5 Benefits of Seasonal Contracts

Contract

With hiring season around the corner, the job market is booming with temporary and seasonal opportunities (particularly in manufacturing and production positions). Here at The Career Foundation, we’ve seen an ever-growing number of temporary positions cropping up as we roll into spring. In light of this, we decided it might be time to evaluate the many benefits of temporary and seasonal employment opportunities.

Let’s start with the most obvious benefit of seasonal contracts: The income.
Temp assignments can provide a good source of supplementary income alongside your primary job, or they can simply provide income while you search for opportunities more in line with your career goals. Either way, money is never a bad thing.

Temporary contracts can allow you to “test drive” a position without having to make any long-term commitments.
Perhaps you were thinking a certain field or job is right for you, but you wanted to try it out before committing to a full time, permanent position. If this is the case, a seasonal contract might be the right fit for you.

So, your test drive went well and you’d be interested in a longer-term commitment to the company?  You have a shot!
Well, consider it a good thing that a lot of companies offer temp-to-perm opportunities to their successful seasonal employees. In many cases, companies will offer permanent positions to employees who stood out (positively) during a seasonal contract. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re the only one doing a little test-driving – always be sure to go that “extra mile” so employers will want to keep you just as much as you want to stay!

Seasonal contracts can also be a good opportunity to update your skill set, while preventing any questionable gaps from popping up in your resume.
Even if the seasonal opportunity isn’t your ideal, more work experience ultimately leads to a robust resumé and – so long as you’re not crowding it with an abundance of three-month stints – this can be beneficial to your future job search endeavours. If you find you have way too many short-term jobs listed on your resumé, bulk them strategically under a separate “Freelance” or “Contract Work” section.

Temporary contracts give you an opportunity to network and make new contacts. Developing a broad range of professional contacts can be very important, so even in a temporary contract it’s important to conduct yourself in a professional and friendly manner. You never know when you might need someone to be a reference – or if you’re going to have to work with someone again. Thus, it’s always good to leave a positive impression, even if your working relationship is a short one.

Next time you’re considering passing up a job opportunity due to its seasonal nature, you might want to reconsider. Seasonal contracts can have all the perks of permanent positions (including good pay rates and sometimes even benefits packages – ooh la-la!), as well as some benefits that you just don’t get from a permanent gig. So don’t shy away from giving some of those seasonal roles you glazed over a second gander.

Kaily Schell is an Office Administrator and Customer Service Specialist with The Career Foundation. When she’s not streamlining agency records or supporting just about all of the foundation’s committees, she can be found nibbling rice cakes at her desk or chasing her colleagues for last-minute reports.

4 Funny (But Actually Un-Funny) Ways You Are Self-Sabotaging Your Job Search

Going Nowhere Slowly
Be sure you’re not racing against your own good efforts in your job search… Or in life!

Face it: Everyone, including you, makes a few common blunders when first starting a job search. But when the hunt extends beyond the six-month mark and you haven’t gotten so much as a “Thank you for applying” e-mail, something must be awry – right? Let’s take a look at a few ways you could be unintentionally sabotaging your job search (at least, let’s hope it’s unintentional!)

1.) Using multiple names

  • You have a nickname that everyone else in your home uses, but sadly they never use or simply don’t remember your actual name. “Oh, are you looking for Sleazy Sue?” your brother asks a potential employer over the phone… “Phone’s for you, sis.”
  • Your resumé uses your middle name first, but your cover letter is signed with your legal first name. How do you spell “confusion?”
  • Your e-mail address contains no name whatsoever, and you have used two different spellings for your family name between your cover letter and resumé. This works against you because it makes you look disorganized. It can also make things complicated for employers who may not know whether to refer to a candidate as Eddie, Kurt or Chris, for example (I’m looking at you, Edward Christopher Kurtswood).
  • Advice: Use a first and last name only. Try to integrate them both into your e-mail address and be sure to always spell your full name the same way. (You’d be surprised the number of times I’ve seen this simple task go sour!) Use that name consistently on everything related to your job search.

2.) Your voicemail message is ……….. 

Answering machines really took flight in the late 1980s, and one would think they are fairly easy to use today given the technological advancements we’ve had since Back to the Future was released. However, voicemail messages can actually be the bane of your job search. For job search purposes you need a simple, short, clear and friendly voicemail message with your name in it. Many companies – banks in particular – have privacy policies that forbid them from leaving messages when the person’s name is not indicated in the voicemail greeting.

Also, be sure your message isn’t the dreaded “dead air” … No one likes an awkward silence. Finally, remove any music, movie references, puns/idioms and strange sounds. The employer will question what the heck is going on if they hear mysterious ruffling noises or the echoes of clanging pots and pans.

  • Advice 1: Keep it simple. “Hi, you’ve reached the voicemail of Fred Hale! Please leave a message and I will return your call shortly. Thank you, and have a great day!” Seriously – how hard was that?
  • Advice 2: When calling an employer or business, prepare a message in advance should you be re-directed to an employer’s voicemail. Employers absolutely detest (as most people do) watching the same number call repeatedly while not leaving a message. Either the employer is unable or unwilling to answer at the time. In either case, you present yourself as annoying and unprofessional. This hurts your chances of success.
  • Advice 3: Listen to your messages as soon as possible and ensure your voicemail is not full; otherwise employers cannot leave a message and may be too busy to call back. Listen to the message in full before you call that number back. You’ll look silly if you call a company with 200+ employees and simply say, “Someone from there called me.”

3.) Mislabeled file names / attached documents

When attaching your resumé and cover letter to an e-mail, follow the directions as specified in the posting. Be sure to include a short, professional introduction with the attachments. Use reference numbers and codes in the subject heading if asked. If the company wants your cover letter and resumé as a single attachment, combine them. If they do not ask for that, do not combine them.

In most cases, it’s best to save the file(s) as a pdf, unless otherwise indicated. Be aware that when a position is posted, employers can potentially receive hundreds of applications. You need to make their hiring process easier by following specific instructions.

  • Advice: Give each attachment (file) a clear name and do not send your resumé as “resume” or “my resume” or “new resume (2).” They should look like this: Fred Hale – Resume – Ikea or Fred Hale – Resume – Floor Associate. The same applies to cover letters, reference lists, and anything else that an employer is asking you to send: Fred Hale – Cover Letter – Ikea, et cetera.

4.) Incorrect contact information

A true story of a failed job search: A client, whose voicemail was full, (as in never emptied or deleted over a period of three months), also had a completely wrong e-mail address on her resumé. I would have liked to inform her of this, but I had no way of reaching her and my current position does not warrant my knocking on doors or using passenger pigeons. I’ll say it again: You need to make the hiring process easy for an employer. They will NOT knock on your door; nor will they spend three months trying to contact you.

  • Advice: Listen, reply, and then delete your voicemail messages. Check your e-mail address. Does it end in .org, .com, or .ca? Is your e-mail active? Is it professional and easy to read? Once you know all of these answers, you should be ready to proceed. Just be sure to check your e-mail account (including your Spam folder) a few times each day as some employers measure the time it takes for you to reply.

 

Jason Douglas Smith is a Training Application Coordinator with The Career Foundation, and has successfully directed clients in not only developing personalized job search strategy plans, but in circumnavigating the rigorous demands of applications for retraining for those in need of skills enhancement. When not doing this, he can often be found reading, writing and barbecuing in his native Burlington.   

 

7 Ways Employers Can Be Spoken of Warmly When Their Employees Go Home for Dinner

hamilton-1903
Before owning a printing business (which reportedly had exceptional employee morale), my great grandfather assisted his father with his store in Hamilton, Ontario. That was when he wasn’t roll’n through ‘The Hammer’ in his buggy. In case you’re curious, this image dates all the way back to 1903 — and yes, it does relate to this article!

Employer and employee relationships are obviously reciprocal. There simply needs to be an equal back and forth of direction, respect and the modest understanding that you’re all “there to work.” While unlimited holidays, unlimited sick days, and giant bags of cash (ala Scrooge McDuck) would seem the obvious way to keep your employees happy, this is rarely a realistic option. But there are some insightful strategies to help employees feel happier and more productive in the workplace. Here are my top seven tips:

1. Promote a positive work place

Promote inclusiveness, smiles and compliments when possible. Grab some Sharpies and leave little notes for your team with simple messages like, “I thought how you handled that was great!” or “You rock! Thanks for giving it your all!” For every mistake or warranted criticism, try adding a positive comment as well. A number of small gestures will add up over time and that’s the point: demonstrating to your team that you believe each individual is an important asset to the entire organization.

2. See things from the employee’s point of view

This is easier said than done since you’ve got your work to do, too, and each person within an organization plays different roles. However, empathy is a widely accepted gesture, so you might as well try. Remember that your team or organization is only as strong as its weakest link, so there’s an incredible benefit to knowing what your team members require to fulfil their duties more effectively.

3. Listen and care

Active listening requires the listener (in this case the manger or owner) to fully concentrate, understand, respond, and finally remember what is being said. Engage, ask, remember and repeat. If you don’t fully understand, you’re not listening. It’s OK to not immediately understand what’s on the table, but it’s critical to ask the right questions for clarification. After all, employees are the front line between you and your profit so it makes sense that their ideas and concerns should be of paramount importance.

4. Add perks when possible

Yes, this is a cost. Gym memberships, employee lunches, gift certificates and unlimited onion rings would be an amazing start, but this isn’t always something that an employer can afford or an employee actually wants. However, a little extra now and again can go a long way. Coffee, donuts, or an extra lieu day are easy enough.

The managers at one business in Toronto routinely walk office-to-office during peak season to hand out $10 gift cards and thank their employees for their hard work and dedication. Want to flip a frown to a smile at light speed? Small, simple – and inexpensive – tokens of appreciation will help brighten anyone’s day.

5. End the micro-management ASAP

There’s a reason this is constantly voted as the most aggravating part of someone’s work life. It puts your team on the defensive and it’s an incredible misuse of time. Not sure if you agree? Check this out.

6. Always say “thank you

Your grandmother* was right when she reminded you to be courteous. Yes, you train and pay your employees and in theory this should be enough. However, a simple thank you is the most direct, personal way to build your employee’s self-esteem. Not only is the face-to-face interaction genuine, it’s also rewarding for employees who perceive their boss as a “power figure” – especially since this power figure (who can seemingly do whatever he or she wants) is choosing to be grateful and courteous.

*(I’ve never met your grandmother and there’s a possibility that you haven’t either. However, all grandmothers I’ve ever met have been absolutely lovely).

7. Paint the “big picture” with your workers in it

My great grandfather established and ran The Moore Printery in Hamilton, Ontario, at the start of the 20th century. It was a different era, when employees could often start and stay with an employer for their entire professional work life. When he passed, employees young and old came to his funeral. I was told there was a strong sense of internal community within that business, meaning the employees felt a sense of belonging.

With workers – let alone employers – currently changing career paths multiple times throughout their lives, “painting the big picture” may seem like a hard task to accomplish but perhaps makes this sentiment more important than ever. Think about it: If you choose to include your employees in the discussion of your organization, and choose language that involves their unique skills and characteristics combined with opportunities for professional development and the chance to creatively contribute to future plans, you’re establishing not only a direct future business plan for your organization, but an inclusive team that acts as a constant resource for your growth.

All human beings seem to crave a sense of belonging. We spend good portions of our lives away from home, so it makes perfect sense that employees who feel valued and part of a bigger picture would be more productive as a result.

Jason Douglas Smith is a Training Application Coordinator with The Career Foundation, and has successfully directed clients in not only developing personalized job search strategy plans, but in circumnavigating the rigorous demands of applications for retraining for those in need of skills enhancement. When not doing this, he can often be found reading, writing and barbecuing in his native Burlington.   

Churn! Churn! Churn! (To Everything There Is a Season): Navigating Today’s “Job Churn” Pandemic

the-byrds

Maybe it’s just me, but nostalgia’s only great for Comic Books, Baseball Gloves, Shortbread Cookie Recipes, and Toronto Maple Leaf fans! … Not Labour Market Expectations!

According to a Toronto Star report from Saturday, October 22, “Canadians should get used to so-called ‘job churn’ — short-term employment and a number of career changes in a person’s life.” And this isn’t just an editorial trying to be sensational; it’s come directly from Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

I find it fascinating that people seem so perplexed by this. If Canadians aren’t used to it, it’s because Canada is a young country with an extraordinarily contemporary history, holding on to a collective expectation that is far too nostalgic for the economic highlights of the past 70 years. The good news is, if history teaches us anything, we can handle this change and we already have, many times.

If we used historical events as a pop culture narrative to economic change, every 10 years it would seem, a new economic reality has been set. The 1920s were a huge boom of financial extravagance for the western hemisphere, though wealth was not as proportionately spread as it could have been had there been the same social consciousness that came upon society in the 1960s. The 1930s saw the economic collapse of the Great Depression, and that was only partly stopped when the 1940s brought WWII, the most destructive conflict in history that conveniently propped up and propelled the economies of Canada and the USA. True economic prosperity bloomed in the post-war 1950s and in the socially conscious movements of the 1960s with wealth greater and more evenly spread than it had ever been.

The ‘50s and ‘60s era is perhaps the economic dreamscape most longed for as growth was massive and jobs were plentiful – at least in Canada and the USA. By some estimates going as far back as the Roman Empire, baby boomers were the wealthiest demographic in the history of this planet. Oil and infrastructure woes slowed the 1970s, before Michael J. Fox and Ronald Regan slapped a number of silly movies and economic Band-Aid solutions down. This led to the hairspray-teased optimism of the 1980s, which crash-landed into the plaid mosh pit cynicism of the 1990s. This era was one of less boom and more ‘balance;’ some growth, some slowdown. From this point onward, little has changed, with economic growth in the western hemisphere and other G20 countries moving between some growth to some slowdown and back again.

However, if popular opinion is any gauge, the 40-year period inclusive of the 1950s and 1990s is the time most job seekers want to return to the most; and for good reason. However, as a society we may be conveniently forgetting that all of these times required adaptation from those in the labour markets of those differing periods. The changes in the labour market equate in 3 ways:

  • How we adapt to the professions that are disappearing and the professions that are emerging
  • How we balance our standard of living in times that are neither boom nor bust
  • How contemporary society deals with change in the first place

On that last point regarding change: The labour market (as a vein to history as the main artery) has proven itself (as history has) to be all about change.

As a collective group of individuals in today’s workforce, we present as being more than ‘reserved’ when it comes to change. In fact, I believe we are downright scared. This is perhaps why Finance Minister Bill Morneau feels the need to ‘warn’ us of “job churn” – though he shouldn’t really need to; we just don’t read enough history anymore.

Of the past 70 years, only 20 of them were boom years, and before that it never really existed. Sure, it would be great to have those years back, but is that realistic? Perhaps the eternal optimist could spend more time being clever than nostalgic. The current “job churn” is easy to deal with when you know what decade you’re living in.

Here’s a few tips to bear in mind as you navigate the current labour market:

  • Understand that if you refuse to be flexible with both your job search and the positions you wish to attain, you will flounder. Gone are the days (for the time being, and perhaps for a long time coming) when you can be what you want to be unless you make that happen for yourself. Finance Minister Bill Morneau is playing this right. He knows that politicians on all sides of the house will not succeed in returning us to the boom and ease of the 1960s. They will need us to be less dependent on politicians to save the day, and more dependent on ourselves. We will need to reinvent ourselves at every step. And if you want to make it big, you’ll need to be ahead of this curve by light years.
  • Job churn will affect our standard of living and how we spend. There will be as much opportunity to make money if you look for it, but there won’t be as much economic surplus and stability. Simple changes like having one TV instead of three are where the successful, stable workers will make the right moves. Start simply – dinner out twice a month instead of five. We can no longer expect to own and spend as the baby boomers did. We will live well, but more likely as frugal as the war generation did, assuming you want savings for your retirement.
  • Populist leaders the world over are already tapping into fear to buy votes as all of their promises seem to harken back to past eras. From Europe to the USA, the key word is halcyon, an adjective denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful. Unfortunately, few people seem to want to question this. I would argue that how we deal with change in the first place is at least as important as how we deal with what exactly those changes are.
  • And the best advice: DON’T PANIC!

What seems to be missing is an understanding that the changes occurring in the Boom Times did scare people in those times as well. If you look to your career with the expectation that change is inevitable and replete with “short-term employment and a number of career changes, then you’ve already won the battle against this fear. Ask yourself this question: How can I be more adaptable? In this you may be able to find the solution you need to survive contemporary history and this little trend called “job churn.”

To quote the late American writer and futurist, Alvin Toffler, “The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Well said.

Jason Douglas Smith is a Training Application Coordinator with The Career Foundation, and has successfully directed clients in not only developing personalized job search strategy plans, but in circumnavigating the rigorous demands of applications for retraining for those in need of skills enhancement. When not doing this, he can often be found reading, writing and barbecuing in his native Burlington.   

Navigating a Networking Event: 8 Tips That Will Make Even a Shy Person Comfortable

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For some of us, walking into a room full of strangers can be intimidating, especially if you’re one of the quiet types. With every step, the lump in your throat gets more constricting and your stomach feels like it could bottom out at any moment – much like climbing Mount Everest, I assume. While you can live happily-ever-after never having climbed Everest, networking is something you can’t really avoid if you want to make connections with the “Who’s Who” of the business world. Being able to network effectively is a great tool to have in your arsenal for career success.

Here are eight tips to help you step out of your comfort zone and network like a boss:

Research

If you’re attending a networking event, do a little investigating beforehand. Find out who the host is and search their name on Google or LinkedIn. They could be an old schoolmate or maybe they recently achieved a milestone. A quick search can help you find a way to break the ice with the host of the event.

Dress like a boss

Ensure you are dressed professionally. Iron everything!

Just do it

Take a deep breath before walking into the room. Keep your head up, shoulders back and stand up straight. Stepping into a room full of strangers gets easier each time.

Perfect you elevator pitch

No matter what you do or the purpose of the event, always come prepared with strong talking points. If you’re a job seeker networking with potential employers, ensure you’re able to convey how you would be an asset to the company. If you’re a business owner, who knows your business better than you?

Be prepared to talk about yourself or your business if the occasion calls for it. Keep your pitch short and to the point – no more than 30 seconds.

If you’re simply trying to make connections, go with casual talking points; something current or newsworthy like a new book or movie release will do. Try to steer clear from politics and religion.

And don’t forget to bring your business card if you have one!

Don’t go alone

Go with a colleague or friend. Having someone you know in the room can help calm your nerves.  However, don’t treat your buddy like a crutch – be sure to mingle on your own as well.

Ask for an introduction

If you know the host of the event, ask them to introduce you to some of their guests. Don’t be afraid to ask someone you know to introduce you around.

Focus on the person standing alone

You might be a nervous wreck, but you’re not the only one. There’s usually someone standing in the room by themselves, likely just as nervous about networking. Make eye contact with him or her. Smile and introduce yourself. Find something to compliment, such as their shoes, briefcase, watch, and so on (but keep it professional, of course!)

Practice

Use your colleagues as guinea pigs! Don’t shy away from work events and staff meetings. Practice your networking skills by talking to people from different departments. This will help you get comfortable speaking with people and will also help improve your conversation skills.

Practice makes perfect, so implement some of the tips above to help you navigate any networking event.

PS – Keep in mind that a lot of people like to talk in general, so you’ll often find that sometimes all it takes is a smile, friendly introduction, and quick icebreaker to steal someone’s attention – and ideally lead to the next stage in your career!

Jodi Darby is a Business Developer with The Career Foundation’s Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG) Program, and has successfully navigated her way through dozens of nerve-racking networking events over the past few years. Connect with Jodi on LinkedIn

Top 4 Job Search Apps to Use on the Go

Man using online tools and smartphone devices to do his job search

Are you on the hunt for that perfect job but sometimes life gets in the way? Well, grab that smartphone, because thanks to mobile apps, finding your dream job has never been easier! Here are four job search apps that are guaranteed to give you that competitive advantage, allowing you to take your search on the go and apply for jobs anytime, anywhere.

1.) Indeed

Indeed is a great app for an active job seeker because it’s so straightforward. You can filter the results by using keywords or narrow your search based on location, salary expectation and industry. Indeed also allows you to save jobs to apply for later (in case you don’t have your resumé handy), or save your job search documents to your Indeed account, allowing you to apply instantly. With the added ability to set up email alerts, you can receive specific notifications straight to your inbox, never missing out on an opportunity!

2.) Jobaware

Think of Jobaware as a one-stop shop for your job searching needs, allowing you to do all stages of the application process from your mobile device. This includes searching job listings near you, tracking the progress of your applications, and getting resumé-building and other helpful tips along the way. The app also helps job seekers find potential job referrals by syncing with their contact lists and searching for job openings at their contacts’ companies.

3.) LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool for job seekers, allowing you to stay connected with coworkers, build new connections with recruiters and other professionals, and see if the company you want to work for is hiring. By setting up a professional profile, you can easily search open positions and apply directly in-app. Recruiters may also approach you with potential opportunities. Even if you’re not actively looking for a job, LinkedIn remains an excellent tool to keep you up to date with your network and informed on relevant trends tailored to your industry.

4.) Glassdoor

Glassdoor is a resourceful app that allows the job seeker to research company salaries, search for jobs, and get the inside scoop on companies through reviews written by employees. If used correctly, Glassdoor allows you to sift through potential interview questions commonly asked by potential employers or for particular jobs, as well as information on company procedures and work culture.

With these helpful tips at your disposal, you will be a well-versed candidate ready to impress employers.

3 Reasons I’ve Loved Working in the Skilled Trades

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If you have a mental image when you see the word “arborist”, it’s probably not a mental image of me. For those who don’t know, an arborist is a skilled tradesperson who specializes in cultivating and managing trees and woody plants – sort of like a specialized lumberjack.  I’m 5’7”, I’m smallish by most standards, and I couldn’t grow a beard to save my life, so archetypal lumberjack I am not.  I have ended up with a career in the skilled trades, however, and would recommend anyone who likes working with their hands to give the skilled trades a shot.

The major impetus for me happened in fall 2012, when I spotted an ad for The Career Foundation’s Arborist Pre-Apprenticeship program, to which I applied for, was accepted and successfully completed. When the General Carpenter Pre-Apprenticeship program at The Career Foundation started in early 2016, I encouraged my brother, Will, to apply, and neither of us have looked back.

What has working in the trades done for me?

1) CONFIDENCE. Learning to safely use, maintain, and repair a chainsaw changed me, and
not just because it’s one of the coolest power tools out there.  Before I got into the trades, I’d probably held a drill once or twice, hammered a few nails, and would have looked for someone else to do anything more involved than putting together Ikea furniture.  The first few dozen times I used a chainsaw, the uncertainty of whether I’d be able to get the thing to start put a knot in my stomach.

lindsey
Hangin’ out: A typical day in the life.

Fast forward a few years, and I’ve been in more situations than I can count where I had the most training and experience with tools on a job site, and was best prepared to tackle a job safely, or troubleshoot a problem effectively.  Beyond the obvious practical applications of having gained this level of skill, it also made me realize that, just because something is an enormous challenge at first, doesn’t mean I can’t overcome and eventually master it.  That feeling is infinitely transferable to other tools, to sports, to hobbies, and to challenges at work and in life.

2) EMPOWERMENT. With a couple major exceptions, most of the skilled trades have traditionally been male dominated. (Kudos to chefs and hairdressers!)  Today, the world is changing.  Every day I know that by showing up for work and being a professional in my field, I am setting an example: for my bosses and coworkers, for other women, for other skilled trades companies, for clients, for the public.

I really believe that tapping a broader pool of talent is beneficial: for individuals faced with a wider range of options, for industry, and for society.  Working in a male-dominated field as a woman certainly has its challenges, but I do so with the knowledge that I’m helping to pave the way for non-traditional demographics, including women, people of colour, and LGBT+ people, to take a shot at this really rewarding career.

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3) RESULTS. Working in the trades, there is never any question at the end of the day as to what you’ve accomplished.  Your achievement is right in front of you, whether it be a tree pruned, a section framed, or a pipe laid.  As a tradesperson, you have made a measurable and tangible contribution to society by the end of every day at work.  In many cases, it will be a contribution that you’ll be able to physically show your children and grandchildren.

Kate Raycraft currently works as Pre-Apprenticeship Project Assistant with the General Carpentry Pre-Apprenticeship program at The Career Foundation’s Hamilton office. For anyone interested in our General Carpentry Pre-Apprenticeship program, please visit our website at: https://careerfoundation.com/index.php/component/content/article/23-tcf-modules/157-general-carpenter-pre-apprenticeship-program-for-youth