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Amar Shah’s five tips to get you the job you want

The last recession did not have the drastic consequences in Canada that it did in the US and parts of Europe, but its effects were definitely felt by the under- or unemployed Canadians.

As companies tightened their budgets, employees hoped to escape the downsizing while those without a job lost all hope of finding a new one.

If you have been on the job hunt trail for a while now, this article is for you! Don’t despair because the times, well, they are a-changin’.

The Canadian job market report for December of last year showed that 22,000 new jobs were added to the economy, meaning most of the jobs lost during recession were added back in 2010; in quantity, at least, if not quality.

With the economy steadily on the mend, you can improve your chances of finding your desired job this year by making a few simple changes.
Mike Gooley, regional vice-president at Robert Half International, the world’s largest specialized staffing firm, says, “It is still a very competitive job market (with the unemployment rate still hovering around seven per cent) and this is more for individuals that have been on the job hunt for a long time.”

Instead of getting frustrated or giving up, try new tactics.

1. Reconsider the chronological order. More than 60 per cent of hiring managers prefer receiving chronologically ordered résumés because they show the most recent experience and if there are any long gaps between jobs. Most people use this format exclusively, but a popular alternative is the combination résumé, which has a small chronological section as well as a functional section that focuses on skills and accomplishments.

2. Focus on transferable skills. Focus on skills and technical abilities, and how to leverage them in a new environment. Hiring managers lean toward people with industry experience, but when they can’t find the best fit, they consider applicants who possess the required skill set. For example, if you’ve worked in customer service in the retail industry, that experience can be transferred to health-care, sales or marketing jobs.

3. Switch up your networking. Use the popular networking sites – LinkedIn (most accepted for professional networking), Facebook and Twitter – to make connections with others working in your field of interest. As more and more human resources personnel use social media to post and promote jobs, you may come across some interesting positions. A word of caution, though: don’t rely heavily on online media. Face-to-face meetings are still the most effective.

Suggestions:

• Try job fairs, the local board of trade, networking events and groups (like meetup.com).

• Prepare a 20-second elevator pitch.

• Call companies you would like to work for.

• Arrange informational interviews.

4. Get a second opinion on your résumé and interview skills. Best places to do this:

• University career centres, job help centres such as YES (Youth Employment Services), COSTI, YMCA and the local Toronto Public Library.

• A mentor or peer – get together with a few friends to compare résumés and ideas.

• Staffing agencies.

• Online – use the résumé templates and examples available on the net.

• Practise, practise, practise – keep formatting your résumé and preparing answers to typical interview questions.

5. Expand your reach – apply outside of your region. There are numerous opportunities within the GTA, but you should consider applying to other cities based on the industry you want to get into. For example, Kitchener and Waterloo are hotbeds for jobs in the technology sector.

Suggestions:

• When using a national job search site, don’t put any location limitations.

• Search for roles on the company’s own website.

• If you know someone who already works in the industry, talk to them to find out how they got in and if they can link you with any new contacts.

With the market picking up again, your next job may be one change away!

• Amar Shah has a B.Sc. degree and a certificate in Sport Administration from York University. His international experience includes a six-month stay in Europe, one year in South Korea and numerous trips to the US. He has been a published freelance writer for over a year on a range of topics.

Posted: Mar 4, 2011

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