April 16, 2014

Calgary Job Seekers | Calgary Resume Writing and Job Search Support

Calgary is a city bustling with action and growth. It is also the city where I reside, so naturally Calgarians make up the bulk of my international clients.  Having served the needs of local Calgarians, Albertans, and Canadians for over ten years I have seen first-hand how Calgary has supported many people's careers.

The unemployment rate in Calgary  regularly falls well below the national average, proving our city has an excellent economy with booming industries and lots of job opportunities. Yet job competition can still be fierce; lots of openings attract many eager applicants.  Don't neglect to consider your competition.  If other applicants are better prepared and armed with the right resources they will knock you out of the running.

How can you, as a savvy Canadian, increase your job search chances and stand out amongst hundreds of other applicants?  You need stellar tools and leading-edge strategies.  The biggest mistake that I see job seekers make is putting all of their job search 'eggs' in one basket. 

To start, don't be like the vast majority of job seekers who believe that just a good resume will land you the job.  Update all of your career communications (resume, cover letter, recruiter letter, thank you letter, executive biography, LinkedIn profile, and other online profiles).  Every single form of communication during a job search is a vital opportunity to showcase your skills and prove you are the best person for the job. Compile any of your documents poorly, and your chances drastically decline.

Two points to help your career communications shine: 

1. Recognize that Google is the 'new resume'.   Employers regularly research candidates online during the hiring process.  A 'paper' resume is certainly going to be required at some point during the process (still rendering this document very important), but a polished online profile reigns supreme.  If you don't have a solid online presence, you need one; all modern and savvy job seekers do.

2. Know how to navigate the dreaded ATS.  Applicant Tracking Systems are used by the majority of companies to screen job applications.  If you apply for a job online, chances are your information will go through an ATS.  If your resume or cover letter is not designed to 'speak' to these systems, you will be screened out.  Learn more in my article: What Resume Format to Use When. 

In addition to excellent communication tools and career documents, you need to gather and apply useful job search strategies. Remember, a good resume is only one aspect of a job search, and resumes don't get jobs, people do.  You must have good strategies in your job search arsenal to increase your chances of being seen and taken seriously.   

Two job search strategies you need to know: 

1. Applying for jobs exclusively online is a colossal waste of time. It is estimated that less than 10% of jobs are secured through the internet.  

A recent Talent Function Group survey shares: every online job posting attracts nearly 1000 views and receives 100 applicants.  Out of those 100 applicants, 75 will be screened out by ATS (yup!), only 4 to 6 will be invited to interview by the hiring manager, and well, only 1 person is awarded the job.  This suggests the success rate for securing a job through an online application is a dismal 1%.  Not an easy thing to overcome, even in a city with lots of opportunities.

2. Networking is paramount in a job search. The good old fashioned 'who you know' approach can yield job returns closer to 80%!  According to a survey by Right Management, person-to-person networking is the single most effective way to find a new job, with 46% of job seekers identifying networking as the reason they found their most recent role. Read more in my recent post: Network Your Way to a New Job. 

Here in Calgary, there is continuous job search action. Calgarians are capitalizing on the city's healthy economy to try and advance into higher level, better paid positions and make critical career changes. Yet many people are lacking good tools and strategies, inhibiting them from being successful.

As a Certified Employment Strategist and Master Certified Resume Strategist, I regularly support professionals in engineering, operations, finance, sales, and human resources, although these sectors are not exclusive.  The job seekers who engage me are forward-thinking managers, directors, and executives that recognize the importance of job search support.  Fully invested, these savvy senior professionals arm themselves with effective resources, tools, and strategies that  shorten job searches, eliminate stress, and position them strongly for higher level roles with increased compensation.  

As we enter one of the peak recruiting periods of the year (Spring!) where I always see a massive influx of employment action, how will you ensure that you STAND OUT during a job search?  

Contact me to find out how I can advance your career or ease your job search stress; visit my website to learn more: www.CareerImpressions.ca.

April 9, 2014

Master Certified Resume Strategist | Certified Employment Strategist >> Calgary's Top Resume Writer

Wonderful news this month! I am thrilled to have conquered two esteemed industry credentials; the Certified Employment Strategist (CES) and Master Certified Resume Strategist (MCRS). Each certification demonstrates excellence, but the MCRS is a very distinct achievement.

Sharon Graham, Executive Director of Career Professionals of Canada, has shared the following statement on the value and standard of the prestigious MCRS:

 “Congratulations to Adrienne Tom for attaining Career Professionals of Canada’s Master Certified Resume Strategist credential. The MCRS is an exclusive designation reserved only for the foremost resume strategists in the nation. As one of only six professionals in Canada to achieve this top certification, Adrienne Tom has demonstrated mastery of the subject, distinguishing her as an elite resume writer with a record of applying advanced knowledge to strategically position clients for career success.”

In addition to the MCRS, I was also awarded the Certified Employment Strategist designation. The CES is the only Canadian standard for validating the expertise of career professionals providing employment, job search, and career transition advice.

Earning these designations set apart practitioners who offer resume writing and job search services and better positions national career experts to support professionals with their unique job search and employment requirements.

Career Professionals of Canada offers several certifications that set the standard for excellence in resume, interview, employment, and career strategy; each a validation of competency and a definition of accountability in the industry.  CPC is a leading Canadian association of career practitioners, a social enterprise, with a mandate to enable Canadians to achieve their career and business goals, it promotes quality, ethics, and expertise within the field of career development.

Sharon Graham’s recent article What’s Up on the Canadian Career Certification Front? articulates recent movements in Canadian career certifications, stressing the value of and importance of CPC's regulated credentialing program that “recognizes all qualified and competent practitioners”.

More about Career Professionals of Canada can be located on their website: careerpro.ca

To learn how my select competencies add value to senior-level professionals during a job search, please visit me online: careerimpressions.ca 

March 27, 2014

Network Your Way to a New Job

The people you know can be the best way for you to find your next job, because numerous studies prove that the “tried and true” path of networking is still the most successful way to secure work.  

Research consistently identifies networking as an important job search tool — anywhere from 40-80% of job placements are attributed to networking, and according to a 2012 survey by Right Management, person-to-person networking is the single most effective way to find a new job, with 46% of jobseekers identifying networking as the reason they found their most recent job.

The single biggest mistake most job searchers make is not asking for help from their network. People want to help you — so let them! But don’t wait until you’re out of work to start developing relationships with your network. As author Harvey Mackey says, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.” Develop your contacts, be willing to help these folks with their needs, and they will be there when you need them!

The more people who know you are looking for a job, the more eyes and ears that will be available to help. Networking is about getting the people you already know to help connect you to the people who will help you land your next career opportunity.

The first step is to identify who is in your network. This can include: friends, relatives, parents of children’s friends, parents and relatives of your friends, club members, cousins, neighbors, current and previous co-workers and managers, suppliers, professional association contacts, and your community contacts. 

If you don’t already have a list, start one! Make a list of all of your contacts — past employers, vendors, customers, colleagues, competitors, bankers, and others. You never know who may have a great lead or know of an unadvertised opportunity.

Finally, here are some additional pointers on how to develop your network:

•     Attend networking events (for example, those hosted by your professional organization or Chamber of Commerce) Attend association meetings and take advantage of educational opportunities.

•     Work as a volunteer.  Consider opportunities within your industry association or local community association. Volunteering is one of the best ways to network your way to new contacts.

•     Participate in an online community. This can be a social networking site like Facebook or LinkedIn, an alumni site (like Classmates.com), or your professional association’s website (which might have an elist or message board to connect members).

•     Contact your alumni groups. Your college or university should have an alumni association (often with a directory of members) that can be useful. You can mine the directory for contacts in your field, even if they didn’t graduate in the same year as you. Your alma mater connects you.

•     Read your local business journal to find out about growing companies. Pay particular attention to the “People” section (the section that highlights promotions and new hires at companies) and see if there are any contacts you can make.

Ultimately, you need to heed the advice of author and networking pro Harvey Mackey: “If I had to name the single characteristic shared by all the truly successful people I’ve met over a lifetime, I’d say it is the ability to create and nurture a network of contacts”. 

Build your network with care and then leverage it during a job search to secure your next role! 

Get help with your job search here:  www.CareerImpressions.ca

March 18, 2014

Canadian Career Pros To Follow on Twitter

There is a wealth of information being shared every single second on Twitter - a highly popular social networking and microblogging site.  As a job seeker you can use Twitter to locate good quality content on career planning, resume writing, interview preparation, job search strategies, and employment issues.  

If you are looking for distinctly Canadian resources and top Canadian career professionals to follow on Twitter, I recommend the following 12 individuals (listed in alphabetical order by last name):

Martin Buckland @MartinBuckland

Maureen Farmer @MaureenFarmer4

Charles Fraser @_CharlesFraser

Sharon Graham @sharongraham

Chris Kulbaba @chriskulbaba

Maureen McCann @mypromotion

Tara Orchard @careerchatter

Wayne Pagani @careerdev

Audrey Prenzel @audreyprenzel

Lotte Struwing @LotteStruwing

Daisy Wright @CareerTips2Go

Paula Wischoff Yerama @PaulaWYerama

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not add my own Twitter handles to this list as I also enjoy sharing career and job search content of my own, along with the content of others. Hope to connect with you soon!

Note: I recently changed my personal Twitter handle from @ResumeReviewer to @Adrienne_Tom

Can you recommend additional Canadian career pros to add to this list? What specific Canadian career information would you like to see more of on Twitter?  Let us know! 

Get help with your job search here: www.CareerImpressions.ca 

March 11, 2014

Make It Happen!

These days job seekers are commonly encouraged to approach their job search like an entrepreneur; to think of themselves as a company (ME Inc.).  But what does this really mean and how can you best apply this idea to be successful?

Compare your job search to growing a business.  The strategies for both are the same and the results can be similar, but there is one vital element that most job seekers are lacking in this thought process.  Investment.  No company ever came to fruition without some sort of investment, so if you need or want a new job you must think of yourself as a business owner and know that you have to invest.

A step-by-step breakdown of approaching a job search like an entrepreneur:
  • Create a job search action plan.  If you were a business looking to grow and attract individuals (employers) you would need to start by building a business plan and then implementing it step-by-step.  Your job search is no different.
  • Understand your clients’ needs.   Every business has a target audience. Your clients are employers.  Conduct your market research, locate employers that need people like you, and pinpoint their requirements. 
  • Establish your brand.  Every great company has a recognizable brand. What is yours?  Position yourself strongly in all communications to capture attention and convince people of your value.
  •  Compile your resources.  Businesses need marketing materials to promote offerings and garner sales (job offers).  Get a resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile ready.
  • Advertise.  Companies don’t rely on just one source to get their name out there; neither should you, but word of mouth carries a lot of weight so you should leverage your network to spread the word for you. People buy what other people recommend. 
  •  Finally, make it happen!  Every great company invests time, energy, and resources into growth and development.  They don’t sit around and wait for things to happen.  You can not afford to be passive with your job search; you must invest.  Michael Jordan said it best: “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” Be the latter.

It is amazing how many people sit around waiting for things to happen when it comes to a job search. To avoid this pitfall, stop thinking of yourself as just a job applicant and start thinking of yourself as a company that has a lot to offer.   Your company (ME Inc.) is spearheaded solely by you; in order for it to be successful you must be invested and confident in taking it to the next level.

Make great things happen for you.

February 12, 2014

Weighing in: Are Cover Letters Required in an Executive Job Search?

Although there is ongoing debate about how often employers actually read cover letters, I feel strongly that a cover letter should always be included as part of a job search application package – especially at the executive level. 

Executives must ensure they show complete investment in the job search process; a well thought-out and polished application package, complete with a stellar cover letter, is a must.  Although times are changing in regards to how information is shared (e-notes and emailed introduction letters are becoming common in job applications), the traditional resume and cover letter are still highly used and extremely valuable in a job search.

Where a resume allows an individual to showcase their ability to do the job - the cover letter expresses interest in the role, allows personality and principals to shine, and places personal emphasis on what the individual can offer the organization.   It is also an excellent median for relaying leadership style and personal ethics.  Overall, the cover letter is a vital tool for sharing critical career details, so why waste the opportunity to do so?

A warning – at the executive career level the expectation will be even greater that the cover letter is exceptionally well written (perfectly polished, succinct in style, and presented in a formal business letter format), and that it complements the resume without repeating it.  Executive-level cover letters need to be sharp in focus and present immediate value to the reader.  Extra care should also be taken to ensure the cover letter is cohesive in look and branding with all other career materials. 

Ultimately, it may feel like a waste of time compiling a cover letter because there is a possibility it may never be read, but if a cover letter was expected and not included it could negatively impact job search success.  

As an executive - are you willing to take the risk?  Always include one!  

Calgary Executive Resume Writer | Calgary Executive Job Seekers | Calgary Resume Writer

January 27, 2014

Why “Buzzwords” are Necessary in a Job Search

Every year articles circulate on the topic of ‘the year’s most overused buzzwords’, cautioning us on the most widely used keywords in resumes and LinkedIn profiles.  Yet not all buzzwords are bad. 

Think about it - most buzzwords are born from employer’s requirements and job postings. If a company is seeking someone who is “effective, driven, or innovative” and you avoid these words in your career communications, it can be risky.  Despite the urge to market yourself uniquely, you have to remember that the majority of major organizations use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to scan submitted applications.  If you upload your resume to a company’s website there is a very good chance that your resume is being scanned by ATS for select keywords and key phrases.  Although you will never know exactly what each ATS is programmed to search for, a good guess would be the keywords from the job posting you are targeting. Without select keywords your resume may be screened out - just like that.

Similarly, recruiters conduct keyword searches on LinkedIn to locate best matched professionals.  If a recruiter is seeking a professional that is “creative, strategic, and dynamic” they don’t care if these words are deemed overused, so long as job seekers can support them.   Note the word support here.  Using buzzwords alone adds little to no value, but supporting these skills with notable achievements and results can help you stand out.   Ultimately you must provide the proof of these keywords to be taken seriously.  A good balance of buzzwords and skill demonstration (results) can increase your chances of getting found and raise your chances of being approached, interviewed, or offered a job.

Avoiding buzzwords in your resume (or LinkedIn profile) is likely not possible, nor practical, but they should still be chosen with care.  Select keywords that match your targeted industry and always back up skills with proof of results.