A couple of years ago I was at the point in my life when I realized that a career in IT wasn’t a fit for me anymore. I had a yearning to do something meaningful but wasn’t clear what exactly it could be. This is the time when I met Amelia Miller, an employment counsellor and career coach. I remember the first time we met, we sat at a coffee shop in downtown Vancouver and she began asking me questions.
Amelia asked me about my past jobs and my vision for future; questioned what I liked and what didn’t. She kept digging deeper and deeper. And then suddenly said, “I hear you talking so much about XYZ. Did you ever consider to do that?”
That was my light bulb moment. I didn’t realize I talked so much about XYZ and definitely I didn’t consider that direction. Amazed that Amelia saw what I didn’t see, after our meeting I started taking actions towards XYZ and found my new career path.
Last year we met again at Granville Island and expressed how much that meeting in a coffee shop meant to me. Amelia is truly amazing and I want to introduce you to her. To do that, we set up an interview to talk about career directions and job search in Vancouver.
I think clarity is the first thing we should start with. So my first question to you is “How to clarify a career direction?”
- The first thing I would do is clarifying your values which is basically what’s important to you in a job. Many people when looking for a job don’t know or ignore their values. In doing so, they end up whether quitting a job or getting fired. I highly recommend first to clarify your values. It could be a strong team environment or a workplace where you will be given individual praise or performance training.
- The second step is to look at your natural abilities and weaknesses to see what type of job would be the best fit for you.
- Then I would look at your skills. Think back to previous jobs, volunteer experience and studies. Identify which skills you can bring over to the next job.
- Understanding who you are as a person and linking your natural behaviors to careers is also critical when clarifying a career direction. Career questionnaires like Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or Work Personality Index will help you determine the right fit between your personality, abilities, skills and career.
- Last, look at your income consideration to realize how much you need and want for your next job.
Once you decide on a career direction, explore education and retraining opportunities in your field. Always study labour market information – there may or may not be job opportunities in your area.
These days more and more young people want to find a meaningful job but they are not sure what it could be. Can you comment on this?
My best recommendation is to volunteer. While volunteering, you are able to understand the nature of a job and the feelings that you get from volunteer experience. That would determine if that type of job is meaningful to you.
Another option is taking a course or class to see if you will enjoy the field. Some schools offer a degree with a practicum at the end. It is a good opportunity to see if it’s going to be meaningful to you. You never know until you try.
You can also explore what you define as a meaningful job with a career coach.
How can networking help a person to land a job opportunity?
Networking in the Greater Vancouver area is essential to getting a job. 80% of job openings are never advertised. They are found through networking. It’s called a hidden job market.
To access a hidden job market, connect with professionals and decision makers in your field. They can give you advice and inside information about companies as well as refer you to future job leads or introduce you to other professionals.
Social media (LinkedIn and Twitter) can help you identify networking opportunities and contact new people.
Now let’s talk about resumes. Can you give us 5 quick tips for writing a good resume?
The main purpose of a resume is to get an interview. How you get an interview from your resume?
Customize each resume to a job posting.
I would describe your accomplishments from previous work experiences using numbers, percentages and results. In your resume emphasize how you benefited a company or team by organizing statements this way: “Created a new database of 300 potential clients which resulted in 30% increase sales.”
Avoid any personal information on your resume such as a date of birth, age, nationality or a SIN number.
Add a LinkedIn account on the top of your resume. All employers now expect you having a LinkedIn account.
Use bullet points to make your statements easy to read.
What are the reasons why people might fail in the interview?
The main reason is a lack of confidence: a lack of eye contact, negative body language or inability to express your experience and accomplishments during the interview.
Another big reason is not knowing how to answer questions like “What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What are your long-term goals?” You have to prepare to answer these questions before an interview.
Third, a lack of interest and enthusiasm. If it’s between you and somebody else in a final decision, an employer will choose a candidate who expressed enthusiasm. So at the end of interview always express why you are interested in a job and a company.
Fourth, a failure to research a company. You will be asked why you want to work there. If you don’t research a company, you will be automatically disqualified from a job process.
Fifth, it might be simply a failure to look properly or arrive on time. Good first impression is so important!
After writing all these resumes/cover letters and hunting for job leads, it's easy to get frustrated with a job search. Do you have any tips for staying motivated during that time?
To stay motivated it’s important to keep a schedule by blocking time to do your job search. A job search requires at least 4-5 hours each day. Create a support network (family and friends.) Exercise and stay active. Find a mentor or a coach to keep you motivated, positive and confident.