Getting a Job: What You Need To Know.

With the end of the semester only a few weeks away, many students have turned their attention to what comes next: joining the workforce! We have seen many students in the last few weeks who are feeling anxious about this next step in their lives, while others have shared their concerns about all the headlines surrounding uncertainty in the labour market.

Feeling anxious and concerned about transitioning from student to employee is a normal part of the process as it involves change and the unknown. “What if I find a job, and hate it? Worse yet, what if I can’t find a job at all?” These are the type of questions we see students grappling with.

The first thing we remind students is that there are things within their control, and things outside of their control. We cannot control the global markets, economic conditions, the companies that are hiring, the number of jobseekers in the labour market, or the methods companies choose to advertise their job openings.

What we can control, however, is our response to the uncertainty. And the best way to navigate uncertainty is through preparedness. How are you going to make yourself stand out in a sea of job applicants with similar credentials or more experience? What can you do now to increase your chances of finding meaningful work? Preparing for your job search is well within your control so understanding what factors you need to consider is your first step.

The first factor within your control is your mindset. In a tight labour market, it can be easy to feel discouraged, deflated, and impatient with the process. Approaching your job search with positivity and being prepared to put in the effort and time to be successful will help. Every single job you apply to will require your very best effort. Every. Single. Application.

Why? Employers notice the amount of time you invested in crafting your resume/cover letter or preparing for an interview. The better prepared you are, the more appeal you will have to them because that in itself says something about your work ethic and interest in them as an employer. They want engaged employees who care about the quality of their work. Going into your job search with a positive mindset, attitude, and willingness to invest the time and effort to produce a high quality application, will set the foundation for success.

The second factor within your control is getting to know yourself. Many students laugh when we say this to them, but how much time have you honestly invested in thinking about your skills, abilities, and competencies so that you can make them relevant to different contexts? According to job search website, Glassdoor, “on average, corporate job openings attract between 100 – 250 resumes. But only 4 – 6 of those applicants will be called for an interview, and only 1 will be offered a job” (Economy, 2015).  And based on a survey conducted by LinkedIn, employers will only spend 6 seconds to initially review your resume (Friedman, 2017). So out of 250 resumes sent to an employer, and a 6-second look at each, which resumes will stand out? The ones that quickly, concisely, and clearly relate their skills, abilities, and competencies to the specific job. It is not up to the employer to determine from your resume IF your skills will fit. It is up to you, the jobseeker, to tell them EXACTLY how they fit. So back to the original question….how much time have you honestly invested in thinking about your skills, abilities, and competencies so that you can make them relevant to different contexts? When students answer this question honestly, the vast majority say hardly ever. Yet this is a critical part of your job search. It helps you to identify where you would be a good fit, why you would be a good fit, and guides you in preparing a good resume and interview.

The third factor within your control is research. Benjamin Franklin said “an investment in knowledge, pays the best interest”. The more you know about a company, the more you know about yourself, and how this knowledge intersects will be beneficial to both you and the company. When conducting research, review the employer’s website – what are their values, what keywords are common, what can you ascertain from this information to determine how you would be a good fit? When you find a job ad, look once again for the keywords – what qualifications and skills do they mention? What is important to them in a job candidate? Then use this information to tailor your resume and cover letter to match their needs. 

Which brings us to the next factor within your control: Self-Marketing. Self-marketing is how you describe and differentiate yourself to others. When you see ads for products, the companies want to highlight a certain image of their brand to entice you to buy it. In self-marketing, you are the brand, and the image you convey should appeal to employers to entice them to meet you for an interview. Your resume, cover letter, portfolio, email content, social media pages, and interview are modes of self-marketing. What message are you conveying to others?

Your cover letter, resume, and portfolio each serve specific purposes within a job search. A cover letter introduces you to an employer and provides specific details as to what job you are applying to and why you are a good fit for the organization. The resume is an overview or ‘evidence’ of the skills, experiences, and education that you have to meet their unique needs. A portfolio provides further support and proof to back up what you are telling them. We like to compare these three documents to a movie trailer. It provides just enough information to capture the interest of the viewer and encourage them to want to see the feature presentation (which in this case, would be you, for an interview).

The most important thing to remember when writing resumes and cover letters, is to create them from the employers’ perspective. Everything in these documents should tell the employer what’s in it for them? What will they get, and how will they benefit, from hiring you? Every skill you mention, every educational experience, and work experience you highlight should be written in a manner that makes it relevant to their job, company, and industry. For example, if you have worked in food services for the past 5 years, but you are applying to a job in human services, how can you connect the experience to what the employer needs? You don’t want to just list the tasks you performed working in food services, and expect the employer to consider how those tasks have prepared you for a human services role. You make it relevant to the employer by focusing on the transferable skills gained and describing how you would use them in the new position. Instead of saying “Took food and beverage orders and served to customers” on your resume, focus on the transferable skill, which in this case would be customer service and interpersonal skills. Instead, you could say “Provided professional and respectful customer service while utilizing strong interpersonal skills to establish a positive rapport with clients”. The first example lists duties, whereas the second example highlights the skills gained through the performance of those duties, but in a way that is beneficial in the human services environment.

When emailing or communicating with employers, use professional terminology and proper business etiquette. Do not just email an attachment to an employer, without stating in the email what your purpose of contacting them is. Employers will judge your communication skills based on how you email and contact them, so make a good impression. They may also judge you based on your social media image so ensure you know what your social media accounts are saying about you. In fact, around 3 out of 4 employers state they will use your social media pages to learn more about you in order to gauge whether they want to interview you (Ranosa, 2019). Things that get you disqualified from the running include inappropriate videos, photos or GIFs, information regarding substance use, discrimatory comments, poor communication, bad mouthing companies/employers, etc. Many employers feel your email and social media provide clues on how you will interact with their customers, and whether your image/behaviours will reflect positively or negatively on them as an employer.

The last mode for self-marketing to talk about is interviews. Prepare for an interview by reviewing the job ad and company website to refresh in your mind what they are looking for in a candidate and what is important to them as a company. Be sure to practice answering typical interview questions ahead of time so that the answers will come more naturally to you in an actual interview. Your answers should include examples from past experiences (work, school, volunteer, life in general) that support the skills, competencies, and knowledge you are trying to emphasize. The more relevant examples you have to back up what you say, the stronger your interview will come across. During an interview, try to be aware of your non-verbal cues as well. Constant fidgeting or use of filler words (‘um’, ‘like’ etc) often indicate a lack of confidence. In order to convince an employer that you are the best fit for the job, you need to speak with conviction and demonstrate that you are confident in your ability to fill this role. If you are not convinced, how can they be?

Finally, the last factor we will discuss is support. Before you begin your job search, reach out to the Student Employment and Career Centre. We offer free services to all students and alumni in creating a job search plan, resume and cover letter development, portfolio creation, interview tips, interest and personality assessments, career advising and more. We have numerous tools to support you in your job search ranging from handouts, job posting boards, employer networking events, and career-related software that you can access from home, as well as in-person consultations. For more information, or to arrange an appointment, please call the Advising desk at 403-529-3819. Until then, we wish you all the best in all your new endeavors!

Sources:

Economy, P. (2015, May 5). 11 interesting hiring statistics you should know. Retrieved from Inc. This Morning: https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/19-interesting-hiring-statistics-you-should-know.html

Friedman, A. (2017, February 16). 6 seconds is the average time spent reading a resume. Retrieved from LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/six-seconds-average-time-spent-reading-resume-andrew-j-friedman

Ranosa, R. (2019, October 29). How recruiters check for red flags on social media. Retrieved from Human Resources Director: https://www.hcamag.com/ca/specialization/hr-technology/how-recruiters-check-for-red-flags-on-social-media/189897

Library Gadgets from the Multimedia Zone

You probably know the basics of the library: you can sign out books, you can find a spot to study, you can use the drop-in computers… but did you also know that there is a whole world of multimedia gadgets accessible to you, as a student, with your library card?

What you are about to read is by-no-means a complete list of some of the fun and useful items available for you to sign out at our service desk.

You have now entered… The Multimedia Zone!

Phone Chargers

We’ll admit it. When our phone’s battery is low we get a little freaked out. The laws of the universe clearly state that your phone must die at precisely the moment that is most inconvenient to you. Maybe you’re waiting to hear back about a job interview. Maybe you’re watching the last two minutes of your favourite TV show. Maybe you’ve just told your crush that you’re in love with them and they’ve left you on read. Whatever the reason, your phone will run out of battery in that moment. It’s just a harsh reality.

But at the library, we can help! We have phone chargers of all types available for 4-hour loan periods, allowing you to extend the life of your phone’s battery at least enough for you to get the closure you need.

Photo by Will Porada on Unsplash

Flash Drives

When it comes to final projects, losing your files is the last thing you want to happen. Yes, you saved your stuff on the “Z” drive. Sure, you probably emailed yourself a copy. But what happens when the internet goes down and you can’t access your email? What will you do?!

Avoid this terrifying scenario by signing out one of the flash drives from the library multimedia desk. You can keep it for 24-hours, and know that your files will stay with you wherever you go.

Photo by Brina Blum on Unsplash

Noise-Cancelling Headphones

The Vera Bracken Library:

Spacious and comfortable? Yes!

Staffed with friendly library workers who love to help students? You bet!

A tranquil chamber of silence and solitude? Ummm… not always.

We LOVE the fact that students use the library to do group studying and big collaborative projects, but we know that sometimes you just need some peace and quiet. This is why we offer noise-cancelling headphones, available to sign out at the library multimedia desk! You can borrow these headphones for up to four hours whenever you need a break from the clamor.

Photo by Aiony Haust on Unsplash

Microphones

Testing 1-2. Check. Check.

Microphone on your laptop not working? Need to borrow a handheld for your next club meeting? The library multimedia desk has you covered with microphones of all types, available for you to borrow. Just don’t forget your library card!

Photo by Forja2 Mx on Unsplash

Sewing Machine

You have now reached the weirder part of the list, featuring a couple of items you probably wouldn’t have guessed you could sign out from the library. Imagine yourself with a hole in your favourite pair of jeans or a broken strap on your backpack. What will you do? You didn’t bring a sewing machine with you to college. Who brings a sewing machine to college? [Okay, the author of this blog post totally did bring a sewing machine to college, but that’s irrelevant and beside the point.] The point is: you can sign out a sewing machine from the library!! How cool is that? Sign it out and fix your broken stuff or sew matching pyjamas for you and all of your roommates. Get creative (literally)!

Photo by Juan Jose Porta on Unsplash

Electronic Keyboard

There is a quote by Albert Schweitzer that I love:

“There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.”

Now, I don’t mean to say that midterm exams are “miseries” exactly, but let’s be honest. A refuge from midterms would be nice. Unfortunately you can’t have cats in your dorm, but you can have music! In fact, you can make your own music with a keyboard signed out from the library. We even have books to get you started if you want to learn to play! Come sign it out and begin your new life as a rock/pop/EDM/classical virtuoso.

Photo by Martin Hexeberg on Unsplash

Were you surprised by any of these? Have any suggestions for other neat things you’d like to see offered by the library? Let us know at the desk, and come check some of our cool gadgets out!

Mental Health Awareness Activities for Winter 2020 Semester

With a busy new semester, months of cold weather, and the stressors of daily life, you might find yourself struggling to cope with it all. This is normal, it happens. The Mental Health and Counselling department doesn’t want you to struggle alone. We’re here to talk to. If making an appointment to speak with a counsellor sounds a bit scary, or like too much of a commitment, that’s ok- we have other options to help you manage!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My personal goal as Mental Health Programmer at MHC, is to help each student feel connected, and like they are a part of a community. College can be a lonely place, and it can be hard to reach out. The activities that we offer aim to increase self-awareness, and build-up your support system. They are mostly drop-in, so there isn’t the pressure of committing your time each week (but please keep coming back if you enjoy it, we’d love to have you)!

 Please stop in to one of our groups, or to the counselling department if you find you are needing a little extra support. We have comfy couches, a fire place, TV, and free coffee/tea/hot chocolate!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

CBT Self-Help Drop In [Mondays / 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. / C225]
Students work independently on cognitive behavioural therapy work sheets, with counselling staff support. Topics include distorted thinking, anger, communication, healthy relationships, and more. This drop-in time is ideal for students who have identified a particular area of work that they would like to focus on. Students are also encouraged to come explore different topics to learn more about themselves.   

30 Minute drop-in counselling sessions [Mondays and Thursdays / 1 – 3:30 p.m. / C233]
First come, first serve. No appointment necessary.

Photo by Avni Jain on Pexels.com

Knitting Group [Tuesdays / 1:30 – 3 p.m. / Front lounge area in the Vera Bracken Library]
Two wonderful ladies from the Medicine Hat community have volunteered their time to teach students how to knit while they also informally offering mental health support. We will be working together to make a blanket that will be donated at the end of the semester. All materials provided. No experience necessary. (Crocheters also welcome but must bring own supplies).  

Animal Therapy [Wednesdays / 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. / Front lounge area in the Vera Bracken Library]
Miss your own dog? Wish you had a dog to cuddle? Drop- in to interact with Rocky and Louie to decrease stress and build connections.

Creative Minds Group
Starting in February, time and date TBD. This group will consist of creative writing, painting, drawing, etc. and focus on maintaining mental wellness. Students must register for group. Please email
lareshenkoff@mhc.ab.ca or kmills@mhc.ab.ca if you are interested in attending.  

Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

The Inquiring Mind
This course is designed to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness. The session is three and a half hours and consists of mental health and illness on campus, stigma and discrimination on campus, warning signs, self-care, creating a supportive campus, and practical application. Students must register for session, please e-mail
lareshenkoff@mhc.ab.ca if you are interested in attending. Time and date TBD.

Remember- you don’t have to be in crisis to start taking care of your mental health, make it part of your daily routine. We often hear about “self-care” and how you “NEED TO BE DOING SELF-CARE!!!!”. What does that even mean? Well… these groups/activities are a great place to start!

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

If you are wanting to book an appointment with one of our counsellors, it’s quite easy. Simply stop by the advising desk, or call 403.529.3819. You’ll be set up with a quick 30-minute screening to ensure that individual counselling is the best fit for you, and then you’ll be set up with the appropriate service for your needs.

I am looking forward to meeting you all this semester!

Because the Library is a Space for Everyone

On January 2nd, 2020 we launched our Because the Library is a Space for Everyone initiative. This statement is built out of our Library’s shared values of caring and respect, opening Library up as a place for anyone, for everyone, to find something they can take part in!

Whether hunkering down to study in one of our quiet spaces or our silent space in the room towards the back of the library, or looking to socialize and group work in our collaborative study spaces, or just looking to start a new interest by picking up a new book or tinkering with a new technology, we have the space for you!

From January 2nd through till February 7th, 2020, we are focusing the spotlight on you, the learner. Follow us on instagram @mhclibrary, take a selfie of yourself enjoying the Library and tag us to be entered in to win a gift card to the bookstore. We want to see what you value about the space, what you love most about the Library, and what you want to see more of!

And while we are talking about creating a welcoming environment for all, lets chat about another initiative, Food for Fines, happening from January 2nd through till February 7th.

Photo by edwin josé vega ramos on Pexels.com

During this month long period, Library will offer the ability to pay for overdue fines with non-perishable food items. One item will equal $5.00 worth of overdue fines, and up to a maximum of $25.00 in overdue fines, per person, can be waived this way! All donations will be going to our SA’s Food Pantry, helping to assist students through the tough few months of Winter Semester.

Photo by Malte Lu on Pexels.com

For more details on either initiative, come to the Library and talk to one of our lovely staff members. We can’t wait to see you!

International Education Week!

International Education Week (IEW) is celebrated by over 100 different countries on the third week of November.

This year MHC has planned a host of events to follow in the last week of November to celebrate IEW .

The purpose of IEW is to highlight programs and activities on campus that have an international component and opportunities for community collaboration. Visit https://www.alberta.ca/international-education-week.aspx for more information!

So far for this year we have the following planned:

  • November 23 – ‘Korea Night’ – will be hosted at the student residence community room, organized and hosted by the SA Diversity Club (TENTATIVE)
  • November 25 – ‘Celebration of Colors’, 4:30pm – 6:30pm in the Crowfoot Room –An awareness event around India and Indian culture. Join our students in an opportunity to share their culture over dinner, music and presentations. Ticketed event $12 each.  
  • November 26 – ‘Open Dialogue: Culture Exchange’ in the glass enclosure in the Vera Bracken Library  – Anonymous questions boxes will be set up around campus in November, students staff and faculty can submit questions they have related to cultural diversity on campus and in the community in the box. The questions will be discussed on November 26 a the informal session, all are welcome.
  • November 27 – ‘Wellness Wednesdays, what does mental health look like/mean to you?’ in the cafeteria hallway – We will be asking students, both international and domestic to answer this question. The idea is to get a range of responses to show the diverse responses from students across campus.
  • November 25 – 29 “refuge Canada Display, in the Cuboid – In Partnership with the Esplanade and Refuge Canada we will have an interactive raft display on campus to promote the Refuge Canada exhibition.

Needing more outside this week of events? Let’s talk about the International Resource Room!

Are you an international student who sometimes feels like this?

…but you want to feel like this?

International students studying in Canada face many challenges. Our goal in the International Resource Room is to help international students in mainstream programming succeed in their new educational environment. In order to support students on this journey, we’re available Monday to Friday from 8:30 – 3:30 in B368. In addition to the drop-in service, we offer sessions to help you take your studies to the next level. Topics include:  

  • Organizing a paragraph
  • Introductions and Conclusions
  • Sentence Structure
  • Studying and Test Taking Tips
  • APA
  • Planning assignments

Be sure to come up to the third floor above the library to room B368 and say hello!

Cite it Right: Or I wish APA and MLA Were the Same

Why citing is important?

The proper acknowledgement of sources might seem like a no-brainer; as indeed it should; however, citations are not used simply to avoid plagiarism; they have a fundamental role: to discover truth by building on previous discoveries.

The painting above by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) exemplifies the metaphor of dwarfs, standing on the shoulders (Latin: nanos gigantum humeris insidentes). In other words, we are the dwarfs in the painting, “but dwarfs who stand on the shoulders of those giants, small though we are, we sometimes manage to see farther on the horizon than they” (Eco, 1980, p. 93). Therefore, citing is acknowledging the research that has laid the groundwork to build your own research, which sometimes manages to produce new findings–to see farther.

So, what is a citation?

A citation is a formal reference to a source that you consulted and obtained information from while writing your research paper. Hence, a citation is the way you tell your readers that certain material in your work came from another source. There are different ways of citing sources, the set of rules that dictates how to cite your sources is a citation style.

The main citation styles based on wide-use are: (Yale, n.d.).

APA: American Psychological Association

  • Used in the Social Sciences: Education, Psychology, Business, etc.
  • Author-date citation style.
  • Emphasizes dates (years) of publication, reflecting the belief that current research, knowledge and theories has greater value, than does past scholarship.

MLA: Modern Language Association style  

  • Used in the humanities, for example, English Studies, Art, Literature, and Theater.
  • Author-page citation style.
  • Emphasizes pages because humanities research highlights how one piece of writing influences another. MLA’s author-page style allows scholars to track down easily the exact sentences you are analyzing.

Chicago/Turabian style

  • Used in the social sciences, for example, History, Anthropology
  • Two basic documentation systems: (1) notes and bibliography and (2) author-date
  • Emphasizes ease of reading, the primary advantages of using footnotes are simplicity and concision. Using footnotes instead of parenthetical author-date information allows the reader to focus on the evidence, instead of being distracted by the publication information about that evidence.

When to Cite (Ohio State University Libraries, n.d.).

Cite when you quote: if you cite word-by-word what an author has already written, you must use quotation marks around those words and give credit to the original author

Cite when you paraphrase or summarize: when you restate in your own words and tone what somebody else has said. Paraphrasing requires a good understanding of the original passage; its purpose is to make information clear in the conversation different sources and having with each other.

Cite when information is highly debatable: when information is controversial, politicized, or numerical you should always provide a citation.

Where can I find help?

MHC Libraries created a citation guide where you can find citation examples, sample papers, and video tutorials to three major citation styles:  APA, MLA, and Chicago.

Access: MHC Library Guide > Citation Guide

References

Eco, U. (1980). The Name of the Rose. Italy: Harcourt

Ohio State University Libraries. (n.d.). When to cite. Retrieved from https://ohiostate.pressbooks.pub/choosingsources/chapter/when-to-cite/

Yale, (n.d.).  Why are there different citation styles? Retrieved from https://poorvucenter.yale.edu/writing/using-sources/principles-citing-sources/why-are-there-different-citation-styles

Top Five Tips for Surviving Finals

In order to prepare both intellectually and emotionally for the most stressful part of the academic year, you will need to arm yourself with the top survival tips for final exams. Supplying your tool belt with a host of strategies for success will ultimately lead to a  successful exam week.  Read on to learn more about the top five survival tips for being more prepared and less stressed through finals.

1. Block Your Time

With a lot of material to cover when studying for finals, it is critical to plan ahead and manage your time wisely.  Research consistently indicates that last minute cramming is not an effective method of studying, therefore it is recommended that you begin scheduling study times early. Break down the material into manageable sections and allow more time to spend on the classes that will likely have the most challenging tests. It is also important to block time for study breaks to allow your brain to rest, so you can function well and retain information effectively.

2. Enlist a Team

Successful students surround themselves with positive, supportive people.  Consider who those people are among your circle of friends and classmates, as they can be a valuable resource for keeping you motivated.  Gathering in productive study groups can allow you to discuss topics that you find challenging and teaching others is a great way to learn.  MHC campus also has many support staff that provide student services such as academic coaching, writing support, peer support and counseling. Be sure to make these people part of your team, as they can be of great help.  Your instructors can also be part of your team if you include them by asking questions and communicating your challenges to them.  Enlisting a team is about making meaningful connections and being resourceful.

3. Take Care of Yourself

Despite popular belief, cramming over a book at all hours of the day and night will not guarantee that you achieve straight A’s during finals week. In order to maximize your studying potential, you need to make sure that your body is receiving the nutrients it needs to perform well. Feed your brain with well-balanced meals to avoid feeling sluggish. Rather than pulling all-nighters, also get plenty of sleep throughout final exams week to aid in memorizing the information you studied earlier. To clear the mind, move the body…. schedule in plenty of time for movement, to release endorphins through your body that can boost self-confidence and combat anxiety.

4. Eliminate Distractions

To go about your study days with focus and intention, consider what your distractions are and eliminate them. Video games, social media and TV series binging are good examples of activities that can easily interrupt study time and disrupt your studying groove. Consider negotiating with yourself by allowing time spent with these types of activities as a reward at the end of a productive study session or study day.  If you are busy checking your social media accounts, watching movies or trying to achieve the next level on your favorite video game, you will not be giving your undivided attention to the study materials and will not retain the information. Lock your phone away in a safe place where you will not be tempted and refrain from gaming and watching TV until you have finished your study sessions.

5. Remember to Breathe!

Final exams week can be one of the most stressful weeks of the school year with tremendous amounts of pressure to succeed. It is essential that you do not let the stress overwhelm you and steal your power. Before writing your exams, be sure to take a few deep calming breaths to release all of the built-up tension and put your body at ease. With the top tips for finals in your tool belt, be confident in your intelligence, stay relaxed, and try your best.