here are six ways you can find your next job through Facebook.

Update Your Profile

This may seem like an obvious one but it's definitely important. Just like you would update your employment history on LinkedIn, you should be doing the same on Facebook. If you are going to be reaching out to recruiters or hiring managers, you will want to make sure you're putting your best foot forward. This way they can do a quick scan to ensure your candidacy for the role as well. By connecting your work history, you will also be connected to the company 'fan page' Facebook has set up. This opens your network to other people who have connected to the company as well.

When updating your profile, you will also want to expand on the Intro section. If you have a private account (which you definitely should) then the information a new connection sees on your page is very limited. The best way to stand out is to have as much information you want available to the public as possible. Include your list of skills, accomplishments or a personal branding statement to get yourself noticed easily and quickly.

Use a Chrome Extension

What will the internet and web developer gods think up next? There is now an extension you can add to your Chrome browser that connects to your Facebook and allows you to search for specific people. Using this tool, you can find by people by job, location, company, groups they are members of — you name it and this tool can filter it. Sure, it sounds a bit stalker-ish, but you can do this through LinkedIn and it's totally acceptable there, so why not on Facebook? When you find the person you are looking for, send them a quick introductory message and invite them to connect with you on another platform if they aren't comfortable becoming friends with you (just yet) on Facebook.

Choosing an audience

It's likely you already have a pretty great network on Facebook but aren't utilizing it. Take some time and go through your list of friends. You can create a segmentation list to group friends by certain titles or even group them as 'professional friends'. By doing this, when you post something on Facebook you will be able to share posts specifically with this group. It would be a great way to reach out to this network and express that you are exploring opportunities. People love to help so you are bound to get at least a response or two.

Company Pages

Of course you should be connecting with companies you admire or dream of working for on Facebook. Doing so will not only give you a good idea about their company culture but you could also find new job postings here as well. The Workopolis Facebook Page (shameless plug) has a 'Find Jobs' tab that is updated daily with recent job postings. You can even find jobs that match with your Facebook or LinkedIn profile (try it, it's a pretty cool feature!).

Join Facebook Groups

There is a Facebook group for everything and anything you could imagine. Do a Facebook search and look for groups that relate to your job or the industry you are looking to work in. It's a great way to connect with like-minded individuals and to network. Often times members will even post job opportunities that make sense to the group.

When joining a group make sure to participate in relevant discussions, not only will this help you to get noticed, but it will also show that you are knowledgeable in your field.

Post an Ad

If you are really looking to get noticed by a company, why not think outside the box? Facebook ads can start as low as $1 and the great thing is you can really target the audience you wish to see it. Upload a picture, link to your LinkedIn profile and add a catchy title about why you should work for this company. To create an ad, navigate to the upside-down triangle at the top right hand corner, click 'Create Ads' and follow the instructions once the page loads. There's no guarantee it will work but hey, it's worth a shot!

Make More Money:  How to Negotiate for Bigger Salaries & Raises

So you've got a job offer (or landed that promotion), now what?

Now it's time to make more money. Yes, salary negotiation can be nerve-wracking (what if you price yourself out of the job offer?), but it's something almost every successful person has done at one time or another. Put simply, if you don't ask for what you want, you won't get it.

Here then are some tips on how to negotiate for bigger salaries and raises:

The starting salary

Even before you get a job offer, you should have a good idea of your desired salary. When asked, name a wide range (e.g. $50,000-$70,000) and then define why you should be in the higher end of that range.

It's important, though, that your salary range be grounded in reality. You don't want to be a laughed out of the room.

Do your research online and find out what other companies are paying for similar roles. Statistics Canada offers online salary data for industries nationally and by region.

Keep in mind that your skills and experience can create exceptions. A good rule of thumb is to ask for $5,000 more than what you consider a fair base pay. Most companies will counter offer, so by aiming high you may end up with the compensation you want.

Remember, though, that you are negotiating for more than base pay. Perks like increased vacation time, flexible scheduling, or the ability to telecommute can sometimes have a bigger impact than a few extra dollars.

Negotiating a pay raise

When asking for a raise, you need to remember one thing: this isn't personal. Forget about how much more Sheila in Accounting makes than you, or how long you have been at the company (unless your contract specifies salary reviews at regular intervals). Successfully asking for a raise means making a case for the value you bring to the organization. It's all business.

First things first, pick your spots. You don't want to ask for more money in the middle of a crisis situation (or especially if your company is experiencing layoffs). The worst thing you can do is make it seem like you care more about your paycheque than the company. Be a team player. Help solve that challenge. Then, after a successful project or during a period of growth, set up a time to speak with your boss.

You might also want to wait until the end of the week.

"We're most open to negotiation (on Thursday or Friday) because most of us want to finish our workweek with the least amount of conflict," writes Mark di Vicenzo in Buy Ketchup in May and Fly at Noon: A Guide to the Best Time to Buy This, Do That and Go There.

The worst day?

"Wednesday. Unpleasantness and surliness tend to peak then, so try to avoid any situation that can lead to conflict."

So wait for the end of the week, and be prepared with a list of your most recent accomplishments. Make your case for how your work is undervalued and deserves greater remuneration. Stay confident and positive. Remember that this is a friendly business conversation and not a confrontation. Do not threaten to quit or give ultimatums. Not only can your boss call your bluff, it can unnecessarily burn a bridge.

Your boss will have objections, at least initially. Remember it's his (or her) job to ensure the financial health and growth of the company. To prepare, anticipate what objections your boss may have ahead of time. This way you can have counter arguments ready. Again, do your research: what is the industry's market value for jobs like yours?

Remember, though, there are other things your boss can provide to increase job satisfaction or advance your career. Would having more responsibility take your career to the next level? Would adding the word 'Senior' to your title illustrate career growth? Do you want to work from home more often? Understand what will make you happy before starting the negotiation process.

No matter what, though, end on a positive note.

And if all else fails ...

You might have to look for something new.

If you have been with your company for a long time, and are only receiving minimal increases (or none at all), you might have to leave to earn more. Who knows, you might just find your dream job — with a salary to match.

The 5 Most Common Interview Questions (and How to Answer Them Like a Boss)

Wouldn't it be great if you knew exactly what potential employers were going to ask you in a job interview? Well prepared and confident, you could then knock hiring managers dead, wowing them with your wit, experience, and charm.

The thing is, we already know what they're going to ask you. Sure, every job interview has its own rhythms and quirks, its job-specific questions and themes, but there are a fairly standard set of questions that hiring managers almost always lean on (let's face it, they're not always the most industrious people around). By preparing yourself, you can feel more relaxed whenever these questions are fired in your direction.

And on that note ...

Here are the 5 most common interview questions, and how you can answer them like a boss:

Tell me about yourself?

Just about every job interview starts with an ice breaker that is meant to get you talking. It's a chance for you to introduce yourself. The thing is, it's not really about you. It's about your candidacy. Yes, they want to know if your personality is a good fit for their company, but more than anything, they want to know that you can handle the job.

Your answer, therefore, should focus on your professional experience and interests, and anything that shows you are the right candidate for the role. It's not, however, the time to recite your CV. Think of it as a quick recap of who you are in a professional sense — an elevator pitch of your career. Yeah, it might be interesting if your hobbies include leathercraft and Brazilian martial arts, but this isn't relevant here.

Example of what you should say:

I'm a web-obsessed SEO Manager with 10 years of experience managing all aspects of digital marketing &mdash: from paid ads to microsites &mdash: for companies of all sizes. 

Example of what you shouldn't say:

I'm Youtube vlogger, and that's all I really care about. I'm really looking for laid-back full-time work that will let me focus on my channel on the side.

Why are you interested in this job?

Are you passionate about working for this company or are you just desperate for a job (any job!)? The answer might be the latter, but this isn't what most employers want to hear. They want to know that you're really interested in their industry and company. They want to see that you've done your research that you know about them and the role. This not only shows that you're interested in the role, it also speaks volumes about your professionalism and preparation.

Example of what you should say:

I've been interested in working for Tesla ever since the Roadster was released. I'm very passionate about technology and innovation, and this role would let me align my passions with my work experience, for a company that I really believe in.

Example of what you shouldn't say:

Because I need the money.

What would you say are your greatest strengths?

This seems like an easy question — you know what you're good at right? But be careful. Read the job posting carefully, and make sure whatever you say matches up with the way they've described the position. Are they looking for team players with leadership skills? You might want to talk about your communication skills and ease with public speaking (just make sure you tell the truth). If you're worried about coming across as cocky or arrogant, put the words in someone else's mouth by telling them what people have said about you in the past. Another good tip is to use clear, measurable achievements to back up you what you say — just make sure to have a relatable anecdote ready.

Example of what you should say:

I've been told that I'm a good communicator, and in fact, at my current company, I lead a weekly meeting where I present objectives and achievements to the entire company.

Example of what you shouldn't say:

How much time do you have? I mean really, I'm awesome at just about everything.

What do you think are your biggest weaknesses? 

If you overshare here, you could potentially turn off an employer. On the other hand, if you say "I have no weaknesses, I'm perfect," they'll think you're a liar or completely lacking in self-awareness. So, what do you do?

Think of an actual weakness, but go with something that isn't an essential requirement for the job. 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. Humour, albeit appropriate humour, can go a long way here.

Example of what you should say:

I think I'm often too hard on myself. It's something I'm working on.

Example of what you shouldn't say:

I'm a workaholic and a perfectionist.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Job hopping is the new normal and most employers recognize that people, especially young, ambitious people, are always looking for opportunities. You don't, therefore, have to pretend that you'll still be there in five years' time. Instead, tie in a dream job — ideally one at that company you can work towards — with your passions, interests, and experience. This shows employers that you're ambitious, driven, and looking for professional growth.

Example of what you should say:

I see myself in an editor position. By that point I'll have been working in journalism for over 15 years, and I think I'll be ready to move into a more strategic position, where I can use my experience to lead a team.

Example of what you shouldn't say:

Do I really look like a guy with a plan?

Every interview is a bit different, but if you master these questions, you'll be prepared to knock these cornerstone questions out of the park ... and sometimes, a few great answers is all you need to convince a hiring manager you're the one.

How to Make Small Talk at Work

Written by Madisyn Mckee

We've all been there, standing awkwardly in the elevator with a coworker in silence. When you find yourself in this situation you have two choices: pretend like you're busy on your phone or actually have a conversation. Of course it would be all too easy to whip out your iPhone and start mindlessly scrolling through your apps but why not challenge yourself and start up a conversation?

It may feel like the only thing you have in common with coworkers is work but you'd be surprised what you can find out about someone by just asking questions. You never know, you may just find out they're as obsessed with Pokémon as you are.

Here are some ideas to help you have better conversations with your coworkers.

Start with a simple "how was your day?"

Never underestimate the power of small talk. Asking a simple question can help you start a conversation. If you're not getting much engagement in return, feel free to offer up something interesting that happened to you that day. This could be as simple as a cool lunch spot you found near the office or something interesting you heard in the news that day.

Ask questions

If a simple 'how was your day' wasn't enough, ask a question. Everyone loves to talk about themselves or to showcase their knowledge. Try asking about what projects they are currently working on. This will also help you to get insight into what other sides of the business are doing, which is always a good thing.

If you work with this person closely on a daily basis and already know what projects they are working on, ask them about their personal life. Don't be weird about it though, some people prefer to keep work and life separate. Simple questions like 'what are you doing this weekend?' or 'what did you do last weekend' open the doors for the person to get as personal or impersonal as they want. Make sure to ask open-ended questions so you're sure to get more of a response than just 'yes' or 'no.'

Flattery goes a long way

You will always be able to find something about your coworker that you like. Maybe it's their glasses, their outfit, or a new nail polish colour, whatever it is offer up a compliment. If you're complimenting an accessory or piece of clothing, you can even ask where they bought it to start more of a discussion.

Find common ground

Finding out what you have in common with a coworker is a great way to get the conversation flowing. For example, a lot of people love taking vacations. Finding out if they have any upcoming trips or where they took their last vacation is a great way to spark a meaningful conversation. Finding out if they have pets or children is another good start.

To help in this area, make sure you listen around the office. We're not saying you need to eavesdrop on every conversation but sitting at your desk all day with your headphones on isn't going to be a great way to find out more information about the people around you. Make sure to show you're open to conversation if the opportunity presents itself.

Stay professional 

When it comes to office conversations the best way to ensure success is to divert certain other topics. Being an office gossip may spark a conversation right away but will have a negative lasting effect on your reputation at the office.

Talking about your personal relationships are also not a great idea. No one wants to hear about the latest fight with your boyfriend or mother, keep that for your friends outside of work. Other personal topics like religion or political viewpoints may not be a good idea to bring up in the workplace either. You never want to make another person feel uncomfortable so choose your topic of conversation to match your audience.

Taking the time to get to know the people you work with will help to increase your job satisfaction. It's always nice having a friend or two in your workplace. Plus, you can never have too many friends!

7 Steps to Kill Distractions While Working

From Reddit and YouTube to Snapchat and Instagram, distractions are an everyday part of modern life. The problem is these distractions often get in the way of being productive. According to a study by the University of California, Irvine, it takes an average of 25 minutes to get back on track after an interruption, and with the growth of open-concept offices, there are now more and more opportunities for interruption than in a traditional cubicle-based office (and that's not even counting your smartphone).

The good news is that there are a number of tips and tricks you can incorporate into your workday to keep you focused and productive.

Here's how to kill distractions while working:

Keep chit chat to a minimum

Who doesn't want to work in a fun, friendly office? The key, though, is knowing when to pick your spots. When your to-do-list is longer than your arm, and when that time-sensitive project is due in two hours, it's probably best to avoid the watercooler. If your chatty co-workers are still distracting you, ask them if they wouldn't mind keeping it down. Be apologetic and nice about it (saying "Hey guys, some of us are actually trying to work here" will probably not go over well), and most people will do what they can to keep chatter down to a minimum. If, on the other hand, they can't help themselves, see if you can move to another part of the office.

Stay classical

The aforementioned headphones beg the question: what should you be listening to? Sure, your Drake might get you motivated for the challenges ahead, but is Drizzy a distraction? According to studies in France and Russia, listening to classical music can make you more receptive to information, and help you relax — both of which are conducive to productivity.

You can, of course, listen to nothing at all. Yes, it sounds silly wearing headphones without listening to anything, but headphones can act as a cue that you do not want to be talked to.

Clean up

Clutter on your desk or your workspace at home can be a distraction in itself. Before you start work for the day, clean up anything unnecessary and put it out of sight. Organizing your workspace can prepare you for the day ahead, and offers a host of health benefits.

Set reasonable goals

Write down the things you need to accomplish, but be reasonable about what you are able to get done in a day. If you're starting to feel like it's impossible to accomplish everything you need to do, you might get discouraged and procrastinate. To dial back the pressure, make a list of goals for the week as a whole. This way if you fall behind on one particular day, you'll be reminded that you still have time left to get things done. It might seem minor, but this trick can cut back on anxiety.

On the other hand, a long weekly list of tasks can also keep you from drifting. If you're feeling the pull of Instagram, glance over at your list. This should be a reminder that time is ticking. Put the phone down and get back to work bro.

Take a break

It might sound weird, but the best way to be productive is to take breaks throughout the day. The key, though, is to use these breaks as rewards for hard work. Crossed something off your to-do-list? Reward yourself with a short walk or a chat with a co-worker.

If, on the other hand, you're working on one massive project (which will not be crossed off your list for a long time yet), use regular short breaks as a way to stay fresh and focused.

Eat well

The worst kind of distraction is hunger. So eat a good breakfast to start the day; pack a healthy lunch, and eat energizing snacks throughout the day (like nuts and fruits). It's also important to drink plenty of water and keep caffeine to a minimum. Yes, Shawn in HR might have a coffee cup glued to his right hand for 8 hours, but that doesn't mean it's the right way for you to stay on top of your game.

For many, overdoing it with caffeine can cause anxiety and jittery-ness, both of which could be considered distractions.

Turn the Internet off

If you find yourself using social media or browsing the Internet when you're supposed to be focusing on other tasks, turn the Wi-Fi off on your computer or unhook the Ethernet cable. Tell yourself you'll plug back in when you've finished your task. Put your phone away or turn off notifications. If you need the Internet for your work, there are apps and browser extensions you can download that will block certain websites to keep you focused on what you're supposed to be doing.

Avoiding distractions can be tough (anything can be a distraction if you allow it), but following these general ideas can put you in the right frame of mind to get things done.

Don't Eat Alone: How to Make Friends at a New Job

We've all been there. You're new on the job and everything seems off: your clutter-free desk is not quite your home away from home; you don't know all the inside jokes; and no one told you about Sheila in Accounting (and how you shouldn't ask about that Cat thing).

Being the new kid can be challenging, but it shouldn't be more than a momentary bump in the road.

Here are some tips on how to make friends at a new job:

Make the first move

It might be against your more reserved nature, but sometimes all it takes to make a new friend is to say hello. Sounds silly, but people starting a new job are sometimes too afraid, or too self-conscious, to say hello to their new colleagues. They close inwards when they should really reach out to those around them. Approaching people first makes it clear that you're friendly, and gives you some early contacts for future lunch dates.

Make the conversation about them

Let's face the facts: the entire company is going to be judging you in one way or another, so why not use conversations as a way to redirect the spotlight? Ask your new co-workers questions about how long they have worked there, what their role involves, and what team they are a part of — just make sure the questions are open-ended. This will help keep the conversation going. Most people, you'll discover, enjoy talking about themselves, and they'll most likely ask you questions in return.

Find things you have in common

Asking your colleagues question does more than simply get the conversation started, it also serves as a reconnaissance mission. It's your way to find out if you share any common interests. Does Bob in IT like the same hockey team as you? Does Erika in Production have the same taste in music? Is Linda in Sales a big foodie with a fish taco obsession? These are also future conversation starters, and can be the foundations of future friendships.

You can, by the way, also focus on common sources of frustration. Does the printer always jam up? Is the network slow as snail moving through peanut butter? These are topics of discussion. Just be careful to avoid sources of frustration that are actual human beings — you don't want to get a reputation as a gossiper.

Be present

You might be itching to post to Instagram on your lunch hour, but try to resist the urge if you're with co-workers. Be part of the conversation and be present. Isolating yourself or staring into your phone makes it seem like you don't care about them — something that can be easily reciprocated. Make an effort to be involved, and they will likely return the favor.

Go to out-of-office events

You might find it odd that your co-workers have organized an archery tag outing (or a Saturday afternoon of axe throwing), but cast aside your prejudgments. Hanging with coworkers outside the office is the fastest way to develop lasting friendships. Plus, alcohol is often involved at these outings, which should go a long way towards making you feel more comfortable. Just make sure not to overdo it with the cocktails (especially if you're throwing axes). You don't want to be known as that guy (or girl).

Ask for help

New employees often forget that they have the ultimate ice-breaker: their own ignorance. Yes, it may sound nonsensical, but the fact that you don't know what you're doing is an advantage; you can ask your new colleagues anything (from file saving protocol to the location of the closest toilet) and it's perfectly acceptable, encouraged even. So ask your "stupid" questions, it's a chance to talk to people and learn a few things. Just make sure that when your coworkers need help down the road (presumably for something more complex than finding a toilet), you're ready to return the favour.

It may feel harder and harder to make friends as we get older, especially when we move to a new company, but if you keep these general ideas in mind, you should be able to get off on the right foot. Have fun!

Thinking About a Career in Healthcare? Here's What You Need to Know

By Ange Friesen

Healthcare is one of the top three fastest growing fields in Canada.

The jobs are there, but here's what you need to know before setting your sights on one of them.

There are jobs for all personalities

The name kind of says it all — most healthcare professionals are interested in either health, or care, or (ideally) both. On the one side of it, you have people who are fascinated by the inner workings of the human body and medicine — the scientists and technicians. On the other, you have people in the "caring" professions — therapists, social workers, and so on. In between, you have doctors, nurses, pharmacists — roles that balance an interest and connection with people and their biology.

The point is, no matter what your interests or charter, there is a job for you in healthcare — regardless of how hands on you actually want to be.

Even if you feel faint at the sight of blood, a job in healthcare might still work out.

The first thing to come to mind when you think "career in healthcare" is likely doctor or nurse, but there are so many potential career paths, including plenty where you don't have to interact with bodily fluids. Some of the possibilities might surprise (and inspire) you.

If you're a right-brain meets left-brain type, it's possible for your career to balance an artistic skill set and an interest in science and biology: possibilities include medical illustrator, writer, or filmmaker. And if you think healthcare and imagine bustling ERs and dramatic, emotionally wrenching scenes, we got good news for you: there are less stressful options. From technicians and pathologists to therapists and dieticians, there are a lot of ways to care for people, minus the drama.

Thinking about long-term career growth, "Healthcare Navigator" made it onto Careers 2030's list of jobs that are likely to be in high demand in — you guessed it — the year 2030. Jayar LaFontaine, a Foresight Strategist (speaking of futuristic titles ...) who worked on the project, explains: "As human systems becomes more and more complex, we think there'll be more work for individuals whose job it is to make them more navigable for people."

It's not as glamorous as it may seem

While healthcare is definitely booming, job opportunities aren't evenly distributed across the industry. Some trained medical professionals are finding it tough to break into their fields. This 2014 Financial Post article highlights the importance of researching your job prospects before embarking on an expensive training program.

Similarly, it's also worth looking into the reality of your chosen profession at a personal level. Do some research. What is it really like to work in the field? Start by talking to people who are already in the trenches, so to speak — you might be surprised by the unglamorous reality of a chosen profession. Make sure what you're aiming for fits the kind of work you actually want to be doing, and adjust your path accordingly.

Healthcare may be your chance to explore the country

While some healthcare professions have an oversupply of skilled applicants, the market can vary widely by province and region. While some markets are over-saturated and jobs are scarce, other regions need skilled workers, and are offering perks to make it worth your while. Saskatchewan, for example, offers some great incentive programs, including interest relief on student loans, moving allowances, and extra bonuses for people working in specific rural communities. It might just be both the land of living skies and career opportunities.

Wherever you end up — whether it's a geographic move or a job change (or both!) — a career in healthcare can change not just your own life, but also give you the chance to have a positive impact on countless others.

The Art of the Deal:  How to Negotiate a Starting Salary

Written by Audrey Neveu

Your interview went well, and a job offer has come in. Exciting right? Yes, unless the offer is lower than you were hoping for. You'll most likely have some mixed emotions: on the one hand, you're happy and relieved that your job search is over, on the other, you're trying to figure out just how you can afford that Tesla Model S on a salary so low (short answer: you can't). So what do you do? People often feel as if they have to accept that first offer, without negotiation — any job is better than no job after all. Big mistake.

You can and should negotiate for a better starting salary, and here's how.

Do your research

Even before you have an interview, you should be researching the company and the type of job you've been offered. Get a better understanding of typical responsibilities and tasks, as well as an appropriate compensation package (note: job postings on Workopolis now come equipped with salary range approximations from Payscale).

If the company has a collective agreement with a salary scale, you'll likely have less room to maneuver. Consider asking about bonuses; approximately half of all businesses in Quebec, for example, use some kind of bonus system, according to the College of Certified Human Resources Advisors.

Ask additional questions

There's only so much you can get online. Sometimes you need to ask your prospective employer additional questions. What is the office culture like? Is staff mostly younger workers fresh out of school, or do industry vets make up the bulk of the organization? Every little bit of information that you can extract can help your decision-making.

And if you're worried about asking compensation-related questions, don't. Remember that you're negotiating — salary is part of the discussion. If it's making you anxious, though, start with simple questions ("what sort of software would I be working on?") and work your way up to something more tricky, like salary.

Take the time to think through the offer

Getting an offer can be exciting, particularly if you've been job hunting for awhile, but that doesn't mean you have to act right away. No matter how generous the offer seems, ask for time to review it carefully. Then consider whether a counter offer is appropriate. Most people are afraid that if they ask for time to reflect, the company will withdraw the offer, but this rarely happens, according to Ellis Chase, career coach and author of In Search of The Fun Forever Job. Even a single day can be enough to fully consider the offer.

When you get that extra time to reflect, weigh all the possible pros and cons, including salary, benefits, commute, workload, and potential for advancement. The outcome of this exercise will often help you decide whether you need to ask for something more.

Show off a little

To get the salary you want, you have to convince the company that you're worth it. When making your counter offer, list your accomplishments and experience as part of a compelling case that shows you're worth more than the offer on the table. Don't be arrogant; just clearly demonstrate how you would contribute value to the organization. Deepak Malhotra, a professor at Harvard Business School, emphasizes that you must help the person you're negotiating with convince his or her superior by identifying how to improve the original offer.

Always ask for more

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as the saying goes. Always ask for a higher salary and justify why you're worth it. You just might get a 'yes.' And even if the answer is 'no,' the organization may well be open to including bonuses or additional paid vacation if you make a strong case about your value.

Think beyond money

Salary negotiations include much more than money. Be sure to address other components of the compensation package: paid vacation, telework options, flexible hours, bonuses, pension contributions, etc. Would being able to pick up the kids from daycare at 4:00 p.m. every day be worth the same to you as $5,000 in additional salary? You have to know the answer to that question. More importantly, you need to know if it's important to you in advance; introducing a new demand at the last minute could give the organization reason to withdraw the offer entirely.

Get everything on paper

The golden rule: once you reach an agreement, go through each point with the negotiator and get it in writing! This will avoid any nasty surprises after you start your new job.

Good luck and congratulations on the new job!