Archive for October, 2011

5 Ways to Succeed at a Job Fair

What is a Job Fair?  Simply put; a job fair, a.k.a “career fair” or “career expo”, is an event where employers, recruiters, schools and other training institutions meet with prospective job seekers.  Usually there are tables or booths where job seekers can submit their resumes and cover letters, where they can fill out applications, and even have job interviews on the spot.  Job fairs provide an opportunity for the job seeker to streamline their job search, while employers can engage with multiple job seeker in person and in a timely manner.

Preparation is essential to achieve success at a job fair.  As the saying goes “you only get one chance to make a good first impression”.  With that in mind it is valuable to know some key points in making the job fair experience a valuable one for you and for the prospective employer.

1.  Resumes & Cover Letters
You will need to have resumes and cover letters for the companies that you are interested in prepared before you attend the fair.  Most advertised fairs will let you know which companies will be present.  Make sure to research the companies you are interested in. It is not necessary to spend time at booths of companies you are not interested.

2.  Engage Recruiters
It is vital that you engage in conversation with the job recruiters rather than just giving them a resume and moving on to the next table.  This is your opportunity to discuss your job objective and to tell them a bit about you. Be ready to talk about your work experiences, skills and abilities; you can do this by preparing as if you are going to an interview.

3.  Dress The Part
Dress for success!  Your attendance at the Job Fair is actually a job hunt, the same as if you were going out into the community and looking for jobs or attending an interview.

4.  Collect Contact Information
Pick up informational materials from the booths where you apply, ask for business cards and write down whom you speak with so that later you can follow up with them as to the status of your application.  This is essential for making the most of this networking opportunity.

5.  Show Appreciation
Before you leave the job fair return to the booths of any of the companies that interest you, wait for a chance to talk to them again, and thank them for their time. Let them know that you will be in touch and that you look forward to speaking with them soon.  Consider handing them a thank-you note with your contact information; it will definitely make an impact.

This is just a quick overview of job fairs and how to make the most out of them.  For more information on this topic, there is a wealth of information on the internet and at job search program offices in your community.  Take a close look at these and other ways to enhance your job search and find success.  The competitive job search market does not have to look so overwhelming if you are always prepared to go the extra mile for yourself.

For more information on networking visit our website at http://www.myerc.ca/content/Job%20Seekers/Networking.asp

This article was written by Gail Winacott, a Career Development Practitioner working with youth in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.  It was originally written for the BC Workinfonet Youth Site and is reposted here with permission.

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9 Ways to Volunteer

Volunteering has many benefits.  As we learned last week, work experience is one of them.  According to the National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating by the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy and Volunteer Canada, there are nine main areas in which British Columbians tend to volunteer their time:

1.  Organizing or Supervising Events

Every large and small event throughout the year requires a team of people to sort out the details.

2.  Canvassing, Campaigning or Fundraising

This can be done door-to-door, by telephone, by direct mail, mall kiosks and displays. It can be a small effort or a large scale campaign. This is a great way to develop sales and marketing skills.

3.  Sitting as an Unpaid Board Member

Elected boards of volunteers run non-profit societies. This is a great opportunity to have a say in how your favorite organization is run and learn some more about the democratic process. You will also learn delegation, cooperation and administrative skills.

4.  Educating, Influencing or Lobbying

Non-profit groups have a mission that they are trying to advocate for. Get involved! Teach others about your organization and what they are trying to accomplish.

5.  Teaching/Coaching

You guessed it, volunteers coach most sports teams!  Community Centres often also have homework clubs or reading programs where you could get some experience teaching and working with children.

6.  Driving for an Organization

Picking up and delivering items, putting up signs, picking up and dropping off people for medical appointments, delivering groceries, food or medication to people who cannot get out on their own is a great way to see your would enjoy being a professional driver or courier.

7.  Providing Care or Support

Supportive volunteers assist people with mental illness, physical disabilities, young parents, teens, young children, people living with Cancer, MS, Parkinson’s, Heart Disease or other ailments. There are groups that support the patients and the families of those affected with these conditions. Working with these groups will help you develop empathy and supportive skills, as well as probably some new medical knowledge!

8.  Collecting, Serving or Delivering Food

Often we think of “Soup Kitchens” or “Meals on Wheels” when we think of food and volunteering. There are many other places where you might serve food: a concert, a conference, a daycare, at a board meeting, or in a cooking class. This is great experience and sometimes the organization will provide you with FoodSafe or other types of food handling certifications.

9.  Maintenance/Repair

Any organization that owns property or leases a space will have minor repairs and cleaning to take care of on a regular basis. Also, ecological societies and other recreational organizations may have cleanup and maintenance needed in parks or other locations. If you are a hands-on kind of person this may be a good way for you to help out.

No matter what your interests and abilities, there is a volunteer job out there for you! The most important thing is to find your passion, whether it is cancer awareness, drug prevention, protection of animals, arts, music, children, etc.  Find the society that does what you are interested in and apply to be a volunteer. It is amazing the things you will learn and the skills that you will pick up along the way.

For more information about volunteering visit:

This article was submitted by career development practitioner Kirsty Peterson.  It was originally written for the BC Workinfonet Youth Site and is reposted here with permission.

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Seasonal Self-Employment

The holiday season is approaching and with it comes the spirit of giving, often disguised as that incredible urge to buy things for those we love, even if we can’t afford it. Many people blow their budget and feel the pain of their overspending when the credit card bills arrive in January; however, seasonal self-employment could be the answer. This is when you provide a service or product temporarily for the holiday season to help you bring in a certain amount of money. Although it’s a great way to bring in some extra cash to keep the holidays affordable and the bank account healthy, what opportunities are really our there?

Tap into your hidden skills, some self-employment ideas are… Read More…

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6 Reasons People Volunteer

What is Volunteer work? And more importantly, what’s the point?!?  Volunteer work is any job that you do without being paid, some people ask, “Why on earth would I want to work for free, when I can go out there and get a paying job?”  According to the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy, 1 out of every 3 people in British Columbia over the age of 15 has volunteered their time to a charity or non-profit organization.  So why do people volunteer if they aren’t being paid?

1.  Learning Something New

Learning about a new subject or way of doing business is a benefit of volunteering. Most non-profit societies have a specific focus. (e.g. Cancer Societies, Boys and Girls Clubs, Environmental Societies, Seniors Centres).  You can learn tons of stuff just by spending time working with a group of experts in their specific field.

2.  Valuable Experience

Volunteer work is a great way to gain valuable experience for your resume. The cool thing about volunteering is that often you will get training in new skills, and it actually counts as work experience on your resume. Volunteering can also show commitment and motivation to a potential employer.

3.  Networking

Giving back to your community is a great way to start networking. Many of the people, who volunteer for one organization, are also involved in other organizations. It’s a great feeling to know you are a part of a bigger network of socially involved people; people who may hire you in the future.

4.  Show Who You Are

Volunteering is an opportunity to be true to your personal values and beliefs. It’s one thing to say what you believe in, but volunteering is a way to really show people what is important to you, and how hard you are willing to work to achieve a goal or a dream.

5.  Build Self-Confidence

Volunteering builds your self-confidence. Sound cheesy? Maybe… but the fact is, the more skills and experience you have, the more confident you will feel!

6.  Experiment

Volunteering helps you figure out what things you like doing and… maybe not so much. There are good parts and bad parts at every job. Find out if the good parts at the job you are interested in outweigh the bad parts, or if the bad parts are bad enough to make the job not so much fun anymore!

Whatever your reason for volunteering is – just do it!  Next week we will talk about where you should volunteer.

For more information about volunteering visit:

This article was submitted by career development practitioner Kirsty Peterson.  It was originally written for the BC Workinfonet Youth Site and is reposted here with permission.

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