Author Archives: W. Brook Pearce

About W. Brook Pearce

I have had the honour to serve the residents of Vancouver Island in and through job/career transitions for over 20 years. Currently I work with students and alumni of Vancouver Island University.

7 Summer Job Search Strategies

Summer has arrived and it’s the time of year when students and graduates are looking for work.
The Canadian unemployment rate among returning students aged 20 to 24, was 14.4% in May 2014, little changed from May 2013. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/140606/dq140606a-eng.htm
So what can you do to improve your chances of landing a summer or post-graduation job?

Think critically and act strategically.
Common sense may suggest that you apply for as many jobs as possible; however, this approach may prove counterproductive. If this is your current strategy, you may not realize how much time you’re wasting in your job search.
Job search experts often state that only 15 – 20% of jobs are ever advertised, and the typical jobseeker spends a majority of their valuable job search time and energy competing with other job seekers for these limited number of posted jobs.
A more successful approach would be to critically think about what you would like to do and carefully research the positions and employers that seem the best fit in your chosen arena. Strategically begin networking to locate the unadvertised positions and to learn about the key people who work there. Target those appropriate employers and customize (target) your resume and cover letter to each employer and politely follow up each and every contact. This strategy requires you explain your relevant skills and experience for each position and how you qualify or meet the needs of the position. Although this might be more time consuming, this is a much more effective approach then blasting your resume to every email address you can find at your dream company.

Meet professionals for coffee.
In addition to searching for jobs, successful professionals leverage and build personal/professional networks. Society today relies heavily on technology to make connections (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.) While it definitely helps to send networking emails and interact with professionals on social media, there’s an added value when you meet a person for coffee.
Successful job seekers realize the importance of in-person connections; therefore, they take advantage of every opportunity they can to meet professionals for coffee. Meeting professionals’ in-person increases value to your job search. Potentially you multiply the number of people supporting you in a job search, these professionals may not have a position to offer you, but they may know of an opportunity or someone in their network who does.

Understand your job search limitations.
Are you fixated on finding the perfect job? Are you overwhelmed when it comes to writing a perfect resume and cover letter? Does taking someone for coffee cause you to panic? Moving out from your computer traumatize you? Do you feel over or under qualified?
When stressed, successful job seekers face the problem instead of avoiding it; they realize they are not the perfect candidate. However, when there is an obstacle or stressor blocking them from finding a job, they do their best to remove the problem from their search. They seek support from others, tackle one task at a time, and acknowledge their limitations.
Paying attention to your weaknesses creates the self-awareness required to keep you moving forward in your job search rather than taking steps backwards.

Exude a positive attitude.
When your job search doesn’t materialize as planned, it can be difficult to maintain a positive attitude. Discouragement can emerge even to the most prepared and optomistic, whether you’re not landing interviews or you’re getting interviews but no one wants to hire you.
Successful job seekers who experience low points in their job search don’t allow it to consume their search or their positive attitude. They realize every employer has a specific candidate in mind and you can’t always be all things to all employers. If an interview doesn’t end in a job offer, consider using it as an opportunity to learn how you can improve for next time.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, successful job seekers adopt a proactive and professional approach through requesting a five (5) or ten (10) minute follow-up discussion with the interviewer to explore ways to improve interview skills or to prepare for future opportunities. This exudes a positive and professional attitude that may not turn the “No” to a “Yes you’re hired,” but it does present you as a positive person. Most employers like to hire positive professionals.

Persist and remain patient.
No one can predict how long your job search will take, but you have to remember to be patient and persistent. Successful job seekers realize it could take weeks, months, or even a year to find a job that meets their goals. However, they don’t let time get the most of their job search.
Although you feel the pressure to find a job, and even if you’ve continuously applied for jobs for six months and haven’t had any luck, you need to stay focused. Don’t give up on your job search and change your plans just because you haven’t found a job. If you’re struggling, reach out to your alumni networks, mentors, and friends who might be able to connect you with a job.

Consider an internship, co-op or volunteer.
Especially if you’re in university/college or a recent grad with little experience, it can be difficult to land an entry-level career position right away. An internship or co-op may provide some of the very valuable experiences that augment your education.
Occasionally, successful job seekers realize they may need to go the extra mile to land a job and volunteering in the community or with a company provides the experience, validates skills and makes professional connections that facilitates an entry way into a career.

Maintain an open mind.
Landing your dream job is definitely a goal for most students or grads. Although it’d be awesome to land the perfect job that fulfills your passions and provides a nice paycheck, you might not find that job for a few more years.
Successful job seekers realize finding your dream job is a journey. Just because you don’t land your dream job immediately after college doesn’t mean you have to give up on your goals or should stop your job search. Every professional needs to start somewhere, which is why it’s important to maintain an open mind when searching for your first job. Keep yourself open to other opportunities, keep connected with your network, update your skills, take professionals for coffee, exude a positive attitude, remain persistent and keep an open mind.

What are your thoughts to these strategies?
What have you done to be successful?

Blog post influenced by The Brand Muse

Canada’s Tradable Services

A recent CD Howe report highlights a largely unrecognized growth in professional, scientific and technical services in Canada. The growth of the Canadian middle-class hasn’t been in the manufacturing industries but rather in the professional, scientific, and technical services. It is now the fourth-largest sector by employment in Canada, with more workers than in construction. The sector includes accountants, engineers, architects, lawyers, research-and-development specialists, surveyors, consultants, graphic designers and marketers. Most of these careers and professions can’t be outsources like manufacturing, or brick & mortar stores to online retailers.

Notable “Best Buy Canada” and “Sears Canada” have just announced major layoffs for retails staff, likely due to online retail options.

Cadillacs and Co-ops

The new CEO of General Motors secured her first position with GM as a co-op student.

Now I can’t say that everyone who does a co-op work term will become CEO of a multinational corporation, but it is encouraging to see the value of experiential education on a person’s career path.

Experiential education, “puts an education to work” and practically informs the learner about a career that a classroom environment can’t accurately or faithfully simulate.

Experiential education can affirm career goals, or alter career paths through revealing unexamined expectations, perceptions and labour market realities.

Experiential education provides the learner the pragmatic experience that employers desire from new hires, while providing tangible examples of acquired skills and providing a forum to demonstrate learning, critical thinking, team work, communication, numeracy, innovation, creativity, emotional intelligence, and character.

Experiential education affords an organization an opportunity to recruit potential candidates, and allows potential candidates to critically evaluate the merits of an organization/career through a mutually beneficial and agreed upon work term format.

Experiential education connects and engages the academic and non-academic communities; creating a bridge of learning, shared goals, best practices and collaboration.

Experiential education connects people, builds networks and facilitates synergies that influence change.
Rev up your future through experiential education!!!

Canadian Employment Change October 2012 to October 2013

Canadian Employment Change October 2012 to October 2013 saw the Canadian economy create 213,800 jobs between October 2012 and 2013 raising the overall number of workers in Canada to 17,793,900. The job creation trend has remained relatively positive with +1,050,110 jobs created in Canada since a low of 16,743,800 in July 2009.

Although the overall employment trend remains positive, five (5) sectors have seen a net loss of workers this past year, Manufacturing (-82,500) contributed over 50% of the job losses between 2012 and 2013. Educational Services (-30,200), Public Administration (-22,700), Other Services (-20,100) and Information, Culture and Recreation (-7,800) contribute to the remainder of the job losses.

Despite the positive national trend, BC has lost 12,300 jobs (-10,000 part-time, -2,300 full-time) between October 2012 to October 2013. The next post will explore the provincial trends since 2003.

How to Make an Internship a Successful Experience

How to Make an Internship a Successful Experience
If you ask a successful businessperson about how they got their career start, you will more than likely see a wistful look in their eye as they recall an internship that made a significant impact on their lives.

That is fine, but what is the real secret to making sure your internship does not turn into the “making coffee and running copies” dreaded drudgery? The truth is, what your internship turns into, rests on how proactive you are in creating it truly meaningful and valuable experience.
You can make out of it as much or as little as you would like.
Enterprising people go into internship experiences with high expectations; more importantly, they have a plan. It’s just not enough to suddenly be granted the privilege to walk through the vaunted doors of the company – you need to take the intuitive to define and shape your experience so that you leave of there benefiting from it just as much as your internship sponsor.
So, what does it take to have a successful plan? How do you communicate it to your supervisor?
Here are seven (7) tips to help create a satisfying internship experience that creates easily digestible connecting activities that are highly relevant to prospective employers:

1. Set Up A Planning Meeting With Your Supervisor. On your first day or two, it is important to sit down with your direct supervisor to facilitate a brainstorming session to learn about her/his challenges and set up some structure to what exactly it is that you will be working on for them. Look for opportunities to solve his/her problems and ways you can contribute to the team’s success. Ask for introductions to other employees you may directly interact with or work alongside. Document the details of the meeting

2. Request a Mentor. Going into a new environment can be challenging at best. When you meet with the supervisor, ask if he/she would suggest someone in the office who could help you get your bearings and who may indirectly support you to get settled and acclimatized to the culture and environment. Some large employers actually partner interns with senior mentor/supervisors as well as peer buddies to help the transition into the organization.

3. Suggest Specific Projects That You Will “Own.” Designing some kind of start-to-finish project will give you something to wrap your arms around and provide a concrete example of your abilities. This type of ownership can help you focus as well as highlight your unique skills, knowledge, and abilities. Future employers appreciate seeing some kind of specifics in your resume, so the more you can take on and successfully complete, the more you will have to talk about to potential new companies or employers.

4. Determine What Your Project Outcomes Should Be. In order to know whether the internship or project that you work on is successful or not, you should work together with your supervisor to determine what the outcomes should look like so you have measurable targets. Ask for periodic evaluations and if possible, in writing so you have a clear measure of progress, opportunities for improvement and success.

5. Learn New Skills Proactively. Plan through your internship experience to include opportunities where you can learn new skills to add to your career portfolio. Ask your supervisor about rotating into different roles in the office, find out if you can attend meetings, or even job shadow in a different department. The more you learn, the more diverse your skill sets become to make you a more adaptable, self-managed, and innovative candidate.

6. Build Networking Contacts. Ask your supervisor and co-workers to help you start building your professional network in and out of the office. Leverage your time at the company and ask for connections to key industry people or thought leaders – they can turn into powerful advocates if you treat them with professionalism and respect.

7. Schedule An Internship Exit Interview With Measurements And Reflections. Arrange a sit-down meeting with your supervisor to go over the initial notes and plans (see #1 and #4) to evaluate what you learned, what you accomplished, and how you performed in the internship. Go over the project (see #3) you completed and seek constructive feedback regarding the results and areas of improvement. If appropriate, see if you can include other team members who may also add constructive feedback and evaluation. Your last day should end with a giant slab of cake and ice cream!

By taking these seven (7) steps, you can have a much more fulfilling internship experience that will translate into significant connections, build your employability, skills, experience, and credibility with potential employers or may even make your internship supervisor want to hire you as soon as possible.
Influenced by http://www.careerealism.com/how-internships-translate-employers/