Remember to ‘Market Your Soft Skills’ in Your Job Search (Part 2 of 2)

In this last section of ‘Remember to ‘Market your Soft Skills,’ I am going to assume that you have taken some time to consider your soft skills seriously, and what you have to offer your current or next employer, in concert with your professional credentials.

As I mentioned previously, more import is placed on a candidate’s soft skills of late, and this is true for both potential employers directly and Staffing Agencies. In some cases, a candidate with less experience will get the position based on his or her personality, presentation, and effective communications demonstrated during the interview(s).

The downside of this situation is of course remuneration, as it would be adjusted due to the difference in the educational and professional requirements specified for the role. However, the fact is that when a job candidate does land a role, he or she will learn how to be effective, moving forward when the opportune time arrives or is proactively sought out.

I have certainly witnessed the hiring of staff based on personality, where others have had more experience to offer, and I am confident that my readers can also relate to this scenario.

Now, let’s get to the core of this article, and review potential ‘transferable skills’, which could look like:

  • Good time & project management skills;
  • Ability to influence others;
  • Team player attitude;
  • Excellent listening skills;
  • Easily builds strong relationships; and
  • Strong organizational skills.

For example, let’s say a Home Depot salesperson desperately wants to get into the hospitality industry but has no prior experience to offer. The skills of a successful salesperson would of course easily transfer over to the hospitality industry for obvious reasons, and therefore, I say go for it!

I realize this is a very basic and elementary example, but I am sure you get my point. I believe that it comes down to ‘how you present’ in an interview, as I have stated in my previous articles. Your ’unique personal skills and attributes’ may look like:

  • Goes above and beyond;
  • Has a positive attitude;
  • Strong work ethic;
  • Quick study; and
  • Creative & Self-directed.

Of course, we all have something different to bring to the table, as it were. How we communicate our given skills is what matters, and what makes the difference when under pressure in situations such as job interviews and performance reviews.

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Remember to ‘Market Your Soft Skills’ in Your Job Search (Part 1 of 2)

When conducting a job search, whether internally or externally, it is natural to be anxious about our ‘hard’ skills such as computer programs knowledge; graphics programs, advanced Excel formulas, the Net, firm portals, and confidence with using social media/networking tools, etc. All of these skills are a requirement of any job within the corporate world today and are valuable skills to have.

In our current job markets, employers do not seem to be solely probing for appropriate levels of education, certification, and technical skills, but rather ‘soft skills’ which will immediately engage the person interviewing you, as well as the various groups you will be working with once on board.

Companies that are presently advertising positions are requesting much more than pre-recession, as they have deep considerations around employee retention, economic conditions, and the apprehensive anticipation of losing valuable employees, once the economy is on a better footing, and has stabilized.

It is a logical assumption that some firms could lose staff as the economy improves, as opportunities from competitors present themselves, and offers of higher compensation and benefits hold an obvious attraction, most definitely if the employee is feeling ‘disengaged’ from their current employer.

Putting aside your hard skills and academic background, for now, consider the soft skills you have to bring to the table. Target what you recognize as your ‘transferable’ and ‘unique personal soft skills’, which will work to your advantage as you continue on your job search journey.

Are these skills highlighted within the body of your Cap Profile and Resume, and noted in all of your cover letters? If not, make sure they are going forward, as it will stimulate positive outcomes for you.

I would urge you to speak with your professional references to learn if they are including your distinctive and valued soft skills in their referral communications. Where appropriate, ask them to please include these details on a go forward basis.

 

Please continue reading Part 2 of 2 here, Thank You!

Canada and U.S. Enjoy Competitive Workforce

 

 

 

 

 

Innovation Minister celebrates free flow of knowledge and skills on both sides of the border

As we know, Canada and the U.S. have designed one of the most enduring, integrated, peaceful, and mutually beneficial economic relationships in the world—one that results in shared prosperity and better living standards for the middle class in each country.

Behind each North American innovation are the talents and creativity of persons from each side of the border. That includes the highly skilled Americans and Canadians who grow our food, build our cars, and turn new technologies into products and services that are sold worldwide. Each country enjoys the advantage of having a highly competent workforce that can compete globally based on advanced and specialized skills.

That was the message delivered by the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, at the Western Pathways Conference earlier this week in Denver. This conference, which ends May 13th, is a gathering of U.S. business, government, and education leaders. The conference targeted ways to prepare young adults for jobs of the future.

As part of the Innovation and Skills Plan set out in Budget 2017, the Government of Canada is moving forward with targeted investments to make sure that skills training begins early and continues throughout the careers of Canadians. These investments include:

  • $50 million over 2 years to support learning opportunities in computer coding and digital skills for school-aged children;
  • $221 million over 5 years to create 10,000 work-integrated learning placements that enable university and college students to enter the workforce; and
  • support enabling mid-career workers who wish to pursue post-secondary education to make qualifying for student loans and grants a smoother process.

A FEW QUICK STATS

  • Trade between the U.S. and Canada reached nearly $700 billion in 2015, representing $2 billion of goods and services crossing the border daily.
  • Since the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement came into force in 1989, Canada’s two-way trade in goods and services with the United States has more than tripled.
  • Nearly 9 million American jobs depend on trade and investment with Canada.
  • Many U.S. states count Canada as their top trading partner.

 

Supporting Article Research Source: Government of Canada

Alberta: Upcoming Workplace Laws Overhaul (Part 2 of 2)

…Continued from Alberta: Upcoming Workplace Laws Overhaul (Part 1 of 2)

The second and last part of this article focuses on the Labour Relations Code’ impending changes.

LABOUR RELATIONS CODE

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the areas of the Labour Code where the government is contemplating change is geared to enhancing union powers and increasing union involvement in Alberta. Also, any changes are likely to lead to a more robust Alberta Labour Relations Board, in concert with broader legislative changes that will impact all unionized workplaces.

In particular, the government is considering whether to:

  • Mandate a “Rand formula” in collective agreements, which involves the obligatory payment of union dues regardless of a worker’s status (i.e., workers would no longer be able to opt-out of a union and avoid paying union dues where they benefit from the collective agreement);
  • Change the Labour Code’s definition of “employer” and “employee”, which could bind more successor employers to collective agreements;
  • Give employees greater freedom in choosing, changing, or cancelling union representation (i.e., the introduction of a “card check” system);
  • Make certain unfair labour practice allegations are subject to a reverse onus provision, thereby putting the burden on the employer to contest an employee’s accusation;
  • Broaden the Board’s mandate to adjudicate a wider range of workplace disputes;
  • Augment the Board’s power, procedures, and remedial options; and
  • Undertake a general review of the Labour Code to see where Alberta’s labour laws depart from the Canadian mainstream (in a way which the government determines is “without benefit”).

CONCLUSION

Given that the legislation is due for an update, and the NDP’ orientation towards improved rights for workers and unions, it seems likely that the changes to the Employment Standards and the Labour Code can occur throughout this term of the NDP’s mandate.

The government says these changes are necessary to offer a “family-friendly workplace”. What remains unclear, though, is the extent to which these changes can co-exist with a “business-friendly workplace” since many of the proposed changes tip heavily for employees and unions, while Alberta’s economy remains in a fragile state.

 

Article Research Sources: Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, Mondaq

Alberta: Upcoming Workplace Laws Overhaul (Part 1 of 2)

Alberta’s NDP Government to shake up the province’s workplace legislation.

The Employment Standards Code (Employment Standards) and the Labour Relations Code (Labour Code) will be the subject of a brief public consultation (closing April 18, 2017) before the government assumes its review, and rolls out the significant primary changes to Alberta’s workplace laws not seen in decades.

As a matter of interest, Alberta’s workplace laws have remained the same for close to 30 years, while apparently provincial governments elsewhere in Canada have responded more quickly and readily to the changing dynamics of what the face of a modern workforce could, or should be.

Employment Standards and the Labour Code govern everything with respect to the employment relationship in Alberta’s workplaces (outside of federally regulated firms, and in addition to human rights and privacy legislation). The Labour Code regulates union work, and Employment Standards covers the non-union labour market.

The government says the forthcoming changes to Alberta’s workplace laws are actually “modest” and “not a full-scale review“. Still, many employers are most concerned about the consequences, particularly given the NDP’s policies for extending workers’ benefits, in addition to its long-standing union ties.

EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS

Employment Standards sets the minimum standards to which employers must adhere, including standards for hours of work and overtime requirements, vacation, maternity and paternity leave, general holidays and termination.

The government has not specified the precise changes it intends to make to Employment Standards. However, based upon a review of the government’s online consultation, employers may see the introduction of all, or any, of the following:

  • An increase in protected leaves (i.e., maternity, parental and compassionate care) and a reduction of employee tenure to realize eligibility for such leaves;
  • The creation of new unpaid protected leaves for personal short-term illness or injury, personal emergencies, and family responsibilities;
  • Changes to align protected leaves with the federal employment insurance program;
  • An increase in the banked overtime rate from 1:1 to 1:1.5 (i.e., employees can receive 1.5 hours of time off for each 1 hour of overtime banked);
  • Changes to the calculation of all compressed work week arrangements;
  • Stricter requirements on employers to give a mandatory paid or unpaid 30-minute break to employees for each five consecutive hours of work;
  • An increase in the instances that employees are entitled to general and Stat holiday pay;
  • Changes to the calculation of employee’s average daily wage;
  • New deductions from employee wages wherever the employee agrees to such deductions and receives a direct benefit in return (i.e., health and insurance packages, pay advances, meals, and lodging);
  • An increase in the opportunities for youth between 13 and 15 to gain employment;
  • New requirements on employers to notify the Minster of Labour when undertaking a group termination of 50 or more employees at one site within a four-week period (i.e., possibly including a notification to the affected employees and unions, not just the Minister); and
  • Enhanced tools for the government to enforce Employment Standards legislation, including the introduction of administrative and progressive penalties, increased fines, greater authority for employment standards officers, and publicly posting firm names that fail to satisfy judgments, or prove ongoing non-compliance.

 Please continue to read Part 2 here. Thank You!

Article Research Sources: Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, Mondaq

Canada: Alberta’s Minimum Wage Increase Imminent

minwagechanges

 

On October 1, 2016, Alberta’s minimum wage will surge from $11.20 per hour to $12.20 per hour. This is the preliminary step within the provincial government’s plan to increase the minimum wage in Alberta to $15.00 per hour by October 1, 2018.

The subsequent step of the plan will take effect on October 1, 2017, when the minimum wage will rise once more to achieve $13.60 per hour.

The minimum hourly wage is not the lone aspect of the Employment Standards legislation that is changing, weekly and month-to-month minimum wages are also increasing. Many individuals in Alberta are paid on an hourly basis, however, certain occupations; usually related to irregular work schedules or commissioned income, are not well-suited to an hourly pay scale.

Employees in such situations, including salespersons, land agents, and other professionals1 are no longer required to record their hours worked, and are entitled to a minimum weekly wage, now set at $446 per week. Now, as of October 1, 2016, this amount will also grow to $486 per week.

In-home caregivers will also enjoy an increase in the minimum monthly wage presently set at $2,127, with an increase to $2,316 as of October 1, 2016.

By October 1, 2018, these minimums will jump to $598 per week and $2,848 per month, respectively.

Furthermore, as of October 1, 2016, there will no longer be a lower minimum wage for employees serving alcohol as part of their regular job function. Rather, those workers must be paid the regular hourly minimum wage, which, at that time, will be $12.20 per hour.

More information on these and other approaching changes can be found on the Government of Alberta’s website.

Footnotes: 1 See Alberta’s Employment Standards Regulation at Section 2(2) for listed occupations.

alberta-min-wage-thru-yrs-for-att-article

Source: Government of Canada, Hourly Minimum Wages in Canada for Adult Workers

 

Supporting Article Research Sources: Mondaq, Field LLP, Government of Alberta

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Canada: Major Changes to our Employment Insurance Program (Part 2 of 2)

Introducing the Working While on Claim (‘WWC’) Pilot Project

This Pilot Project begins on August 7, 2016, and will run through to August 2018.

Every eligible EI claimant will be able to choose to keep 50¢ of their EI benefits for every dollar they earn, up to a maximum of 90% of the weekly insurable earnings used to calculate their EI benefit amount. Alternately, there is the option to revert to the rules of an earlier pilot that took effect back in 2012 (an earnings allowance of $75 or 40% of their weekly EI benefits).

The WWC pilot project will apply to you if you earn money while you are collecting any of the following types of EI benefits:

  • regular benefits
  • fishing benefits
  • parental benefits
  • compassionate care benefits
  • parents of critically ill children benefit

PLEASE NOTE: The WWC pilot project DOES NOT apply to claimants of maternity and sickness benefits or self-employed claimants.

Sample Calculation

Let’s say Christine’s weekly insurable earnings are $800. Her earnings threshold would therefore be $720 ($800 x .90 = $720).

If Christine is collecting EI benefits based on weekly insurable earnings of $800, EI would deduct the equivalent of 50% of her earnings from her benefits, until those earnings reached $720 (the earnings threshold).

Any monies Christine earns that is over the $720 earnings threshold would be deducted from her EI payments dollar for dollar.

To see more examples of how the earnings threshold works, please click here.

Canada: Major Changes to our Employment Insurance Program (Part 1 of 2)

 

 

 

 

 

In concert with my recent article on Supplemental EI Benefits for BC, I would like to share this informative post with you, which outlines our government’s continued commitment to improving Canada’s Employment Insurance System.

You will note that a number of these changes have already come into effect earlier this month, while some are slated for August 2016; such as the Working While on Claim Project.

The balance of the impending changes and enhancements to our EI system will not come into play until 2017; this includes reducing the EI waiting period from 2 weeks to 1 week, which is anticipated to begin on January 1, 2017.

New measures came into effect earlier this month that will permit the eligibility of more Canadians for EI support, simplify job-search rules for claimants, and offer more help for people heavily affected by the commodities sector downturn.

The changes include the elimination of EI eligibility requirements for new entrants and re-entrants. Instead of having to accumulate 910 hours of insurable employment, claimants newly entering the workforce, or returning after an absence of 2+ years must now meet the same eligibility requirements as other claimants in the economic region they live in. This measure will provide access to EI support for many new workers, including young Canadians, women, and new Canadians.

Simplification of Job search responsibilities for EI claimants. The rules enacted back in 2012 which forced unemployed persons to commute farther, or to take lower-paying jobs have been rescinded. The Government will also make sure that there are fair and flexible supports to help EI claimants train for and find new employment.

Extended EI BenefitsCanadians living in the identified EI economic regions hardest hit by the commodities downturn, having sustained a sharp increase in job losses have already begun to receive extended EI regular benefits.

Budget 2016 proposes to ‘extend EI regular benefits by 5 weeks to all eligible claimants, and to provide up to an additional 20 weeks of EI regular benefits to long-tenured workers, in the hardest hit EI economic regions NOTED BELOW ONLY:

  • Edmonton;
  • Southern Saskatchewan;
  • Southern Interior British Columbia;
  • Northern Alberta;
  • Nunavut;
  • Whitehorse;
  • Newfoundland/Labrador;
  • Sudbury;
  • Northern Manitoba;
  • Northern Saskatchewan;
  • Calgary;
  • Southern Alberta;
  • Northern British Columbia;
  • Northern Ontario; and
  • Saskatoon

All of the above three measures came into effect on July 3, 2016, and are part of the government’s plan to help Canada’s middle class, as well as those that are working hard to join it.

Other proposed measures to enhance our EI System over the course of our government’s mandate includes but is not limited to, the following areas:

  • Extending the Maximum Duration of Work-Sharing Agreements;
  • Investing in Skills and Training;
  • Enhancing Investments in Training;
  • Increasing the Northern Residents Deduction;
  • Supporting Flexible Work Arrangements;
  • Easier access to Compassionate Care Benefits; and
  • Flexibility in Parental Leave Benefits.

For a comprehensive list of proposed changes, stats, and further information on Canada’s impending EI enhancements, please visit the websites noted below.

 

Supporting Article Research Sources: Government of Canada, Employment Insurance Benefits

 

Part 2 of 2, ‘Working While on Claim’ will follow shortly

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Supplemental EI Benefits for BC? ~ SalaryGuard

‘The first supplemental employment insurance policy of its kind in Canada’.

SalaryGuard is gap unemployment insurance coverage providing the difference between your former weekly paycheck and Canadian benefits.

Coverage is available for up to 24 weeks in approved territories only.

The Canadian branch of the Great American Insurance Company is offering consumers coverage intended to supplement Federal Employment Insurance benefits through a brokerage; BFL Canada Risk and Insurance Services Inc., as announced earlier this year.

BFL is selling the Great American coverage, aptly named SalaryGuard in BC. Thankfully, other provinces will also be offered this coverage in the future.

SalaryGuard “will replace up to 55% of an employee’s former wages in the event of an involuntary job loss,” BFL Canada added.

 

EI SUPP SALARYGUARD 2016.jpg

For most people, the “basic rate” for calculating employment insurance benefits in Canada is 55% of their “average insurable weekly earnings”, up to a maximum amount, according to the Federal Government.

“As of January 1, 2016, the maximum yearly insurable earnings amount is $50,800, which means that you can receive a maximum amount of $537 per week.”

The maximum weekly benefit payable from SalaryGuard is based on an annual income of $310,000, which of course, eliminates a high percentage of EI recipients.

SalaryGuard is not available to those that had collected regular EI benefits within the past two years, and in order to be eligible, they must have been at their current employer for a minimum of six months.

“SalaryGuard provides gap coverage equal to the difference between 55% of the insured’s former weekly income, and the benefits provided by the government,” BFL stated.

Federal EI benefits are not available to employees that were dismissed for misconduct, or who voluntarily left their jobs without just cause.

However, they may be available to former employees who lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and who are actively seeking employment.

According to the SalaryGuard website, the qualifying criterion for BC EI Recipients is as follows:

  1. Continuous employment for a minimum of 18 months;
  2. Have not been served with a Notice of Termination;
  3. Have a yearly salary over $52,100;
  4. Presently employed on a full-time basis; and
  5. Must be a resident of British Columbia.

 

SalaryGuard is private employment insurance. In the event you lose your job and are eligible for Regular Employment Insurance Benefits, this supplemental employment insurance provides cash when you need it the most.

 

Supporting Article Research Sources: SalaryGuard, Canadian Underwriter, BFL Canada

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