Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

You’ve made the decision. It’s time for a new job. What to do first? Do you update your resume? Odds are the last time you heard this question you were in an interview and you probably responded with some boring, cliché answer. Maybe not, but it I imagine it sounded something like this, “I hope to learn new skills in this role that will propel me to the next level of my career.” That’s a fine answer and all, but what’s the real answer? How would you answer this question if you were the one interviewing yourself?

Here are 3 ways to get started on your 5-year plan.

  1. Set goals. Goals are not one size fits all. You have to set goals that are meaningful to you. And be careful not to confuse goals with dreams. Goals can help you reach your dreams, but it’s good to have some realistic and specific plans to accomplish. Make sure your goals are actually achievable or you will be setting yourself up for failure.
  2. Get busy. You are the one in charge of your career. You can’t just sit back and wait for something good to happen. It takes time and effort so get productive. Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges and opportunities. Reaching your goals will take work.
  3. Get support. You don’t have to go at it alone. Enlist the help of a mentor to help keep you on track. Select someone who you respect, someone you can learn from and someone who inspires you. Gather further support from friends and family. Talk about what you want to accomplish. You might be surprised who can help you.

Three steps, five years…what can you accomplish?

10 Ways to Be More Strategic

Do you consider yourself strategic? If not, it’s definitely a skill you should work on, because that’s the kind of worker that employers want to have on their team. In fact, if you’re not a strategic thinker, you could be rising to the top of the disposable employee list.

I’m not sure if being strategic is something you are born with or not. I think some people are definitely better at it than others, but can you get better at being strategic? Of course. Here are 10 things to try.

  1. Take chances. Don’t just always do the same things, the same way. Status quo won’t get you to the next level.
  2. Think outside of the box. It’s pretty cliché, but try to think differently. Turn things upside down. Consider all the angles.
  3. Always add value. Strategic thinkers are always looking for ways to improve a process, make more money, etc.
  4. Look for ways to beat the competition. How can you be better than everyone else?
  5. Consider the big picture. Don’t work in a silo. Having a broader vision will help you and your company.
  6. Find answers. Seek out explanations and solutions. Just because they are not right in front of you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the effort.
  7. Try not to get stuck in a rut. It can be hard not to get caught up in the daily grind. Look for ways to take on new projects and expand your horizons.
  8. Surround yourself with great thinkers. Talk to other strategic, innovative thinkers. It can help your own thought process.
  9. Constantly question things. Get comfortable asking “Why?” Challenge how things are done.
  10. Listen to others. Evaluate the opinions of others. You can’t solve everything on your own.
  11. Try out a few of these things. Maybe someone will notice. If nothing else, you will have broadened your way of thinking and probably learned a few things.

How are you strategic? What are you doing that makes you stand out from the pack? Let us know in the comments!

It’s Interview Time

The time has come for your interview. Are you ready? Are you nervous? Lots of things are probably going on in your mind. The first few minutes can make or break your interview – even before you’ve answered one question. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. Like it or not, most people, including interviewers, will start forming an opinion of you immediately, maybe without even saying a word. So, how do you make a great impression?

Tips for Creating a Good Impression

Arrive 10 minutes early – You don’t want to arrive too early and you never want to arrive late. Ten minutes are a safe cushion. It will give you time to check in and collect your thoughts.

Dress appropriately – While suits are not always needed, you should dress professionally. Show you care enough to want the job. Wear something comfortable, neat and clean that makes you feel like a winner.

Treat everyone with respect – From the receptionist to the interviewer, be polite and respectful. Interviewers will often get feedback from every single person the candidate saw or talked to.

Be organized and prepared – Keep your papers organized, turn off and put away your phone and keys in a neat manner. Know the names of who you will meet with and be ready to share documents or other information as needed.

Be positive – Stay upbeat. Greet people with enthusiasm. Keep your spirits up and your attitude positive.

Keep calm – Everyone gets nervous. Take a few deep breaths, smile and focus on being confident. Remember, you are interviewing them, too!

Watch your body language – Start off with a firm handshake. Maintain good eye contact and posture. Try to avoid fidgeting or other quirks.

Get good at small talk – Be comfortable with talking about safe subject like the weather, a recent holiday and other small things. Let the interviewer take the lead. Be interested in the conversation and try to find some common ground.

That’s a lot of stuff to pack into those first few minutes, but how you handle yourself in that time can make a world of difference. If too many negative things have happened in the first 5 minutes, you probably won’t be able to bounce back.

Most people will get ready for an interview by rehearsing a few questions and doing some research about the company. While you absolutely need to do that type of preparation, you should also take some time think about those initial impressions and how you will make them great.

The Job Interview: Tell Me About Yourself

Yep. You’ve heard this one before, but it’s almost guaranteed that you will hear this request in your next interview. It may seem cliché and boring, but it is a workhorse of a question. Think about it. This question gets the conversation flowing, gives you a chance to brag a little and, hopefully, make an awesome first impression. Your answer to this question will set the stage for the rest of the interview.

So, how can a question that is so easy, trip up so many people? To be honest, most of us overthink it. While you want to make sure you get out all your important points, you also have to sound like someone that will be a good match for the company. Let’s take a look at some of the things you should and shouldn’t say when answering this question.

You should talk about…

  • The job at hand. Know as much as you can about the available job, the company, and the work you may be doing and sprinkle that into your answer. Let the interviewer know what attracted you to the position.
  • Your relevant experience. Don’t get too specific yet, but you may want to start introducing your strongest skills, personality characteristics, knowledge, and experience that are relevant to the job.
  • Your current situation. Tell them what you are doing now and where you want to go.

You probably should avoid…

  • Information overload. Try to refrain from unloading your entire life story, your favorite TV shows or the name and ages of all your pets.
  • Sounding too perfect. You should definitely sound interested in the position and company and talk about how you may be a great fit, but nobody’s perfect.
  • Controversial subjects. Regardless of your view, you should probably refrain from introducing politics, religion or similar subjects in this response.

And, remember; your answer to this question isn’t the only thing that matters. What matters even more is your confidence, passion, tone and delivery. This is not the place for stalling and reflecting on your life. This is your time to stand out. 

20 TOP TIPS FOR GREAT JOB INTERVIEWS

Want to ace your next interview and land that open job you’ve been seeking? Here are 20 tips to help you prepare.

  1. Research the industry and company.
    An interviewer may ask how you perceive his company’s position in its industry, who the firm’s competitors are, what its competitive advantages are, and how it should best go forward. For this reason, avoid trying to thoroughly research a dozen different industries. Focus your job search on just a few industries instead.
  2. Clarify your “selling points” and the reasons you want the job.
    Prepare to go into every interview with three to five key selling points in mind, such as what makes you the best candidate for the position. Have an example of each selling point prepared (“I have good communication skills. For example, I persuaded an entire group to …”). And be prepared to tell the interviewer why you want that job – including what interests you about it, what rewards it offers that you find valuable, and what abilities it requires that you possess. If an interviewer doesn’t think you’re really, really interested in the job, he or she won’t give you an offer – no matter how good you are!
  3. Anticipate the interviewer’s concerns and reservations.
    There are always more candidates for positions than there are openings. So interviewers look for ways to screen people out. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself why they might not want to hire you (“I don’t have this,” “I’m not that,” etc.). Then prepare your defense: “I know you may be thinking that I might not be the best fit for this position because [their reservation]. But you should know that [reason the interviewer shouldn’t be overly concerned].”
  4. Prepare for common interview questions.
    Every “how to interview” book has a list of a hundred or more “common interview questions.” (You might wonder just how long those interviews are if there are that many common questions!) So how do you prepare? Pick any list and think about which questions you’re most likely to encounter, given your age and status (about to graduate, looking for a summer internship). Then prepare your answers so you won’t have to fumble for them during the actual interview.
  5. Line up your questions for the interviewer.
    Come to the interview with some intelligent questions for the interviewer that demonstrate your knowledge of the company as well as your serious intent. Interviewers always ask if you have any questions, and no matter what, you should have one or two ready. If you say, “No, not really,” he or she may conclude that you’re not all that interested in the job or the company. A good all-purpose question is, “If you could design the ideal candidate for this position from the ground up, what would he or she be like?”

If you’re having a series of interviews with the same company, you can use some of your prepared questions with each person you meet (for example, “What do you think is the best thing about working here?” and “What kind of person would you most like to see fill this position?”) Then, try to think of one or two others during each interview itself.

  1. Practice, practice, practice.
    It’s one thing to come prepared with a mental answer to a question like, “Why should we hire you?” It’s another challenge entirely to say it out loud in a confident and convincing way. The first time you try it, you’ll sound garbled and confused, no matter how clear your thoughts are in your own mind! Do it another 10 times, and you’ll sound a lot smoother and more articulate.

But you shouldn’t do your practicing when you’re “on stage” with a recruiter; rehearse before you go to the interview. The best way to rehearse? Get two friends and practice interviewing each other in a “round robin”: one person acts as the observer and the “interviewee” gets feedback from both the observer and the “interviewer.” Go for four or five rounds, switching roles as you go. Another idea (but definitely second-best) is to tape record your answer and then play it back to see where you need to improve. Whatever you do, make sure your practice consists of speaking aloud. Rehearsing your answer in your mind won’t cut it.

  1. Score a success in the first five minutes.
    Some studies indicate that interviewers make up their minds about candidates in the first five minutes of the interview – and then spend the rest of the interview looking for things to confirm that decision! So what can you do in those five minutes to get through the gate? Come in with energy and enthusiasm, and express your appreciation for the interviewer’s time. (Remember: She may be seeing a lot of other candidates that day and may be tired from the flight in. So bring in that energy!)

Also, start off with a positive comment about the company – something like, “I’ve really been looking forward to this meeting [not “interview”]. I think [the company] is doing great work in [a particular field or project], and I’m really excited by the prospect of being able to contribute.”

  1. Get on the same side as the interviewer.
    Many interviewers view job interviews as adversarial: Candidates are going to try to pry an offer out of the interviewer, and the interviewer’s job is to hold onto it. Your job is to transform this “tug of war” into a relationship in which you’re both on the same side. You could say something as simple as, “I’m happy to have the chance to learn more about your company and to let you learn more about me, so we can see if this is going to be a good match or not. I always think that the worst thing that can happen is to be hired into a job that’s wrong for you – then nobody’s happy!”
  2. Be assertive and take responsibility for the interview.
    Perhaps out of the effort to be polite, some usually assertive candidates become overly passive during job interviews. But politeness doesn’t equal passivity. An interview is like any other conversation – it’s a dance in which you and a partner move together, both responding to the other. Don’t make the mistake of just sitting there waiting for the interviewer to ask you about that Nobel Prize you won. It’s your responsibility to make sure he walks away knowing your key selling points.
  3. Be ready to handle illegal and inappropriate questions.
    Interview questions about your race, age, gender, religion, marital status, and sexual orientation are inappropriate and in many areas illegal. Nevertheless, you may get one or more of them. If you do, you have a couple of options. You can simply answer with a question (“I’m not sure how that’s relevant to my application”), or you can try to answer “the question behind the question”: “I don’t know whether I’ll decide to have children in the near future, but if you’re wondering if I’ll be leaving my job for an extended period of time, I can say that I’m very committed to my career and frankly can’t imagine giving it up.”
  4. Make your selling points clear.
    If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, did it make a sound? More important, if you communicate your selling points during a job interview and the interviewer doesn’t get it, did you score? On this question, the answer is clear: No! So don’t bury your selling points in long-winded stories. Instead, tell the interviewer what your selling point is first, then give the example.
  5. Think positive.
    No one likes a complainer, so don’t dwell on negative experiences during an interview. Even if the interviewer asks you point blank, “What courses have you liked least?” or “What did you like least about that previous job?” don’t answer the question. Or more specifically, don’t answer it as it’s been asked. Instead, say something like, “Well, actually I’ve found something about all of my classes that I’ve liked. For example, although I found [class] to be very tough, I liked the fact that [positive point about the class]” or “I liked [a previous job] quite a bit, although now I know that I really want to [new job].”
  6. Close on a positive note.
    If a salesman came to you and demonstrated his product, then thanked you for your time and walked out the door, what did he do wrong? He didn’t ask you to buy it! If you get to the end of an interview and think you’d really like that job, ask for it! Tell the interviewer that you’d really, really like the job – that you were excited about it before the interview and are even more excited now, and that you’re convinced you’d like to work there. If there are two equally good candidates at the end of the search – you and someone else – the interviewer will think you’re more likely to accept the offer, and thus may be more inclined to make an offer to you.

Even better, take what you’ve learned about yourself from your MyPath career assessment and use it to explain why you think this is the job for you: “I’ve done some careful career self-assessment, and I know that I’m most interested in [one or two of your most important career interest themes], and – correct me if I’m wrong – it seems that this position would allow me to express those interests. I also know that I’m most motivated by [two or three of your most important motivators from your MyPath assessment], and I have the sense that if I do well, I could get those rewards in this position.

Finally, I know that my strongest abilities are [two or three of your strongest abilities from your MyPath assessment], and I see those as being the abilities you most need for this position.” If you follow this tip, you’ll be (a) asking for the job, (b) explaining why you think it’s a good match, (c) displaying your thoughtfulness and maturity, and (d) further disarming the tug-of-war dynamic that interviewers anticipate. You’ll be making the strongest possible “close” – and that’s worth a lot!

  1. Bring a copy of your resume to every interview.
    Have a copy of your resume with you when you go to every interview. If the interviewer has misplaced his or her copy, you’ll save a lot of time (and embarrassment on the interviewer’s part) if you can just pull your extra copy out and hand it over.
  2. Don’t worry about sounding “canned”.
    Some people are concerned that if they rehearse their answers, they’ll sound “canned” (or overly polished or glib) during the interview. Don’t worry. If you’re well prepared, you’ll sound smooth and articulate, not canned. And if you’re not so well prepared, the anxiety of the situation will eliminate any “canned” quality.
  3. Make the most of the “Tell me about yourself” question.
    Many interviewers begin interviews with this question. So how should you respond? You can go into a story about where you were born, what your parents do, how many brothers and sisters and dogs and cats you have, and that’s okay. But would you rather have the interviewer writing down what kind of dog you have – or why the company should hire you?

Consider responding to this question with something like: “Well, obviously I could tell you about lots of things, and if I’m missing what you want, please let me know. But the three things I think are most important for you to know about me are [your selling points]. I can expand on those a little if you’d like.” Interviewers will always say, “Sure, go ahead.” Then you say, “Well, regarding the first point, [give your example]. And when I was working for [company], I [example of another selling point].” Etc. This strategy enables you to focus the first 10-15 minutes of the interview on all of your key selling points. The “Tell me about yourself” question is a golden opportunity. Don’t miss it!

  1. Speak the right body language.
    Dress appropriately, make eye contact, give a firm handshake, have good posture, speak clearly, and don’t wear perfume or cologne! Sometimes interview locations are small rooms that may lack good air circulation. You want the interviewer paying attention to your job qualifications — not passing out because you’ve come in wearing Chanel No. 5 and the candidate before you was doused with Brut, and the two have mixed to form a poisonous gas that results in you not getting an offer!
  2. Be ready for “behavior-based” interviews”.
    One of the most common interview styles today is to ask people to describe experiences they have had that demonstrate behaviors that the company thinks are important for a particular position. You might be asked to talk about a time when you made an unpopular decision, displayed a high level of persistence, or made a decision under time pressure and with limited information, for example.

Step 1 is to anticipate the behaviors this hiring manager is likely to be looking for. Step 2 is to identify at least one example of when you demonstrated each behavior. Step 3 is to prepare a story for each example. Many people recommend using SAR (Situation-Action-Result) as a model for the story. Step 4 is to practice telling the story. Also, make sure to review your resume before the interview with this kind of format in mind; this can help you to remember examples of behaviors you may not have anticipated in advance.

  1. Send thank-you notes.
    Write a thank-you note after every interview. Type each note on paper or send them by email, depending on the interviewers’ preferences. Customize your notes by referring specifically to what you and the interviewer discussed; for example, “I was particularly excited about [or interested by, or glad to hear] what you said about …” Handwritten notes might be better if you’re thanking a personal contact for helping you in your job search, or if the company you’re interviewing with is based in Europe. Whatever method you choose, notes should be sent within 48 hours of the interview.

To write a good thank-you note, you’ll need to take time after each interview to jot down a few things about what the interviewer said. Also, write down what you could have done better in the interview, and make adjustments before you head off for your next interview.

  1. Don’t give up!
    If you’ve had a bad interview for a job that you truly think would be a great fit for you (not just something you want badly), don’t give up! Write a note, send an email, or call the interviewer to let him or her know that you think you did a poor job of communicating why you think this job would be a good match. Reiterate what you have to offer the company, and say that you’d like an opportunity to contribute. Whether this strategy will get you a job offer depends on the company and on you. But one thing’s for sure: If you don’t try, your chances are exactly zero. We’ve seen this approach work on numerous occasions, and we encourage you to give it that last shot.

If you follow the above 20 strategies, you’ll be as prepared as any candidate an interviewer has ever seen.

Interviews

As you prepare for your interview, it is useful to keep the purpose of the interview in mind, from both the employer’s perspective, and yours. Doing so will help you prepare and answer questions well.

The interview allows the employer to:

  • Assess your competency for the position.
  • Determine your fit for the position and the organization.
  • Clarify the role and their expectations.

The interview allows you to:

  • Communicate your related experience, attributes, and accomplishments.
  • Learn more about the position and the organization.
  • Assess if the position aligns with your goals, values, and needs.

Before the Interview

  • Research the organization: who are their clients/customers and stakeholders, what are their goals, philosophy and mission statement, what opportunities and challenges do they face?
  • Use your the job posting and your research to prepare questions to ask during the interview.  
  • Analyze the job description to anticipate questions they may ask. Think of situations that you have been in, or problems you have solved, which demonstrate experience in similar scenarios.
  • Prepare materials to take with you into the interview.
    • Copy of your resume and references
    • A notebook and pen so you can take notes, or keep a list of some talking points or accomplishments to refer to 
  • Select professional attire to wear to the interview. 
  • Arrive early; travel to the location ahead of time to figure out where to park, how to access the building, etc.
  • Visualize a successful interview and focus on a positive outcome. Take a few deep breaths before you go into the interview.

During the Interview

  • Be kind and respectful to everyone you meet.
  • Introduce yourself to the interviewer(s) with a firm handshake and eye contact.
  • Maintain eye contact and open body language once you are seated for the interview.
  • Listen to ensure you are composing the right answer.
    • The interviewer will be using your descriptions of past actions as predictors for future behaviour.
  • Be tactful when speaking about past employers, colleagues, and contacts, particularly when asked to share negative experiences.
  • Ask to return to a question if you need more time to think.
  • Keep communication professional and use appropriate language.
  • Inquire when you will hear a decision.

After the Interview

  • Express gratitude for the opportunity to interview with the company/organization.
  • Ask for the business card of the interviewer(s) so you can follow up with a thank you note or email to each of the interviewer(s).

Types of Interview Questions

  • Behavior
  • Description Questions
    • These questions ask about how you handled experiences in the past, since this is an indication of how you would handle similar situations in the future. It is important to note what you learned in the experience since this will significantly impact your future behaviour. If you have not ever been in the situation asked about, answer the question as a hypothetical.You can use the STARS formula to help formulate your answers to these questions:S – Situation – Describe the situation in as much detail as possible. Include such details as the people involved, the task at hand, the challenges you faced, and your role. 
      – Transferable Skills – Identify the skills you used to handle the situation, pay particular attention to skills that are required by the employer.
      – Action – Explain how you handled the situation and the sequence of actions you took. Talk about how you used your skills. 
      R – Results – Explain how the situation turned out. What were the results of your actions? 
      S – Self-assessment – Explain what you learned from the situation. How well did you handle the situation? Are there actions you would repeat? What would you do differently? Demonstrate that you are self-aware and willing to improve.
    • Example: Tell me about a presentation you gave that did not go well. 
  • Directive Questions
    • These are straightforward questions in which the focus is clear. If you have researched the position and the organization, and know what you have to offer, you will be prepared to answer. Be sure to avoid simple yes or no answers; use examples in your answers.  
    • Example:  Did you research our organization before applying?
  • Hypothetical Questions
    • These questions ask how you would handle a particular situation. If you have been in a similar situation and handled it well, use that example. If you have never been in the situation, consider which skills would be important to use and walk the employer through the particular steps you would take. It is useful to outline what considerations you would make and what information you would use to make decisions.
    • Example: What you would do if you found your ideas about how to tackle a project significantly differed from those of your supervisor?
  • Non-Directive Questions
    • Also called open-ended questions, these questions are broad and require you to focus your answer, communicating what is relevant. Anticipate which experiences and attributes are critical to your success in the role and include examples that will demonstrate how you have used them in the past.
    • Example: Tell me about yourself.
  • Stress Questions
    • Interviewers may use stress questions to assess how you react. Stress questions can be unexpected, seem irrelevant, challenge your opinion, or ask you to talk about your negative attributes or experiences. It is important to stay calm, positive, and take time to think about your answer. Remain tactful when speaking about colleagues.When addressing negative experiences or weaknesses, be honest but avoid drawing attention to weaknesses that would negatively impact your job performance. Turn negatives into positives by talking about strategies you have for overcoming your weaknesses.
    • Example: Tell me about your skill deficiencies related to this position.

Is the Job Right for You?

There are many ways for you to find out about job opportunities, including online job boards or through friends and acquaintances. However, before you pursue these opportunities, you may want to consider a few things: where did you learn about the opportunity, does it match your interests, what are the hours, and how does it pay?

Before Applying

It’s important to recognize if the job is relevant to your needs and interests before applying.  Using the information available in the job posting and the organization’s website and official social media pages are helpful in determining if the position and organization match what you want.

Consider the following factors as a way to determine and navigate your job search:

  • Benefits
    1. Will you receive any benefits, such as health or dental?
    2. Will you get paid vacation? If so, how much and when?
    3. How you will be paid or compensated for statutory days off? 
  • Company Culture
    1. Will you be working in collaboration with a team or independently?
    2. How many people are on your team?
    3. How does the organization uphold its philosophy, mission, or values in their daily operations (e.g. community outreach work, volunteering, philanthropic activities, etc.)
  • Hours of Work
    1. How many hours are involved in a typical shift?
    2. How many days a week are you expected to work?
    3. Will you be expected to work evenings? weekends?
    4. Is overtime expected? If so, how much and how often? 
  • Job Expectations
    1. Do you know what the job involves?
    2. What would be the regular duties and responsibilities involved in the role?
    3. What does the employer expect you to know?
    4. Will training be provided? Is the training paid or unpaid?
  • Location
    1. Where would you be working?
    2. Will you be working remotely (from home)?
    3. If you are working at more than one location, how will you travel between locations?
    4. Will you be expected to cover the costs of traveling between locations? 
  • Organization
    1. What do they do?
    2. When were they established?
    3. Are they for profit, public, or not-for-profit?
    4. Does they produce, provide, or sell a product? If so, what is it?
    5. What is their philosophy, mission, or set of values?
    6. Do they have any affiliations (i.e. religious, political)?
  • Upfront Costs
    1. Are there any upfront costs associated with the position?
    2. Will you need to cover the costs of training or other professional development?
    3. Do you need to purchase any equipment, clothing items, or products before starting the position?
  • Wages
    1. How much will you be paid for your work?
    2. Will you be paid an hourly wage or salary? Do you know the difference?
    3. How will you be compensated for overtime hours?
    4. Will you be paid a commission only?

You may not be able to learn all of this information before applying for a job. But, once you’ve decided to apply for a job, it is important to continue gathering and reviewing information about the organization. This can be particularly useful if you are offered an interview, where you can ask questions and gain clarity on things you want to know before accepting an offer and signing a contract.

Learn what you can do before, during, and after an interview in our resource guide to interviews.


Hours of work

Employers located in Alberta are bound by specific rules and guidelines defined by the Government of Alberta. If you are applying for a position in Alberta, the employer is subject to the laws outlined by Alberta Employment Standards. The Alberta Employment Standards outline how many hours employees can work in a day, when they can take breaks, what happens when an employee works overtime, and any other situation that would require an employees’ time at work.

Review the following Government of Alberta information on hours of work and potential exceptions:

If you are looking for a job outside of Alberta, we encourage you to research the area’s employment standards, and to look on government websites.

Signing contracts

You will typically sign a contract before starting a job. The contract may include start dates, end dates (if applicable), compensation, and other key details of your employment. Ensure you read the contract in full before signing as some organizations include contractual obligations around your job training and may require compensation if you break the contract.

If you are uncertain on how to navigate the terms of a contract and what your and the employer’s responsibilities are, the following resources can help: 

Employee or contractor

Employees are individuals hired to work within an organization. Contractors, also known as freelancers or consultants, are individuals hired by an organization to complete a specific project and may not continue the working relationship once the project has been completed. There are various definitions, exceptions, and pay structures that accompany contract work.

Access the following information to learn more about working as a contractor in Alberta:

Is a job posting legitimate?

The following resources can help you determine if a job posting is legitimate or part of a popular job scam:

Did we miss anything? Leave us a note in the comments!

7 Ways To Improve Your Attitude

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Viktor Frankl

Attitude is everything. Yes, Everything.

It is more vital than events. It’s more important than what’s happened. Because attitude determines whether we are happy or unhappy, fulfilled or empty, the positive perspective assures us that we can never fail. A hopeful attitude guarantees internal success. Attitude- the altitude adjuster determines whether we fly high or low, crash or soar, glide or slide.

Anybody can have a positive attitude when things are going well. What really matters is its how you act when things are going badly that determines the strength of your character. An appropriate attitude means feeling hopeful in challenging times. Stop yourself. Count your blessings. Look for the good. Here are the magnificent 7 ways to improve your attitude:

  1. Choose to be Enthusiastic

Corporate presidents voted it the most valuable personality trait. It’s the biggest single factor in successful selling. Think enthusiastically. Talk enthusiastically. Become enthusiastic by acting enthusiastic. Your thoughts and actions establish your level of enthusiasm.

  1. Be Alive to Everything You Do

Walk fast. Put a bounce in your step. A vigorous, hearty handshake indicates you are glad to be alive and happy to be with the other person. A good smile radiates enthusiasm. Put spirit into your speech by varying the tempo, raising and lowering the pitch, changing the tone and modulation. Force yourself to act with enthusiasm, and soon you will feel enthusiastic.

  1. Broadcast Good News

No one ever made a friend or accomplished anything worthwhile by transmitting bad news. Good news, on the other hand, promotes good will and spreads enthusiasm. The message, “Hey! I’ve got good news” gets the attention of everyone. Take sunshine to school or work. Always aim to make the person you talk to feel better than they otherwise would.

  1. The Power of Visualization

Imagination powerfully influences successful outcomes. When imagination and willpower compete, the imagination always wins. Force of will never keep you striving for success, but proper visualization will. All peak performers visualize success. Before you try to do anything, close your eyes and visualize yourself doing it well.

  1. Positive Self-Talk

What did you say to yourself today? Did you moan and groan about everyone at school or work? Did you complain about your parents to your best friend? What we think is 100% reflected in how we feel. If all we think about is negative thoughts, our actions will be negative. Remember “I’m a 10! I’m Healthy! Wealthy! Happy! I do what I ought to do, when I ought to do it, whether I want to or not! No Debate! I love me!”

  1. Love Others

How can we become more loving? By bringing encouragement, optimism, and hope to all that we meet. By helping others feel comfortable in our presence. By spreading joy and goodwill. By being concerned about the wishes and desires of others. By understanding, caring, accepting, and forgiving. By becoming more concerned about helping others achieve their individual desires.

  1. Never Miss 1 to 6 Above

I think, I need not tell you the importance of this point!

Go, choose your Attitude and choose your own way!

Writing A Cover Letter

A cover letter is an opportunity to explain how your experience, education, skills, and accomplishments uniquely connect to the position you are applying for. Your letter should communicate your personal narrative, why you will be a great fit for the position, and the contributions you can make to the organization.

The Basics

All cover letters should be:

  • Highly targeted to the position for which you are applying.
  • Written as a professional business letter.
  • Formatted to match your resume, using a font size that is easy to read and plenty of white space.
  • Maximum one page in length (academic cover letters are often longer).
  • Thoroughly proofread to check for errors in names, contact information, spelling and grammar.

Things To Avoid

Common mistakes in cover writing include:

  • Rehashing or simply summarizing your resume.
  • Over explaining or giving an excessive amount of detail that does not add to the impact of your examples.
  • Sharing irrelevant or extremely personal information.
  • Summarizing the company or organization’s mission statement without connecting it to you.
  • Using slang, abbreviations, or an overly casual tone.

Targeting Your Cover Letter

Your cover letter should have 2 to 3 body paragraphs which give examples of how you will benefit the organization and how your experience and attributes align with the position’s requirements.

  • For each paragraph, choose one requirement listed in the posting and use specific examples from your school and work experience to demonstrate how you possess these skills. Give enough detail that the employer gets a sense of what you have to offer.
    • “I have strong interpersonal and communication skills”
      vs.
    • “I developed strong interpersonal and communication skills by participating in case competitions. In a limited time frame, I worked with a partner to analyze problems facing an organization, then we discussed our individual strategies and collaborated on a shared recommendation. Together, we presented our solution to the judge with the use of visual aids and a PowerPoint presentation.”
  • Quantify your experience
    • e.g. number of team members you worked with, percentage of sales increase, how many people did you supervise, etc.
  • Use words and phrases from the posting when describing your skill set and experience

Writing Your Resume

A resume is one of the most common tools used in applying for work. It gives employers a sense of who you are and what you have to offer, and is a major determining factor in securing an interview. A strong resume highlights your: 

  • Experiences: formal education, paid and unpaid work, professional development activities, work experience required to complete your degree, experiential learning activities, extra-curricular activities, projects, and so on.
  • Attributes: skills, values, interests, beliefs, philosophies, and personality traits.

Experiences and attributes overlap and include things beyond the examples listed above. Your attributes are inextricably linked to your experiences. The most important thing to know is that your resume will make the most impact if it is targeted for each job you apply for. As you apply for each job, think about what you can include in your resume to showcase your candidacy.

Components of a targeted resume

There are four components to consider when writing a resume:

1.  Content – what information to include

  • As space is limited, include only relevant experiences and attributes.
  • Rather than just listing qualities, provide specific details and examples to qualify your content.
    • For example, compare “Strong communication skills” to “Completed 10 to 15 individual advising appointments weekly, assessing client needs, providing information, support and referrals, and assisting them in planning next steps” 
  • Use language that is meaningful to your readers. Use well-known industry terms, but avoid over-using acronyms and jargon that will not be understood by human resources.
  • Avoid including information that is not required at the application stage (e.g. photo, date of birth, social insurance number, etc.) 

2. Formatting – the sections you will include, and the strategic sequencing of those sections

There are three formats for resumes, all of which differ in the way work experience is listed. Each format emphasizes a different aspect of your experience:

  • Chronological Resume
    • Emphasis is on your past work experience. Your past employment, including your position title and the name of your employer, are listed in reverse chronological order (i.e. starting with your most recent job, then working backwards). Under each job, you list the details of what you did and the skills you used.This is the most commonly used format and it is the best one to use when you have paid or unpaid work experience that is directly related to the job you are applying for.
  • Combination Resume
    • The emphasis is again on your skills, but, it also includes your work history, including your position title, name of employer, and period of employment, listed in reverse chronological order. Your work history is typically listed after your skills section in which your skills are grouped under skill headings similar to the functional resume.This format is more time-consuming to prepare but it is the best one to use if you don’t have much work experience directly related to the job but feel you possess the necessary skills. 
  • Functional Resume
    • Emphasis is on your skills rather than your work history. Skills are grouped under skill headings and under each skill heading, you list how you’ve used and developed these skills, providing examples. Skill headings are arranged in order of their importance. For example, if the most important skill you need for the job is research, then put it first.This format is based on the premise that it does not matter where or when you gained your skills, as long as you have them. As such, you do not include names of past employers, job titles and dates of employment. Since work history is not included, this is the least popular resume format.

You do not have to adhere strictly to any of the formats. You can adapt them in such a way that your most relevant experiences attributes shine through. 

Create sections on your resume choosing ones that are relevant to the job you are applying for. What you include in each section can be also be modified. For example, you may choose to include your co-op experience with your education, or you might include it with your other work experience.

Sequence sections based on relevancy of experiences to the job.  For example, you might list your volunteer experience close to the top of your resume because it is in your field, while your paid experience may be listed lower on your resume because it is not directly related.

Common resume section titles include:

  • Highlights of Skills: five to six points that summarize your unique experience and attributes
  • Education: post-secondary education
  • Education and Training: post-secondary education and professional development
  • Professional Development: professional associations and membership
  • Relevant Experience: a selection of your paid and unpaid experience
  • Technical Skills: computer skills, software skills, languages, etc.
  • Additional Training: workshops, seminars, certificate programs, etc.
  • Extracurricular Activities: student group involvement, community group involvement, short volunteer positions, athletics, etc.
  • Awards: include those that are more recent and consider including a very brief description if the reason for the award is not obvious.