An essential guide to job hunting

March 24, 2016

Whether you’ve lost your job or you’re changing careers, looking for work can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. Here’s some advice to help you successfully navigate the job-hunting process.

An essential guide to job hunting

Doing some self-reflection

Before leaping into job-hunting mode, which takes time and organization, first identify your interests and skills – the ones you want to bring to the table.

  • That includes writing down such things as your strengths, achievements, salary expectations, availability and professional certifications.
  • A self-assessment of your aptitudes and skills will allow you to better target potential employers and help with writing a cover letter and résumé.

If you need help, you could always meet with a guidance counsellor.

  • Using various types of tests, he or she can steer you towards careers that make the most of your strengths.

Managing your time while unemployed

No matter the reason, a job loss is never easy to accept. Although your first reaction might be panic, it’s important to get over the initial shock and get organized. This will ultimately help you to bounce back and find a new job.

  • Don’t feel ashamed about your situation. Chances are it had nothing to do with you. It’s also important not to isolate yourself. In fact, networking is a great way to get your career moving.
  • Apply for Employment Insurance (EI) if you’re entitled to claim it.
  • It’s also essential to spend your time productively. That includes doing freelance and/or volunteering to keep your skills up to date; updating your résumé and cover letter; practicing interviews; visiting friends and family; pursuing your hobbies; and maybe even cleaning your house!

Although finding a job should be your main focus while unemployed, burning yourself out won’t help. Keeping a balance is essential.

Writing a killer résumé letter

Now that you’re on the market again, you'll want a résumé that will get you a job.

  • It should showcase your education, experience and will be your first point of contact with potential employers.
  •  Streamline your résumé to ensure it is well written, concise and no longer than two pages long.
  • Before sending your résumé, remember to do a spell check! There’s no bigger turn-off to a hiring manager or prospective employer than a spelling or grammatical error.
  • To improve the odds your résumé gets noticed, pull key words from the original job posting when you draft it. It’s a great way to set yourself apart from other candidates.

To potentially get hired faster, it's a good idea to adapt your résumé for the position to which you are applying by including only experience that is relevant.

Creating an eye-catching cover letter

Writing a good cover letter will help you stand out from the crowd. It also provides another opportunity to sell yourself as the “best” candidate, highlight your personality, and explain why you’re keen about the position.

  • Similarly, it demonstrates your writing abilities, emphasizes your communication skills, and clearly shows you to be a professional – all  good reasons why a potential employer ought to invite you to an interview.

Asking for a letter of recommendation

Getting a letter of recommendation can help stack the odds in your favour during the job hunt, so why not ask for one?

  • Don’t hesitate to ask your previous employer for a letter, as long as you’re sure he or she won’t write a negative review that could sabotage your chances of getting an interview or the job.
  • If a previous employer refuses, all is not lost. Ask someone with whom you have a good relationship – a doctor, for example.

Getting ready for the interview

How well you prepare for an interview could be what determines if you are hired or not.

  • The kinds of questions you will be asked and your answers is how the recruiter will size up your personality, knowledge, strengths and weaknesses.
  • Certain frequently asked questions, e.g., “What is your greatest weakness?” are standard. To help you stay calm during an interview, practice your replies ahead of time.
  • The day of the interview, make sure your appearance is impeccable. You only have one chance to make a first impression!
  • Research the company and the position beforehand. You won’t regret it when the recruiter asks you, “So what do you know about our company?” It shows you’re interested.
  • When the interview is finished and you’ve thanked the recruiter for his or her time, follow up afterwards and send a personal thank you note. It leaves a positive impression and even if you don’t get the job, keeps the door open for other opportunities.

The process of looking for a job is often accompanied by intense self-reflection. A benefit to changing careers, if that's the direction you go, is that it could ultimately mean a better life for you and your family. Take the time to evaluate your options, stay positive and seek help from a professional guidance counsellor, if necessary.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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