Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Using Labour Market Information

When deciding upon which career path to pursue one resource that many employment consultants / counsellors will recommend is a thing called Labour Marker Information (LMI). Essential the facts and figures contained within the labour market information is concerned with the conditions of the labour force area you are looking at. At first glance it can be very overwhelming unless you have an idea of what you are looking at.

What can Labour Market Information tell me?

Labour Market Information can tell you a variety of things that will have an impact on your job search including

·         What the different industry sectors are
·         Current employment rates within industries
·         Which industries are in growth or decline
·         What skills and education employers are looking for
·         What working conditions are like
·         What factors can help or hinder you finding employment

This information is of particular importance if you are looking at relocation or entering in to a new profession as it will help you to decide if your current plan is feasible before you make any final decisions.

Where can I find this Information?

Labour Market Information comes from two different sources. The majority of the statistics and information contained within labour market information are generated through various Government of Canada departments including

·         Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (www.hrsdc.gc.ca)
·         Service Canada (www.servicecanada.gc.ca)
·         Statistics Canada (www.statcan.gc.ca)

These departments generate a number of reports and surveys at the national, provincial and regional level the majority of which can be accessed freely through their websites as well as provincial government websites such as www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/labourmarket

The second source of labour market information comes from research groups and non-profit organizations including:  
·         The Local Boards of Ontario – (www.workforceplanningboard.org)
·         The Conference Board of Canada – (www.conferenceboard.ca
·         The Ontario Network of Employment Skills Training Projects – (www.onestep.ca)
·         www.settlement.org

These agencies utilize the information provided by Government of Canada departments as well as conducting their own research with employers and labour market conditions.  

Where to start?

To begin utilizing labour market information there are several tools and reports that have already been developed to provide individuals with easy access to information. From this starting point you can then access links within these sites to gain even more information.

·         The Working in Canada website (www.workingincanada.gc.ca) allows individuals to search for specific occupations by name and provides basic labour market information on the occupation along with current job postings within that field
·         The Labour Force Survey (website) – Is a monthly publication released by Statistics Canada and shows federal and provincial trends within the labour force
·         www.indeed.ca – At the bottom of their site is a link to Industry Employment Trends which show the increase or decrease in job postings
·         The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and University have a number of resources available on their website regarding labour market information. One resource in particular is the 2012 Employment Profile  which includes feedback from Ontario college students, graduates and their employers

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Information Interviews

In my last blog posting I talked about the importance of researching school’s before selecting which one you attend for training. The same level of importance can be placed when planning your first or second career. While there are many different ways to research careers; one useful technique that job seekers can use is the Information Interviews. These can be used to learn more about an industry as well as having the benefit of building your network and smoothing the transition into a new career.

While there are many benefits to conducting Information Interviews most job seekers are not aware of how to present this concept to an employer and instead use it as an attempt to bypass the hiring process and secure a job interview. The following information will help you to effectively request an Information Interview with an employer and help you to succeed in getting the information that you need. 

What Are The Benefits Of An Information Interview?

An Information Interview conducted correctly can benefit a job seeker in several of the following areas:

        Increased knowledge of their target industry / employer
        Increased exposure to employers
        Exploring a specific industry to see if it is a good fit for you
        Learn tips to enhance your job search methods
        Developing a solid networking contact
        Referral to other employers and networking contacts
        Potential job offer or prior knowledge of future job opportunities – (accessing the hidden job market)

What An Information Interview Is Not  

Before we talk about how to secure an Information Interview it is worth pointing out that Information Interviews are not about:

Asking for a job
        Selling the employer something
        Wasting everybody’s time

How To Find People To Interview

As an Information Interview is a way of utilizing and extending a network, the first place that you should look when attempting to arrange one is the same place you would look when you started to build your network and that is with your closest contacts such as:

        Placement Supervisors

Moving outside of this circle the following areas are places where you can find potential individuals to connect with for an Information Interview as well as general information regarding specific industries:

Teachers / Instructors
        Conferences / Workshops
        Professional Associations
        Service Organizations
        Employment Resource Centres
        Social Media Sites (LinkedIn)

Finally you can contact organizations that you are interested in and ask who you would need to speak to regarding information on that organization.

How To Request An Interview

The easiest way to connect with an employer to request an Information Interview is either directly through email or via a networking site such as LinkedIn. It is possible to connect with someone over the phone however it may take several phone calls before you get through to the employer if you even get past the receptionist. An email is more direct and in terms of how busy an employer may be will allow them time to get back to you.

When you create your request you will need to address four specific points

        An opening statement that mentions how you got their contact information
        A summary statement of who you are and why you are contacting them
        A statement requesting an opportunity to meet and what you would like to discuss with them
<!--[if !supportLists]-->×          <!--[endif]-->A closing statement thanking them for their time

General Tips

The following are some tips to bear in mind when you are creating your interview request.

        Begin with a clear subject line (i.e. Request for an Information Interview)
        Keep your email professional, avoid phrases such as ‘Hi’ and the use of slang/emoticons
        Pay attention to spelling and grammar
        Set a specific time goal so that employers won’t feel like they are wasting their time
        Do not include your resume (even though you are tempted)
        Include your contact details (such as phone number / LinkedIn Profile under the signature line)

Example Email Requests

Example request with a referral from an individual:

Dear Mr Smith,

Andrew Bassingthwaighte, Employment Consultant at the Employment Resource Centre provided me with your email address. As a student of the ABC College's Community Worker program I am seeking to learn more about careers with the field of Social Services and he thought you might be able to provide me with some useful information. 

If you are able to find time, I would like to meet with you in person for 20 minutes to interview you about your career; either at your office or over coffee.

Thank you for considering my request and I look forward to your reply. 


Joe Bloggs

Example request when you don't have a referral:

Dear Mr Smith,

My name is Joe Bloggs and I came across your name through the Canadian Career Information Association group on LinkedIn where we are both members. To give you the
basics of my situation, I am currently going through a career change in my life where I am
transitioning from the manufacturing industry to the Social Services field.

If possible I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you for 20 minutes either in
person or on the telephone for an information interview, as I wish to learn to more about
your organization and to discuss any improvements that I would need to make to help me
find work in this sector upon graduation. 

I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Joe Bloggs

Things To Remember

One of the main things that you want to be aware of is that this is an interview. So no matter where it is being held, it should be treated with the same amount of professionalism as a job interview. 

        Research the company so you can develop some appropriate questions
        Call the day before to confirm your appointment
        Dress professionally (aim for a step above the workplace but be comfortable)
        Arrive 5 – 10 minutes early
        Bring your list of questions and a notepad/pen to take notes
        Start the interview with a brief summary of your situation and restating why you are interviewing them
        Don’t ambush the employer by asking for a job
        Don’t monopolize their time, keep the interview to what you stated in the email
        Only offer a resume if they ask to see it or if you feel they can help you critique it    
        Remember to ask for the persons business card so you have their accurate contact details
        After the interview send a Thank You note within 24 hours of meeting them

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Importance of Researching Schools

One of the things clients hate to do as a part of the Second Career application process is to complete the school research process. For those that have not been through Second Career the process is fairly simple, contact three schools that are offering the course that you are interested in and ask them a series of questions designed to help you find out more about the school and course in question. Yet despite how simple the process is and we even provide the questions to ask, people still hate to do this; mainly because they feel that as they've picked the school they want to go to so why should they look elsewhere.
However whether you are going through the Second Career process, applying for OSAP or even paying for the course yourself there are several important reasons why anyone looking at training courses should compare different schools:

 Education vs. Schooling

In my personal opinion this is the most important reason for researching a school / course; many people though do not recognise a difference between these two words and so these words have become interchangeable when in fact they are not. Education refers to the learning of knowledge, experience and social outcomes; schooling on the hand refers to the processes used to facilitate this process. John Dewey in his book Experience and Education summed up the difference between education and schooling with the following quote

“Almost everyone has had the occasion to look back upon his school days and wonder what has become of the knowledge he was supposed to have amassed during his years of schooling, and why is it that the technical skills he acquired have to be learned over again in changed form in order to stand him in good stead.”

So in our research the main question we need to focus on is what value the course you are looking at has in terms of the workforce as one of the main reasons people go back to school is to increase their employment prospects. In researching this aspect I also encourage people to speak to employers about their thoughts regarding the training program as they are the ones that will be doing the hiring.   

Co-op Programs

This topic ties in closely with what we have just looked at as a co-op program will often give the student the on-the-job experience in the field they are looking in. This is a great opportunity to refine exactly what your career goals are, to develop networking contacts, gain real world experience and in some cases to secure employment upon graduation. Even if your co-op employer doesn’t offer you a job there is still value in your placement as it shows to employers that you are aware of what is expected within the workforce.

Value for Money

This is a strange question for individuals on Second Career because they generally are requesting the government to cover their schooling costs. However Second Career funding won’t cover everything and more importantly for those that are not going through the process and are funding their course via other methods this is something to be aware of. Naturally the biggest expense is the tuition cost which can vary greatly between community colleges, private career colleges and universities; often built in within these tuition costs are student fees which may be optional depending on the school/fee and is something you should ask about. Next on the cost list are books and some schools do give the option of buying new or used books as the cost for some of them can be quite expensive. Finally we have all of the other costs associated with going back to school but are often overlooked by people for example transportation costs, the need to buy a new computer or even mundane things like pens and notepads.

 Length of Course

I’ve out this point last as this is really dependent on your situation; if you have just graduated high school and are looking to maximize your education before starting work than a three of four year course may be the best option. Those receiving Employment Insurance / Social Assistance benefits may want to complete their education as quickly as possible in order to get back into the workforce. However it is sometimes worth remembering that quicker is not necessarily better; there are a number of short eight – twelve month courses out there but we need to go back to our first question and ask what value that course has in terms of the workforce. For some courses will only introduce you to a field not qualify you for it and some will only qualify you for enter level positions and to advance you would need to get further education.

Choosing which school to go to should not be as simple as picking a name out of a hat. If you already know what type of career path you have in mind then you should take the time to pick the education that will provide you with the best possible start on that path.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Brief Look at 2011

Another year is almost over and we come to that time of year where everybody looks at what the accomplished (or failed to) in 2011 and what new goals or resolutions they want to make for 2012. For myself, 2011 was an incredibly busy year; work has shown again and again just how popular the Second Career program is within Niagara Region as was seen by the popularity of my advice post on the whole process (here).

In addition to dealing with Second Career applications and providing job search advice to clients, I have also been assisting people in utilizing different Social Media platforms for their job search as well as developing a workshop on the subject. I have also been working on my Sociology degree, which has left me with less time for blogging than I would have preferred but has still been a challenging and engaging experience so far.

Over the past year I’ve looked at a number of different topics related to job search and career development and in the New Year I hope to continue updating this blog with useful and relevant advice on a monthly basis.

Finally for those who are either still looking or that intend to start looking for work in the New Year allow me to point you in the direction of a posting from last year entitled Revitalizing Your Job Search for the New Year. The dates may have changed but the principles contained within are still the same and can be used throughout the year.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Social Media and Job Search for Beginners

You’ve started your job search, your resume has been updated and you’re applying to jobs in person or through job boards. However everyone keeps telling you about this thing called social media and how it can help you in your job search; so you decide to give it a try but where do you start? The following points are from a workshop I created to introduce individuals to Social Media and how it can be utilized as a part of their job search strategy.

How does social media impact job search?

A recent survey by CareerEnlightenment.com stated that:
• 79% of hiring managers / recruiters review online information about applicants
• 70% said they rejected people based on the information they found
• 89% of companies will use Social Media Networks for recruiting in 2011
• This is an increase of 6% from 2010

What are your options?

There are a number of different social media sites that individuals can use, the three most popular which are connected to job search are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter

• Has over 800 million active users
• It utilizes personal connections and the average user has 130 friends
• Businesses now use Facebook for advertising and to connect with customers
• Still seen by many as personal and unprofessional but these opinions are changing

Using Facebook to Job Search
• Make use of applications (apps) such as Branch Out or BeKnown that are sponsored by job boards to track vacancies, companies and your network
• Clean up your profile, remove any negative content such as embarrassing photos
• Check your privacy settings, can employers see you
• Follow or ‘Like’ company pages so you can see what they are doing

• Is business focused; seen as the professional version of Facebook
• #1 Social Media tool used by employers - 80% of employers use LinkedIn to find talent
• In essence it is an online resume that potential employers can view
• Incorporates company pages, a built-in job board and groups which consist of industry specialists or individuals with a common interest

Using LinkedIn to Job Search
• Make sure you have a complete profile so that employers can see what you have / can do
• Like any other part of your job search you want to target your audience
• Use groups to connect with your industry and the people within it
• Take the time to share relevant content and opinions

• 140 characters or less
• Twitter has real time relevance, the past stays there
• People are constantly talking about trends, companies, general advice

Using Twitter to Job Search
• Learn the language – ‘hash tag’ ‘retweet’ ‘DM’
• Start slowly and with purpose
• Active participation is essential and add value to the conversation
• While there is some value in retweeting, let people hear what you have to say
• General rule 80% professional 20% personal

Other Sites of Interest
• Google - #1 Search engine in the world
• You Tube - #2 Search engine (owned by Google)
• Quora – Questions, Answers and Advice from industry professionals
• Blogger / Wordpress – Personal websites for individuals that want to share more of their expertise with the world
• About.me – A customized profile / launch site

What Next???

So now that we’ve had a look at what options are available to you, now is the time to pick a site to get started with and set up your profile. We generally recommend the one site to start with, so that you can get comfortable with using the site, seeing how others use the site and so that you are not overwhelmed.

Here are 3 things to keep in mind when using Social Media for job search.

1 – Don’t hide behind the computer – Anonymity is an easy trap to fall into, because no one knows who you are, you can say whatever you want. The problem is, you have to come out from the computer at some point and how you act online will be how employers perceive you.
• Social media will never fully replace face to face meetings such as in person networking and Interviews
• Having a professional looking profile picture shows the employer you are a real person (Simple headshot recommended)
• Your online actions affect how employers perceive you

2 – Present yourself in good light – This involves taking a look at what is currently online about you and taking steps to correct any negatives; for example pictures from parties where you were drunk are not going to impress any employers. It also involves taking the time to check any posts that you make for spelling mistakes, clarity and most importantly the content, updates about your lunch are not going to interest people; however comments related to the work you are interested in will.
• Take steps to correct any negatives such as drunken pictures from parties
• Check updates for spelling mistakes
• Clarity and content are important – updates about your lunch are not going to interest people

3 – Reputations take time – Building an online reputation / brand is going to take time for most people, rushing it can lead to mistakes and a negative reputation, so start out slowly.
• Rushing can lead to mistakes and a negative reputation
• Start out slowly
• Seek advice from experts
• Be part of the conversation

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Networking is not…..

One of the things that there is an abundance of online is articles about networking. There are articles talking about what networking is; how to build a network and why you should have one; in fact I’ve added to this pile with my last two blog postings. So to buck the trend a little what I would like to do for this posting is to share four things that networking is most definitely not.

Networking is not…..

Begging for a job:

Seriously, it’s not; people and especially employers are more inclined to tune you out or try and avoid you if you keep pestering them for a job. Yes at one time they might have admired your perseverance but now they have scores of people doing the same thing so enough is enough.

A quick fix:

Many people think that the moment they start networking, job offers will start appearing. The reality is for the majority of people it takes time to build up a network to a point where you can receive referrals and use it to generate employment opportunities. How long will vary from person to person but the average is counted in months not days.

Only conducted online:

While sites such as LinkedIn have made it a lot easier to research and make connections with individuals / employers it will never take the place of a face to face meeting. It’s at those meetings where we can use tone / body language to express ourselves much more vividly than we could through an email. Also some of those potential connections may not be using the same sites that you use or even have the time to use them at all. So while online networking may be easier don’t sacrifice meeting people offline.

Your only option:

This follows on from the last point as there are a few different job search strategies that job seekers can use depending on the type of work they are looking for. Too many times people will advocate networking as the “be all and end all” of someone’s job search. The reality is though that even within networking there are several different types and there are other job search strategies that someone can use. Something that I recommend to clients is to try one job search strategy and if it doesn’t work try something else. Otherwise you’ll end up beating your head against a wall wasting time you could spend doing something productive.