CAREERS & JOB SKILLS
Canada's premiers have signed an agreement that
will facilitate the mobility of apprentices across the country.
The Provincial-Territorial Apprentice Mobility
Protocol will enable mutual recognition of technical training, work
experience and examination results for apprentices moving from one area
The premiers have set a Jan. 1, 2016 deadline for
the training and hours successfully completed by apprentices in one
jurisdiction to be recognized by all other jurisdictions across Canada.
This premier-led development is intended to
strengthen and modernize internal trade in the country.
Currently most provinces and territories
require an incoming apprentice to show evidence of their work experience
including providing technical training letters from past employers, an
up-to-date logbook and college transcripts. It is going to
continue to be important that apprentices and their employers know what
paperwork is required to facilitate a move between jurisdictions and
what will be required to meet the standard of the receiving province/
territory. The Canada Apprenticeship Forum is developing a labour
mobility tool designed to assist apprentices by providing this
Journal of Commerce
Earlier this year, we surveyed Canadians about
their most dreaded job interview questions. While many people expressed
fear of the trend towards ‘trick' questions such as "Why are manhole
covers round?" it's actually the simpler, seemingly easier to answer
questions that trip most people up.
Over 15,000 people responded to our survey
question, "Which is the hardest interview question to answer?" By far
the largest group of respondents said that answering "What is your
greatest weakness" the most difficult. Questions about salary
expectations came a distant second.
Which is the hardest interview question to answer?
- What is your greatest weakness? — 40%
- What are your salary expectations? — 19%
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? — 16%
- Why did you leave your last job? — 10%
Other common questions such as "Why do you want
this job?" or "Why should I hire you?" received far fewer votes for
being most fearful. But here's the thing: those are the questions that
are asked at almost every job interview, and most candidates still
stumble over them.
Four most common job interview questions most
candidates get wrong
Tell me about yourself?
The exact wording may differ, but in nearly every
job interview, you will be asked some variation of, "So, tell me a
little about yourself."
Too many people waste the opportunity by talking
about where they grew up, their family, or their pets. This
conversational-sounding, friendly question is actually your chance to
kick off the interview by showing how you are the right person for the
job. Use your elevator pitch. Explain how your professional development
has led you to this role, and why you are excited about it.
Why do you want this job?
It is tempting to answer this question by talking
about how you're looking to grow your career and this opportunity would
be a great chance to get your foot in the door of a new organization or
industry. Employers like candidates with ambition and a career plan. The
"foot in the door" aspect can trip you up, however.
Remember that the employer is spending valuable
time and money to fill a specific role right now. You don't want to give
the impression that you're just looking for a stepping stone to make a
quick job hop and leave them back where they started. Talk about how the
job at hand is a good fit for you and how you'd be great at it.
Why should I hire you?
This is an open invitation for candidates to
explain their key qualifications, demonstrate how passionate they are
about the job, and to showcase what sets them apart from other potential
job seekers. Many people don't take that invitation.
All too frequently, many people, especially younger
or entry-level candidates answer with some variation of, "because I need
the job." (Or a similar answer that is about the candidate's needs and
wants rather than what they can do for the employer.)
The thing is, need is not a qualification. If
you've applied for the job, and gone in for the interview, the employer
already knows that you need — or at least want — the job. The point of
the interview is to determine if you are the right person to have it.
Explain what you bring to the role that others
might not. What makes you stand out? Be enthusiastic, not needy.
Do you have any questions for me?
Almost every job interview will end with the
employer asking if you have any questions for them. Don't say, "No." You
can convey your competence and confidence, your job-readiness to an
employer more impressively with the questions you ask than with the ones
Smart questions can demonstrate that you have some
knowledge of the industry, and that you're already thinking about how
you can contribute to it. They can lead to off-the-beaten path
conversations that take your interview to the next level in the
employer's mind and cause you to be more memorable than your
Ask about the challenges of the role, trends in the
industry, questions about the company that show you've done your
research, and what the next steps are in the hiring process.
Just don't ask about pay, vacation time, or
benefits. Of course you want to know these things, but they can all be
discussed when you receive an offer. The initial interview is all about
the job itself, and how you can be an asset to the company.
There is no idle conversation or small talk going
on in the job interview. It's all interview. Too often we tend to focus
on practicing answers for the tough discussions about salary history,
on-the-job weaknesses, and five year plans, so that we forget that it's
the more conversational queries that can matter the most.
Despite popular belief, Canadian employers are
hiring right now. Are you prepared? That is the main message firms want
to convey to job seekers. In fact, there are many things employers want
to tell job seekers. Yes, they do get hundreds, sometimes thousands of
resumes a year. However, if candidates only followed this basic advice,
they'd be well ahead of the pact in finding that perfect job.
Most of the guidance from employers is common
sense, but you'd be surprised how many job seekers neglect, or choose to
ignore job basics. So, listen up! Want to impress employers? Before
applying for any position, read ‘21
things every job seeker needs to know how to do' and then keep
reading this important advice from employers.
Ten things employers want every potential candidate
Good Candidates are Always in Demand — Top
employers are always looking for good people. Approach specific
employers where you feel you can contribute and make a difference. Back
it up with the proper qualifications and experience. Think about those
industries that are growing and look for companies where you have
something to offer. Yes, it's about what you can offer an employer, not
the other way round.
Tell Me Why You Are the Right Candidate — Don't
expect an employer to search through your resume at length, or spend
time trying to ascertain your strengths during a job interview. Prepare
your three or four sentence ‘elevator pitch' as to why you are the right
candidate for the job. Practice it ahead of time and believe in what you
Communication Skills Are Vital — Regardless of the
position, employers need candidates who can communicate effectively.
What good is being a computer programmer if you can't understand and
properly communicate important project specifications to others?
Communication is of the most important skills in today's job market.
Know Your Resume Inside and Out — During the job
interview prospective employers will ask questions about your past work
history. If your answers don't coincide with what you've put on your
resume you will come across as either being dishonest, or ill-prepared
(both job killers!) Take the time to read your resume several times and
think about how you would answer questions relating to its content.
Look to the Hidden Job Market — The vast majority
of available positions are never advertised. Don't wait for an online
posting, or job advertisement, before you decide to apply. If you love a
company and want to work for them, let them know. While some companies
are not keen on receiving unsolicited resumes, a targeted cover letter
and resume to a company you know and love is worth the effort.
Do Your Research — Before applying to a company,
take the time to research. You don't need to know all the nitty gritty
financials of a firm, but go to their website and learn the basics. What
are their major products or services? Who are the firm's competitors?
What important issues are the company and industry as a whole facing? Be
an informed candidate.
Have Confidence in Yourself — You may think of
yourself as confident, but what do you portray to others? I've met many
people who are truly confident, but they come across as indecisive when
they speak, or often slouch during conversation. Pay close attention to
not only what you say, but how you say it. What is your voice and body
language conveying? Remember to smile.
Be a Team Player — Working well with others is a
key component in many organizations. Employers want to know you are an
effective team player. Relay those past instances where you worked in a
team environment. Playing a team sport, or volunteering in a group event
are great examples.
Show Passion and Personality — Employers are
interested in your skills, qualifications and experience, but they are
also interested in you as a person. Will you fit in with the company
culture? Are you someone they can depend on? Let employers know that you
are a well-rounded person who is eager to learn and grow with the
company. Let your passion shine through!
Don't Take Rejection Personally — Firms want to
hire you, but sometimes there is not a good fit. While never easy, try
not to interpret job rejection as personal rejection. It's a business
decision. Learn from the experience and think about ways to improve for
the next time. The most successful job seekers are the ones who
Canadian employers want to hire right now. Are you
able to fill the position? Before applying for any job, take the time to
learn, understand and follow these job principles that employers want
every job seeker to know. You will separate yourself from the pact,
impress employers with your determination and confidence, and eventually
rise to the top. Good luck!
Kevin Makra is the President of Sentor Media Inc.,
and founder of
Your everyday habits will have a long term impact
on your career (and life) and an immediate impact on your job search.
Here are 10 habits to adopt now that will make a
big difference for the rest of your life.
1. Get up early. I know. I hate this one too. But,
one thing successful people are always said to have in common is that
they get up early. This isn't fair, since there are
studies that show night owls tend to be smarter, funnier, and more
creative. But the working world doesn't start at noon. It starts at
nine, or earlier. If, like me, you're never going to be someone who gets
up at 6, aim for 8 instead of 11.
2. Make your bed. I already wrote a
whole article about this. Making your bed sets the tone for the day
and starts you off with sense of pride and accomplishment that will
carry over to every other aspect of your life.
3. Make lists. Making a to-do list every day sets
your tasks right in front of you, so you know what to expect of your day
and of yourself. And crossing each item off continues on the theme of
accomplishment carrying over to the rest of your life — it's incredibly
satisfying to see a list that seemed daunting in the morning with
everything crossed off at the end of the day. And the ability to tackle
tasks grows over time.
4. Tidy up.
Being in a mess is overwhelming and
depressing. Keep your space as neat as you can. This ranges from person
to person. Some will be able to follow
Marie Kondo's example and go full tidy. For the rest of us, I've
found one thing that has major impact is abundant storage. Place bins,
boxes, and things with drawers everywhere. Designate them for certain
things — like papers, clothes, unopened mail, miscellaneous crap, so
they're easier to sort through when the time comes. And the clutter is
gone. (Unless you live with my husband, in which case it's a
never-ending battle. But that's neither here nor there, I guess.)
5. Exercise. Cliche, yeah, but nobody ever says
"Man, I regret going to the gym." Working out is good for your body,
your mind, your self esteem. You'll live longer (the only downside to
which is that you'll either have to keep working or have some good
investments), you'll feel amazing, and you will be able to tackle the
6. Put a positive spin on life. Don't complain. If
you want to piss and moan about something, try shutting up instead.
Also, if something is weighing on you, try shifting your language to
remove the burden.
Instead of saying "I have to update my resume," try saying "I get to
update my resume," or, if that's too Pollyanna-ish for you, just say,
"I'm going to update my resume."
7. Be quiet. Speaking of shutting up, I talked in a
recent article about
times when you should do just that. Keep this in mind every day. You
don't need to jump into every Facebook argument or spar with everyone
you disagree with. Not knowing when to check yourself is a networking
mistake that will cost you dearly.
8. Reply immediately to emails and messages. I have
a friend who keeps her inbox at zero at all times. Not just zero
unopened emails — ZERO EMAILS. Can you imagine? Most of us aren't
superhuman, but do your best to deal with communications as they come
in. Nobody likes to wait for a reply. It's rude and insulting. Even
worse, if you're like me, in one hour the thing will have been pushed
down your emails queue and you will forget about it forever.
9. Prioritize your tasks.
Multitasking used to be
considered a measure of ability. These days, less so. Earl Miller, an
MIT neuroscientist, told
The Guardian that our brains are "not wired to multitask well… When
people think they're multitasking, they're actually just switching from
one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there's a
cognitive cost in doing so." Prioritize tasks and tackle them in
descending order of importance.
Successful people read. They don't watch TV. They read for 30
minutes a day or more (and probably not romances or 50 Shades of Grey).
11. Analyze your results. OK, I've never actually
read about a successful person recommending this, but I find it helps
keep me from repeatedly doing stupid things (um, sometimes). Whether
it's the job search or the workplace, instead of just blindly plowing
forward, at the end of each day, take a moment to reflect on what worked
and what didn't. Make a mental note (or a real note, if that works
better for you) to continue doing the things that worked, and to adjust
what didn't. if you're honest with yourself, you won't repeat your
mistakes and you will learn from them.
Steve Jobs is said to have walked around in bare
feet, only showered once a week and rarely washed his clothes and hair.
He was always on some wacky food regime that caused stinky permeation
from his pores. He smelled, looked like something the cat dragged in,
cried in public when he didn't get his way and bullied friends and
employees with put downs and tirades. He went on to become a household
name, a billionaire and a revered role model. All the same, his
behaviours when in his twenties, would have got him fired or never
hired, were he to apply to a company he didn't own.
A survey of over 5000 employees confirmed that
workers are best to leave their bad habits at home. Better yet, wake up
and smell the roses. Learn social etiquette and common decency if you
don't work alone out of your garage.
The survey, commissioned by a British employment
law consultancy firm, found these workplace annoyances, in order from
highest to lowest, the most irksome.
1. The smell of certain hot foods. Curries, garlic
and fish dishes linger in the air and may even transfer to your coats
and garments in the vicinity. Even a tuna fish sandwich eaten in an
unventilated area can be smelly.
2. Removing your shoes at your desk, (walking
around in your bare or stockinged feet). If you work in a closed office,
fine, kick off those pinchers, under your desk. In a shared space, bring
comfortable shoes to replace the 4 inch heels you love to hate by 4pm
every afternoon. If your feet sweat, they probably smell, keep those
3. Personal hygiene. Not washing your hands after
using the washroom, clipping toenails and fingernails, and nose picking
at your desk are just not acceptable behaviour, period. It's one thing
to put mascara and blush on while riding public transit, but clipping
toenails at work, give me a break!
4. Leaving a mess. "Your mother doesn't work here"
is a sign I see in a lot of office lunchrooms. Don't leave dirty dishes,
a mess from food prepping in the office kitchen, or your dirty cup in
the sink. It isn't going to clean itself and there is no kitchen fairy
that will miraculously clean up after you.
5. Taking possessions without asking. Can't find
your stapler, your post it notes, your favorite pen? Look on Jane's
desk, yup, there it is, again. True, office supplies you use at work are
not YOURS, they belong to the company, but they have been assigned to
you. Put your name on your ‘stuff' if this is a regular occurrence and
ask your colleagues to ask you before they borrow and go into your desk.
6. Bringing crying babies to the office. Everyone
is thrilled you have a new baby and they can't wait to see it, in the
reception room or at lunch in a restaurant. There are people working for
a living in an office and distractions are not welcome, be it a crying
baby or a construction team outside the window.
7. Gossiping. A gossiper is considered a difficult
person, don't do it and don't condone it, walk away.
8. Unnecessary emails. Think twice before you cc
the entire office, be it a directive or a simple thank you.
9. Co-workers not carrying their weight. Management
should ensure that every employee has the ability to do the work they
are assigned and that they enjoy doing the work.
10. Swearing. Expletives are one thing when your
computer crashes or you stub your toe, four letter words in day to day
discourse are verboten.
11. Eating peoples' lunches out of the fridge. One
guy I know made a Gainsburger (dog food patty) sandwich to catch the
person who stole his lunch every week. Got ‘em!
12. Interrupting me with your problems during my
lunch hour or when I am on the phone. Begin each interruption with, "is
this a good time?" or "do you have seven minutes?"
13. Talking too loudly on the phone. Remember to
use your inside voice, inside your cubicle.
14. Too many personal calls at work/surfing the
internet. You think you are just calling your mother for a quick catch
up and ten minutes later you are lagging behind with your TO DO list.
Checking how many golds Canada got in the Pan Am games is a lunch time
Having taught many ‘Respect in the Workplace'
workshops, I can vouch for these annoyances as being truisms. Some of
these require some give and take, some are comical, but not really, most
are common sense. Too many of these occurrences in the workplace are
making employees unhappy. How guilty are you?
You've found a posting for a job you want and
you're about to send in your resume and cover letter.
Before you do, go through this list of questions to
ask yourself, to be sure you've covered all the bases.
"Do I meet 75% of the qualifications?" It would be
silly to expect you to meet all the qualifications for every job these
days, when employers are stuffing postings with ridiculous, unnecessary
demands. But do meet at least three quarters. Otherwise you're wasting
"Does my summary match the job posting?" You've
already ditched the objective statement and replaced it with a summary,
I hope. Now make sure that summary matches the job posting — i.e. If the
job is for a marketing manager, make sure your summary highlights your
marketing expertise and not, say, your journalism experience.
proofread?" After your resume goes through
100 edits, it probably has typos. Find them. They're one of the top
reasons you won't be hired.
"Did I address it to the right person?" If you can
find the name of the hiring manager — maybe it's even in the job posting
— address your application to that person. Make sure to spell it
"Are there clichés or useless buzzwords in my
resume?" If your resume says you're a "team player" or are "results
oriented," change it. Those mean nothing to anyone and will not get you
"Do I list my accomplishments?" Have you given
examples of what you have achieved, or have you just explained what your
"duties" and "responsibilities" were in previous roles? Employers want
to see you shine, not know what your "duties" were.
"Did I include my contact information?" It actually
happens that employers get resumes with no contact info. Just make sure
it's there — on every page. And that it's up to date.
"Did I follow the instructions in the job ad?" Did
the ad ask you to address a specific person, answer a specific question
in your cover letter, or submit portfolio examples? Do it to the letter.
Details are important.
"Did I use the proper keywords?" Most big companies
use some form of applicant tracking system which will scan your resume
for the proper keywords and either reject it or save it before it is
even seen by human eyes. Use keywords from the job posting in your
resume. It helps get past the software.
"Would I call me in for an interview?" If you were
the hiring manager, would you want to talk with you based on your resume
and cover letter? Answer honestly.
"Why not?" If not, ask yourself why, then fix it.
OK, you should be good to go. Hit send.
The cover letter might be dead and
LinkedIn might be the new thing but the resume is still your calling
card when you're looking for a new job.
So, how does it look? Is it looking a
little careworn, maybe a little shabby? In other words, does your resume
look old? When your resume crosses a recruiter's desk, it has just
seconds to make a great impression. An old-looking resume can cost you
As we've said before at Workopolis,
always tailor your resume to the job you're applying for — don't
just send the same one to every job. Larry Chan, partner at Rosenzweig &
Company compared it to updating an old outfit. "It was stylish 15 years
ago but now the edges are frayed. Sometimes you need to do a wholesale
If you think your resume could use a
makeover, here are some things you can update.
When there are documentaries on fonts
("Helvetica"), you know they are important. An old font can make your
resume, and you, look out of date. Old fonts tend to be harder to read
but new fonts are modern, cleaner and easier to read. Instead of Courier
or any fonts with serifs, try Arial, Garamond or yes, Helvetica.
Times New Roman is the "sweatpants of fonts."
Does the recruiter or hiring manager need
to know where you live? No, because no one offers a job or rejects a
candidate via snail mail. They all do it via email. So instead of
wasting that top space with your address, put your email, your LinkedIn
profile, your phone number and your social media. They're going to look
you up anyway.
An Objective Statement
People still open their resume with an
objective statement says Shweta Kadam, human resources manager, talent
acquisition for Kraft Food Group. That might have been fine 10 years ago
but it's time to take it out. Of course you want to bring your skills to
the position to help the company grow.
What you need to do, say Kadam, is have four or five bullet points that
highlight your successes in relation to the job. Recruiters can see them
immediately and decide if you'll advance to the phone screening round.
What should you highlight? Any sales
increases or new processes or if you won any awards that benefited your
previous company or industry. Think on how your skills can help your
potential new company and put them right at the top of your resume.
Kathleen Teixeria, talent Acquisition at OLG says terminology can
make your resume look old. Take skill sets like knowing the Internet or
listing websites with WWW off your resume immediately. By now,
recruiters expect you to have some internet skills and websites are
written as name.ca not www.name.ca.
You want your resume to tell a story of
your awesomeness but remember a couple things. No one has much to read
and a resume is supposed to whet the appetite, not be the full dinner.
This is why instead of paragraphs, your resume should have more bullet
points. They're the snack-size offering of your experience. For the full
meal, there's LinkedIn.
Marci Schnapp, owner of TeamQuest recruiting (and all the other
recruiters we spoke to) says resumes should be about two pages long on
average depending on the industry. "LinkedIn is where everyone goes.
Your resume should have a link to your profile and that's where you can
expand on your experience, including awards."
References available on request
Don't bother putting it on your resume.
They'll ask if they're interested in making you an offer. Besides,
thanks to social media, there's a strong chance the recruiter or hiring
manager might know someone who knows someone who can give them the dirt
If your resume has any of these, it's
time for a makeover. Sit down and take apart your resume. Spend some
time reworking and modernizing it. You'll enjoy the benefits when you go
in for your next interview.