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.