Thursday, January 31, 2013

Purpose of Achievement Statement Resumes

If you've ever visited our Career Resource Centre (if you haven't, here's your reminder!) you'll know that we advocate for resumes that are achievement-based. So what does that mean, exactly?

In a nutshell, we believe (in addition to many industry gurus) that resumes should be written and organized in terms of what you've achieved, rather than just what you've done. It's very common for students and professionals alike to base their resume on duties instead of accomplishments, something that doesn't quite serve the purpose of letting the employer know how you made a difference in your previous positions.

Here's what I mean...

Instead of listing a position on your resume like this:

Tim Horton's, Niagara Falls, ON
  • Cleaned dishes
  • Received orders
  • Baked products for the store daily
Try this:

Tim Horton's, Niagara Falls, ON
  • Maintained a clean, organized working space while adhering to health and safety standards
  • Received orders in a timely, efficient manner to ensure products were organized and ready to sell
  • Baked products for the store daily, ensuring quality met customer's expectations

See the difference? 

The point is: the employer can infer from your position title what you might have done in the job, so there's no reason to simply list your duties because it doesn't provide any new information. A better idea is to use achievement statements to outline the action you performed (ie. the verb in the sentence), what you did, and what resulted because of what you did.

Start making these changes in your resume, and you're bound to see a difference in who responds to your applications.

Stop by the Resource Centre if you have any questions about writing your resume or need help creating effective achievement statements.

Good luck high achievers!
- Lia
Lead Career Assistant

Friday, January 25, 2013

Applying Online? Stay Classy!

Job search has made a swift transition from applying to ads in the paper to finding positions by the click of a button online. This has made job search a lot easier, hasn't it? We are able to search for the perfect job just be visiting a site like or and type in our location and desired job title and voila, 20 hits! And even better, you can visit the employer websites in a cinch to do that important research for tailoring your resume and cover letter, as well as for preparing for the interview.... that is if you get it. If. Because while there are thousand and thousands of jobs featured online, 85% of jobs are not. Don't believe me? Have you have thought about how those 20 perfect jobs you applied for online might also be perfect for somebody else? And by somebody else I mean somebodies -  many of them. Think of all of the people job searching online, just like you, applying to the same 20 jobs. All of the sudden 20 doesn't seem like many at all....

BUT, that does not mean you are at a disadvantage! In fact, by reading this you are ahead of the game! This blog goes over some handy tips to consider for maximizing your online job search techniques, as well as your online presence!

1. Don't apply to all 20 jobs. Take the time to read through each posting carefully, considering how and if your skills coincide. It's better to spend time on 5 job applications than to blindly to 20.

2. Be formal. It is the tendency to be more casual online because you're not face to face in your encounters (usually). Consider the first email sent to an employer with your job application attached your handshake. Always introduce yourself the way you would in person - this is your first impression, and that is a lot more difficult to make over the computer!

3. Follow directions when preparing the email. Often employers will indicate what they would like you to put in the header of the email when you apply to the job, but if they do not the best best is to identify your name and the position for which you are applying. (ex. Brittany Stewart - Application for Sr. Career Assistant). It is important to be clear and to also follow directions - you are telling a lot about yourself already just by preparing this email!

4. Can't sign the cover letter? Add an electronic signature. Because you cannot sign your cover letter when sending it online, it is still important to be formal and use a loopy font as a signature in its place. You may also choose to scan your signature right onto the computer for copying and pasting, whatever you choose!

5. Edit the email. One benefit to applying online is that you get a chance to edit your first impression again and again, something you never get to do "irl" (in real life, bad joke?)

These might seem straight forward and basic, but you'd be surprised at how many applications get trashed just for missing something like this! There is a lot more to professional etiquette online than these five tips so feel free to comment here if you have a question, or come on in to the Career Resource Centre between 9 and 4:30pm, Monday to Friday!

Happy searching,

Sr. Career Assistant

Friday, January 18, 2013

Working for the Weeke... Summer?!

"Wait a minute," you ask, "is this going to be a blog about finding a summer job? ALREADY? I only JUST found myself a part-time job!! I am all job searched out!"

"YES!" I answer, "this IS a blog about finding a summer job because guess what: to find the summer job you want and need the very best time to start is now."

Now is the time to start searching for that summer job because now is when the employers have begun to post them. The #1 mistake that students make when looking for summer employment is waiting too long and missing out on all of the great opportunities they could have had if they had just started a month or two earlier. And even if it is a little early yet, you don't want to wait until you're absolutely swamped with assignments that you just don't make the time to job search. Therefore, start now! And to help you out even further I am going to give you a few handy steps to follow on how to find yourself a GREAT summer job!

1. Check out job boards today! If you're looking to work on or off-campus, the Career Zone Job Posting Board is a great place to start! Each position is listed by area, and the board lists jobs from the Niagara Region to the GTA, including a wide variety of positions. Then too, if you stop by the Career Resource Centre and we will provide you a handout with a list of various job search sites for federal, provincial or municipal work, including summer camp sites and community directories! Also check out our website for some handy sites.

2. Once you've found a few jobs you'd like to apply for, update or create your resume and cover letter! Ensure to customize each document to the specific jobs at hand using an achievement based writing style! If you don't know what that is, why not check it out by coming on in for some handouts or a resume and cover letter review?

3. Have your documents done early. That way you can leave your application for a day or two to check back on, and also so you can have a fresh set of eyes look it over for you (Career Assistants in the Resource Centre perhaps?)

4. Follow up. Once you've applied for your position, do not hesitate to send a follow up email within a week of the application deadline to ensure that an employer has recieved it. This will show the employer your eagerness for the position at hand, and also give them a reason to remember your name when they do finally look over your documents!

5. Don't be discouraged if you're not selected. Summer job search is competitive, with many students searching you are bound to miss out on a few. Don't get stuck in assuming you've got a job in the bag and only apply for a couple of jobs- leave yourself room for flexibility and as many choices as you can give yourself!

6. Finally, set a deadline for all of this. For each step above, set a date of completion, and ensure that you give yourself enough time to complete it all in case something comes up. To help with this planning,  make sure you use the SMART Goal System to help you out!

Hope these tips prove helpful! Feel free to stop by the Career Resource Centre between 9am and 4:30pm Monday to Friday to discuss job search strategies or for anything else!

Sr. Career Assistant

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The phone book - it's good for more than just ordering pizza

I know, I know - who even uses a phone book anymore?!
Well, you could. And it may actually help you in your job search. You heard me! Stay with me here, and allow me to explain.

With technology always advancing, online job search tools are becoming more popular than options that may seem a little dated (knocking on the front door of an employer's office, anyone?).

However, this is not always a good thing. With the explosion of online job search tools also comes the possibility of laziness in the job-seeker. Think about it. It is quite easy to sit in front of a computer screen and apply to millions of job postings that come up in your Google search, without picking up the phone or talking to anyone face-to-face. We've made job-hunting literally faceless and impersonal - something that is bound to take its toll on those looking for work. I promise that there is still value in making a more personal connection to a potential employer; a professional is bound to remember someone who put themselves out there rather than an applicant who just added their resume to the pile on their desk.

Enter the phonebook.

Don't underestimate the power of using this tool to aid you in your job search. Here are a few ways to use this nifty resource:
  • Use it for what it is - a community directory. Target your job search and find specific companies and organizations you would be interested in applying to. Write down their contact info, or even create a chart to get your list super-organized. Use this information to conduct further research, look for openings, and prepare any application documents you might need.
  • Bring back the cold call! Here's an idea - use all those phone numbers you've just collected and make some calls! Prepare beforehand of course, and make sure you are comfortable in letting potential employers know who you are, what you are looking for, and what you have to offer. They may not have any openings at the time, but when they do, you can bet they just might remember that you made an impression on the phone a short while ago.
  • Make an appointment. It's also a good idea to see if it is possible to schedule a meeting with a recruiter or hiring manager to discuss opportunities available within the company. Meeting with them will give you a good idea of what kind of employee they're seeking. You could also set up an information interview to speak with a professional who is in the position you're dreaming of. They might have some great advice for you!
So there you have it, ways to use a phone book for your own job search. It pays to take advantage of any and all tools that can assist you in finding work - including this oldie. 

Good luck with your job search!
- Lia

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Don't Let Yourself Get Trapped!

Hi folks,

It has been a while since my last blog post and I think that that the topic today is an interesting one in that this topic comes up alot.

I often get questions from students and alumni concerned that they will get bored doing a certain career for a while and that once they get bored that they will be stuck because of their education.

I am here to tell everyone today that this is not the case at all! It is certainly possible to search for jobs outside of your industry and I am  here to give you tips on how to do just that.

So, say for example you graduate and work in the industry in which your degree has led. This is great and is what most students end up doing.

You continue to work at this position for a few years and move to a different position within the same industry until 10 years has passed and you feel as though you want more variety but you feel trapped within the industry in which you have worked since graduating.

This feeling is normal and trust me there is a way out. Here is what you should do to start searching into other industries:

1. Update your resume. If you have been in the same position for a while I would         recommend using a combination style resume which highlights your transferable skills. If    the new job you find is directly related but in a different industry then I would recommend using a chronological resume. Both styles and more information about their use can be found at the resource centre.

2. Look for positions based on skills as opposed to based on industry or job title. For example teachers sometimes think they are stuck working in the school board their whole lives. However many independent companies look for teacher candidates to teach training manuals to new staff. This is a good example of looking for a job based on what you will need to do and the skills needed as opposed to looking based on the job title/industry.

3. While it might be difficult I will always recommend volunteering in areas where you have other interests. You never know if through these volunteer experiences you will come across a job opportunity maybe not in what your educatin is in, but one in which you are equally qualified and likely happy doing.

4. To get more ideas about related careers to what you are currently doing, it will be beneficial to go on  assessment websites such as career cruising and type focus (which can both be accessed via Career Zone under the resource tab). On these assessments you will be able to type in your current careeer and it will give you related careers/ careers based on your interests, values and skills which may be out of your current industry and something that you might have interest in.

5. Finally, explore! I think you will be surprised at just how many different types of positions you are qualified for just because you have an undergraduate degree. So search online databases and look for stuff that interests you and apply. It won't hurt. Remember you do not have to have all of the qulaifications listed. That is an ideal list. If you only ahve 2 years experience and they want 5, your experience might be worth more. Go for it!

That is all for now. I hope that some of these suggestions help you to realize that after graduation you will have options. Do not feel like you are trapped and succumb to familiarity. Be confident that will a little diligence and an open mind that you will be able to have various types of exciting careers.

Before I go I have to appologize for the length of this post.... My bad. I told you it's been a while.

Until next time,

Friday, January 11, 2013

Vend-a-Career: If only it was that easy!

Finding a job, especially in today's job market, is not a simple task. It takes commitment and determination and an understanding that you may experience multiple let-downs before you successfully land a position at a company. Here is a list of things to consider when conducting your search: 

  • Keep an open mind: Having your heart set on a specific job does not mean it is currently available. Consider searching for other positions within your field to help you get experience until your dream job opens up and you can apply.

    • Want the job but don't feel qualified? Apply anyways!: Consider a job posting as a company's wishlist of their perfect candidate. Just because they are asking for someone with 3-5 years of experience in that field doesn't mean anyone applying is going to have those qualifications. You may also make up for lack of experience in other aspects of your resume. 
    •  Keep your reference list up to date: Before you lose complete contact with your previous employer ask them if you can use them as a reference for your next job. Other options for references can include teachers, professors, and volunteer coordinators.
    • Check job posting sites daily: Don't slack! Make a point to check a number of job posting sites on a daily basis. Jobs come and go at an extremely fast rate so you want to make sure you catch them before someone else does!
    • Get your resume and cover letter checked at Career Services: We are a drop-in service open 9-4:30 from Monday to Friday. Feel free to bring in a printed copy of your resume and cover letter and we will give you suggestions for improving your document.
    If you have any other questions regard job and career search feel free to stop in and see it!

    - Ashley, Sr. Career Assistant

    Wednesday, January 2, 2013

    New Year, New Goals!

    So the new year has just begun and 'tis the season for making resolutions. Maybe you've resolved to hit the gym more often, eat healthy, read more, stay on top of your assignments, find a job for after graduation, etc. Whether your goals are personal or professional, it is always important to check in and re-evaluate in order to ensure you stay on top of them! So many resolutions are never completed or ever even thought of again after January ends, but YOU should make achieving your new year goals a resolution for this year! Today I am going to give you some tips on how to ensure you not only make efficient goals but that you can actually complete them as well!

    First step: make sure your goals are SMART.

    Often time the reason that goals are never achieved is because they simply cannot be. There are a series of elements that go along with goal making that need to work together or else a goal will be too difficult to achieve and ultimately be thrown away. This is usually because the goal-maker did not take the time to reconsider and modify the goal to make it work for them. By STARTING with the SMART Goals system you will be on the road to ensuring goal success, but don't forget the importance of checking in once and a while as well.

    So what do I mean by SMART goals?

    Specific  - broad goals are not easily attained because there is nothing specific to achieve. If you resolve to go to the gym in the new year, write down how many times per week, for how long, what the result of attending the gym should be, etc.
    Measurable - instead of writing "lose weight" write how much weight, and by what date. That way, if you're on the right track you'll know it, and if not you can change the deadline or work harder to make the original one!
    Attainable - If your goal is to find a job in the new year, you can't expect to complete that goal within a month. Often goals are thrown to the wayside because the goal-makers do not see results soon enough and become discouraged. Make sure you remain patient, make your goals challenging but not so much so that you can never achieve them, and stay on top of it!
    Realistic - Similarly to attainable, ensure that the goals you make are realistic to what you really can do. Consider  your day to day schedule, noting how much time you might have to dedicate to achieving a goal, as well as external resources needed to achieve a goal. Does the goal cost money? Create a budget!
    Timely - Always set a deadline for yourself. If you don't create one, goals can be easily pushed back. Even if you do not meet the deadline, this is helpful because you can re-evaluate, consider which elements failed in your SMART Goal planning and figure out how to be successful with goal setting and achieving in the future!

    I hope these tips are helpful and that you can use them to succeed in the new goals you've made for the semester or year! Also, if we at Career Services can help you in achieving your goals, let us know! Come on into the centre and any of our Career Assistants will be happy to help you out! We have printed version of goal action forms as well.

    Good luck and see you all soon!

    Sr. Career Assistant