Job Hunting Tips & Tricks


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A presentation I made for Bow Valley College in Canmore, Alberta Canada.
Detailing on what recruiters and HR professionals look for when you apply for a job.

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  • Here’s a little background on me and why I’m here today.I’ve been in Banff for 9 years and have run the gamut on dancing on the speakers 5 nights a week to managing two departments and working 16 hours/day.I just recently decided to do a career switch and am now working part time on contracts and some fun jobs, and concentrating on school.
  • This presentation all came about from my working with Jill arranging for students to intern at the Town of Banff.One day I mentioned that if she ever needed someone to come and speak to students about what employers are looking for these days, I’d be happy to.I had actually wrote a blog post on recruiting pet peeves on my blog Cosmic Noodles, and Jill approved, so here I am!Oh and Cosmic Noodles has a lot to do with my cat – Cosmo.
  • Obviously you’re ahead of the game because you’re here – Bow Valley College has a great program and has earned itself a reputation for being a resource for employers.So firstly – good for you!I’m sure you’ve already addressed these questions in the last several weeks, but I cannot stress the importance of technology in the work place.You don’t have to be a whiz at HTML or Access or even know the finer points of excel, but a working knowledge of Microsoft programs is expected in any office these days.In terms of the work force changing and how people look for jobs, that’s another part of technology – using the over-used term ‘social media’, it’s real, it’s used and it’s good to know what people see when they look for you.
  • A single piece of paper, with a personality-devoid 'I saw your post and here is a link to my online resume/portfolio' does not cut it.Employers are looking for applicants who (surprisingly enough) want to work there, and make an effort to show you that! Here’s the truth – we’re skimming first round applications. So the cover letter is your chance to make a first impression – to tell the employer why you are a rock star and would make their decision to hire you a favourable one.
  • The job that you're applying for? Go on our website and figure out who the department manager is.A lot of times the recruiter's name appears as the contact on online job postings. Go the extra mile, or let's be honest here, extra foot, and personalize it directly to your future manager. That little bit makes you stand out.p.s. it's the TOWN of Banff, not the City. When you're applying for a job at a municipality, that's a pretty important detail to know.
  • That’s nice that you love Banff/Canmore, but we don’t care.An opening email/cover letter gushing about your love and passion for the mountains, how you are one with the lakes and rivers, and would love to spend your time skiing and hiking and enjoying all of the Banffness that there is - sucks.It doesn't tell me anything about why you want to work for us. It takes a special type of person, and someone who wants to come out for a winter of snowboarding is better suited to that, and the seasonal-type job that comes along with it.In short – tell me in your cover letter what YOU are going to do for ME.
  • In any company, whether it’s the local convenience store, a 5 star hotel, or the organic coffee shop wants to know these things about you.When it comes down to it -
  • Tell the employer how you’re going to impact their bottom line.
  • Just because you’re starting a new life in Canada, or transitioning from stay at home mom back to the workforce, doesn’t mean you have a lot to offer.What is your communication style? Are you naturally drawn to organizing school events, or did you do book keeping for the family business?Have your time management skills evolved from juggling family life?Don’t leave out gaps – recruiters will find them, and if you’re lucky they’ll ask you about them. If you’re not, you’re application will get scrapped.Volunteering, continuing education, being involved in committees, all of this counts!I think the general consensus is to have a chronological resume, with an experience synopsis at the start if needed. (Or detail it in your cover letter)Enlist a friend to review your resume.You don’t need every job you’ve had since 1988 – past 4 years + relevant experience (mind the gaps!)
  • Hint #4 I will find you, so be prepared.I'm not going to go into too much detail here, but just to reiterate, in this day and age, it's better to be proactive and have an updated LinkedIn account and your privacy settings in check on Facebook. This is the reality of recruiting today, and I don't care if you are a gold member at your local swinger's club, but your new co-workers might, so make sure your online shit is in order.Also it’s a good idea to refrain from talking about your job hunt online. This looks poorly on your professionalism and makes me (the recruiter) wonder what else you’ll blab online.There are cases almost every month about employees being disciplined, or even fired, for online content having to do with their employer. When in doubt, don’t publish it. (Or you can always email me to ask!)
  • Interview could be one-on-one or a panel, probably 3+ candidatesMake sure your references are in order – and they know you’re using them!You don’t have to accept the offer right off the bat.
  • So I’ve posted the job, and it has a 2 week posting date. During this time I’m doing other things, not constantly seeing who has applied.Is it a good idea to call and check the status? Yes, but you don’t want to seem to pushy. One call – that’s IT.You will go to the bottom of the pile if you constantly call.
  • Admin postings at the town would receive 60-100+ applications.I used to sort resumes into a 1-2-3 pile, then re-look, re-sort, and cull down to 6 or so.Make your resume skim-mable.Don’t use gimmicks (fonts, colour, etc) but make sure it’s easy to read.This is where the importance of the cover letter comes into play!
  • Pre-screen is to touch base with the applicant, get a feel for why you are applying for the job, what do you know about it, what salary expectations are, are you staying in town for long-term, etc...You can get a feel for someone on the phone, and it helps to chat first without going through a full interview.And to be honest, we want to make sure that you’re not crazy.
  • You don’t want to be scrambling the day of to find a parking spot, or forget who you’re meeting with.It’s always a good idea to bring copies of your resume, even though the interviewers will probably already have their own – shows initiativeBe early, but not awkwardly so – they may be doing back-to-back interviewsDeep breaths, drink some water, try to relax. You don’t want to choke ½ way through!
  • Research on the company, the position, what it involves, what it’s done in the past, who has done it, etc etc... Is your best ally.Don’t speak poorly about previous employers, even if you left on bad circumstances.Prep yourself about answering those tough questions.
  • These questions appeared in the US News & World Report Today from author of Ask A Alison Greene.They sum up the most common questions experienced in an interview.Read these out loud to yourself, and answer them out loud! Where are you getting stuck?Where do you need to prep?
  • It’s a fact that we are visual people, and we make quick judgements based on what you wear to an interview.You DO NOT need to go out and purchase a suit, but do need to ensure a few things are in order:Clean and pressedPulled together AppropriateWhat do people wear at the place of employment?Eg: Town of Banff – every department is different (this is where your research comes in!)Easy on the perfume & jewlryKeep your own style, and wear what you’re going to be confident in!
  • A follow up is classy.Email preferred by most employers. (Depends on the rapport you’ve developed)Hand written notes never go out of style!Short and sweet!
  • Job Hunting Tips & Tricks

    1. 1. The Inside Scoop on Job Hunting Today <br />Tips & Tricks from Human Resources<br />
    2. 2. Stephanie Andrews<br />5 Years Hospitality at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel (retail, spa, concierge, tour desk, royal service - management)<br />4 Years at the Town of Banff (communications and marketing, human resources)<br />Completing Business Management – HR from the University of Calgary<br />Hello My Name Is: <br />
    3. 3. Cosmic Noodles Life from the Cabin to the<br />Noodle<br />Cosmo<br />
    4. 4. Where was technology when you last left it?<br />How were people looking for jobs?<br />How has the workforce changed?<br />Upgrade Your Skills<br />
    5. 5. Cosmic Noodles Inc.<br />March 10, 2011<br />To whom it may concern,<br /> Attached is my resume, please get back to me as soon as possible because I’m very keen to start work.<br /> <br />Sincerely,<br />Joe Shmo<br />The Cover Letter<br />My only concern is to recycle this application.<br />If that’s sincerity I don’t want to see sarcasm.<br />Why should I hurry to get back to you at all?<br />
    6. 6. Address your cover letter<br />Find out who the department manager is<br />Personalize your letter and add in points about how you can directly benefit the company.<br />Triple check for spelling and grammar!<br />Research is Your Friend<br />
    7. 7. Cover Letter Hint: Leave Banff out of it.<br />I am so excited to see this opportunity at your company. I feel that living and working in Banff is the ultimate dream and I am ready to live that dream. I love to camp, hike, bike, snowboard, climb, kayak, trapeze and snowshoe. I think that I would fit in well with your company because I’m a true mountain person.<br /> Sigh, this is a waste of time. I wonder what I’ll have for lunch?<br />
    8. 8. Add new skills?<br />Bring related experience?<br />Bring new experiences?<br />Save me money?<br />Make me money?<br />Where’s my money?<br />In the Cover Letter, tell me if you’re going to...<br />
    9. 9. When in doubt:<br />
    10. 10. Questions to ask yourself:<br />Have you been out of the work force for a long time?<br />Are you applying for something that you don’t have direct experience in?<br />Watch for gaps in time lines <br />Non-work related experience counts too!<br />Experience vs Chronological Resumes<br />
    11. 11. What is Your Online Presence?<br />
    12. 12. Job is Posted<br />Review Resumes<br />Pre-Screen Candidates<br />Schedule Interviews<br />Reference Checks<br />Make the Offer<br /> The Steps of Recruitment<br />
    13. 13. The Job Is Posted<br />
    14. 14. Reviewing Resumes<br />
    15. 15. Pre-Screening<br />Treats? Um yes sometimes we have muffins at meetings. Is that important to you?<br />Oh yes very much so. I also require 4 hour naps mid-day and someone to <br />
    16. 16. Confirm <br />Date<br />Time <br />Where to park<br />Who you’ll be meeting with<br />Bring 2 additional copies of your resume, and references<br />Be 5-10 minutes early<br />Take a deep breath and have some water!<br />The Interview<br />
    17. 17. Do your research!<br />Prepare yourself with answers to potential questions<br />Don’t bash previous employers<br />Ask questions at the end – show initiative<br />Interview Tips<br />
    18. 18. Tell me about yourself<br />Why do you want to work here<br />What do you know about our company<br />Why did you leave your last job<br />Tell me about your experience at your last job<br />What experience do you have at (fill in the tasks)<br />Tell me about your strengths<br />Tell me about a time when...<br />What is your salary expectations<br />What questions do you have for me<br />From<br />Top 10 Questions You’ll Most Likely Be Asked:<br />
    19. 19. ‘Thinking back to people who have been in this position previously, what differentiated the ones who were good from the ones who were really great?’<br />This shows that you’re thinking beyond the interview, and that you want to be great in this job, not just fill a void.<br />From<br />The Ultimate End-Of Interview Question:<br />
    20. 20. Dress for the environment <br />Office?<br />Outdoors?<br />Corporate vs Casual <br />Clean and pressed<br />Pulled together<br />Simple & appropriate<br />Always err on the side of over-dressed rather than under<br />What To Wear (and what not to!)<br />
    21. 21. Present a list of references to call (2-3)<br />Previous supervisors/managers <br />Members of committees<br />Phone & email if available<br />Follow up with a ‘thank you’ email:<br /> ‘Thank you Stephanie for taking the time to interview me for the administrative position yesterday. I look forward to speaking with you further about this opportunity. Kind regards,<br /> -Stephanie’<br />Post-Interview<br />
    22. 22. Trust that you WILL get a job!<br />Employers want to put you in a position where you will succeed.<br />If you don’t get the job – ask questions. What can you do to improve your chances? Feedback, like research, is your friend.<br />Confidence is key – fake it until you make it baby!<br />Lastly...<br />
    23. 23. Questions?<br />
    24. 24. Stephanie Andrews<br /> Contact Me:<br /><br /><br />Favourite HR Blogs:<br /><br /><br /><br />Resources<br />Thanks for having me!<br />