From. Learn. A Guide for New Job Seekers

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1 From Learn A Guide for New Job Seekers 1

2 This workbook has been created to help people entering the job market for the first time after high school. It provides practical advice and information to help people succeed in their job search. The activities throughout the guide will show you how to identify your skills, target your job search, write resumes, cover letters and practice your interview skills. Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. -Thomas A. Edison

3 Introduction...1 Section 1: Getting Started...2 Activity 1: Creating Your Skills Inventory...4 Activity 2: Describing Your Skills...6 Activity 3: Understanding Your Work Place Preferences...7 Section 2: Finding Work... The Job Search Activity 4: Brainstorming Your Network Activity 5: Contact Tracking Worksheet Activity 6: Information Interview Section 3: Marketing Your Skills Activity 7: Checklist for Writing a Cover Letter Activity 8: Rough Resume Worksheet Activity 9: Resume Checklist Activity 10: Interview Worksheet Activity 11: Interview Checklist Where to Get More Help... back cover Section 6: Title page: Resources... 49

4 Building a successful job search is like building a house. If the foundation is poor, the whole structure is weak. To build a strong work search foundation, follow these steps. 1. Get started by getting organized, identifying your skills, and deciding what types of work you are looking for (Section 1). 2. Find suitable work opportunities by using job search methods that fit your circumstances and the kind of work you want (Section 2). 3. Market your skills by presenting them effectively via portfolios, resumes, cover letters and application forms, and by talking to employers (Section 3). Learning how to look for work is much the same as learning any other skill. First you learn the basics, and then you practice. The best way to use this guide is to read it once, and then review each section more carefully as you complete the worksheets and put your job search strategies into practice. 1

5 Section One: 2

6 A job search is like any other kind of search. If you know what you are looking for and where to look, you are more likely to find it. If your search is well organized your chances are even better. So, it makes sense to get started by: 1. Getting organized; 2. Finding out what employers want and what you can provide; 3. Finding out where someone like you is needed. Getting Organized Getting organized means more than making sure you have all the things you will need to find and start work as soon as possible. It also means using your time and energy efficiently and effectively. Social Insurance Number: To work in Canada, you must have a Social Insurance Number or SIN. If you don t already have one, go to a Service Canada office and apply. For More Information: go to the Service Canada website at Time Management: You will use your time most efficiently if you: Make lists of things you have to do and check tasks off as you complete them; Do similar things at the same time (ex. make all of your telephone calls at one time instead of returning to the phone to make calls several times a day); Use the support of family and friends. If they are willing to help you with your job search, let them! They can be a big help in identifying your skills, targeting your job search and finding employment opportunities. What You Have To Offer: Even if you have little or no paid work experience, you already have some of the skills employers need. The key to job search success is to identify your strongest skills and where they are needed. The Conference Board of Canada surveyed employers to produce a list of employability skills (the critical skills you need to succeed in the workplace). The following activity will help you to identify your employability skills. For more information about the Conference Board of Canada, visit their website at 3

7 Activity One: Complete the checklist, by checking off all the skills you feel comfortable you can use. These skills can also be something you may not have used in a while, but could quickly re-learn. Highlight (or circle) the checked skills you enjoy using. These are probably the skills you are good at, and skills that you could easily use on the job. Personal Skills Maintaining a Positive Attitude Feeling good about yourself confident that you can make a positive contribution in work or school situations Maintaining high ethical standards dealing with people and problems honestly Giving credit where credit is due recognizing your own (and others) good efforts Showing interest and initiative by getting involved in existing activities/work or starting new ones Being Responsible Organizing your work site keeping your work area neat and clean, taking care of tools, materials and equipment Anticipating future financial needs, setting financial goals and deciding how you will manage your money Following through with time and financial plans and making adjustments when necessary Accepting responsibility for your actions and the actions of your group Being Adaptable Working alone or as part of a team Working on several tasks or projects at the same time Being innovative and resourceful (identifying and suggesting different ways you can get the work done) Accepting change and using it to your advantage Accepting feedback and learning from your mistakes Coping with uncertainty (making decisions when you are not sure what the outcome will be) Learning Continuously Awareness of your personal strengths and skills that you may need to improve Setting your own learning goals Identifying and using learning opportunities and sources of learning Planning for and achieving learning goals Working Safely Being aware of personal and group health and safety practices and procedures and acting accordingly Teamwork Skills Working With Others Getting along showing respect for and caring about the feelings of others, and being considerate Being supportive helping others with their problems, supporting others decision and initiatives Accepting authority being able to work under supervision Respecting differences appreciating diversity, accepting the uniqueness of others Cooperating with others to accomplish shared goals Clarifying group goals when necessary Being flexible respecting and being open to others opinions and contributions Stating opinions having the confidence and assertiveness to say what you think Accepting feedback, without becoming defensive Leading or supporting others, by motivating others to perform well 4

8 5 Participating in Projects and Tasks Doing your part Being timely completing work on time to meet deadlines and getting to work on time Scheduling predicting how much time tasks will take and setting time frames for activities Initiating taking the first step to get things started Organizing coordinating the people and resources necessary to put a plan into effect Making decisions choosing a course of action and accepting responsibility for the consequences Adapting to changing requirements and information Fundamental Skills: Communication Reading getting information from written materials, following written instructions Writing using good grammar to write clear sentences and paragraphs, being able to express yourself and explain things in writing Talking being able to provide information effectively in ordinary settings Listening paying attention to what other people say and respond accordingly Explaining being careful and clear in what you tell people so they understand quickly and easily Resolving conflicts bringing conflicts to a successful conclusions Sharing information, using tools such as and voic Information Management Following directions completing tasks as directed Maintaining records for things such as inventory, budgets or other information in an organized system Recording using planners such as calendars and appointment books to keep track of activities Organizing information keeping orderly records such as files, binders, invoices maintained and organized Applying knowledge and skills from one or more area (such as math and language) Numerical Counting determining how many items in a group Calculating using basic math such as adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing Measuring using tools or equipment to determine the length, angle, volume or weight Budgeting planning how you will spend money, deciding what to buy, how much to spend or how to get the work done most cost effectively Thinking and Problem-Solving Assessing situations and identifying problems Seeking different points of view and evaluating them based on facts Analyzing breaking concepts or problems into smaller parts so each part can be examined Being creative and innovative in exploring possible solutions Evaluating solutions to make recommendations or decisions Checking to see if a solution works and taking the opportunity to improve on it This employability skills inventory is based on employability Skills brochure 2000E/F (Ottawa: The Conference Board of Canada, 2000). For more information visit their website at and click on learning tools.

9 Activity Two: One of the most effective ways to let employers know that you have the skills they are looking for is to describe situations where you have used those skills. This exercise will help you to further define your skills and describe them in ways that reflect your personal experience. Clear and specific descriptions of your skills are the building blocks for an effective resume and job interviews. Create a personalized list of skills you enjoy by using the items you highlighted (or circled) in activity one. Take these general items and use them to describe your skills more specifically and accurately. Use the space provided under My Skills to record your personalized list of work-specific and employ ability skills. For each skill you add to your list, ask yourself: who, what, when where why and how. Use the answers to describe each of your skills as accurately as possible. For example: if you write down the skill teaching, ask yourself; who you teach, what you teach, where you teach, when you teach, why you teach, and how you teach. Someone might say I referee basketball games at the local gym once a week, so young people have an activity to do, to keep them out of trouble. My Skills Who, what, when, where, why and how? 6

10 Finding Out Where Your Skills Can Work! Activity Three: To get what you want, you have to know what you want. Some items in the following activity are external values, such as location. If a work opportunity doesn t match these needs or wants, you will probably find the workplace to be less than ideal. However matching these preferences does not guarantee you will enjoy the work itself. Other items like status are internal values that influence your feelings of job satisfaction. The better the match between your internal values and your work, the happier you will be. For each item in the following table, think about what you must have, what would be nice to have and what you don t want based on your work and life experiences to date. Fill in your preferences under the Must Have, Nice to Have, and Don t Want columns. Use the additional rows to add any other items that are important to you. If you find it hard to identify what you need or want, begin by describing what you don t want. For ex ample, if you don t want to work in a downtown office tower, what kind of environment do you want to work in? Outdoors or in a retail setting? For your Must Haves consider which ones are deal breakers, and which ones you might be able to compromise. The clearer you are about your priorities, the better you can target your work search. Check off your 5 most important items. Location Hours of Work (ex. standard weekday hours vs. weekend shits, mandatory overtime etc.) Pay Rate Job security Working alone or with others Nature of the work (challenging vs. repetitive) Variety in the job Opportunities to learn or advance Must Have: Nice to Have: Don t Want: 7

11 Level of responsibility Must Have: Nice to Have: Don t Want: Status and respect Creativity Working with my mind Working with my hands Other: Other: Other: Other: Other: To help you decided where you are most likely to find employers who need someone like you 1. As quickly as you can, list all of the kinds of work you can think of that you could do well now or you could learn on the job. 2. Ask your family and friends to think of different types of work you would be good at; add any new ideas to your list. 3. Group the ideas you have gathered by employment area or industry. You have started to build an understanding of the kind of workplace in which you would thrive. This information will be helpful in the next phase of your work search finding employers you would like to work for. 8

12 9

13 Section Two: 10

14 Researching Work Options Before you apply for a job, you need to learn more about the kind of work you would be doing, and the situation of its industry in the labour market. There are basically three ways to learn about types of work you may wish to get into: read print materials, search the internet, and talk to people who have firsthand knowledge. Read About Different Potential Areas of Employment: A lot of information about employment can be found at your local library or Employment Ontario office. Business magazines, newspaper articles, occupational profiles and industry journals also contain a lot of information for job seekers. If you know very little about an industry or employment area, look for basic information about: The challenges employers are facing; Which companies and occupations are growing; The industries primary products and services, and the level of competition in the industry. Search the Internet: The internet can be a great source of information. You can look for recent job postings to find out if the occupation you are researching is in demand or you can look up occupational information for your area. Good tools to provide local information include: (under the Build Your Career section of the website) Talk to People Who Know (The Information Interview): People employed in a specific area or industry can give you information you may not be able to find in print or on the internet. For example, they can tell you: What job titles are usually used in their industry for the type of work you want; Where people who do that type of work are employed; How most people find work in the industry. They can also confirm what you learn from reading, and answer any questions that were left unanswered. If you know people who work in some of the fields that interest you, ask them if they would be willing to spend some time with you discussing their industry. Activity four will show you how to get the information you need while talking to people in the industry. 11

15 Activity Four: Under each of the headings provided, list as many people as you can think of. You will be asking them for information about occupations, industries and specific employers. Highlight the names of those people you feel closest to or most comfortable contacting. Make your first networking calls to them. Relatives and family friends: Community contacts: (such as volunteer groups, community groups or clubs, religious organizations and parent associations) Friends and their families: Former classmates: Neighbours: Former teachers: Current or former coworkers: Others: Acquaintances: 12

16 Activity Five: Make several copies of this worksheet use it to keep track of who you contacted. This sheet should be used with activity six, to keep record of what was asked and said to each network contact. Contact: Name: Organization: Contact: Name: Organization: Address: Address: Phone: Website: Date and time of contact: Phone: Website: Date and time of contact: Comments: Comments: Resume sent Thank-you note or sent Other and follow up: Resume sent Thank-you note or sent Other and follow up: 13

17 Activity Six: To be effective in an information interview, you need to be clear about the kind of information you are seeking. Use this information to help you decide what questions to ask. Developing an Information Interview Script Worksheet: You may want to make some copies of this worksheet. If you are looking into a couple of different occupations or industries, your script may be different for each contact. Complete the following prompts, these will help you to keep your conversation on track make sure you get your questions answered. Date: Script for (insert contacts name and company for reference): Briefly introduce yourself and include some information about your background if appropriate. (Ex. I am a recent graduate looking for some information on your industry, as I am considering it as a career.) Tell the person how you found out about them, and ask if they have a few minutes to talk about their job/industry (if not schedule a mutually convenient time to continue). If you have any knowledge about the occupation industry or company, referring to it at this point will help to catch the contacts interest. 14

18 To gather occupational information, consider asking the following questions: What does this occupation involve on a day to day basis? What skills does it require? What set of values does it reflect? How do people enter this field both the usual and unusual approaches? What do you like and dislike about this occupation? Would it be possible for me to job shadow you to learn more about this occupation? To gather industry information, consider asking the following questions: What kinds of people are attracted to positions in this industry? What are their values? What motivates them? What changes and challenges is the industry facing? 15

19 What are the unspoken expectations for people who work in this industry? What industry organizations or associations would you recommend? What publications would be helpful to someone interested in this industry? Add your own industry-related questions here: To gather employer-specific information, consider asking the following questions: What are some of the key challenges in your position? What qualifications are required for someone to work in this position in your organization? What do you like most about your job with this organization? What do you like least about your job with this organization? How did you find your current job? 16

20 What advice would you give someone who wants to work for this organization? Who else do you recommend I talk to about this organization? (Ask the following question if you were unable to find this information through your research): Who does the hiring in your organization? Add your own employer-specific questions here: Thank the person at the end of the meeting, or phone call. Note any additional follow up required. (You may also want to ask if you can contact them in the future for additional information.) Put yourself in the shoes of a busy employer. If you advertise a position, you will have to spend a lot of time reading applications and interviewing people. It is much easier to: Wait for a motivated job seeker to come to you; Ask your employees if they know of a qualified, reliable person who is looking for work. 17

21 Section Three: 18

22 Marketing your skills is much the same as marketing any other type of product. You have to: 1. Be familiar with your product > your skills (see section one, getting started) 2. Identify potential buyers > employers (see section two, finding work the job search ) 3. Present your skills in a way that will attract attention and make a good impression. Resumes, cover letters, messages, application forms and interviews are marketing tools. They should present the benefits that hiring you would bring to an employer. Both content and packaging are important. If your resume, cover letter and look well-organized and interesting, employers will probably start to read them. Quality content is required to keep their attention. Cover Letters A cover letter is a business like way to introduce your resume or application form. It creates an important first impression of your qualifications. Some employers automatically discard any applications they receive that do not include a cover letter. To be most effective, your letter must: Get the employer s attention by appealing to the employer s interests and needs; Highlight your skills and accomplishments; Provide information that is relevant to the particular job you are applying for; Convince the employer to read your resume or application form. 19 Activity Seven: Make it brief and to the point. Your letter should be short, and typewritten with NO spelling mistakes use simple and direct language. Link yourself to the employer by naming the person that referred you to the job if possible (for example - John your manager in customer service suggested I contact you). If you are responding to a newspaper ad or online job posting, refer to the ad. Personalize your letter. It should reflect your personality. However, this is a business letter so humour is generally out of place. Tailor your letter to the requirements of the job. It must show how your skills relate to this employer s needs. Stress how the employer will benefit from hiring you, and how you think you will benefit from becoming a part of the company.

23 Activity Eight: Your Full Name Your Street Address, and Box Number Community, Province Postal Code Address (Area Code) Phone Number Job Objective: Summary of skills/qualifications: Education: Name of School: City: Highest grade level completed: Courses studied: Special skills developed from school (computer programs, welding, typing etc.): Extra-curricular activities while attending school: Years attended: From - To - 20

24 Employment History: Start with your most recent position and work backward. Do not repeat details common to several positions. Emphasize major accomplishments and responsibilities that demonstrate your full competency to do the job. Keep your objective in mind, and as you describe prior positions, emphasize those that are most closely related to your next move. Company Name: City: Position Held: Duties: From - To - Company Name: City: Position Held: Duties: From - To - Company Name: City: Position Held: Duties: From - To - Company Name: City: Position Held: Duties: From - To - 21

25 Other Important Information: Licences, Certificates, Accomplishments, Other Training (First Aid, W.H.M.I.S) Volunteer Experience: Other Experience: Special Interests: 22

26 Activity Nine: This exercise summarizes many resume do s and don ts. Use the checklist to critique your own resume or provide it as a guide for anyone who may be reviewing your resume. Make any necessary changes and corrections. Overall Appearance: Does the resume look professional? Is the layout appealing, uncluttered and easy to read? Was the resume created using a standard word processing font such as Arial or Times? Is the font size appropriate (Ex pt)? Is the contact information written clearly at the top of the first page? Is the resume free of errors in grammar and spelling? Length and Conciseness: Relevance: Is the length appropriate (no more than three pages, ideally two pages)? Can any words be cut? Are the qualifications most relevant to the job objective highlighted? If personal information is included, is it relevant to the position? Qualifications and Accomplishments: Clarity: Does the resume emphasize the qualifications the employer is looking for? Are achievements, awards, recognitions described clearly? Are specific examples provided to demonstrate qualifications and accomplishments? Are appropriate keywords used? Are the appropriate headings used? Do headings organize and highlight information clearly and consistently? Qualifications and Accomplishments: Does the resume include all important information and details? 23

27 Job Interview A job interview is a business meeting. Both parties want to make a deal: you have the skills and the employer has work. Your first task is to show you have the skills the employer needs to get the job done. Your second task is to find out if you are interested in the work. In other words, you should be prepared to ask questions as well as answer questions. Treat each job interview as an opportunity to learn something and improve your interview skills. Personal Appearance It s important that when you are applying for jobs, or interviewing that you dress appropriately. You want your appearance to say you are: mature, responsible, know the industry and are ready to work. Employers want you to present yourself in the workplace in a way that makes sense for the type of job, and is safe. Unfortunately, the clothes you might wear every day usually aren t suitable for the workplace. When preparing for your interview: consider the importance of hygiene, dress neatly, use fragrances moderately, wear what is acceptable for the industry and understand what your personal appearance communicates to others. This is why researching the working conditions of the business you are interviewing/applying for is so important. What you would wear to interview for a greenhouse job, manufacturing job and office job would all be different. For example: In many manufacturing facilities you must wear closed toed shoes to be allowed on the plant floor there is potential that a plant tour could be part of the interview process, so sandals would be inappropriate to wear. 24

28 Activity Ten: Interviews can be nerve wracking, so don t go into one unprepared. Take stock of your knowledge, skills, and abilities, so you are well prepared to answer questions. Start by filling out the worksheets below; review the checklists to make sure you are covering all your bases. If you feel like you could use some extra tips, visit an employment counsellor. Job Title My Relevant Skills Related Experience People I Could Network With Example: Cook Good at cooking at home Very clean Work quickly Can organize food prep BBQ for family cookout Hospitality high school class Looking into culinary postsecondary programs Classmates employed in a restaurant Cook at nursing home where I am doing a co-op placement 25

29 My Strengths List situations where... you had a conflict with a co-worker, and the successful outcome. My Weaknesses you had to use creativity. you had to use quick thinking. you had to deal with a stressful situation, and the positive outcome that resulted. Accomplishments I am proud of, and why. 26

30 Activity Eleven: Before the interview: Research organizations to which you are applying. Review job postings to identify the skills, knowledge and abilities essential to the job you re applying for; don t forget to inventory your own skills, knowledge and abilities. Practice the interview; prepare answers to potential questions. Plan your route and clothing the day before the interview, and get a good night s rest! The day of the interview: Dress appropriately: no sayings or pictures on your shirt, no rips or tears in your clothing, no sloppy or revealing clothes, minimal make up, hide tattoos, limit visible piercings. Hair and hygiene are crucial, so shower the day of the interview. Also avoid strong perfumes and after shaves. Be on time, minutes early. Don t smoke prior to the interview. Never bring a friend or child with you to the interview. During the interview: Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake, a smile, and direct eye contact. Show enthusiasm it tells the interviewer you will be highly motivated. Don t chew gum. Don t discuss personal problems. Act professionally and be honest. After the interview: Don t linger after the interview. Smile, shake hands, and thank the interviewer for their time. Consider writing a Thank You note for the opportunity to interview with the company. Reward yourself. If you are getting interviews, you are doing something right! 27

31 28

32 An Employment Ontario Employment Services Provider is available to help you with your job search. Search for employment service in your community on the Employment Ontario website:

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