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: Higher Costs Associated with Terminating Older Employees

By now, all of us recognize that, for the most part, there is no mandatory retirement age in Ontario or BC.

However, for a myriad of reasons, by and large, related to the sky-rocketing cost of living, there are often shortfalls in retirement savings, and/or job satisfaction, so many of us are working well beyond the traditional retirement age, which leads to an ever-growing number of older employees in the workforce.

In recent years, Ontario courts have moved toward awarding older employees higher damage awards for wrongful dismissals. Courts have additionally held older employees to a lower standard in terms of the efforts required to mitigate wrongful dismissal damages through finding replacement employment. The upshot is that employers are faced with the significantly increased threat of legal responsibility when terminating older employees.

In a recent Ontario, Superior Court of Justice case, the court determined in favor of a 60-year-old non-executive level employee with 30 years’ service for wrongful termination concerning an enterprise undergoing reorganizing because of operational deficits, etc.

The court awarded this ex-employee 2 years’ pay in lieu of notice of termination for her wrongful termination case. To support its findings, the court highlighted a number of recent decisions where older, long-serving, non-executive employees were also awarded 24 months’ notice.

It is significant to note here that this award was based largely on her age, and on the resulting “competitive disadvantage” she would face against younger, more recently trained employees.

So how can employers help reduce the potential liability involved with terminating their older employees?

  • A nicely crafted employment agreement can effectively restrict employees’ entitlements upon termination. Employers should make certain that all personnel execute written employment agreements with enforceable termination provisions;
  • Employers are within their rights to provide employees with working notice of termination instead of termination pay. By providing working notice, employers can significantly lessen or eliminate liability altogether. During the working notice period, employees are required to continue to carry out their duties at the same level of performance. In this case, had the company provided the ex-employee with 18 months’ advance notice of termination, there would have been no liability at the end of the notice period, other than for statutory severance pay of twenty-six (26) weeks’, which cannot be provided through working notice;
  • Wherever possible, employers would be prudent to offer the terminated employee a reference letter. Reference letters increase an employee’s chances of finding replacement employment, which, in turn, reduces the employer liability. In this case, the Court also considered that this enterprise did not offer a reference letter; and
  • Outplacement Counseling can be a powerful tool to aid a terminated employee in finding replacement employment. Employers should consider offering employee Outplacement Counseling upon termination. This is especially so in instances such as in this Ontario case where the employee was long-serving, with little to no work experience outside of the employer’s organization.

 

Supporting Article Research Sources: Mondaq, CCPartners

Considering Your Career Resolutions for 2017?

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We are now just a few short months away from 2017, and I am confident that many of you have had success with your personal resolutions made for this year, as well as the changes you would like to create in your career; possibly, an exciting career change during 2017.

Listed below are a few ideas I want to share with you that I believe may be similar to what you have pondered, and hopefully some new ideas for your Career Resolutions. Naturally, you are bearing in mind where you are in your present role, the length of time it took you to achieve that level of responsibility, and the path you perceive to be the best ‘fresh start’ that a New Year offers:

  • Learn more about your division, and the company overall (knowledge is power);
  • Establish better working relationships with your peers;
  • Become more engaged with your immediate boss and/or supervisor;
  • Attend more company-wide functions and connect with new people (Network);
  • Be more proactive in your approach and attitude toward your career;
  • Ask for more responsibility in your current role (assuming time/skills permits);
  • Register for suitable free training/courses offered at and through work;
  • Join strategic work-related committees;
  • Create & Chair a new committee theme that brings ‘added value’;
  • Uncover innovative ways to generate time & cost savings for your division/company
  • Evaluate whom you would like as your ideal Mentor or Career Coach;
  • Update your resume and references (always be prepared for advancement!); and
  • Participate in Community Volunteer programs, such as charity-driven events (check with HR about programs the company is involved in as well).

Please bear in mind that these are just a few examples of what your Career Resolutions might look like. I am sure that those of you that have spent considerable time pondering your lives and career, will have plenty to add to this list.

Having said that, I wrote this article for the benefit of those struggling to come up with ideas that would best serve their personalities and careers, particularly given our volatile job markets worldwide; which also deserves careful consideration.

I hope that this article has been helpful in getting the juices flowing for even a small percentage of my readers and followers.

Much Success to You!

 

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Conduct a Self-Assessment: Your Career Path

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While this could be a daunting task, choosing your career path does not have to be frightening or difficult if you are willing to listen to your inner voice, and pay attention to your natural instincts. There are several sources of support to aid you in this worthy and important task, as I have noted below.

Career Self-Assessment is crucial in our global job markets today and has become an absolute pre-requisite for anyone coming to grips with the changing face of our work worlds.

The speed of movement in the workplace is constantly shifting, and this can certainly create challenges for your current and future career aspirations.

Self-Assessment can help you set a solid platform for a fulfilling career by providing insights into where you will find the most personal satisfaction, and enable you to make your best and most effective contributions.

There are numerous sources freely available to you that will help create a clear and definitive picture of where you should be heading.

For example:

  • Self Assessments (please see below)
  • Career Counselling – career management firms, resource centres, work, employment agencies
  • Parents
  • Family members
  • Friends
  • Co-workers (current & past)
  • Mentors (current & past)
  • Boss (current & past)

Self-assessments are also easy to find on the Internet, and these thought-provoking tools help direct people in drawing the right conclusions about what it is they are looking for based on personal preferences, strengths and weaknesses, career background, skill sets, and education.

Here are just a couple of resources to aid you in your Self-Assessment process:

Quintessential Career offers the http://www.quintcareers.com/online_career_assessments.html, and the Job Hunters Bible site at http://www.jobhuntersbible.com/, which will provide further information, as well as some creative fun with selected tests of your choosing.

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Avoid these Interview Mistakes – Part II of II

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Welcome back! Here is the balance of my Avoid these Interview Mistakes article. Your feedback is always appreciated and welcomed!

Ask ‘Smart’ Questions

Remember that an interview is a ‘2-way’ street, and is a ‘sales’ process for both parties. Given that you have conducted proper research on the firm, you should have no problem coming up with interesting, and well thought out questions for the interviewer.

Not having a list of solid questions to put forward indicates that you either lack interest in the firm or have not properly conducted your own due diligence. Either way, it is harmful to you!

Alluding to Competition

If you have or expect pending job offers, this is not the time to bring it up, so do not put that out there. If you are contacted with an Offer, you will have an opportunity to negotiate accordingly.

Bypassing the Thank You Letter

Do not forget the all important Thank You letter. Be sure it is clear, concise, and reflects your interview discussion and your keen interest in the position. For this reason, it is wise to prepare your Thank You letter as soon as possible after the interview, while what transpired is fresh in your mind.

Always ask to take notes during the interview. If you are not permitted to do so, which is unlikely, jot down the important points as soon as possible – even if that means using the washroom or elevator, or sitting down outside the building. Keep your notes and questions for each interview carefully separated to avoid any embarrassing moments.

In closing, interviewing is an emotionally draining process, particularly if you are attending more than two per day. Therefore, regardless of your memory retention, you are likely to forget what could turn out to be important points if you fail to take good notes, which should ‘mentally recreate the discussions’ for you. Remember to also practice excellence in your ‘listening’ skills.

Best of Luck to You!

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Talent Retention Strategies – ‘Stay Interview’

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‘Communication is imperative, and is a major key to retaining top talent’

Connected divisional managers and team leaders recognize when their most gifted workers are signifying a wish to move on, or take on considerably more responsibility – widening the scope of their current roles, considering potential divisional transfers, small promotions, etc.

As we know, high performing employees do not stay in one firm for too long when they do not feel they are getting the recognition, respect, and promotions they believe are so richly deserved.

Personally, I feel that the difference between an effective, connected leader and an ineffective leader is the willingness to make time to uncover what is going on swiftly. This, of course, precipitates setting up the one-on-one ‘catch up’ chats, also dubbed as Stay Interviews’.

Once valued employees give their notice, it is most often too late to salvage the employment relationship, since, from an emotional and psychological perspective, these employees have ‘already left’ their roles and employer behind.

Exit interviews are not greatly valued for the above reasons and the knowledge that the verbal content of these meetings are just ‘hindsight’ discussions. However, these meetings are also intended to ‘leave the door open’ for those that are at the top of their game and show the most promise.

It makes sense then to communicate effectively and consistently with your teams and to also add and conduct ‘stay interviews’ on a regular basis, with particular emphasis placed on your top talent, and the next-in-line, most promising performers.

Want to read more on talent retention strategies? If so, please continue on to read my next article on Preventing Future Departures of your Top Talent.

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