Finding Meaningful Work

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While finding meaningful and gratifying employment can be a challenge, those with international training and experience often face additional hurdles trying to get into their field. Join us November 15th at 10:30am, as we're pleased to present the CRIEC Career Discussion at the Central Library, where New Canadian professionals will share their experience of struggling and then successfully finding work. In addition to relevant tips and excellent advice, it will offer a great opportunity to network and gain valuable support from your peers.

Our partner, Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council (CRIEC) brings together Calgary’s skilled immigrants with business and community leaders to help make Calgary’s workforce more diverse, dynamic and successful. Executive Director Bruce Randall will be facilitating this discussion and offering his invaluable insights, and we asked him a few preliminary questions:

Bruce, what have you learned about employment seeking in Calgary since you started with CRIEC?

There is a tremendous amount of positive energy in Calgary – employers want great people and potential employees want meaningful careers – and both are looking to make that happen.In particular:

  1. To a certain extent, each employer is its own labour market. We need to approach each employer as having specific needs in specific areas. Work force solutions are most often employer specific.
  2. Employers are looking for team members who can “articulate critical thought” – effective and efficient means of sharing information, knowledge and vision.
  3. There are always opportunities, even in downtime.

What are the most common comments you hear from your former mentees when they reflect on their journey after they have found employment?

They appreciate their own personal journey even more. The sense of pride and accomplishment in securing and retraining meaningful careers is tangible.

Most want to start giving back right away as mentors and connectors and panelists, sharing their own tales of success.

In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception internationally trained job seekers out there have about how to find meaningful employment?

That there must be a special toolkit labeled “Internationally Trained Professionals” and it holds all the secrets to success. There really is only one toolkit for all of us; in that kit might be specialized forms of tools that some folks might need to use more than other folks but the basic tools are the same.

The work we do and the strategies we use are not rocket science – they are stuff everyone employs. Mentoring, connecting, career path planning, story-telling: none of this is new or ground-breaking. We have all used them at one point in our own career journeys. Our trick has been to make them work for internationally trained professionals.

Registration for this program is easy, either from the Library's website or through EventBrite, or by calling 403-260-2782. For further exploration of succeeding in the Canadian Workplace, Calgary Public Library has a great selection of print and electronic books on the subject.

From Pain to Empowerment: Post Divorce Career Planning

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Recovering from divorce can be a thorny and complicated process. Many look at their job future and struggle with reclaiming interests and goals they set aside while married and perhaps raising a family. In the interim, they may have changed as individuals, as skills and interests have shifted. “Often people struggle with having to rewrite their story when they weren’t prepared to,” says Ann Nakaska, a local career professional and consultant, specializing in career decision making.

“Many don’t even know what their career options are, and it can be overwhelming, especially if they were not the one who wanted the divorce. There can also be money worries for those who thought their financial future was secure. They see a hit in their economic status and realize they are solely responsible moving forward, including retirement preparation and complications that arise if there is a property split.”

Given the growing number of clients she was seeing struggling with these issues, Ann created a workshop to tackle the issues entitled Embrace Your Future: Career Decisions Post Divorce. She’ll be leading this session at the Central Library on Saturday, November 1st, where participants will examine essential workplace skills, career choices and financial options.

Ann acknowledges it can be hard to run towards a future that wasn’t anticipated or planned for, "but it’s possible if people are willing to plan a new vision of what they want in their lives, that can often be even more rewarding than the old one."

Registration for this program is easy, either online, or by calling 403-260-2782.For further exploration of moving forward after divorce, Calgary Public Library has a huge selection of print and electronic books on the subject.

Self-Sabotaging Your Career?

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Are you new to Canada within the last 3 years, and looking for strategies and advice on how to tackle the local job market? On Saturday, October 25th, the Calgary Public Library is pleased to partner with local career specialists to offer a full day session entitled Career Strategies for Newcomers. This unique workshop is designed to help you:

  1. Learn the importance and process of building supportive networks
  2. Learn tangible interview and resume tips for Newcomers
  3. Explore alternatives outside of the traditional job search
  4. Learn life management skills to support employment long term

One of our presenters, Divina, will be focusing on a key issue that's often difficult to discuss and navigate: staying and thriving in your job. We talked with her to get a sense of why this is often occurs:

Divina, employers are telling us that many New Canadians, once they secure employment, can often unwittingly self sabotage their careers before they even get truly started. Is that your observation, and if so, why do you think it happens?

This happens as they are still getting used to what ‘normal’ is. Coming from their respective countries, New Canadians are used to knowing not only the cultural norms, but also the organizational norms. For example, a newcomer starts an excellent career with a company. He gets a call from his home country two months into his employment, and finds out that his father is very ill. Since he’s the eldest of the siblings, they are asking him to come home and settle the family affairs (e.g. land ownership, etc.). Instead of seeking assistance from his co-workers and ask what he should do in this situation, he decides to render his resignation, rather than requesting for a leave of absence.

Are there warning signs to be aware of that might indicate that something is going wrong?

If a new Canadian who is new to the job does not take the following actions:

  • Time and immediate action to get to know others
  • Create a network
  • Understand how to fit into their new environment,

this may be a warning sign that they need help, as they may be feeling overwhelmed and really do not know how to take the first steps.

What kind of strategies would you recommend to try to prevent this from happening?

You can take simple steps:

  • Talk to people and get to know them
  • Ask questions — don’t be afraid of being judged. This is the only way you will learn

By not asking questions or getting to know others, it will prevent you from learning and growing as a new professional in Canada.

And Divina has the expertise you need. She's currently in the energy services sector, and has been in human resources and recruitment for the past 15 years. She immigrated to Canada at the age of 12, and has first-hand experience with the challenges that new Canadians face. As such, she's committed to helping new Canadians create new possibilities for themselves during this important transition phase in their careers. Registration is easy, either online, or by calling 403-260-2782.

It's also important to remember that while new Canadians often have many challenges adapting to their new work environments, there are a wide range of excellent services in Calgary to help you move forward, such as Directions for Immigrants in the Trades, Calgary Catholic Immigration Society and Immigrant Services Calgary. All these organizations, and others, are listed in Alberta Human Service's directory, the Employment, Training and Career Services Directory for Calgary.

Discover Careers in Banking and Insurance

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Canadian banks are coming up roses amidst global economic instability. Home to some of the strongest banks in the world, the sector is growing and diverse. According to Banks and the Economy, nearly 2/3 of the workforce is comprised of women. Moreover, full time positions have surpassed the 80% marker.

Given the increased need for workers in this sector, and those in the insurance industry, Calgary Public Library is pleased to once again be hosting Discover Careers in Banking and Insurance on Tuesday, September 30th at the Central Library.

This full day event is designed to provide comprehensive introductions to both sectors during morning information sessions, followed by a hiring fair in the afternoon. And to round out the day, we have invited local career practitioners to review resumes in the afternoon while you are waiting to speak to a recruiter, and have invited representative from Mount Royal University’s Financial Services Programs to be on hand to answer questions.

Confirmed recruiters include:

Servus Credit Union, Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank of Canada, Scotiabank, Canadian Western Bank, National Bank of Canada, Alberta Treasury Branch, Dejardins, Rogers Insurance, Aviva Canada, Northbridge, Intact Insurance, and the Insurance Institute of Canada

Need advice on how to prepare for job fairs and how to make the most of your first meeting with one of these companies? Review our previous blog post on strategies – you can never come too prepared.

We are excited to be partnering with The Insurance Institute of Canada, The Canadian Banker’s Association, and Alberta Job, Skills, Training and Labour to offer this career exploration event. To register for the morning session use our online registration link or call 403-260-2620. For the afternoon hiring fair, simply visit us at the Central Library. Don't forget your resume!

Supercharge Your Social Media for Job Search

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Last week a colleague of mine was headhunted through LinkedIn — again. Not surprisingly, his profile is focused and robust, laden with great keywords and featuring a fabulous profile picture in a striking red cardigan. But although job searchers are using social media with more frequency and sophistication than a few years ago, many I talk to are not getting scouted, nor are they confident they’re creating content that is truly leveraging their job search and wowing potential employers with bang-on headlines and profile information.

On Tuesday, September 16th, the Central Library is hosting How To Supercharge Your Social Network for Your Job Search, a program designed to answer these questions. From 9:30 – 12:00 in the Library Theatre, three speakers, including Melissa McCluskey, VP of Communications for Mark Staffing, have been invited to address issues such as:

  • What information you should be posting online and where you should be posting it?
  • Are wondering how (or if) a potential employer uses your information they find online?
  • Are confused about what social media sites you should have your profile on, so potential employers can find you?
  • What kind of information is acceptable and what kind of information is dangerous?

Register for this free event online, or call 403-260-2620.

I recommend you adopt this brave strategy: invite coworkers and friends to view your accounts and offer honest feedback. Does your profile picture make you look weary? Is your Twitter feed sending out positive, professional messaging? Would they show your Facebook page to their grandmother? And if you are still stuck, the Calgary Public Library has a steady stream of new social media books, ebooks and articles to inspire and challenge your assumptions.

Through the Back Door with Glassdoor

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One message that's always driven home during the Calgary Public Library's interview and networking programs is simple: research the companies you have targeted. The information you collect can result in more meaningful and fruitful interactions and results. In addition to the Library’s databases that provide tools to take you beyond Google, Glassdoor is an example of a website that offers company ratings and employee reviews. This Canadian dvision of the California based website offers ratings for over 250,000 companies. This can prove handy when trying to get a sense of the pros and cons of a company, and in many cases employees will provide examples of interview questions and ratings on company culture, as is the case with Calgary's Golder Associates page. For example, a job searcher who was recently interviewed by a Golder three person panel was asked about expected salary. He advised to "make sure you know what you want, do the research, and be prepared to answer this question."

Glassdoor is also handy for researching average salaries, and often includes a breakdown of base pay and bonuses. Facebook users also have the option to identify and connect with friends who work for targeted companies. While many job searchers have yet to discover this website, recent articles point to its increased use and potential.

To make things even easier, the Calgary Public Library now has a partnership program with Glassdoor, which allows you unlimited access without having to sign up. One more tool to make your job search easier.

Getting Out of Your Own Way

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A Taste of Coaching

—Presentation and Free Coaching Sessions

Wednesday, May 21, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Central Library 2nd Floor John Dutton Theatre

Thursday, May 22, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Crowfoot Library


In celebration of International Coaching Week, the Calgary Public Library is once again hosting our Taste of Coaching event on May 21st and 22nd, featuring free coaching sessions at two locations in partnership with the International Coaching Federation Calgary Charter Chapter. Following a 30-minute presentation on the nature and intent of coaching, participants will have the opportunity to sign up for free, 15 minute, one-on-one sessions with a professional coach.

For those who have never experienced what a certified coach can offer, this is a great chance to try it out. Coaches can help create focus on personal and professional issues, provide insights into dilemmas, and encourage a commitment to personal goals. I caught up with Lisa Holden Rovers, one of the coaches at the Crowfoot Library event, to ask her more about why and how she chose her career:

Lisa, how did you decide to become a professional coach?

While in my position in Human Resources back in 2000, I went to a workshop where I was introduced to the coaching process. It helped me realize that much the work I was doing (and enjoyed!) to support and advise both employees and managers incorporated many coaching fundamentals. Driving home that night I was struck by the fact that coaching was what I was meant to be doing. So I decided to finance myself to go through the 18 month course, and by 2005 I had my own coaching practice.

Have you worked with coaches yourself over the years?

Frequently, and they have been critical in helping me define and understand the important moments in my life. When I was trying to decide whether to form my own practice, one said to me “What I’m hearing is not if, but when you are going to make this move - pay attention, and be aware of, the importance of timing.” Sure enough, around the time when I was visualizing how I needed more harmony in my life, I was layed off. I knew that was my opportunity to take charge and launch my business.

What can a great coach offer?

I feel a good coach has the skill to truly listen, reflect back, and help you get out of your own way. Often we can forget where we come from and where we are meant to be heading, and a coach can help you realize and navigate through that. Sometimes we have our blinders on. We are too busy and there is too much noise in our life for us to always see our way. Coaches can help pave the path.


As an added bonus, we are also offering a follow up program—Creating Clarity for Career and Life Goalsfor those interested in taking their work to the next level:

Creating Clarity for Career and Life Goals

Saturday, May 24, 10:30 am to 12:00 p.m., Central Library

Interested? To register or for more information either visit our website or call 403-260-2782 .

Behaviour Descriptive Interviews

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Interviews can be scary, but behaviour descriptive interviews can be terrifying if you're unprepared. This interview technique was designed to discover how you act and react in certain circumstances, and employers are looking for real life examples of how you behaved in situations relating to the questions they pose. Given that the City of Calgary and other major employers use this interview technique, we invited experts to give their best advice and recommendations as part of our recent Accelerate Your Career event at the Central Library on April 26th.

Our first presenter, Debbie, stressed one word: Prepare! Make sure you’ve got lots of relevant stories and examples to give your interviewer. The better you know yourself and the more reflection you’ve done, the better you’ll do in your interview. Know yourself, and research the company you’re interviewing with and the role you’re interviewing for.

David reminded everyone preparing for any interview to be prepared, but not so prepared and memorized that you end up sounding phony. Be genuine and yourself, be proud of your accomplishments, be aware of your strengths, and understand weaknesses or areas for improvement. And, before you leave the interview, know your next step. If the interviewer does not offer that before you leave, you should ask them. Go into every interview with a positive attitude. Remember: employers only interview strong candidates, so if you received an interview you are doing amazing. It will just be a matter of time before you land a job.

David and Debbie hosted such a lively session that we have made it available Calgary Public Library's YouTube channel.

Here are some great examples of possible questions from the Asper School of Business, while this article offers good advice on how to craft and tell your own story. For further research, our wide selection of interviewing books go into greater depth and offer a wider range of questions and strategies.

To Market, To Market: Logistics Careers in Alberta

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According to a recent Calgary Herald article, "Canada faces a shortage of 357,000 workers for the supply chain sector—at least 50,000 job openings in supply chain in Alberta alone—between now and 2020." But awareness of the variety of jobs within the logistics sector eludes many, despite excellent websites dedicated to the industry, including the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council and the Supply Chain Management Association of Alberta. They each feature great career overviews and industry information, and highlight the huge demand for support occupations from a range of professions:SCMA Alberta graphic

To help you explore your options, we invited a team of supply chain professionals to take part in our 4th Annual Accelerate Your Career event at the Central Library on April 26th, as part of our Career Conversations. Drop by and chat one-on-one and find out more about the industry and explore the type of work available. They will be joined by 15 more professionals in industries such as oil and gas, information technology, accounting and insurance, as part of our career exploration event.

Return to Sender? Resume Advice for Job Seekers

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Does your resume need your street address? Likely not, according to some local recruiters.

This past week I participated in a series of Job Search Boot Camps at Fort Calgary. One of the most popular features is always the employer panel, where people can ask advice from experts. This year I was surprised when they suggested that home addreses are no longer recommended for resumes, and to simply include an email address, phone numbers and perhaps a LinkedIn URL. This makes sense from a privacy point of view as well, as many security advocates strongly suggest omitting any personal information from resumes, especially if you are uploading them to online job boards.

Other tips of the day included:

  • Create a unique work search email, separate from your personal account. That way you are working with a dedicated email that is easier to track and check, and will not expose your personal email to the spam you might receive after posting your resume. And remember: keep your email address professional. No Foxylady@hotmail.com.
  • Omit personal references on your resume, as you are exposing them to security risks by doing so.
  • Presenter Lynn Berry also reminded job searchers to keep careful records of the jobs you apply for. This will help avoid those awkward situations when an employer calls for an interview and you have no recollection of the job you applied for months ago!

Need more tips? Want to shine up your resume with help from experts?

As part of our 4th Annual Accelerate Your Career event on April 26th, we have eight career coaches on hand to offer 30 minute resume sessions. Register online to reserve a time, or drop by between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm.

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