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.   


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


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.

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.


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

Breaking Into The Hidden Job Market

Sometimes the job market can be a difficult place to navigate. You might find the process more daunting if you have a niche job or specialty like various jobs in the environmental sector. Opportunities for environmental technicians, mining engineers, geologists, and hydrogeologist are positions with sparse job postings which can be few and far between. As a result, you might have your work cut out for you when job searching.  So, what do you do if you are having difficulty finding employment? You try to tap into the hidden job market.

Some ways to access the hidden job market….

Utilize LinkedIn effectively. LinkedIn is an amazing networking platform so sign up if you have not already done so and put yourself out there. Remember, having a professional photo is essential to creating a great profile. Once you have completed your profile, join groups relating to your field, be active in the groups’ discussions and try to post relevant content to get yourself noticed. You should also do some research on individuals currently employed in your desired job. Check out the professional organizations they are a part of and be sure to look at the organizations they have worked for in the past. Keep a record of these organizations and their contact information.

Target area-specific job boards when searching online. If you have a niche job for instance, a basic Google search for niche job boards can provide you with a list of boards for different niches. Some niche job boards include: http://www.conbio.org and http://www.ecojobs.com which are good for environmental jobs, http://www.scmajobs.ca for logistics and http://www.freshgigs.ca for marketing and advertising. Google is a very effective tool, so utilize it. Sign up for Google News Alerts http://www.google.ca/alerts. Google alerts will provide up to the minute information on your specified interests. For instance, Google can alert you if a company signs a major contract or partnership, or acquires a new facility. These are great indicators that the company is growing and might be hiring in the near future. Google alerts will help you stay up-to-date with what is happening in your field and can provide vital information that will help you access the hidden job market.

Cold calling can also help you gain access to the hidden job market. Start with companies you recorded from LinkedIn and get someone on the phone. Always do your research before attempting to contact anyone. Have a script prepared and ensure you have an engaging opening line. When you speak with someone, be polite and personable, keep in mind that “gatekeepers are your allies, not your foes,” you do not want to give them a reason to tell you “no” outright, when you ask about scheduling a time to meet a key member of the organization for an interview. Since only a fraction of open positions are posted on job boards, cold calling is an effective method to facilitate access to the hidden job market.

Networking with industry insiders can also grant you access to the hidden job market. Insiders can provide advice, tips and referrals to aide your job search. So, go to conferences and trade shows and actively participate in your industry. Another way to network is with an informational interview. Such meetings are an underused resource that is effective at generating leads. An informational interview also gives you the opportunity to liaise with an industry insider who can help guide your career path and answer important questions. It can sometimes be tricky to get an individual to agree to this type of meeting, but it is not an impossible feat. Look into http://www.tenthousandcoffees.com. It is an excellent resource to help connect you with the right people. Once you have secured a meeting, be professional and have an agenda prepared. Know exactly what you wish to accomplish with your meeting and do not be afraid to ask for referrals! And always send a follow up note thanking the individual for taking the time to meet with you.

Most importantly, be persistent and do not get discouraged. Tapping into the hidden job market is not impossible, but you do need to be vigilant. Start by creating a professional LinkedIn page and network with individuals in your field. Be thorough with your internet search and stay-up-to-date with news pertaining to your field with Google Alerts. After compiling a list of companies in your field, cold call them. Get someone on the phone and try to set up an in person meeting. Connect with anyone willing to sit down with you and pick their brain for advice, tips and referrals. Networking is a great way to gain access to information and meet key people who can provide leads to help secure interviews. When you finally get that interview, be prepared and confident. Always have an interview outfit picked out and ironed! Lastly, be sure to do your research on the organization before stepping through the door!

Now that you have the keys to unlock the hidden job market, you will be a job search rock star!

Good Luck.

Contributed by: Jodi Darby



Job Loss or Unemployment Can Lead to New Beginnings


While the period following a job loss is undoubtedly challenging, understanding (and accepting) the stages and feelings associated with this transitional time may enable you to muster up a bit more hope and optimism about your future and ultimately help to expedite the natural grieving and transition process so that you can move on and take hold of new opportunities.


According to the Deems Job Loss Reaction Cycle, many people will experience a roller coaster of emotions and reactions when rebounding from job loss; the stages in the cycle are: shock and disbelief, anger and resentment, denial and bargaining, self-doubt and put-downs, withdrawal and depression, and acceptance and affirmation.


Shock and Disbelief: If you’ve been fired or laid off, it’s highly likely that you’ve experienced feelings of shock and disbelief – a period of time when the situation just doesn’t seem real. For many people, this period will last from a few minutes to a few hours but for others it can linger much longer.


Anger & Resentment: For most, feelings of shock and disbelief are quickly replaced by emotions of anger and resentment. During this time, many people will direct anger at their past employer; however, anger may also be directed at unrelated targets. In some instances, it may be helpful to seek out professional assistance to discuss your feelings and to develop a plan for moving forward.


Denial and Bargaining:  While many people understand that a termination or a layoff is non-negotiable, others have difficulty accepting a termination as final. Difficult as it may be, it is important to recognize that your job has ended and begin to move on. Don’t let your job status define you. You define who you are, not your job or a company’s decision.


Self-Doubt and Put-Downs: At some point, most people who lose their job will experience feelings of self-doubt and unrest regarding their role in their termination.  This is true even in the case of downsizing which often has little to no bearing on employment performance. Focusing on your accomplishments and achievements will help you to build confidence and encourage your mobility.


Withdrawal and Depression: It’s no wonder that many job seekers experience feelings of withdrawal and depression. By creating and following a well-developed job search plan, many people are able to minimize those feelings and advance forward more quickly. Additionally, self-care, social support, and participation in recreational activities may also help people to overcome this period.


Acceptance and Affirmation: This stage is undoubtedly the most comfortable of all of the stages in the transition cycle! It occurs following acceptance of the fact that you’ve experienced a major job change and are ready to embrace new opportunities. At this stage, people will be able to appreciate their professional value, form a positive outlook about their future, and move on.


While everyone who is laid off or terminated will experience the job loss cycle, the exact process and duration between job loss and acceptance is by no means uniform. Fortunately, understanding the stages associated with job loss can help you to better adjust and prepare to advance towards new opportunities. Normalizing your experience and developing coping strategies for dealing with each of the stages of this cycle will help to achieve acceptance and affirmation more quickly. For many people, seeking out guidance from an Employment Specialist or Counsellor can be very helpful.

How do You Nail That Telephone Interview?

Think about how you answer the phone. Do you have a practiced opening or do you just simply use “hello”? Whatever your opening is, rest assured that employers are already evaluating. You may think that a telephone call is just to inform you of the where and when for an interview, but many times, employers are taking notes as well.

It is an unrealistic expectation for you to always be ready when picking up calls from unknown numbers, but here are a few tips that can help you win some points:

  • Answer the phone appropriately. This means “hello, _____ speaking” or just “hello”. No “sup”, or “yeah”, or “uh huh”. These little non-committed grunts are not professional and they are immediate turn offs for employers.
  • Don’t be pressing keys or doing other things on your cell phone. If your setting has not been customized, it is likely that the employer will hear whatever you’re doing or they’ll be bombarded with noises of consistent key pressing. Not professional.
  • Listen for the interviewer’s name and remember it. Also, ask the interviewer how they’re doing, this will show them that you are courteous and warm.
  • Really listen to the interviewer and let them finish their sentence before you jump in with your answer. Calm your nerves by practicing deep breathing.
  • It is also unrealistic to expect that you have your resume on you at all times, but it is advisable that you know your resume. Often, employers will ask you questions about your resume, knowing what they’re referring to will set you on the right path.

Does this mean that you’re always available for an employer no matter the date, time, or location? No. If you’re not available, then you’re not available. Instead of picking up a phone call when you know it’s going to be cut off, or if you were somewhere loud, then let it go to voicemail. No employer will appreciate repeating themselves again and again or being cut off abruptly.

On that note, it is also vital that you have a professional voicemail. State your name and ask them to call back; nothing with songs, or jokes, or obscure, inappropriate references that will only confuse employers and leave them wondering about your professionalism.

It is always preferable for you to make the first telephone appointment, but if you picked up an employer’s call and really could not carry on the conversation, just let the employer know. There is no need to come up with an excuse or tell them your life story to explain why you’re not available. Sometimes, just simply letting the employer know that you’re not at an ideal location and didn’t want the conversation to be interrupted will suffice. Reschedule for a later date and time, and make sure that you definitely will be able to make it.

Just remember that employers are screening candidates based on their telephone manners and the kind of first impression you give over the phone. Keeping in mind to be professional and courteous will help you along the way of landing that job!

Social Media and Job Search

With the increasing dependence on technology, mobile devices, and social media platforms, job search is a whole new game! In 2015, more people will use social media, mobile devices, and social media on mobile devices to look for their next position. In an age when technology is a must, employers and employees alike are exploring and researching potential candidates. Social media accounts could be what employers use to decide between two equally qualified candidates; at the same time, social media accounts could be why you’re still not getting any calls for interview!

The most important thing is to make sure that your social media accounts are presentable. Is there anything on there that makes you cringe? Then it’s probably time to take that down!

Look through your statuses and comments. Is there anything that’s grumpy or inappropriate? Maybe it’s a harmless “inside joke”, but how would it appear to an employer’s eyes? Looking through statuses and comments is an easy way for potential employers to find out a little bit more about what you are like in everyday life; therefore it is advisable to make sure that all public posts are monitored and polished.

Clean up your photos. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. What kind of story would an old, inappropriate photo tell the employer about you? If your friends are tagging you in incriminating photos, maybe it’s time to update your preferences so you won’t be tagged in an unwanted photo unknowingly.

What about the groups you’re in and the likes that you’ve added? Being part of a pro-active group could boost your eligibility in an employer’s eyes, but being part of a group that contradicts the position you’re applying for may hurt your chances of getting the job. Likewise, clean up the lists of things that you “like” or are “interested” in; for example, having alcohol as your all-time favorite thing in the world is probably not going to be favourable when you’re job searching.

And remember to check on everything that could link to you! Do you have an old Youtube account you forgot about? Or was there a blog that you started long ago so you could rant about your last job? You may have forgotten all about them, but the links you once posted are still there! Regardless of the age of the content, if it may raise eyebrows, then it is probably wise to close that chapter and remove that connection!

Or maybe you just don’t want employers looking at your social media at all! In that case, it’s time to up your settings and make everything as private as possible!

With that said, don’t be intimated by social media! In fact, if you use social media correctly, it could just be the perfect avenue for you to land that dream job! A perfect example of using social media to land a job is Nina Mufleh, whose application for AirBnB went viral after she posted it on Twitter: http://www.nina4airbnb.com/  Not to mention she promptly received an invitation for an interview!