by Stella Shepard
Career Development Services Inc. (CDS) offers Island-wide assistance to job seekers and career changers.
Professional staff are up to date on labour market trends and current job opportunities and are readily available to pass this information on to those making employment plans.
The Employment Journey connected with Rosemond MacDougall, Client Services Coordinator, who works Island-wide and is based in Charlottetown for a Q&A as follows:
Q: What services does CDS provide and to whom?
A: CDS supports individuals as they navigate work and career change. Our services are free and confidential.
CDS clients might be looking for work right away, exploring career options, considering training or a pre-employment program, seeking information on funding supports, preparing to re-enter the workforce, or changing career paths to something brand new.
Everyone is welcome to have a first appointment to start their job search or career planning. For ongoing support, we assist individuals who are unemployed or working less than 25 hours per week.
CDS will work with you to review all your options for work, training, or returning to school. We also offer free career assessments and professional career counselling to identify your strengths, skills, interests, and personal career goals.
- Job search
- Resumé development
- Interview preparation
- Understanding the local job market
- Career planning & counselling
- Career assessments
- Training & skills development information
- Accessing various funded programs, when applicable
Basic office services are available in the public resource centre at each CDS site, including:
- Phones for local and long-distance calls with employers
- Printer, photocopier, and scanner access
- Computer and Internet access
If you are not sure what you want to do next, CDS is the right first step. If you know what you want to do next and you need more information, then CDS is also a great place to start.
Q: Where is CDS located?
A: CDS provides Island-wide services in five locations: O’Leary (West Prince), Summerside, Charlottetown, Montague, and Souris.
Full details on each location can be found at www.cdspei.ca/locations
Q: Are you open to the public or by appointment?
A: CDS offices are open Monday to Friday. If possible, please call or email in advance so that we can set up the service that best meets your needs. We offer services virtually, by phone, or in-person.
Q. What are the best steps for job seekers when applying for a position?
Rosemond reached out to the CDS team of Career Practitioners across PEI to help answer this question:
A: Learn as much as you can about the company you want to work for. There is a lot of information available online. Make sure you understand the role you are applying for and the business before you write your resumé and cover letter.
If you are changing career paths or if you do not have a resumé, we recommend taking time to work with CDS. We can guide you through the process of building a strong resumé.
Most resumés are scanned for 15 seconds or less and the focus is on the top half of the first page and on a person’s work history.
A resumé should speak to the position you are applying for, with the most relevant resumé details on the front page.
Work history that is not as relevant to the position can be included on the resumé in a condensed form under “Additional Experience” to illustrate a history of employment, e.g., Baker │ The Bread Company │Pleasantville, PE │ 2020.
Cover letters should illustrate knowledge of the job and/or employer, and clearly illustrate what you can bring to the role and what makes you a good fit for that company. The cover letter allows your personality and enthusiasm to shine through.
Include references when applying. Obtain permission from prior employers and/or supervisors before using them as references. It’s also a good idea to provide your references with a copy of your resumé and an update on your job search so that they are better prepared for phone calls from employers.
Create a consistent and identifiable brand by using the same formatting style on your reference page, resumé, and cover letter.
If the position has been advertised, apply in the manner indicated by the employer. If phone calls are not discouraged in the job ad, follow up a day or two later to confirm that your resumé or application was received, and express your interest in the position and the company. If your phone call goes to voicemail, be prepared to leave a brief message that includes your name and phone number.
When you drop off your resumé in person or make a phone inquiry, be as professional as you will be during the interview. The first impression you make with all staff, not just the manager, is very important.
Unless they see a “red flag”, managers will often interview all people who follow up. Be mindful of the employer’s time and do not hound them after you have already followed up.
Q. Could you provide suggestions for job seekers connecting with employers?
A: To find out about available opportunities, network, network, network! Always let family, friends, connections, and employers know you are job searching. Shout it from the rooftop. You never know who is connected to who.
Here’s an example: A CDS client tells friends over lunch that he was looking for a new job. An employer talks to one of the friends six days later. The friend tells the employer that John would be an excellent worker and is looking for a change.
If you can make a personal connection with the employer, that’s a bonus. For example, say “Sally gave me your contact information and said I should reach out to you.”
Many employers require you to apply online, but they will remember you once you go through the online process and your name comes across their desk. CDS staff find that many employers in rural areas prefer face-to-face interactions with job seekers, and this extra step often leads to success.
For example, go to the place you would like to work during typical business hours and ask to speak to the manager. Avoid busy periods – for example, do not go to a restaurant during the lunchtime rush. In most cases, it is the local managers who do the actual interviewing and hiring.
If the manager is available, introduce yourself, say you would like to work there, and hand over your resumé. Be prepared to talk about why you are interested in working there, and to share a few of your relevant skills.
If the manager is not available, leave your resumé and be extremely polite to all staff you interact with. A manager will often ask the staff you interact with if you seem like a good fit. There is always a risk of rejection, but the payoff is well worth it.
If they say that you can only apply online, thank them, and say that you will do that. In our experience, we have never seen a person visiting a business perceived as negative. In most cases, the person is granted an interview.
Sometimes managers are relieved that you are there to apply for a position. Also, most businesses happily make time for students.
Most businesses are happy to make time to do informational interviews. Ask to book a meeting with the manager and tell them you are interested in working in that industry and would like 20 minutes of their time to ask them questions about their industry. After you ask the questions, ask if they are hiring and leave your resumé for either current or future possibilities.
At job fairs and career fairs, businesses and organizations often recruit and book interviews on the spot. Before the fair, check who is going to be there. If there are any companies that interest you, go to them first.
You can also contact the businesses or organizations that are attending before the fair and ask for an interview. You may get one before the job fair even happens and beat the crowd. You could also contact the employer after the job fair to see what openings still exist.
Consider volunteering if you are looking for work in a particular setting. Volunteers often get hired when openings occur. Also, volunteering looks great on your resumé!
Keep the focus on what you can do for the employer, not what they can do for you. Example: “My background is in bioscience, and I meet the criteria to apply for a wage subsidy if you’d like to discuss that option.” vs. “My background is in bioscience; do you have any positions available that would be a good fit?”
CDS can help you explore programs and wage subsidies that may work for your personal job search.
A local business directory can help you research opportunities in your area. Try your local Chamber of Commerce website or The Employment Journey website to explore employers and industries.
Prepare a quick introduction before calling, emailing, or visiting. Before delivering your resumé in person, find out about the company’s current policy on non-employee visits, particularly in the manufacturing sector.
When you connect with a manager or HR person, respect their time by asking when they might be able to speak with you. Before you visit, write down a few talking points and questions that outline your assets and show your interest in their company.
Commenting or engaging with companies through their social media platforms could catch their attention (if done well) and some managers can be contacted through LinkedIn as well.
Q. Could you provide helpful hints how job seekers can better prepare for the interview?
A: Before you write your application, and especially before the interview, do research on the company through their website or social media platforms.
The Employment Journey may have information about them, or about other companies of interest posted on their website at www.employmentjourney.com
Talk with anyone you know who has worked with the company, interviewed with them in the past, or who has worked in a similar role, and ask them for advice. Also, contact your references to let them know you have an interview coming up.
Review typical interview questions and answer them out loud. Listen to yourself talk and get a flow to your conversation. Don’t make it sound rehearsed, but rather keep in mind the key points you would like to say and incorporate those into your conversation. It is okay to refer to a copy of your resumé, or to brief notes during an interview.
- Practicing questions out loud helps with brain muscle memory, especially when you get nervous in an interview.
- Book a practice interview at CDS. This experience will improve your interviewing skills.
- Ground yourself by remembering that you are just having a conversation to see if you both like each other. This is not an exam. You are already being considered. You are interviewing each other. After the interview, ask yourself if the job feels right for you. Your personality and demeanor are being considered, so take a deep breath and be yourself.
- Remember that it’s just as much about how you feel you fit the position and the work setting. You may choose to decline the position and that’s ok.
- Make copies of your resumé to bring with you.
- Get a good night’s sleep and eat a balanced meal before your interview. Plan what you will wear and how you will get there in advance to reduce stress on the day of the interview.
Q. What are employers looking for when hiring, in your professional opinion?
A: Your resumé demonstrates how your skills and abilities fit the position, and the interview is to see how your personality would fit within the workplace. Be yourself!
Employers tell us they are seeking reliable employees. We advise clients to share information about their reliability and a strong attendance record at the top of the resumé.
If you have a genuine interest in the work and the industry, an employer will recognize this. If you do your research, it will show.
If you have a hard copy portfolio of your previous work or photos of projects, bring it with you to the interview. Or share an online portfolio or a link to your LinkedIn page where employers can find out more about your skills, interests, and connections.
CDS staff know many employers are looking for someone who is willing to learn and who will get along well with the rest of the team and the public. Attitude and preparation are key when you are competing for the position you really want.
For more information about Career Development Services, visit www.cdspei.ca