Statistics Canada is reporting that over 1 million Canadians lost their jobs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, many jobseekers were feeling overwhelmed trying to get answers regarding the current job market and to their job search questions.
Amid these unprecedented times affecting the job market, I was honoured to have had the opportunity to contribute to the 7 week ‘Casual Career Chat’ virtual sessions as a career professional panelist with fellow career professional colleagues and Career Professionals of Canada members.
Daisy Wright of The Wright Career Solution was the mastermind behind the Casual Career Chat inception when she noted an increase in questions from jobseekers looking for advice and guidance how to navigate the precarious job market throughout the pandemic. With a plan to host a virtual chat to help jobseekers to move forward during the pandemic, Christine Cristiano of Ideal Career Services, Maureen McCann of Promotion Career Solutions, and Michelle Precourt of Mindful HR Services answered Daisy’s call and jumped at the chance to support this worthwhile initiative.
At the completion of the 7 weeks, the idea of compiling all the questions and answers that emerged during the online chats was hatched and the collaborative creation of the eBook, “Clarity in the Time of Chaos; 25 Questions Jobseekers Asked Career Professionals,” was born.
This book is a selection of the top 25 questions that were asked by jobseekers along with the answers provided by the career professional panelists. Thanks to fellow career professional, Sweta Regmi who also lent her expertise and perspective to the sessions.
Embarking on a job search whether it is out of necessity or desire for change can be complicated and confusing. A quick internet search of the keywords ‘resume’ or ‘job search’ results in millions of hits offering advice, tips, information and services which just makes the entire process more overwhelming and frustrating than it already is. For the jobseeker, information overload is a real possibility but how does one determine whether the information is accurate or not?
One of the biggest decisions in the job search process is whether there is a real benefit to hiring a professional Resume Writer or can the jobseeker pull it off as a DIY – do it yourself? If you are at this crossroads, consider this:
The Fickle Applicant Tracking System Software (ATS)
According to industry statistics, 75% – 90% of candidate resumes don’t make it past the Applicant Tracking System screening process leaving the resumes to die a long torturous death in the bowels of the ATS software. This unforgiving software is used by job boards and corporations to streamline and automate the hiring processes. It works by filtering suitable candidate resumes based on pre-determined criteria to find the best match for a job posting. The criteria may include geographic location, specific skills, education or key words. It’s a modern day convenience for corporations because it reduces the hundreds of resumes that will have to be read and shortlisted however like all technology- it is not perfect. Unfortunately, the software can either make or break the jobseeker’s efforts. Due to the nature and sensitivity of the software, many suitable candidates never get the chance to speak to the HR Manager because the candidate’s resume was deemed unsuitable and did not progress through the ATS although their qualifications were a good fit.
The Do It Yourself Resume Writer
Like home repairs, some individuals have the ability to create their own resume while others not so much. However, even a jobseeker with great writing abilities can miss the mark in accommodating the ATS and don’t get the results they were expecting. Despite the best intention of the do-it-yourselfer, an indication that your resume is not progressing through the ATS into the hands of a hiring manager is a lack of response after applying tonumerous matched job postings. There are a variety of reasons why the ATS has rejected your resume including:
Lack of relevant job description phrases
Lack of targeted keyword optimization
Incompatible structure or format
Incompatible font style
Unrecognizable section headings
Low ranking as a suitable match
Incompatible file format
Use of graphics, sidebars or tables.
The Pro: The Trained Resume Writer
The demand for professionally trained Resume Writers has been steadily increasing over the last few years due to complexities of the Applicant Tracking System. Many jobseekers recognize that their best shot at conquering the ATS and getting their resume in the hands of the HR department is to hire a professional to help. Likewise, another valid reason to pay for resume services is the reality that resumes have evolved considerably over the last decade in relation to format, content requirements, the scannability factor and heightened expectations.
A professional Resume Writer is trained in all aspects of resume creation including:
Superior wordsmithing abilities coupled with exceptional skills in spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Able to identify and highlight client’s achievements, accomplishments and qualifications.
Highly skilled in translating the client’s information into quality, polished, impactful statements.
Educated in appropriate resume formatting to accommodate the ATS.
Strategies to deal with unique employment scenarios.
Capable of identifying and showcasing skills sets and transferable skills.
Knowledgeable in creating resumes for career transitions, work history and skills gaps and return to work.
Up-to-date on the latest resume writing techniques and labour market trends.
Talented in resume branding strategies to attract potential employers.
Provide an objective eye and relay client’s information clearly and concisely in the best presentation.
Kudos to the DIY jobseeker with the talent and know-how to create their own resume and it has proved to be effective against the idiosyncrasies of the applicant tracking system. Equally, kudos to the jobseeker who recognizes that resume writing is not their forte and seeks out the services of a professional Resume Writer. Your resume should be an effective component of your job search strategy with the end result to attract the attention of a prospective employer; is your resume working for you or against?
I came across an interesting article based on a survey conducted by LinkedIn.com. LinkedIn asked over 26K professionals what they look for most in an employer. I was quite surprised by their findings but no spoiler here. You will have to read the results yourself (see link at end of blog) however, I will let you know what I look for in an employer.
Flexibility. I have no tolerance for stringent time constraints. In many positions, whether it is planned or not, you end up working through part of your lunch, staying late or bringing work home to just keep your head above water. However, I have zero tolerance for a reprimand if an employee is 5 minute late. Now I am not saying that arriving 15 minutes late every day is ok, but 5 minutes once in awhile is acceptable as long as it doesn’t become a habit. The way I look at it, it all evens out in the end or at least that has been my experience in the corporate world. If I have worked 10 minutes past my quitting time, I don’t expect compensation so if I am 5 minutes late because I got stuck behind the school bus then let’s call it even!
Effective Management. Please no micromanaging! If an employee has proved to be reliable and conscientious, there is no need to micromanage their every move. My sister once worked in large corporation and her boss wanted her to send him an email when she was heading to the washroom. Really? I can fully understand if the person is the front line worker aka receptionist or sits at the front to greet clients but the pen pusher in the back office? We are adults and let’s conduct ourselves accordingly!
Telecommuting Option. If the weather is not fit for man nor beast, I appreciate the option to work from home in inclement weather conditions. Please do not make me risk my life and drive out in a blizzard only to arrive 2 hours late to tell me that the office is closing in an hour because of the weather conditions. Likewise, if there is no reason for me to physically be there and I can log on remotely, I would really appreciate it. Believe it or not, I can be very productive at home and actually work longer than in the confines of an office.
What are the top 3 priorities that you look for in an potential employer?
If you are interested reading the complete article, stay calm and read on:
If finding a new job or embarking on a career change is on your New Year’s resolution list, keep reading!
Did you know…
Fact #1: On average, each corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes. Out of those 250, only four to six will be called for an interview and one is offered the job (Glassdoor)
Fact #2: It is a well known fact that the average recruiter or HR person only spends 6 seconds viewing a candidate’s resume.
Fact #3: 75% of recruiters and hiring professionals use a recruiting or applicant tracking system (ATS) to receive and filter potential applicants.
Fact #4: As many as 75% of qualified job applicants are rejected by ATS software due to various reasons such incorrect resume formatting.
Are You Passively or Actively Job Searching?
Most jobseekers start off passively looking for a new job if they are still currently employed. If a jobseeker suddenly faces unemployment due to an unplanned lay-off, restructuring or employment termination, the job search then progresses to the active phase.
Preliminary Job Search Checklist
Whether you’re passively checking out what is happening in the job market or actively seeking to secure a new position; job search preparation is an important step in the process. Consider these 5 steps to take to jumpstart your job search:
Create a master copy of your résumé with all past skills, qualifications, accomplishments and notable achievements on it. When targeting your resume to a specific job posting, you can refer to your master copy and pull specific information applicable to the job requirements.
Make sure you have a copy of your current job description so you can add this information to your résumé. Do not leave a copy of your résumé on your computer at work and ensure you have a master copy on your home computer.
Update your résumé. Once you know what kind of job you want and what kind of companies you’re targeting, you can focus your résumé on the specific type of position you are seeking.
Review your current social media profiles for any potentially objectionable content. Also determine if any profile information is missing, or if there’s any additional information you can add.
Develop or update your LinkedIn profile. A recruiter or HR department looking for a candidate with your skills and experience will conduct a LinkedIn search and find your profile. Likewise, someone in your network might be interested in recommending you, and forward your LinkedIn profile URL to a potential employer.
Advance preparation for your job search can make the difference on your success in connecting with the right opportunity!
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to watch the movie, The Intern, starring Robert De Niro, as a widower who seizes the opportunity to re-enter the workforce through a six week senior intern program for an online fashion company.
As a Certified Career Strategist /Career Coach specializing in midcareer and seasoned professionals in a career transition, I found the whole concept of a senior internship program very intriguing. Last year, I attended the Canadian Association of Retired Professionals Career Fair (CARP – the Canadian counterpart of AARP) and had the opportunity to connect with many mature business professionals. The general consensus was that although the majority of the attendees were retired from their jobs that didn’t mean that they wanted to retire from the work force. As one gentleman explained to me, he was happy to retire from the position that he held for the last 15 years of his career but wasn’t ready to retire completely. He was looking for something that he felt passionate about and also generated an income. Like the others I spoke with, he was not necessarily interested in going back into the corporate world and logging 50 hours a week however something part-time or project work was definitely of interest.
Through my career coaching work, I am well aware of how difficult it is for the midcareer or seasoned business professional to secure meaningful work. The job market is fiercely competitive and universities are pumping out graduates in record numbers. Unfortunately, older workers are undervalued for various reasons including:
X Outdated Training X Outdated Skills X Higher salary level expectation X Inflexibility to conform to new ideas and methods X Inability to work well or be managed by younger generations. X Health issues that will affect workload and high incidence of absenteeism.
All the above mentioned points are misconceived perceptions and conjures up an image of a feeble senior citizen clutching their brown paper lunch bag as they hobble with cane in hand into the office everyday.
The reality is that there is an abundance of reasons why hiring an older worker can work to a corporation’s advantage:
√ Broad spectrum of experience and back to basics approach to business for stimulating customer retention, loyalty and client service excellence. √ Extensive network of contacts. √ Vast business knowledge. √ Strong work ethic and can do attitude √ Employer loyalty and less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. √ Greater job satisfaction and engagement. √ They are there because they want to be!
With all this being said, not all mature workers entertain the idea of re-entering the workforce and are content to explore hobbies, travel and just enjoy what life has to offer. However, it is not uncommon for mature workers to enter into semi-retirement after a lay-off, restructuring or buy out package and remain in the workforce and ease into full retirement years later.
I applaud the idea of the Senior Intern Program because this concept can fulfil the desire of many seniors to remain active in the workforce and lend their expertise to the younger generations. For those who want to stay connected to the business community for a few more years, ‘GONE FISHING’ is on hold until further notice.
Are you a midcareer or seasoned business professional unexpectedly thrust into unemployment? Get the help you need to get the job you want! Christine Cristiano is a Certified Career Strategist, Career Coach, and Resume Writer and specializes in coaching mature jobseekers in a career transition to navigate the job market and discover their passion and second career path. Christine offers 1-1 virtual career coaching sessions and is a member of Career Professionals of Canada. Feel free to contact with Christine Cristiano via Linkedin.com or visit her blog!
If I conducted an informal poll of my clients, friends and colleagues, I could probably safely assume that a significant portion of my personal connections would respond that their passion and career are not in alignment. I could surmise that the majority of my personal and professional circle is comprised of midcareer professionals and their discontent stems from the fact that they are at the top of career curve working their way down the other side. Perhaps they aren’t doing what they would like to do at the present time because to embark on a career change at this stage in life would be just too damn hard and stressful!
Having survived a career transition in 2012 after more than 20 years in a different industry, I can personally attest to the fact that a career change can produce a lot of anxiety and frustration. Likewise, it requires some soul searching and getting in touch with one’s authentic self to explore one’s true passion and how it can fit into a career plan. Looking back, despite all the emotional turmoil that a career change generates, it was worth it to embark on a career path that I am passionate about.
If you’re at the crossroads of a career change and fumbling with answers as to your next career move, grab a pen and paper and write your answers down to these thought provoking questions:
What did you dream about being when you grew up?
What does your perfect work day looks like?
What activity excites and boosts your enthusiasm?
If you could do anything you wanted to earn living with no regard to financial compensation or set qualifications, what would it be?
Thinking about the responsibilities of your current position, what aspects do you enjoy?
What are some aspects of your job that you don’t like?
What is the one aspect from preventing you from changing your current job or occupation?
Hopefully these questions triggered some critical thought processes and encouraged some deep thinking on your part.
How does your perfect work day compare to your real work day?
How can you incorporate some passion into your everyday life?
Are you interested in discovering how you can turn your passion into a job or business opportunity?
If you are curious to know if your interests and current occupation are in alignment, The Career Manifesto: Discover Your Calling and Create and Extraordinary Life is a great read!
If you’re ready to turn your true passion into a job that you love or want to accelerate your job search to greener pastures, let me lead the way! Ideal Career Services can help you move forward in your quest for rediscovering the ‘happy’ in your career through customized 1-1 Career and Job Search Coaching.
Motivation is the force that propels you to move forward to get the job done and achieve your goals. Some people are naturally motivated without any outside influence while others need a bit of prompting to get their mojo going. If you fall into the latter group, here are some steps you can take to self-motivate yourself into a better job position or new career.
Hang With Likeminded People. As the saying goes, it is hard to soar with eagles when you are surrounded by turkeys. You know the feeling; you’re in a pretty ‘up’ mood and ready to take on the world until you meet up with a friend and their negativity overflows into your life. Talk about a motivation killer! Now I am not suggesting that you to ditch your negative friend but your motivation level will increase by associating with others who are inspired to do something with their lives instead of just complaining about it. Align your networks with those who have achieved something that you admire and learn from their journey.
Set Short Term and Long Term Goals. Setting short and long term goals is a critical component in self-motivation. Quite often just the achievement of completing a goal will magically spur you to take another step. It is always a good idea to set a long range goal to provide some direction and then align some short goals to help you along the way. Assign a deadline to your long term goal so you have a timeframe to work within and set your short term goals daily or weekly to keep you on track.
Take Small Steps. It is common to feel overwhelmed with your goals when you are looking at the big picture. The best defence to conquering that feeling when you don’t where to start is to take baby steps. Determine what is the very first small step you can take to start the process? Start a list of the different components that you will need to complete to get to the end result and then pick one component to accomplish first.
Monitor Your Progress. Making some head wave in your personal journey and recognizing what you have accomplished is very inspiring and self-motivation. Chart your progress so you can see how far you’ve come but don’t get too bogged down by how far you still need to go.
Just Do It. I love Millennials because they don’t over analyze everything to death like the generations before them. They figure out what they want to do, how to do it and jump right in. They don’t get into self-sabotage mode by overthinking everything and what will happen if it doesn’t work. (Of course, I am not talking about making a major purchase that can affect your financial future and anything quite so life changing!) They gather the information they need to start the process and adjust accordingly as they go along. They just do it and that is a good attitude to adopt!
Need some more help in setting some career goals and direction? Ask me how by reaching out to me at 647-361-9916 for a free 1/2 goal setting consultation session or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I consider myself to be somewhat technical savvy on a novice level and used to enjoy the fine art of blogging a few years back. My old blog was about the trials and tribulations of raising two boys, running a household and just quirky observations of everyday life. Well, my life has changed since those earlier blogging days, my boys have grown into fine young adults finding their way in the world, and the hubby and I took the plunge and bought a cottage to get out of the city on the weekends and enjoy some quality fishing time. In addition, amid all the chaos of child rearing, my career took a drastic 360 in 2012.
After 20 years in the HVAC industry, my time in that industry was coming to an end. I knew two years prior that I needed a career change but somehow familiarity and complacency kept me in a profession that no longer excited or motivated me. When circumstances beyond my control forced me to make a change, I took the plunge and went back to school to embark on a new academic and career journey studying career development. My interest piqued into helping jobseekers navigate the job market through my freelance work as a writer penning career related articles for Career Connections (a supplement of The Toronto Sun) and being offered the chance to train as a professional resume writer.
Fast forward to 2016, over the past 4 years, I have been fortunate enough to work within the non-profit sector supporting various government sponsored self employment business development training programs and had the opportunity to network with some very aspiring jobseekers in their quest to find the perfect job or to create their own financial independence through self employment.
It is through this work and connection with jobseekers of all ages and career levels that I realized that I am one of the lucky ones, that I found my true passion in life: to work with jobseekers from all walks of life to coach them to find the perfect job that will provide a suitable income while stimulating and empowering their intellect to move forward in their career journey. With my academic training completed and having experienced being a midcareer professional in a career transition personally, I realized that I had the tools, resources, training, motivation and insider scoop on a midcareer transition and all the emotions, highs, lows and sheer frustration that can go along with a job search or career change.
Since my first connection helping a midcareer professional find some light and hope at the end of their long job search journey, I have never looked back.
I invite you to follow my blog and come back often for inspiration, motivation and insights on careers, job search, interview preparation, resumes and everything in between that will help you along your job search and career journey.