Don’t Apply For Jobs In December


There are many job seekers who see a lot of logic in not bothering to apply for work in the month of December. They’ve determined that companies are soon shutting down for the holidays and the people responsible for receiving all those resumes and selecting candidates to hire are really looking at taking time off.

If you’re one of the job seekers who holds this belief; that it’s pointless to job search in December, you’re making a huge mistake. But please! By all means yes, continue to avoid applying for work this month! You’re making it so much easier for the people I’m partnering with in their job search. In fact, let me extend a sincere thank you for reducing the size of the competition.

As you know, applying for work is a very competitive endeavour. There are more people applying for various positions than ever. Apparently, from the information I’ve gathered from employers, for every job advertised, there are approximately 150 – 175 applications received. The fact that you’re doing your part to reduce that number and increase the odds of those I’m supporting to land interviews and get hired is most appreciated!

Next week I’m holding a two week job search group; that’s December 9th – 20th on the calendar. Yikes! What  tough time of year to job search right? There’s the Christmas traffic, the Christmas hustle and bustle, the kids Christmas concerts in school, people to buy or make Christmas presents for, the house or apartment to decorate for Christmas, the shopping for the Christmas ham or turkey. Why you’re likely exhausted just thinking about it. Best you put your feet up and recline in the lazy boy. Add a job search to all that? No, of course not; you best take it easy.

Still, my little group and I will be at work, researching opportunities, writing cover letters and resumes, practicing our interview skills, and above all else, applying for jobs. While there’s every possibility that we might land a hire or two in these two weeks, it’s probable that the interviewing and hiring won’t actually take place until the new year. That’s absolutely fine with us; we’ll be ready.

Look, any job seeker will tell you how difficult it is to land work and that any advantage they can see they’ll seize. So, when the competition starts to falter for lack of enthusiasm, that’s the very time to ramp up the effort. The same goes for rainy days, extreme cold or heat periods, and Mondays. You see the same folks who have stopped job searching in December are likely the kind who wake up, see the clouds pouring down on them and choose to roll over and go back to sleep. Again, thank you if that’s you!

Job searching IS work. It takes sustained energy and focus to successfully job search. You’ve got to have a willingness to carry on in the face of what appears to be indifference or rejection by some employer’s. All that work researching companies, targeting resumes, writing cover letters, completing online profiles and repeating this process again and again. It can certainly get discouraging. I think this is why the people who have accepted my invitation to join my group are so looking forward to the experience. You see, they’ll partner up with me; someone they believe will motivate them when they feel the urge to slow down. They’ll also be supported by their fellow job seekers, and enthusiasm my reader is contagious!

If it’s true that attitude determines your altitude, we’re aiming high. We aren’t hoping to get interviews and jobs; we’re EXPECTING to get interviews and jobs! You see, the belief I plan to share and instil is the same belief I’ve always held; if we create strong resumes, quality resumes and improve upon our interview skills, the chances of success rise – substantially. If we then work to improve on our quantity of quality applications, our chances of success rise substantially again. Quality first, followed by quantity.

But you can do your part to help us along. If you’re a job seeker yourself, take the month off; nobody is hiring anyway right? If you’re an Employment Coach or Counsellor, suggest your clients ease back on the job search and conserve their energy for the new year; nobody is hiring anyway right?

Of course this advice is entirely tongue in cheek. If nobody is hiring, why then are there jobs being advertised? Do you think companies advertise just to falsely get people’s hopes up? That they have too much time on their hands and want to conduct interviews for jobs that don’t exist just to meet people? No of course not! They are advertising jobs because they have a need for qualified and enthusiastic employees.

Remember this basic truth; if they advertise a job, THEY have a need. Sure you need a job, but they need an employee. It’s not all desperation on your part and no stress at their end. They have to find someone and it can’t be just anybody. They are looking at hiring the right someone, and this is where your research comes in. Present yourself as the right candidate.

Of course, if you were looking for a sign that you shouldn’t bother looking for work until 2020, take this blog as your sign. Pack it in, put on, “White Christmas” and cover yourself up with that warm throw.

Looking For Work?


Looking for a job or the next step in your career can be a stressful experience. While you may want a new position, you’re not at all looking forward to the résumé writing, online applications, rejections, flat-out being ignored altogether when you apply for a job you really want and then of course the interview process. The rejection and ups and downs of the job search thing is frustrating, nerve-wracking and for what? A low-paying job doing something you’ll dread, working for people who don’t care about you but only how much they can wring out of you before you quit or your fired?

It doesn’t have to be this way, nor should it. If this has been or is your experience, no wonder your desire to look for a new job is pretty weak. Let’s look at some ideas to keep motivated during this search.

First of all it’s a good idea – even if it seems completely obvious – to know why you want a new job. Are you burnt out in your current job, looking to put your recent education to use, looking for a part-time job to supplement your income or perhaps looking for a promotion? Knowing clearly why you want a new job is critical because in the moments when you feel frustrated and just want to chuck it in, you’ll want to remind yourself why you started looking in the first place.

A successful job search is planned out just like any meaningful project. Whether it’s building a house, running an ad campaign, raising funds for a charity or designing marketing materials, planning is critical. Too many people unfortunately start their job search randomly looking at employment websites. That shouldn’t be your first step.

After you’ve determined why you want a new job, assess what you’re starting with. Anyone starting a journey takes stock of their supplies and identifies both what they’ve got and what they’ll need to acquire. In the case of a job search, what are your assets? Examine your education, past and current experience including paid and volunteer work. Objectively take stock of your job-specific and transferable skills, your financial resources and the extent you’re willing to travel to work.

Now to decide what kind of work to actually pursue. Looking at that list of your assets, what jobs are you qualified for now? Do any of these jobs appeal to you? If so, great! If not, are you willing to invest time and money upgrading your education to acquire the academic qualifications you’ll need to compete for the kind of jobs you might really want? This could involve some research with local College or University Guidance Counsellors to help you out.

By the way, if you feel you’ve got time and youth on your side, don’t fret about finding the perfect job that checks off all your wants and desires. If you’re light on experience, there’s a lot of sense in doing a variety of jobs to help decide what brings you happiness; what you like and don’t like. A variety of jobs gives you perspective, might even appeal to an employer if you place yourself later as having broad first-hand experience. So if you can’t settle on THE job, relax and give yourself the green light to explore several jobs for say, the next 5 years.

Now what’s important to you? Are you after job satisfaction, money, a certain kind of environment to work in or a job that involves travel? What do you imagine is the kind of boss you’ll work best with? There are many factors that you should look at to find what’s important to you and if you need help doing this, get yourself connected with a local Employment Coach, Employment Counsellor or Career Specialist. These are the people who can best help you look at the factors that will ultimately bring you happiness in the work you do.

So with some job or career loosely or firmly in mind, turn to looking at the organizations that have these kind of positions. Taking the time to see how they differ from each other, what they rank and value, the atmosphere they create for those that work there is time well spent. You don’t want to find you love the job but loathe working in the atmosphere that surrounds it.

At this point you’ve got a career or job goal in mind that you’re skills and experience align with, and you’ve identified one or more companies that you’d like to be a part of. Now is the time to look at applying. Just because there are no current postings doesn’t mean there are no opportunities. Networking and initiating conversations with those who do what you want to do, work where you want to work and hire people like you is essential and often overlooked. Get known.

Once you’re connected, keep focused. Sure go ahead and ask about opportunities but do seek advice on what you could be doing in the here and now to strengthen your chances when a position is advertised. Positioning yourself to succeed shows them your keen and gives you momentum when otherwise you’d feel stalled.

Whether your 25, 45 or 60, take stock of what you’ve got, what you want and why you want it.

The steps above will take some time to transition through; varying for each person. Skip a step as unnecessary and you might be looking for some time.

Experience: A Blessing Or A Curse?


Ever noticed on job postings how various employers state the level of experience they’d ideally like to see in their applicants? I’m sure you have seen the ads calling for 6 months to a year, 5 years experience etc. If significant experience is always better, how come you seldom if ever see an ad looking for 25 years or more experience? Some actually indicate no experience is required whatsoever!

The level of experience sought as ideal depends on a number of factors. When an employer specifically states that no experience is necessary – even preferred – you might ponder why. What they are really communicating here is that they don’t mind taking the extra time it’s going to require to train you and train you their way. They are counting on saving time actually by not having to wait while you unlearn behaviours you picked up from past employment.

Now it isn’t always the case that the job is relatively simple and anyone can acquire the skills, but I’ve seen ads that do say it’s more the right person they are looking for not experience someone has had. These employers feel that finding the right people outweighs actual experience. I suppose most of us can identify people in jobs who have the technical skills to perform the work but their attitude and priorities seem at odds with the actual job they are paid to do. It’s these kind of people many employers would love to avoid hiring in the first place.

So why would some job postings advertise that 6 months to a year is the ideal experience they are looking for? When you see these postings, interpret the employers’ message as meaning that enough experience is required so you know what you’re getting into and you’ll like it, but don’t have so much experience that you’ll do things the way you’ve done them elsewhere. These organizations want to avoid hiring people with no experience who initially sound and look motivated to do the work but who once in the job, discover they really aren’t cut out for it after all and quit to look for other kinds of work. They may in fact have a really solid work ethic, they just discovered they don’t like doing the job they signed on to do having never done it before.

Now the ad requesting 3-5 years’ experience. Here the company is communicating a higher value placed on previous experience actually doing the same work elsewhere. They figure over that time you’ve learned the ropes, made your big mistakes elsewhere as you cut your teeth on the job. What they are banking on is that having done the work before for several years, you have a really good and thorough understanding of what is involved and you’ll be up to speed in a pretty short adjustment period. You can expect less formal training and a higher expectation that you’ll be productive faster than someone coming onboard with less experience. They see you as trainable; you know a little but can do things their way.

Now suppose you’re someone looking for work with significantly more experience. Say you’ve got 15 – 25 year’s of experience doing exactly the same thing the employer has expressed is their current need. You’re a shoe-in for this job! Surely once you get your resume in front of them they’ll pull that, “Help Wanted” sign out of the window won’t they? “Help Wanted” sign? Do they still do that? If you’ve got 25 year’s experience you might expect they do only to find a lot has changed in the quarter century since you’ve been looking for work.

To many employers, extensive experience is more of something to avoid than it is an attraction. They are worried you’ll bring your bad habits with you, you’ll be set in your ways, you’ll say things like, “Well that’s not how we did things at such-and-such when I was there”. Well you’re not there any more and this employer doesn’t want resistance when trying to get its workforce working cohesively in the same direction. They are cautious of hiring old dogs who can’t or won’t learn new tricks, folks that are set in their ways. 25 year’s experience? They picture people using out-dated technologies and practices.

However, there are employers who would love to have applicants approach them with what they see as the perfect combination of experience and attitude. It’s hard to go wrong if you are genuinely open to learning new procedures and best practices, you’ve stayed current in your training to complement your experience; if you can demonstrate your use of modern technology and bring energy and enthusiasm to your work. Now your experience is truly an asset.

Here’s a tip however right from employers: If the job calls for 2-5 year’s experience and you’ve got 15 year’s of direct experience, DON’T state this on your resume expecting an interview. It will be preferable to state you have proven experience and leave it at that. Put, ’15 year’s experience’ near the top of your resume or in your cover letter and they stop reading immediately in some cases. You just ruled yourself out. Tell them you embrace learning new ways of doing things, share your blend of experience and passion for the work required.

Many really good people with extensive experience are sitting on the sidelines when they could be significantly impacting positively on organizations’ bottom lines. I know many of them; James, Paul, Ruben, Lorraine…

 

Responding To The Convicted Looking For Work


There is a practice where I live making it illegal to ask a job applicant if they have a criminal conviction. It is legal however to state in a job posting and at the interview that a criminal record check is required prior to being offered employment. If a clean criminal record check doesn’t materialize, the person is often advised they will not be hired.

What we have here creates a conundrum; society wants people to work and earn their living. People with criminal convictions are willing to work but are being denied employment. As no one will hire them, they turn to social assistance at best, or crime at the worst out of a way to survive; society supporting them either through social assistance or the penal system should they be caught.

The convictions people carry range from those committed very recently to those committed decades ago. The crimes range from murder at the extreme to perhaps plea bargaining to avoid going through a trial and facing a stiffer penalty where they may have eventually been found innocent. Records stick unless they are pardoned.

Now not all people with criminal records look like hardened criminals and some folks with clean criminal records look like the criminals we imagine! So we have in our society then a number of people who are unemployed, qualified to do advertised work but who employers will not consider. The reason most employers give for not hiring someone with a criminal conviction has to do with insurance costs and liability should the person commit an offence.

There are indeed situations where the majority of us would be in agreement when it comes to denying certain offenders employment. We would not want a pedophile working at a childcare centre, a sex offender working at a woman’s shelter, nor a convicted thief working in people’s homes as a Personal Support Worker. In other words, we would not want to have a person placed in an environment where the temptation or possibility of offending again would put innocent people in harm’s way.

However, what do we do with the vast majority of people who have committed an offence (not excusing the conviction), who are capable of working with a low likelihood of re-offending in the kind of employment they are seeking? So for example a mom made a bad snap decision 10 years ago and stood between the police and her teen, trying to reason out why the police are in her home accusing her teen of something but can’t process what is happening that quickly and as a result has a record for obstructing police. Does that conviction 10 years ago mean she can’t be a Cashier at a grocery store? A Receptionist? What about a Call Centre Operator?

Now suppose you had an able-bodied, unemployed man in front of you with great people skills, appropriately dressed, well-educated and the qualifications to work as a Machinist or an Investment Broker. His 20-year-old offence when he was 19 years old was defending a girl he was with and in so doing, has a conviction for assault against her attacker.

Understand I’m not trying to minimize the convictions themselves. I am raising the discussion however on whether some with convictions should be able to compete on a level field where their convictions are not related to the jobs they are applying for.

There are some employers out there who want to hire people with criminal records. They short-list them for interviews, become their first choice after one or two interviews, and then offer them jobs – pending a clean criminal reference check. However, when that check comes back, they withdraw the offer. The point is that the person was objectively speaking the best person who applied.

The fear of being sued by someone who would say, “You knew this person had a criminal record and you hired them anyhow. I’m going to sue the pants off you!  We had a right to know! What were you thinking?” is just too great. One lawsuit and the company could be financially crippled, out of business altogether – and their reputation forever damaged.

IF they were hired, is it ethical to tell all clients, co-workers, stakeholders and customers, that a person with a criminal conviction has been hired? Would you treat your co-worker differently if you knew they had a conviction, even when their conviction has no direct relation to the job at hand.

So what is the logical reality of not employing people with such convictions – leaving aside the most extreme crimes and convictions. They still need to eat and be housed, so they may turn to social assistance; the safety net. There they will undoubtedly be told it is mandatory as a condition of receiving assistance to….job search. Take a course, attend a workshop – all designed to make them more attractive to employers; which the courses do.

A pardon is possible, but it takes $700 – $1000 and 5 years to get that locally. In contrast, 5 years of social assistance could run about $40,000.00. By the time 5 years of unemployed goes by the person is also embittered, skills, education, experience and references out of date.

I’m not proposing THE answer, just opening up the discussion. Is this the way we intended the system to work? How do we protect our businesses, safeguard our clients and customers, yet still provide opportunities for people with convictions to become financially independent, responsibly employed taxpaying citizens? What do you think?