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Not Landing Interviews? You Could be Annoying Employers

By Val Matta

This time of the year, many employers review up to 100 resumes per job opening — and that’s if they’re getting looked at at all. With so many applications, there’s clearly a certain etiquette that needs to be upheld, particularly when it comes to following up after you apply. Since two thirds of workers don’t follow-up after submitting their résumé for consideration, you may believe sending a quick note could help your chances. Unfortunately, following up incorrectly can send your résumé to the trash can.

While it’s always advised to follow-up after you apply for a job, doing so in the wrong way can severely impede your chances at landing an interview. If you’re uncertain on follow-up etiquette, here are some do’s and don’ts to consider:

DO contact the right person

It’s so important to contact the right person in the follow-up process. After all, you’d probably be peeved if people were contacting you for the wrong reasons. While the job description may not include contact information, there are some easy ways to obtain it. Use databases or check out who posted the job on social media. By doing a little detective work, you’ll be able to find the right point of contact.

DON’T call or email if the job description explicitly says not to

It’s vital that you follow all directions, even if they go against follow-up protocol. For instance, if a job description explicitly says no phone calls or emails, this means no phone calls or emails. Although it’s not exactly the best scenario for your candidacy, you have to respect the wants and needs of an organization.

Instead, do little things to “follow-up” such as becoming a fan of the organization on Facebook or mentioning them on Twitter. While you shouldn’t be too obvious, these little gestures can help you to stand out.

DO take schedules into account

Employers are busy people. They may not have time to respond to every email or call back every candidate. Although you did take the time to apply for the position, you have to understand the schedules of the hiring department, especially if the position is highly coveted.

Here’s a tip: Following up after one week is pretty customary, no matter how busy an employer may be. If the job description says anything else — such as following up after two weeks or sending them a message on LinkedIn — be sure to keep these methods in mind, as well.

DON’T follow-up more than twice

While not everyone may agree, it’s okay to follow-up on your follow-up. Emails can always get lost in the shuffle or the employer may have forgotten to respond to you. However, anything more can be seen as annoying and overbearing, especially if it’s the same message twice. Oftentimes, an employer may have “mentally” acknowledged they got a message or voicemail and simply decided to leave it at that. Once you’ve followed up twice, you’ve done your part and should wait for things to unravel organically.

DO cut your losses if there’s radio silence

It’s a tough pill to swallow, but sometimes you need to cut your losses. It’s nothing personal — nor should you take it as such — but sometimes someone was just more qualified than you. When this happens, you can either get angry or you can learn from your mistakes.

For example, if you evaluate how your candidacy could have been improved, such as sending in higher quality writing samples or following directions better, you can move forward as a smarter job seeker.

If you’re not landing interviews, take a look at how you’re following up after you send in your application. You’ll likely find a connection between how you contacted an employer and the outcome of your candidacy.

2014’s Top Growing Occupations & Provinces for the Construction Industry

Canada’s construction industry has seen steady growth over the last several years, and new data suggests the expansion will continue throughout 2014. According to CareerBuilder Canada and Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. (EMSI), employment in the construction industry has grown by 12 per cent from 2011 to 2014, adding over 102,000 jobs, outpacing 4 per cent growth for all jobs.

In order to help workers determine where the opportunities lie within this growing industry, CareerBuilder and EMSI put together a list of the fastest-growing construction occupations. Among occupations that are expected to see the greatest percentage increases in 2014 are:

  1. Administrative officers – Oversee and implement administrative procedures, establish work priorities and co-ordinate the acquisition of administrative services such as office space, supplies and security services.

Change in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 5.1 per cent
Median Hourly Earnings – $21.63

  1. Contractors and supervisors, heavy construction equipment crews – Includes excavating, grading, paving, drilling and blasting contractors who own and operate their own business and contractors who supervise crane operators, drillers and blasters, heavy equipment operators, longshore workers, material handlers, public works maintenance equipment operators, railway track maintenance workers, and water well drillers.

Change in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 4.4 per cent
Median Hourly Earnings – $29.85

  1. Contractors and supervisors, electrical trades and telecommunications occupations – Includes telecommunications and electrical trade contractors who own and operate their own business and contractors who supervise electricians, industrial electricians, power system electricians, electrical power line and cable workers, telecommunications line and cable workers, telecommunications installation and repair workers, and cable television service maintenance technicians.

Change in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 4.3 per cent
Median Hourly Earnings – $34.58

  1. Welders and related machine operators – Operate welding equipment to weld ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Also includes machine operators who operate previously set up production welding, brazing and soldering equipment.

Change in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 3.8 per cent
Median Hourly Earnings – $24.11

  1. Residential and commercial installers and servicers – Install and service a wide variety of interior and exterior prefabricated products such as windows, doors, electrical appliances, water heaters, fences, play structures and septic systems, at residential or commercial properties.

Change in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 3.8 per cent
Median Hourly Earnings – $18.51

  1. Truck Drivers – Operate heavy trucks to transport goods and materials over urban, interurban, provincial and international routes. Also includes shunters who move trailers to and from loading docks within trucking yards or lots.

Change in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 3.5 per cent
Median Hourly Earnings – $20.29

  1. Steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers – Lay out, assemble, fabricate, maintain, troubleshoot and repair piping systems carrying water, steam, chemicals and fuel in heating, cooling, lubricating and other process piping systems.

Change in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 3.4 per cent
Median Hourly Earnings – $32.78

  1. Construction trades helpers and labourers – Assist skilled tradespersons and perform laboring activities at construction sites, in quarries and in surface mines.

Change in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 3.4 per cent
Median Hourly Earnings – $19.09

  1. Construction managers – Plan, organize, direct, control and evaluate the activities of a construction company or a construction department within a company, under the direction of a general manager or other senior manager.

Change in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 3.2 per cent
Median Hourly Earnings – $35.42

  1. Heavy equipment operators (except crane) – Operate heavy equipment used in the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, airports, gas and oil pipelines, tunnels, buildings and other structures; in surface mining and quarrying activities; and in material handling work.

Change in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 3.1 per cent
Median Hourly Earnings – $25.48

  1. Contractors and supervisors, other construction trades, installers, repairers and servicers – Includes roofing, masonry, painting and other construction trade contractors, not elsewhere classified, who own and operate their own business. Supervise and co-ordinate the activities of various tradespersons, installers, repairers and servicers.

Change in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 3 per cent
Median Hourly Earnings – $28.38

  1. Construction estimators – Analyze costs of and prepare estimates on civil engineering, architectural, structural, electrical and mechanical construction projects.

Change in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 2.7 per cent
Median Hourly Earnings – $29.99

  1. Plumbers – Install, repair and maintain pipes, fixtures and other plumbing equipment used for water distribution and waste water disposal in residential, commercial and industrial buildings.

Change in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 2.7 per cent
Median Hourly Earnings – $25.86

  1. Electricians (except industrial and power system) – Lay out, assemble, install, test, troubleshoot and repair electrical wiring, fixtures, control devices and related equipment in buildings and other structures.

Change in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 2.7 per cent
Median Hourly Earnings – $27.99

Job Growth by Region

The construction industry has grown across the all ten provinces, though it remains slightly more concentrated in some. The provinces that saw the highest growth in construction jobs over the past year include:

  1. Newfoundland and Labrador:  Increase in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 5.2 per cent
  2. Alberta:  Increase in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 4.1 per cent
  3. Saskatchewan:  Increase in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 3.9 per cent
  4. Manitoba:  Increase in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 3.2 per cent
  5. British Columbia:  Increase in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 2.6 per cent
  6. Quebec:  Increase in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 2.5 per cent
  7. Ontario:  Increase in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 2.5 per cent
  8. Nova Scotia:  Increase in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 2.1 per cent
  9. New Brunswick:  Increase in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 1.4 per cent
  10. Prince Edward Island:  Increase in Construction Employment (2013-2014) – 0.3 per cent

Interview Mistakes Candidates Have Made

Most job seekers know that making a good first impression in a job interview is crucial, but they may not realize how little time they have to do it. A new survey from finds that nearly half (47 per cent) of employers say they know whether a candidate is a good or bad fit for the position within the first 5 minutes of the interview. By the 15-minutes mark, 87 per cent have determined if the job seeker is a good or bad fit.

The national survey was conducted online from November 6 to December 2, 2013 by Harris Poll on behalf of and included a representative sample of 406 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes.

Memorable Blunders

When asked to share the most memorable mistakes candidates made during a job interview, employers gave the following real-life examples:

  • Candidate asked interviewer out on a date
  • Candidate ate a hard-boiled egg
  • Candidate brought in a high school project because their mother thought the interviewer might want to look at it
  • Candidate explained that they would prefer to work at another company but had not heard back from them yet, so they were applying to ours in the meantime
  • Candidate fell asleep
  • Candidate forgot who his current employer was
  • Candidate offered to bake for the office regularly if she was hired
  • Candidate untied his shoes, removed his socks, and rubbed his bare feet on the interviewer’s desk
  • Candidate said they wouldn’t be able to work in the summer if it was sunny as they would be sailing
  • Candidate got up and paced around the office while interviewer remained seated

Common Mistakes

The top most detrimental blunders employers frequently see from candidates include:

  • Appearing arrogant – 54 per cent
  • Appearing disinterested – 52 per cent
  • Appearing uninformed about the company or role – 49 per cent
  • Answering a cell phone or texting during the interview – 48 per cent
  • Dressing inappropriately – 47 per cent
  • Talking negatively about current or previous employers – 46 per cent
  • Not providing specific examples – 43 per cent
  • Not asking good questions – 31 per cent
  • Asking the hiring manager personal questions – 21 per cent
  • Providing too much personal information – 18 per cent

Body language can play a big role in a job interview. Employers cited the biggest non-verbal mistakes candidates commonly make:

  • Failure to make eye contact – 66 per cent
  • Bad posture – 39 per cent
  • Failure to smile – 38 per cent
  • Fidgeting too much in his/her seat – 38 per cent
  • Crossing their arms over their chest – 34 per cent
  • Playing with something on the table – 30 per cent
  • Handshake that is too weak – 25 per cent
  • Playing with hair or touching one’s face – 25 per cent
  • Using too many hand gestures – 10 per cent
  • Handshake that is too strong – 6 per cent

“Employers want to see confidence and genuine interest in the position. The interview is not only an opportunity to showcase your skills, but also to demonstrate that you’re the type of person people will want to work with,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. “Going over common interview questions, researching the company, and practicing with a friend or family member can help you feel more prepared, give you a boost in confidence, and help calm your nerves.”

Employment is “Just a Job”

Nearly one in four plan to change jobs this year

Getting up and going to work every day is harder when you don’t see your occupation as a career. Nearly three-in-five (58 per cent) Canadian workers feel that they have “just a job” as opposed to a career (42 per cent). The national survey was conducted online in November through December of 2013 by Harris Poll on behalf of and included a representative sample of 426 full-time, private sector employees across industries and company sizes.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of Canadian workers say they plan to change jobs this year, up from 17 per cent last year. What is driving workers to explore other possibilities?

Employee satisfaction may be one cause. Job satisfaction matters to most (88 per cent) Canadian workers, yet one in five (18 per cent) employees say they are dissatisfied with their job, up from 15 per cent last year. Still, 57 per cent are satisfied with their current jobs, mostly because of their coworkers, benefits and work/life balance.

Those who reported being dissatisfied with their job most frequently cited the following concerns:

  • Don’t feel valued, I feel like just a number – 61 per cent
  • My salary – 56 per cent
  • I don’t like my boss – 43 per cent
  • Inability to make a difference – 33 per cent
  • No training/learning opportunities – 31 per cent
  • I don’t have a good work/life balance – 27 per cent
  • I don’t feel challenged – 26 per cent

Those who are satisfied cited the following reasons:

  • I like the people I work with – 80 per cent
  • Benefits – 62 per cent
  • I have a good work/life balance – 58 per cent
  • I like my boss – 54 per cent
  • I feel valued/my accomplishments are recognized – 48 per cent
  • My salary – 42 per cent

“Offering frequent recognition, merit bonuses, training programs and clearly defined career paths are important ways to show workers what they mean to the company,” said Mark Bania, Sr. Career Advisor of CareerBuilder Canada. “With new positions constantly being added across Canada each month that are enticing workers to change jobs, now is the time for employers to look at their recruitment strategies and make adjustments so their top talent doesn’t jump ship.”

Improve Retention

Employers looking to reduce employee turnover would do well to listen to their employees’ opinions. Canadian employees were asked what they considered to be the best way for employers to increase retention. Besides just raising salaries (74 per cent), top responses included:

  • Increase employee recognition (rewards, cash prizes, company trips) – 56 per cent
  • Increase benefits – 55 per cent
  • Ask employees what changes they want to see and put feedback into action – 52 per cent
  • Provide flexible work schedules – 51 per cent
  • Increase training/learning opportunities – 40 per cent
  • Provide special perks (free lunches, concierge services, game room, etc.) – 32 per cent

How to Beat the Bad Boss Blues

By Robert Half International

TV shows and movies are full of bad bosses. From Michael Scott in “The Office” and Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada” to “The Simpsons’” Mr. Burns and even Ebenezer Scrooge, there is no shortage of examples.

But what if the horrible boss you fear isn’t fictional? What she sits in the same office as you?

Unfortunately, this situation isn’t uncommon. Nearly half of employees surveyed by our company said they have worked for an unreasonable manager. Among those who have been beleaguered by challenging supervisors, 59 percent stayed in their jobs and either tried to address the situation or resolved to live with it.

Your relationship with your manager has more bearing than any other factor on your ability to succeed in your job — and how much satisfaction you derive from it. Here are four types of bad bosses and ways to maintain a productive, harmonious and mutually beneficial relationship with each of them:

“My boss is too controlling”

The type: The controlling boss isn’t comfortable unless he knows everything and has a say in all decisions, no matter how small or routine.

How to respond: The best way to make progress with this type of boss is to do it gradually. The next time you’re assigned a task, break it down into steps. Select one or two that are relatively simple and that you know for certain you can handle on your own.

Go to your boss and, as tactfully as possible, ask for responsibility over those tasks. Assure your manager that you’ll run everything by him and allow plenty of time for changes or feedback if necessary.

You’ll gradually earn your boss’s trust and broaden your sphere of responsibility. Just keep in mind, however, that your success depends on your ability to deliver on promises. Any failure on your part could reinforce your boss’s tendency to micromanage.

“My boss is too wishy-washy”

The type: This boss is reluctant or slow to make decisions. She is also unable to articulate clear objectives, set precise deadlines or give constructive feedback on your performance.

How to respond: Whenever you need your boss to make a decision, do your homework first and then offer a recommendation. For example, you might say: “I see three options: A, B or C. I believe that B is the best choice because of X, Y and Z. Do you agree?” Reassure your boss that you’re confident about your recommendation.

Also be sure to communicate deadlines. That alone can sometimes prompt indecisive managers to take action. Just don’t push too hard, or you risk damaging the relationship.

“My boss makes unreasonable demands”

The type: This type of manager asks you to squeeze in 12 hours worth of work into an eight-hour day. The result: You either stay late or risk being reprimanded for your poor performance.

How to respond: Sit down with your manager and make a list of performance objectives. If you see a gap between what’s being requested of you and what you believe you can accomplish, ask that expectations be altered or that you be given additional resources.

A good way to strengthen your case before such a meeting is to create a detailed report that tracks your activity over a few weeks. This document can help show that you don’t have enough time to complete all the tasks you’ve been assigned. Your log also can highlight tasks you’ve been given that fall outside your job description and prevent you from completing core duties.

Above all, keep an open mind. Requests considered unreasonable at one company may be considered reasonable at another. You need to understand the norms at your company and decide whether you can live with them.

“My boss is a tyrant”

The type: The worst type of boss. This manager is prone to angry outbursts and other forms of unacceptable or even abusive behavior.

How to respond: Unfortunately, your options are limited. Your first step may be to try to talk things out with your supervisor. If you’re uncomfortable with that idea, you might bring your concerns to senior management or human resources. But these actions may not improve the situation and could even backfire.

If you’ve dismissed this strategy, or it hasn’t been effective, ask yourself two questions:

  1. What do you stand to gain by hanging in there? If it’s something you can’t get elsewhere — such as unique training or a fantastic paycheck — you may decide the tradeoff is worth it, at least for a while. This realization alone may help you cope more effectively with the pressures.
  2. Can you adopt coping mechanisms that will help get you through the tough times? Clearly, you need a thick skin if you work for a tough boss, which means you can’t allow yourself to take it personally when your manager starts to blow off steam. You also need to become more attuned to the day-to-day moods of your manager and adjust your behavior accordingly.

In the end, the question of whether you can work for a truly difficult boss comes down to your own personality and tolerance. Here’s a simple test: If you get a knot in the pit of your stomach as soon you walk in the door, your job or company is probably not right for you over the long term.

Hire & Retain Female Workers

The Industry Training Authority of B.C. has issued its Best Practices Guide for hiring and retaining women and tips for increasing the size of the available labour pool.

The guide indicates it does not promote hiring women over men, but seeks to establish an equitable workplace.

It states that employers reported that without increasing the size of the labour pool, “businesses will increasingly have to bring in temporary foreign workers on a short term basis, when they would prefer to hire locally.”

The guide said that in discussions with employers and women in trades, “it is clear there are still gender-specific barriers in the workforce.” The guide states that women face a harder time finding and retaining work in the trades.

It also includes suggestions for employers:

  • When hiring, advertise in multiple locations that broaden the reach. Employers should include a photo on their website showing employee diversity;

  • When conducting the interviews, ask the same questions of male and female applicants. Use a mixed group of staff to carry out the interviews. Don’t ask personal questions such as marital status, number of children, daycare arrangements, or religious views as this transcends human rights;

  • WorkSafeBC Occupational Health and Safety regulations require an employer give an employee a full workplace orientation. The guide suggests that new hires be linked up with a trainer, mentor or an individual, who can answer questions that arise. During the orientation, the employer can also set out expectations related to the new employee’s role, work and safety procedures, required tools and standard of behaviour;

  • Women have smaller feet, hands and head than men, so employers should source personal protection equipment (PPE) in different sizes. Men’s gloves, for example, are generally too wide in the fingers and palms for women. The guide provides a list of PPE manufacturers, who cater to women workers;

  • The guide makes it clear that employers should make employees aware that bullying or aggressive behavior will not be tolerated. “Suggest that if there is any unwelcome behavior, employees should confront the individual(s) and request for it to stop,” it states. If the actions continue, it should be brought to the supervisor’s attention and documented;

  • Employers report that often younger staff has an increased need for recognition and feedback. This impacts communication skills, and the ability to let the employee know when things are going well and not so well; and

  • Family friendly policies can go a long way in retaining staff and the guide notes that the gender balance of family care is shifting, so such policies can benefit both men and women.

Flexibility in starting or finishing times can also aid men and women, who drop off and pick up children at daycare.

Journal of Commerce

Women Still Not Embracing a Career in Trades

A barrage of programs and organizations aimed at encouraging women to enter the construction trades isn’t working so Canada’s Building Trade Unions (CBTU) have launched a new initiative.

“In Canada women represent only four per cent of the construction trade workforce. In other skilled trades, that number is even smaller,” stated a press release issued by the CBTU at their recent Legislative Conference in Gatineau, Quebec.

The figure corresponds with a Canadian Broadcasting (CBC) report from last month, which reunited members of Vancouver Women in Trades (VWT) to discuss the challenges they faced more than three decades ago.

The organization was in existence from 1979 to 1984.

VWT carpenter Kate Braid said in the 1970s only three per cent of plumbers, carpenters, welders and other blue collar workers were women.

She said that number of women in trades is now pegged at about 10 per cent.

“But, when you take hairdressers and chefs out, it’s still three per cent. Something is stuck. We need a new approach,” Braid said. The Industry Training Authority’s (ITA) is aware of these concerns.

“In the construction trades there has been little progress,” said Erin Johnston with the ITA.

The largest increases have come in heavy equipment apprentices (65 per cent), cabinet makers (31 per cent) and horticulture (14 per cent) from 2009 to 2013.

“We found that on trades where there are 15 per cent women, the women complete the apprenticeship training,” she said.

The completion rates drops when there is a lower percentage of women on the job.

Journeyman is the new name for the CBTU initiative. However, it is still unknown whether it will effect change. There are still a number of organization and training initiatives without a coordinated focus. There’s no relevant studies on retention and exit rates, except a recent ITA report.

The Canadian Building Trades Unions has women from all 14 member unions available to help women in trades.

“The “Journeyman” representatives will be attending various regional and local events on behalf of CBTU, including networking functions, mentorship events, high schools, charity and media events, trade shows and career fairs,” said the release.

Tom Sigurdson, executive director of the B.C. & Yukon Territory Building and Construction Trades Council said the program opens the door to bring more women into the trades with an active B.C. representative.

“We still have small numbers,” he conceded, but added that more women are involved with trades training in schools. “Ten years ago, you didn’t see them there,” he said. The Electrical Joint-Training Commission (EJTC) is also not drawing in the women it wants.

The B.C. Construction Association’s Abigail Fulton said it has programs that support women in construction.

“They should have a job first,” she said, adding that foundation courses should not be confused with apprenticeship training on a jobsite.

Fulton said the BCCA’s experience has been the jobsites where women can buddy up work best.

That’s underscored by Thompson River University’s (TRU) trades training school, which has provided women role models throughout its program and has yielded high returns.

“In 2009 when I came here, three per cent of our enrollment was women. We are now at 20 per cent,” said school dean Lindsay Langill. “I think we have one of the highest in the province.” The three feedstreams of women enrolling are high school students, university graduates with no applied skills, and single mothers.

The program has received a $700,000 boost from the Royal Bank to promote women in trades.

Langill said he has also worked to change the culture, wanting a more respectful co-ed environment within the trades school.

Journal of Commerce