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Careers & Job Skills

November 2017

3 Ways to Prepare Your Job Search Before You Graduate

Research Aims to Improve Female Participation in the Building Trades

Labour Shortage ‘Across The Board’ In Western Canada: CAODC

Why You Should Consider a Career in Food & Agriculture

6 In-demand Entry-level Jobs That Can Pay More Than $40,000

How to Answer Retail Job Interview Questions

3 Ways to Prepare Your Job Search Before You Graduate

Written by Maxwell Arnold

A lot of us go into school with a singular focus on getting good grades, thinking that you’ll get onto your job search in due time. Well, that time is now – you need to prepare for your job search before you graduate.

Getting a head start is important; once you’re caught up in midterms and final exams, you don’t want that stress to interfere with your job search. If you get the details in order now, you’ll have a much easier time applying for jobs once spring comes around.

“Looking for a job before you’ve graduated is important because the search can take several months,” says Catherine Thorburn, a Toronto-based life and career coach. “If you are looking to find a job as soon as you finish school, you need to be planning well in advance.”

Here are three ways students can prepare for their job search – even before they graduate.

Straighten out your social media presence

It’s no secret … being in school involves things that have nothing to do with studying. So, it’s only natural that your social media is going to have goofy pictures from crazy parties and wild nights out. These pictures are wonderful to keep for your own memories, but they can be a big turn-off to employers, especially those that are a bit more conservative. Take some time to comb through what shows up on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. If you’re seeing things that you wouldn’t want an employer to see, it’s time to hide or delete them. Better to do a thorough cleanup now than to scramble the day before an interview, right?

Write a starter resume

Chances are you have a pretty good idea what your resume will look like once you’ve graduated. The problem is, a resume in your head will not help you in a job search. A resume needs to be in writing, and now is the time to get it started because you’ll need to have it ready the moment you see an interesting position (or spoken to an interested employer).

Thorburn emphasizes the need to act early. “If you’re starting your job search months in advance of graduating, you need to have a resume ready to go because that is the first step required with a job search, once you’ve found a position you want to apply to.”

Take the time now to write a resume as though you’ve already graduated. Your professors, or career counsellors at your school can be very good sources for insights or advice.

Resume writing can be a long process, but by starting early, you’ll have the chance to tailor your resume without feeling rushed.

Start searching for jobs

You may be several months away from graduating, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start looking. Even though you might not be ready to apply, you should be getting a sense of what entry-level positions are out there, who the most notable employers are, and what they say they’re looking for in job postings. “It’s never too early to start your job search,” Thorburn says. “It’s not just about seeing what employers are hiring and what’s out there, it’s also about seeing what employers are looking for so that you can be sure you meet their requirements. Since you’re still in school, you can do extra courses or extracurricular activities, if that’s what the employers are looking for.” Even if you spend just 20 minutes every week looking at job postings, you’ll find that when it comes time to do a serious search, you’ll be much more prepared and confident.

Take the time now to get into this habit, and you’ll soon have an advantage as an informed job-searcher – even before you’ve sent in your first application.

You may not know where to begin your job search just yet, but just taking these steps ensures you won’t be caught off guard once graduation comes around. Remember, there are hundreds (or even thousands) of students at your school all graduating with the same credentials. You can still get ahead, though – you just need to be prepared.

Maxwell Arnold is a Consulting student at George Brown College.

Research Aims to Improve Female Participation in the Building Trades

by Russell Hixson

The Women in Trades labour market project includes feedback and recommendations from employers, tradespeople, unions, the Industry Training Authority (ITA), WorkSafeBC and other stakeholders from around the province.

The project report identifies barriers preventing women from entering, advancing and staying in a career in the trades and suggests solutions to change it.
So far, the amount of female participation in the trades has been low. According to the province, less than three per cent of working women in B.C. are in the building trades.

According one of the reports produced by the project, A Women in Trades Program Matrix for BC: Priorities and Implementation Options, there were several major themes gleaned from the research.

First was the importance of a multi-faceted approach as participants agreed no single service or support can sufficiently and effectively address the barriers.

"It's not just one thing," explained Tara Fong, Canada jobs fund manager for the ITA. "It's a more complex issue than that."

Second, was the important role that employers have to play.

"Many saw building industry leadership as particularly important, reinforcing the need for organizational changes to drive positive outcomes," reads the study. "Key employers have the power to push for wider adoption of policies and practices, starting with those in their supply chain, thereby fostering further leadership development. It is also important that supports to facilitate the hiring and promotion of tradeswomen are employer-friendly."

Third, some study participants suggested revising or expanding specific components of the report related to program areas to include soft skills training and tradeswomen speakers. The report also suggested ensuring that interventions such as financial incentives minimize the potential negative effects on women so that they do not make women a greater target for workplace harassment or discrimination due to perceptions of an unfair advantage.

Existing organizations, like WorkSafeBC or unions, also have a role in addressing certain gaps identified in the report, especially when it comes to bullying and harassment.

Finally, some participants in the study stressed that many of the themes and barriers identified in the report, like bullying and improved health and safety, are relevant not just to women, but to workers in general.

"The Ministry of Labour and WorkSafeBC have been actively involved in the dialogue that has taken place about improving supports to women in the workplace and in particular, women in the trades sector," said Minister of Labour Harry Bains in a press release. "We know that one of the key barriers to retaining women in the trades is the unacceptable culture of bullying and harassment that some are exposed to. This culture is unacceptable and the behaviours must be guarded against and must not be tolerated by workers, their colleagues or employers."

As a result of the research, several pilot projects have been suggested, including mentoring and professional network programs, creating a hub for knowledge exchange and employment liaison services.

"Women really want to be in the trades but sometimes end up really feeling that disconnection from other women and we found out how expansive and impactful that is," said Fong. "When you are the only woman in a 500-man crew, you feel isolated, even if there isn't anything untoward happening. There needs to be more sisters in the sisterhood."

The Women in Trades project report recommends providing women with workplace supports like informal mentorship and networking programs and enhancing employer human resource practices to make workplaces a more inclusive and accepting environment.

"I think there is so much desire to see women grown the trades," said Fong. "It's just about making sure they are being supported in the best way that we can. It's not the women who need to change, it's the environment and it is changing, but we need it to move along much quicker."

The $540,000 project was funded through the Canada-B.C. Labour Market Development Agreement.

The next step will be working with industry to develop pilot projects to address the issues identified in the research report; including anti-bullying and harassment awareness, employer policies around inclusive hiring practices and other supports that aim to improve workplace culture.

Journal of Commerce

Labour Shortage ‘Across The Board’ In Western Canada: CAODC

By Pat Roche

Drilling and service-rig companies need more qualified workers to meet producer demands, but there isn’t enough margin or stability in the industry to lure people back.

“It really doesn't matter where you're located in Western Canada — there is a labour shortage across the board,” said Mark Scholz, president of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC).

Answering reporters’ questions after releasing the CAODC’s 2018 drilling forecast, and 2017 state of the industry report, Scholz agreed that while the industry is much busier this year and in 2016, there hasn’t been a corresponding increase in producer capital spending.

“There's no question that we're providing a premium product for a discount. And that would be across the board, regardless of region, regardless of company,” he said. “If you look at any of the earnings reports from some of my publicly traded members, it would show that they are offering a service at a significant discount.”

He suggested part of the problem is an oversupply of rigs “and that unfortunately dictates the price that we're able to command in the marketplace.”

As a result, Scholz said some rigs are starting to be decommissioned. “We’re removing about 19 rigs out of our rig fleet in 2018 and we probably will continue to see a gradual reduction in the overall supply.”

Meanwhile, drilling and service-rig contractors’ margins continue to be squeezed.

“So I would say at this stage, even though we are seeing elevated operating days [and] elevated utilization and elevated wells that are going to be drilled, this is still a very difficult market to operate in as a drilling and well-servicing contractor,” Scholz said.

That leaves CAODC members “in a bit of a Catch 22,” he said, explaining that while they need to recruit qualified workers back into the industry, there isn’t enough margin in the business to provide the necessary incentives.

“For folks that have left the industry and gone to ... home construction or road construction or other trades, they're not willing to come back into our industry unless they have some sort of assurance that this is a long-term commitment by the employer,” Scholz said. “And unfortunately we just can't offer that at this time.”

While Alberta’s unemployment rate remains high, the industry is “looking for very specific people. ... You can't just grab somebody fresh off the streets and put him in a roughneck uniform.”

He added: “And so that's one of the challenges — because we are in a position now of grooming and training so many people. The turnover is quite significant in some of our member shops. ... They'll interview hundreds of people, scale it down to 10, hire five and their turnover rate is upwards of 70 per cent.”

Scholz said another impediment to recruitment is worker expectations.

“The type of environment we can offer future employees may not necessarily fit within their expectations of a workplace,” he said. “Keep in mind, most of our drilling and well servicing is done in Quarter 4 and Quarter 1 and it's very cold in northern Alberta.” Then there’s the seasonality, the time away from home and the unpredictability of when work will be available.

“But I think the biggest factor right now is the fact that although we are seeing a bump in our overall activity, we still can't provide reasonable stability to accommodate the workforce.”

JuneWarren-Nickle's Energy Group

Why You Should Consider a Career in Food & Agriculture

Written by Lauren Pelley

If you think a career in agriculture means buying a farm, you’re missing out on a diverse and booming industry.

From food product developers to conservation biologists to golf course superintendents, the range of jobs under the umbrella of food and agriculture is broader than ever before — and experts say there aren’t enough trained workers to fill them, making it a great field for job seekers.

“People have this misconception that agriculture means only farmers, only growers,” said Manish Raizada, a geneticist and professor in the department of plant agriculture at the University of Guelph. “But agriculture — meaning food — is the second-largest sector in Ontario, after automotive.”

56 per cent of agriculture employers predict increase in hires

A 2017 report from the University of Guelph’s Ontario Agricultural College reveals 44 per cent of food employers and 56 per cent of agriculture employers project a general increase in the average number of new hires over the next five years.

The survey of more than 120 Ontario employers also found just over half of food respondents and nearly 70 per cent of agriculture respondents find it tricky to fill those roles.

It’s a similar trend elsewhere in the country, and south of the border. In the United States, an average of nearly 60,000 agriculture job openings are expected annually for the next few years — but there aren’t enough grads to fill them, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Purdue University.

Because of that gap, Raizada said his students often get multiple job offers, and stressed that people unfamiliar with the agriculture and food industry need to think outside the box in terms of what career opportunities are possible.

Diverse assortment of jobs available

Field production, greenhouse production, food processing, fisheries — they’re all big industries, he said. “The greenhouse industry is a billion-dollar industry in Ontario,” Raizada added. “Out west in the prairies, it’s an even larger percentage.”

People who train in agriculture may work in the banking industry, while people who train in food science could work at brewing companies, said Karen Landman, interim associate dean external relations at the Ontario Agriculture College.

Canada’s wine industry — be it the Niagara region in Ontario, or the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia — are also hot-spots for agriculture grads, as are start-up food companies.

“Consumers want to feel connected to their food, and there are lots of startups around going from farm-to-fork with as few steps as possible, disrupting the traditional model of food,” said Raizada, adding that these are all typically high-paying jobs.

The bottom line, according to Landman, is that these roles often don’t involve actually working on a farm — unless that’s your jam.

“It could be an urban situation working in a large brewing company or food company,” she said. “There’s a lot of variety.”


6 In-demand Entry-level Jobs That Can Pay More Than $40,000

Written by Workopolis

Getting a foot in the door can be tough, especially when the bills keep coming in. Internships and co-ops are useful, but for many, that’s just not an option.
The good news is that you still have options. To help you get started, we’ve compiled six in-demand, entry-level jobs.

Check them out:

Sales representative 

Commonly required skills:

Pharmacy assistant

Commonly required skills:

Executive assistant 

Commonly required skills:

Administrative assistant 

Commonly required skills:

Customer service representative 

Commonly required skills:

Sales associate 

Commonly required skills:

*Salary ranges posted in CAD, courtesy of Payscale.


How to Answer Retail Job Interview Questions

Written by Workopolis

So you’ve decided to work in retail. Great! The hours are often flexible, the people watching is off the hook, and you might even get to snag some store discounts.

Before you get excited, though, you still need to get the job. More specifically, you need to kill it at the job interview. So what do you do if you’ve never worked in retail before and, aside from your love of the mall, have nothing else to offer? First off, don’t panic.

Here’s how to answer retail job interview questions.

Q. Have you worked in retail before? 

Let’s assume you haven’t. Yes, you might want to just run from the store with your hands on your ears, but in reality, all is not lost. If you look back on your life, it’s likely you have sold something to someone before (like convincing your parents that you’re totes going to the library when you’re on your way to a party). If not, you have most likely been in situations that closely mirror a retail sales scenario, like a presentation at school.

When it comes to answering the question, focus on the job’s necessary skills. Use the job posting’s own wording as a guide here, with a summary of experience that touches on the requirements they’ve included in the description of the role.

A. I haven’t yet, but I think my interests and personality line up well with the role. I am a social person, and am very comfortable approaching people. I’m also a fashionista in every sense of the word. I follow all the latest fashion press and blogs, and try to stay up to date on the latest trends. I feel like that’s given me a good sense of color and style – most of my family and friends come to me to help them decide what to wear. I also know a lot about fabrics and fit; I’ve been sewing my own clothes since 9th grade.

Q. Can you work for a minimum of 16 hours a week?

This question is clearly dependent on the job’s demands, and your situation. Are you looking for a full-time job? Or do you want a side-gig? Still in school? All of these will factor in to your answer. Be honest and realistic with what you really want and can handle, but keep in mind that they’re gauging not only your availability, but also your level of interest and dedication. No one wants to hire a flake.

If there is any reason why this might be an issue, try to frame your answer to make yourself look as good as possible:

A. During the summer months I’m looking for full-time hours, but once the semester starts again in September I’d have to move to a part-time schedule. School is very important to me, but I take all my commitments seriously and would be happy to work around whatever schedule is available.

Q. Can you work shifts? Late nights and early mornings? Weekends?

Similar to the question above, they want to know just how serious and committed you are. More importantly, they want to know if you can be counted on when things get busy. Again, this is about knowing what you want and being honest (with the interviewer and yourself). Is working on the weekend going to send you into a pit of depression? Do you equate waking up early with a form of torture?

Think long and hard before you commit to something.

A. I have no problem with working shifts, but I have a bit of a long commute, and I’m more of a night person, so I’d prefer nights over early mornings. I can also work on weekends if needed, but my preference would be for weekdays.

Q. Why do you want to work in retail/at our company?

Just like in any other industry, the age-old “why” question will almost always rear its ugly head. It’s especially pertinent for retail jobs because despite all the aforementioned perks of the industry, working retail can be challenging. You’re on your feet for long periods of time, and you’re usually at the mercy of your clientele’s whims and quirks. It is, to put it mildly, not for everyone.

To hit this question out of the park, focus on either the company itself, an aspect of the role, or any learning opportunities.

A. I’ve been a fan of the brand and its designs for a long time, and it’s important for me to work for a company that I believe in. Your company has always done a great job with merchandising and I’d love to get the chance to learn more about that. 


B. I want to work in retail because I like the people aspect of the business. Shopping makes people happy when they find what they like and I’d like to be a part of that. 

Q. Why should I hire you?

Hopefully, by the time you get to this point, your interview will have already answered this question, but in case it hasn’t, take this opportunity to provide a summary of your resume. If you have experience, this is the time to flaunt it, but if you don’t, you can still win them over with a succinct elevator pitch. Focus on your interests, skills, and ambitions, and don’t be afraid to flash a sense of humour.

A. You should hire me because I’m borderline obsessive about fashion and your brand. I’ve also always been a very social people person and I’m anxious to learn more about selling and customer service.

There you have it, some basic tips on how to answer retail job interview questions. Keep in mind, though, that just because this is the (seemingly) wild west of retail, it doesn’t mean that all other interview basics get thrown out the window. Be confident, dress the part, look the interviewer in the eyes, and smile… a job in retail awaits.