Archive for Career Strategy

The greatest employees a company can find are not always the ones who do best at job interviews. Indeed, with nearly 50% of the population considered to be introverts, employers who are impressed by big talk and showy confidence in the interview room are likely to be missing out on a ton of real potential.

If you are an introvert, you can flag up your own value as an employee at your next interview by working cleverly with the unique characteristics that make you who you are. Employers at interviews are just waiting to be impressed: if you can shine through your introverted exterior, you are bound to make an impact.

Doing so requires self-awareness, preparation, and plain old technique. Once you’ve recognized that you tend to be more of a thinker than a talker, figure out how you can work that into your game. Think up small talk ahead of the meeting, so you needn’t fear awkward silences – and when you do need a moment’s silence to consider your answer to a tough question, let the interview panel know that’s what you’re doing. They will appreciate that the best answers are often worth waiting for.

Your personal engagement with the panel will be what marks you out from extroverts, who may not be able to make the same kind of deep connection. For more advice on how you can make this work, check out CashNetUSA’s graphic: it provides everything an introvert needs to push to the top of that pile.

Introverts Guide to Job Interviews

Marilyn VinchMarilyn Vinch is a London-based freelance writer who enjoys writing (and reading!) about the challenges small businesses face, human resources, leadership, personal growth, and working smarter. She is a digital nomad who loves travelling and immersing herself in different cultures.

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Tips for Effective Time Management

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time managementOne of the greatest challenges many people face is that there never seems to be enough time to accomplish everything they need to do, let alone finding time for things they want to do! They look with envy at those who are able to successfully fit work, family, personal, and other activities into their lives. The reality is that we all have the same 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year – it’s how we choose to spend that time that makes all the difference.

If you’re planning a career transition or job search this year, you’ll have to find a way to fit that into your schedule as well.

In order to develop a time management system that will be effective for you, it’s helpful to start with some formal or informal assessments to help you compare the way you are currently living your life with the way you would like it to be. Identify the obstacles that are preventing you from managing your time effectively. Become aware of your biological rhythms to determine what type of activity you do best in the morning, afternoon, evening, and late at night. Explore your personality type preferences, and the way they affect the way you perceive and deal with time.

Depending on your specific challenges, some of the following strategies may help you to achieve your goals:

  • Organize your space and paper so you don’t waste time looking for what you need.
  • Eliminate interruptions by closing your office door and letting telephone calls go to voice mail.
  • Be prepared with reading material or small tasks you can complete while waiting for people or in line.
  • Get tasks you find distasteful or overwhelming out of the way first. Better yet, consider delegating them to someone else.
  • Set personal and professional goals to help you identify your priorities.
  • Learn to say “no” and to focus on what’s important to achieving your goals.
  • Find a calendar system you’re comfortable with, and use it for all your activities.
  • Build flexibility into your schedule to accommodate the unexpected.

Don’t try to do all of these things at once! Changes to the way you manage your time should be implemented one at a time. Just like any other life changes, if you try to make too many at one time, you’re apt to get overwhelmed and discouraged.

Effective time management doesn’t happen overnight, but by determining what changes are needed and incorporating them into your lifestyle, you can take control of your time, instead of letting it control you.

Janet Barclay is a web designer, virtual marketing assistant and former employment counsellor who has supported career professionals and other small business clients since 2003. She can be reached through her website

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Get Your Career Story Out There – the Narrative Bio

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What’s your story?Many people stick to the traditional methods of marketing themselves using tools like resumes and cover letters. Don’t get me wrong, these are essential to conveying your value to potential employers, provided that they are well prepared and tailored to the needs of that organization. But there are other methods as well which include online strategies and social media – hmmm, a topic for a future article in 2017 (stay tuned!).

Today though, I’d like to introduce a simple document to add to your repertoire, starting with the Narrative Biography. This document captures your career story in a way that makes for an interesting read about the talents, passion, and experience that you bring in your field of employment. Daisy Wright of The Wright Career Solution recently released a book about the power of our stories and their relevance in the career transition process entitled “Tell Stories – Get Hired”. What better way to capture attention than to share yours in a compelling way as you warm up your intended audience.

A well written bio contains the following elements:

  • A captivating opening paragraph which not only portrays your background, but also conveys that you possess the competencies needed in your role, for your field.
  • Anecdotal stories about how you got started in your career and what attracted you to what you do today.
  • A summary of your proudest moments in life and career, relating examples of times where you have made a difference.
  • The credentials that you have earned during the course of your career and information that adds to your credibility as being the best at what you do.
  • Personal information about you, such as interests and hobbies, as well as the contributions that you make to the communities you are connected to.
  • A closing that evokes interest for your potential target to want to learn more about you and how you can help them to overcome the challenges that they face in their businesses.

We all have a story and sharing it effectively with people can open doors to opportunities that we may have not even considered. In fact, the exercise of drafting a Narrative Biography can be a great way to prepare for getting in front of live audiences to tell parts or your entire career story.

For career practitioners, having clients complete this exercise can be a great way to get them to tell us about what they have done in their careers that may seem trivial to them but are actually significant accomplishments and contributions to the work that they do.

A few years back, I was working with a Marine Biologist who shared a fascinating story about being on a vessel at sea as it was capsizing. In that moment, she needed to make life and death decisions at the snap of a finger. We had already been working together in her transition for several months when she told me this story and I immediately felt and saw how this was a story that a potential employer might identify as an illustration of someone with the ability to make decisions under pressure and with experience overcoming urgent challenges.

Here are some simple ways to utilize this document:

  • Upload it to your LinkedIn Profile (or other online sites) and reserve the Resume as your ace in the hole till you really need to apply for a position (giving you more time to make sure it is customized).
  • Have it ready when attending Networking events combined with a Business Card with the same look and feel that portrays a consistent brand and value proposition.
  • Include it as part of a mini-portfolio package when you arrive at interviews. Pick up a few inexpensive duo tangs, binders, or portfolio sleeves, and have all documents that you submitted in the application process on one side of the binder and new documents such as a Narrative Biography on the other.
  • Use it as a starting point to extract portions of your story that can be used on corporate websites and other organizational materials when needed.

Back in September, our blog suggested that going beyond the traditional marketing materials and going with a portfolio was a good way to knock on new doors. We’ll continue to share ideas like this as we enter the New Year.

Take some time this holiday season and consider expanding your repertoire of marketing materials. Think strategically as you develop your newest collateral and then be ready to put your plan into action. There’s nothing like a fresh start and if you’ve done your ground work, you can start to put a dent in getting through to people you need to persuade to meet you while helping to understand the expertise that you can offer to their business.

Happiest of New Years to one and all … may 2017 be one filled with health, prosperity, fulfillment, and happiness!

Wayne Pagani brings over 20 years’ experience in the career development field supporting people in their career transitions and navigating their way through the career / life paradigm. No matter what stage you’re at in your career, the experts at W.P. Consulting & Associates are here to help.


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Ready Sept – Go! And Go Portfolio!

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man holding career marketing portfolioSeems like just yesterday we were getting ready for summer vacation and the impending relaxation that comes with it. Yet here we are, already into September. If you’re in a career transition, are you ready?

Our May and June articles focused on ways to enhance your Résumé and Cover Letter in “Résumés Done – Now What?” and “We All Focus on the Résumé”. Today, I would like to explore what you can do to expand your career marketing tool kit and think strategically to position yourself more effectively and more successfully for your next opportunity.

Most people understand how to use a résumé and cover letter in a job search. However, there is much more to a successful job search than simply submitting a résumé and hoping you get the invite to an interview. If you haven’t already done so, get organized now so that you are approaching your transition strategically and consider expanding your Marketing Portfolio.

Here are a few ideas that you might consider to make your approach and your marketing arsenal a little more robust: Thank You Letters, Networking or Introductory Letters, Recruiter Letters, Biography, Key Initiatives, and a Comparison T-Chart, just to name a few. Be sure to brand these with the same look and feel, bolstered by a powerful Value Proposition that conveys a consistent message about the value you offer to a potential employer.

A branded business or info card can also go a long way to filling the gap while networking in a career transition to either complement your marketing materials or act as a standalone item. This can also eliminate the need to supply a résumé to everyone you come across, when likely if it is needed a customized résumé will be much more effective.

For more senior professionals, a Business Case may be in order, helping to reflect the industry-specific expertise that you have to offer with a future oriented perspective that will help a potential employer understand how you can help them to offset current or projected challenges. Then again, some of my clients have used this approach to prepare for a salary negotiation, featuring the return on investment that they might bring while gaining the highest level of salary available.

Having a compelling marketing package is enhanced by knowing how to use it effectively in conjunction with effective techniques to market yourself. Open this exercise about your marketing tools and answer the questions as it relates to several options for marketing materials if you’re thinking forward as to how to get a foot in the door to that next opportunity.

People typically perform best when they are better prepared, so think about what you need to include as you start “knocking on the doors” of your future employer. A well rounded Marketing Portfolio that is applied strategically can be a difference maker to achieve your objectives. Not sure where to start or how to go about it, feel free to drop us a message and we’ll set up a brief call to discuss your needs.

In the interim, stay tuned and our blog articles over the fall and winter months will be detailing ways to incorporate some the ideas from this article in your career transition marketing strategy.

In closing, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge our summer blog series for students and youth. This summer we featured a series of excellent articles to support students with summer employment and future career planning contributed by Jean-Philippe Michel of SparkPath … thank you, JP! Looking for career guidance and/or academic advice while planning your next steps, check out SparkPath.

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How to Prepare Your Kids for Jobs that Don’t Exist Yet

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career choicesAccording to Cathy Davidson, 65 percent of today’s kids may end up doing work that hasn’t been invented yet. This begs the question: as a parent, how do you prepare your child for a career that doesn’t exist?

By failing to answer this question, your child risks being left behind. Jeffrey Selingo (The Chronicle of Higher Education) states that students are at risk of being “ill prepared for the creative forces that will define the global economy in the future.” We are already aware of several changes that are reshaping our economy: the rise of technology, the ageing of the population and environmental and climate concerns are just a few examples. Organizations are trying to change to accommodate these shifts, and unemployment is rising in the ensuing shifts.

Another concern, unfortunately, is that our education system is not quick enough to respond to these changes.  Karl Fisch (Huffington Post) summarizes the problem as follows:

“We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”

As a parent who is aware of this change and uncertainty, you need to help prepare your child for a bright future by helping them make these three shifts:

  1. Forget About Jobs and Careers; Look for Challenges to Solve.

Today’s jobs and careers are on a collision course with a new world order. While the jobs, careers and approaches we take might change, the challenges that we are trying to solve will remain. In fact, as our perspective on certain issues evolves, new challenges to tackle will emerge as well. Of course, the jobs and careers that address these challenges might look completely different from what we see now. Accordingly, students need to shift from focusing on jobs and careers and instead focus on challenges they want to solve.

  1. New Expectations for a New World: Welcome to the 21st Century Workplace

New challenges will require new tactics and strategies. 21st century organizations are building 21st century workplaces, which will require 21st century skills. These companies will need self-starters who can learn continuously and lead others in the process. Today’s students need to understand that the rules of work have changed, and that their skill sets will need to align with new expectations.

  1. Know Thyself: Leverage Self-awareness

In order to make an impact in the workplace, the workers of the future need to cultivate their self-awareness. Thankfully, self-awareness can be developed. Psychometrics, guided self-reflection and the gathering and leveraging of feedback from peers can all help develop a self-aware, grounded, future leader. The process of reflecting on values, strengths, personality and interests will build career anchors that help ground, focus and accelerate students during their career trajectory. Through this increased self-awareness, students will be better able to weather changes in their environment, align themselves with causes they care about and understand how they can make meaningful contributions to the workplace.

Preparing your kids for work that doesn’t exist yet may seem like a daunting task a first, but by helping them make these three shifts you are setting up them up to start their careers successfully.

Jean-Philippe Michel leverages his experience coaching high-performing leaders to help high-school students develop their potential, set ambitious career paths, and choose the university program that will help them accomplish their goals. He can be reached through SparkPath, where he leads the development of programs and one-on-one-coaching engagements.

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4 Mistakes Students Make When Picking an Education Program

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mistakes students makeAccording to the Pew Research Centre, 29% of American students regret their college major decision. At Penn State, up to 80% of students are unsure of what they will major in when they begin their studies, and nearly half will change majors at least once before graduating.

Why the indecision, change and regret? Here are 4 mistakes students make when picking an education program that help explain these numbers.

  1. Lack of information about themselves

Without a solid understanding of themselves and what they want, students lack a strong starting point to begin searching for career and education options.

Answering the following questions provides focus and direction: What is important to you? What challenges would you like to tackle? What sets you apart from others? What is unique about the combination of your personality, interests, strengths and values?

The answers to these questions can come in the form of data from a valid psychometric assessment, guided reflection, self-awareness exercises or from discussions with a professional. Most importantly, the interpretation of how these different data points align with each other and how to take action on the insights is what students benefit the most from.

Students who do not gather data about themselves and integrate it in their decision-making process miss an opportunity to ensure their career and studies line up with who they are.

  1. Lack of information about the future

What will the future of work look like? What is happening in the fields I am interested in? What jobs and career are growing and which ones are becoming obsolete? Answers to these questions can have a significant impact on how a student thinks about and picks what they want to study. Unfortunately, many students chose a career path based on the current labor market, which limits their ability to prepare for the long-term.

Data published in the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook provides some information about the future, but students need guidance to understand how this data relates to their particular situation. In addition, students benefit greatly from speaking to professionals in their fields of interest to find out about future demands and trends. Often, connecting with people in their dream jobs is easier than students think. Those who fail to do so miss out on important insights that could significantly impact their choice of studies.

  1. Lack of education program research

Once students have gathered solid information about themselves and what they want to do, they need to create a tailored list of education programs aligned with their career goals. Some students make the mistake of searching too narrowly (i.e. not enough options), while others search too broadly (i.e. too many options). With thousands of available majors, getting the right balance can be tricky.

After the initial list is created, students should filter their options systematically to create a list of top majors. Next, students need to evaluate each major in depth to understand what problems they could help solve, how they are built and what students are likely to enjoy and find challenging about them.

Often, students get lost in this process and fail to do their due diligence on understanding the programs they are interested in. Without a strategy and an effective research process, choosing the right major is difficult to achieve.

  1. Lack of help

Many students report being disappointed by the support they receive from high school counsellors. For others, working through this process with their parents can lead to a different set of challenges that can hinder, rather than helps, the outcome. Finally, counselors may not be as useful as expected, as the help they are able to provide to prospective students is often limited.

Many students benefit from a neutral accountability partner that guides them through the process. This person should act as a coach and facilitator who transfers career development skills and enhances the student’s research and decision making process.

Bonus Mistakes

  • Falling victim to a cognitive bias that leads to a poor choice in education program. For example, the ambiguity effect: tendency to avoid the “unknown”; confirmation bias: looking for information that confirms existing beliefs and rejecting data that goes against beliefs; neglect of probability: the tendency to disregard probability when making a decision under uncertainty, etc.
  • Consistently delaying decisions. For many students, picking a career will involve incremental steps that build onto each other and lead to good choices. By pushing back decisions and commitments, students fail to gather the momentum and the building blocks required to advance in their ideal path.
  • Choosing an education program for the wrong reasons. Following a friend, choosing the most prestigious (sounding) career, trying to please your parents, choosing solely based on income, etc. The list goes on!

Through awareness of these common mistakes, students and parents can avoid the negative impacts of choosing an education program that is a bad fit. Please share with those who could benefit!

What other mistakes have you seen students make?

Jean-Philippe Michel leverages his experience coaching high-performing leaders to help high-school students develop their potential, set ambitious career paths, and choose the university program that will help them accomplish their goals. He can be reached through SparkPath, where he leads the development of programs and one-on-one-coaching engagements.

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We all focus on the résumé …

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professional cover letter

Most people understand the importance of having a well written résumé that not only represents them authentically and accurately, but will be compelling enough to the hiring manager to win the interview. But what about the supporting cast? This month, we’ll start with the standard sidekick that accompanies the résumé, the Cover Letter.

What is a Cover Letter and what is its purpose?

There are diverse opinions about the necessity of a cover letter when applying for a position.

Rule of thumb: unless the job posting stipulates otherwise, include a cover letter. Although not every hiring manager will read the cover letter, a well-written cover letter that helps the reader understand more about the candidate and the enclosed résumé, will help to distinguish an application.

A cover letter provides a means for direct communication with the hiring manager or decision maker. It acts as an introduction, and provides a medium to deliver a sales pitch articulating the value that an employer will receive in exchange for services rendered. It can also be the vehicle to address potential issues.

When a candidate has a clear value proposition, this message must be consistently conveyed throughout their marketing documents.

The length of a cover letter is usually one-page. An exception might occur when the candidate includes a T-Chart or provides additional supplementary information that complements the other documents submitted. However, for the most part, the cover letter is most effective when it is short and to the point. The less the reader needs to review, the easier it will be for them to get what they need to make a decision and move on to the résumé.

Cover Letter Prep – Check List:

  • Conduct Market Research – list your findings about the industry / employer needs and challenges
  • Assess job postings or other material related to this role for that company
  • Ascertain what the employer preference might be about the inclusion of a cover letter
  • Utilize questionnaires and strategic planners to extract/gather information for your letter
  • Have a strategy – a clear plan about how to approach targeted industries and employers
  • Write strategically – identify ways that can help the feature items stand up off the page
  • Develop a Value Proposition – articulate how you offer what the employer seeks

Five Elements of an Effective Cover Letter:

1.  The Introduction or Opening

Write a unique introduction that is short yet compelling while capturing the necessary information required by the reader. Come up with something that is different from “as per your job posting on this date…” for example. In one sentence, describe what’s in it for the employer: benefits, value, bottom-line impact.

Tell the employer what you possess that they seek and why you are the right fit for this opportunity. In other words, why should they be interested in meeting with you for an interview?

2.  The Offer or Pitch

Back up your Value Proposition with the credentials and qualifications that qualify you as a candidate. The Pitch is a summary about what you bring in years of experience, areas of expertise, and skills. Essentially, this section establishes credibility.

3.  Supporting Qualifications such as Skills & Accomplishments

Provide examples of how you have used the skills and experience that you introduced in the previous paragraph. Especially make sure to include examples of how this is a “value add” based on past performance.  Possible skills to illustrate here might include: Leadership, Teamwork, Interpersonal and Communication skills as well as your ability to solve problems, just to name a few. But be sure to include clear results revealing the impact that you have had on the bottom-line or the mandate of the business.

Make sure that the examples relate to the position, employer, and/or field supporting what you said in the first two paragraphs. Design these statements in an ACTION + RESULT format.

You can give your example in a narrative format, using one or two relevant examples that help the reader understand how you’ve achieved what they’re looking for in the past. Or you might prepare a minimum of three accomplishment statements, no longer than two lines beginning with action verbs, to describe various competencies and results that they need for this position. Sample Cover Letters can be found on our Resources page.

4.  Your Add-Value

This is the uniqueness that you bring to the role; it’s what sets you apart from the other candidates. Your Added-Value can be a lot of different things, but you want to share that one redeeming quality that makes you the best at what you do. Maybe it’s the languages that you speak; it could be your natural talent for engaging people, or unique international experience. We all have added-value characteristics to offer to an employer, just be sure that what you include here is relevant to the role, industry, and organization.

5.  The Close and Call to Action

What is it about the company that has attracted you? Is the company a recognized industry leader, do they possess the values and culture that makes this a good fit, or are they on verge of massive growth that will require your sill set and experience? Whatever it is, it needs to be true and you need to be authentically interested in that aspect of the company. Then wrap up the cover letter with a request for an interview with the intent to follow up, so they expect the call.

Be sure to include a salutation and leave enough room for a signature on hard copies. Close by indicating what Enclosures, such as a Résumé, that you are including.

A well-written cover letter persuades the reader to pay special attention to the résumé. If possible, avoid the use of the words” “I and “my”, writing instead about the employer. However, do not omit these and make it difficult to read at the sake of expressing your story and value proposition to the company.

Always talk more about what you can do for the prospective employer than about what the employer can do for you. Most employers hire people because they need to fill a role related to functions essential to the business or to overcome certain problems and challenges. Centre the cover letter on the employer’s needs, not your wants.

Over the summer months, we are going to feature a series of articles from guest contributor JP Michel of SparkPath, who specializes in supporting youth to develop a career road map.

Have a safe and fun summer everyone!

Recommended Resource:

Best Canadian Cover Letters by Sharon Graham

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Résumé’s Done – Now What?

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Fund Raising-Career ChangeSo you’ve just wrapped up an exhausting draft of your resume and you’re ready to get it out there and start letting the world know just what you can do for your future employer. But wait …. will this document really let them know that? Also, how is your document going to stand out from the crowd when hundreds of candidates (or more) are submitting on the same posting?

Have you thought through how you will position yourself and develop a strategy that sets you apart? Or like many others, will you now take this generic document and send it out to every job posting you come across online that is even remotely similar to what you are looking for? Keep the following in mind as you move forward if you want to increase the odds of being recognized:

What is a résumé and what is its purpose?

A résumé is a marketing tool that is intended to capture the reader’s attention. When it is designed and written effectively it stimulates action – that leads to an invitation for an interview.

Although the objective here is to land the interview, the first mission of any résumé is to make it to the second round of readings where the employer can narrow the document down to identify candidates.

Remember that while the résumé is a marketing tool for the job seeker, it is a screening tool for the employer or recruiter. Just like an advertisement, the résumé needs to hook the interest of the reader. Résumés are initially scanned by the reader for about 30 seconds or less when they decide whether that résumé goes into the IN or the OUT pile.

So one might view this marketing process from a business perspective. Most of us are familiar with the 6 P’s of marketing – this is Marketing 101:

marketing 101

What value do you offer to the employer (or client)?

A well-developed marketing plan that includes a clear understanding of the consumers’ (employers’) needs and point of view will go a long way to drafting an effective marketing document such as a résumé. So here are some “do’s and don’ts”:

  • DO – Conduct Market Research – know the industry and employer needs as well as terminology
  • DO – Develop a Value Proposition – articulate how the candidate offers what the employer seeks
  • DO – Use keywords, include key words that reflect core strengths and competencies relevant to the role and industry
  • DO – Include accomplishment statements that contain clear results from actions taken; develop Situation, Action, Result (SAR) stories to create powerful SMART statements
  • DO – Ensure white space – make sure the document is reader friendly and avoid having significant information buried
  • DO – Tailor the documents – customize the content for every résumé, letter, and/or document
  • DON’T – Copy and paste information directly from websites or job postings into documents
  • DON’T – Use templates unless absolutely necessary – instead create a unique document that stands out
  • DON’T – Develop a résumé that only contains tasks or task-oriented statements with no results
  • DON’T – Send generic documents to various employers using the same résumé for different target companies and positions
  • DON’T – Forget to proofread the document(s) and ensure that there are no errors
  • DON’T – Overlook the fact that many employers today use Applicant Tracking Systems to screen applications

Have a strategy – a clear plan about how to approach targeted industries and employers. Complement your application activity with sound networking and relationship building activity and get behind the scenes to be known as a subject matter expert in your field.

As we said earlier, a résumé is a marketing tool, but it can only go so far. You need to be the driving force behind your job search and use the résumé effectively as one of many marketing tools at your disposal.

Next month, we’ll look at other documents that might make up that marketing portfolio and how to apply them in your strategy. Have a great month and remember the 6 P’s of Marketing as you navigate the landscape to your next opportunity.

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Are you networking or SPAMMING? There’s a difference ….

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spamWe are all seeing an increase in SPAM messaging online, on LinkedIn and other applications. Most of these are flagrantly done as a way to solicit sales. However, some are inadvertent, including people who are innocently but desperately job searching, which is how it comes across – desperate, when done ineffectively. Well meaning and no malice intended but just not aware of the message they are sending.

This past month, as many of us do, I received a blind invitation on LinkedIn to connect with someone who for all accounts appeared to be what I consider a good new contact based on his contacts who know me and his background which would suggest that he may be a potential prospect for business as well. At the very least, people will sometimes connect and then ask specific questions about how to more effectively conduct their career transition.

However, within less than 24 hours I received the following:

My name is —–  and I am looking for a position as (Title) job opportunity in the field of building construction. Please find attached my cover letter and resume for your kind consideration. Thank you in advance for your time and assistance.

Well, I had only just accepted his invitation in the last 24 hours at this point, knew nothing about him really other than what his LinkedIn Profile tells me. After replying to this individual, it prompted me to think about all the job seekers who engage in a similar fashion when networking to share the following which I suggest to consider as an alternative approach to using LinkedIn and networking with new contacts, online and offline.

  • Random messaging is not a very good approach to connecting with potential opportunities; in fact it will be frowned upon by many employers. It may even lead to people deleting you from their contact list on LinkedIn or reporting your message as Spam.
  • First, before sending a resume, research the firms that you plan to contact and customize your documents to meet their needs — once you are sure that they have a need for someone with your skills and experience. Make sure that they know why you are sending them your documents and even better that they anticipate receiving them. Possibly an introductory or networking letter would help in this regard. Then be sure to get a clear understanding of the best way to approach that firm and what the appropriate protocol might be to get you and your documents in front of a decision maker. Blindly asking for a job when you don’t even know what they need or asking someone you have just connected with to keep an eye out for you, will not get you the results you are seeking.
  • Second, if your intent is simply to ask your network to keep an eye out for opportunities that fit your background, then I suggest that you start by first building a relationship with them. LinkedIn is a great place to network and get to know people better. Then at some point, you might ask them for introductions to key contacts that can help in your search BUT only once they get to know you and what you have to offer.
  • Third, a more effective way to get noticed on LinkedIn and maintain a connection with potential target audiences is to first create a strong, keyword rich LinkedIn profile. This will help you get found in searches and queries by those seeking professionals like you. Then stay active on LinkedIn, post regular status updates, share information that illustrates you as a subject matter expert in your field, and participate in group discussions where people in your industry are gathered.
  • Last but not least, consider leveraging resources that are offered by LinkedIn for job seekers to help you use this application and maximize your efforts.

As I said in my reply to this individual, I share this with you because of the nature of my business where I help clients develop strong job search and career development strategies. In fact, had I been interested, I was not even able to open his resume because the Virus Scan blocked it.

SO if you are sending random messages through social media hoping that someone will find your next career opportunity for you, as comedian Bob Newhart would say: “STOP IT!” and use your time more effectively by not wasting other people’s time. Go about your networking and job search strategically but also respectfully. As a result you’ll receive the same in return and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many people actually want to help if you give them a chance to actually get to know you first.

Illustration courtesy of ddpavumba /

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When it comes to our kids, we would do just about anything for them. We want them to succeed at everything. We want them to be active, contributing members of society. We teach our kids the best we know how and when they turn the right age we send them to elementary, secondary, and perhaps post-secondary schools to learn about the world around. Herein lay the problem. School systems consider our kids’ education needs; not their career prospects.

Because today’s schools are not aligned with our business economy, Canadian youth are facing high unemployment. Higher education is not filling the skills gap in the business world; it is cranking out young graduates with little knowledge of the world of work. Four years invested into a post-secondary education only to come out and do the same job you could have done straight out of high school can frustrate any eager new graduate.

Canada Youth Unemployment Rate 2015

Universities and Colleges in Canada are continuing to enroll students into programs that supply more graduates than business demands. As a result, Canada’s changing workforce has left university and college graduates on the sidelines of its economy with unemployment rate as high at 14.8% in the last 12 months.

“At present, the development of the Canadian workforce through post-secondary education…is not sensitive to the job market. It is driven by parental, student and governmental priorities with relatively little input or direction from the Canadian business community.”

– Ken Coates, CareerReady: Towards a National Strategy for the Mobilization of Canadian potential. Taking Action for Canada Jobs and skills for the 21st Century

We send our kids to school in the hopes that they will find a good job and live fulfilling lives. However, we miss a vital step in their education when we assume someone is giving them insight into how to have a successful career. Most students require basic training in career planning and career development, but miss out in favour of more traditional academic pursuits.

It is our job as parents to prepare our kids for the world of work. Sadly, we assume sending our kids to college or university will solidify the skills they need to be successful in their careers.  As a parent, what can you do?

  1. Teach them about the economy and their role in it.

If your kids don’t understand the basics of the economy, they may not understand their role in it.

This week I had a wonderfully supportive mom inquire about hiring me to help her son in his job search. About to graduate, he is an A-student, well rounded, and well connected in his industry. The issue: he does not have the skills to go find meaningful employment. He has spent the last five years working hard to complete his Bachelor of Arts, then Masters Degree. Little to no advice has been given about exploring the world of work and learning about companies that might hire graduates like him. He has not learned how to approach employers and make meaningful connections that might lead to a job offer.

What this graduate needs is an understanding of the local labour market, a professional resume and cover letter, along with the skills to promote himself as an ideal candidate to potential employers.

  1. Invest in Career Development

According to Linkedin Talent Solutions’ 2015 Talent Trend report, “The typical career path is more fluid than ever before.” Teaching kids the basic elements of career development will establish a foundation from which they will navigate all future career decisions.

Things have changed since we were students. The advice I got from my parents was to go to school, graduate, then get a good job. It was as if it were a foregone conclusion. But the two are not connected and haven’t been in quite some time. Our kids need to realize that competition for good jobs is the norm. Good grades will only take them so far; they need to take themselves the rest of the way. Career Development gives them the tools to do the rest.

If you’re like most parents, you want your kids to have a great life; maybe you’ve even helped them financially by contributing to their academic pursuits. Don’t stop there. Knowing how to work at a job is one thing; knowing how to ‘get work’ that’s something different altogether.

A solid foundation of career advice will establish the trajectory of your son or daughter’s career right from the start.

Maureen McCann is an award-winning career coach, master resume writer, and master certified interview, employment, and career strategist whose clients include C-level executives, managers, and professionals in all industries including banking, oil and gas, healthcare, IT, and government sectors. She has been interviewed as a career expert for the Globe and Mail and Toronto Sun, and has been published in multiple career-related books. |

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