Posted by: Ms. Crackers | October 3, 2008

{ gainlessly unemployed }

As this job search continues, I wanted to offer a little support to anyone who may be reading this blog and are currently searching for work – especially those of you searching for work in Ottawa.

After I’m done mowing you down to steal that interview from you, that is, I’d love to offer some support. 😉 Hey, it’s a tight market.  Give me that offer, I was here first!

In addition to what I like to call the “Holy Trinity” of online job search tools in Ottawa (Jobbank, Workopolis and Monster), I have discovered a few other tricks of the trade, thanks to my experience in HR and my extreme love of researching things on the Internet.  I’m sharing this in hopes of giving myself a little Karma Boost…

  • Eluta – an awesome way to search for job postings, not necessarily found in the trinity.
  • Ontario Job Watcher – sign up for a free week of alerts, many of which are for jobs not posted on any of the “big sites”.  Heck, if you have more than one email account, sign up for a few weeks *wink wink*
  • AllStarJobs – great collection of company websites, recruitment agency links, and so on.

And, a few words of wisdom from yours truly:

  1. Align yourself with at least 3 placement agencies/recruitment companies. One should be BIG and see high posting frequency – OfficeTeam/RobertHalf, Hays, Randstad.  Based simply on numbers, you should hope to see some offers quickly.  One should be INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC…an agency that focuses on staffing positions in YOUR field.  A lot of them specialize – Accountemps (financial) and Aerotek (engineering/tech) are two that come to mind.  The third should be with a headhunter who you feel truly connected with – someone who is in your personal network, or someone you just “jive” with and you feel is looking out for your best interests.  Perosnally, I’ve connected with someone at Hunt Personnel as well as Manpower.  I also used to like ExcelHR, but they’ve been really touch-and-go lately.
  2. Look DAILY. Government postings, especially, can change on a daily basis.  I personally wait until 6pm so that I only need to look ONCE (rather than skim through multiple daily updates). Apply regularly.  Keep track of the jobs to which you apply…you’ll need to keep ’em all straight.
  3. Pick two or three specific career directions, tailor a version of your resume to that field, and apply to any and EVERYTHING that is applicable. Read job requirements carefully and ONLY apply if you can make a forseeable stretch into the role. Don’t waste time applying for a job that not only goes against the grain of your resume, but that is OBVIOUSLY not your career focus and interest.  Employers will just keep walking, trust me.  If you really care about wastewater management, you’re gonna need to prove it.
  4. If you’re employed, for the love of all that is good…keep your resume up to date. It’ll save you infinitely if you find yourself looking for work.  I like to review and revise mine monthly.
  5. Network like it’s going out of style. If someone turns you down for a job but you feel as though you made a connection, ask to keep in touch.  Follow up a month later to see if the person they did hire is working out in their role.  Go hang out with those friends you haven’t seen in months because you’ve been balls-deep in copy paper.  Former employees of your company are a good resource, as are any sympathetic mentors – whether you quit or were fired. Take a period of unemployment as an opportunity to network and develop your social skills.  Consider it all training pants for an interview.
  6. Stop thinking that a job interview is “mutual”. Until you have that offer in hand, there is no negotiation on your part.  You are not looking for the best “fit”.  You are trying to sell yourself, and do not forget that.  Ask informed questions, but always remember that the ultimate goal of a cover letter, an interview, a follow-up email, is to convince a potential employer that you are the BEST person for their company.
  7. Follow these simple doctrines, EVERY TIME. Send a personalized cover letter.  Do not copy and paste the company name and job title into your letter, lest you display some wonky formatting errors and reveal that you are simply copying from a letter template.  NO SPELLING ERRORS. Before your interview, ask if there is anything you are to bring (a hard copy of your resume, references, your pet monkey, etc). When possible, reconfirm your interview time via email – it shows attention to detail.  Arrive to your interview no more than 25 minutes and no later than 10 minutes before your interview.  BE POLITE TO THE RECEPTIONIST.  Practice your handshake.  Write a thank you email (yes, email is quick and therefore acceptable) to everyone you meet at the interview.  Remember, they share and compare.  Seriously, the goal here is to fall all over yourself with compatibility, capability, and congeniality.  Whatever you need to do to showcase these three things, do it.

In closing, being unemployed sucks.  Despite volunteering and spending hours watching Xena and Mad Men (more on that later) it still really blows.  The sooner I find a job, the better for everyone…and I’m sure the same goes for you.   One last offer before I go – if you’d like me to critique your resume, please leave a comment with your email address and I’ll send you mine.  I’ve seen like a billion resumes, so it’s pretty easy for me to spot what works and what doesn’t…and if I can help you out with my brutal honesty, you might be able to kill 15 minutes of my day.  We both win…:) The offer is there, good luck either way!

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