Employment News from the Globe and Mail
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agosto 6, 2005 a las 9:52 am #208921
Employment boom leaving some behind
Statscan may be reporting one of the lowest unemployment rates in decades, but finding the right job isn’t easy, VIRGINIA GALT writes
As one of more than 1.2 million Canadians looking for work, Elaine De Bonis, a business systems analyst with a master’s degree in library science, was recently offered retraining as a school bus driver.
Undeterred by the absurdity of that proposal, Ms. De Bonis pressed on. But for every promising interview, she said there were just as many strange encounters with recruiters.
She has gone on job interviews where she has been asked to name her favourite winter and summer colours. “I used to say pink and green, but then I got into quite a long conversation about what shade of pink I really meant,” Ms. De Bonis said in an interview yesterday.
“So today I say sand and rivergum. No one has ever asked me what colour rivergum is.”
She once had a hiring manager insist on conducting an interview in the dark because the lights made the room too warm. “That was probably the worst one,” said Ms. De Bonis, who has been pounding the pavement since losing her job 19 months ago at Hudson’s Bay Co., where she had worked for 13 years as an information technology specialist.
One interviewer even asked if her parents were dead (they’re not) after learning that Ms. De Bonis volunteered at a palliative care hospice.
As Statistics Canada reported yesterday that the jobless rate edged up to 6.8 per cent in July, Ms. De Bonis acknowledged that she could probably find ready employment in the IT field, but would prefer to find a position that combines her IT and library skills.
She recently finished a six-month contract as a research librarian with the Toronto Public Library but finds there are few permanent positions, in either the public sector or the private sector, for qualified librarians. “It’s short-term, contract work.”
While Statscan reported that the July unemployment rate was among the lowest in almost three decades, Canadian Labour Congress economist Pierre Laliberté noted that, “while the overall picture looks good, it hides the weak hiring trend on the part of private employers, and the lower quality of jobs created.”
While there has been significant growth in the number of jobs, 71 per cent of new jobs created in the past year were temporary, contract jobs, he said.
Nevertheless, Patrick Sullivan, president of the on-line jobsite Workopolis, said Ms. De Bonis, who treats her search as a full-time job, is taking the right approach. It is not easy to find the right job, Mr. Sullivan said, but persistence does pay off. On any given day, he said, there are more than 40,000 jobs posted on Workopolis, a partnership of Bell Globemedia, Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. and Gesca Ltd., the newspaper publishing subsidiary of Power Corp. of Canada.
However, there are also a lot of candidates on the hunt for new employment opportunities. In April, there were more than 7.3 million unique visitors to the site.
Many opportunities are not posted at all, said Mr. Sullivan, who added that Workopolis now has a database of two million résumés from job seekers hoping to tap into the “hidden job market” by attracting the attention of employers who have not advertised positions.
Ms. De Bonis said that, since the loss of her job at HBC, “I have ridden the same roller coaster that all middle-aged, tech-savvy and well-educated Canadian professionals are experiencing . . .There are not enough jobs to support the professional talent pool.”
There is also little support from government agencies for unemployed professionals: It was a federal government employment counsellor who suggest that Ms. De Bonis retrain as a school bus driver, she says.
Ms. De Bonis devotes several hours a day to her job search — researching positions, sending out applications and networking. She volunteers with the professional librarians’ association to keep up her contacts in the field and also belongs to a networking organization, called the HAPPEN group, for unemployed professionals in the Toronto area.
Membership rises and falls as members move in and out of contract positions, she says. The organization also maintains a website, happen.ca, where hundreds of job seekers, many with postgraduate degrees and decades of experience, have posted their résumés.
Ms. De Bonis, who wears hearing aids in both ears, finds many interviewers are willing to accommodate her request for meetings in person, where she can hear better, rather than over the telephone.
But some are noticeably uncomfortable when they see her aids — “pages of interviews are skipped and the interview is terminated as quickly as possible.”
Still, she is optimistic. She is looking into the possibility of self-employment while, at the same time, broadening her job search into the corporate arena. There is a need, she said, for trained librarians to help employees and employers sort the good information from the bad on the Internet.
“I do not know when or where I will be employed again. I have had what I feel are very successful interviews in the past month, and they have left me buoyant about my future.”
Top 10 tactics
Top 10 tactics
Careerbuilder.com recently polled hiring managers about the unconventional methods job seekers have used to get a foot in the door. Among those who made a lasting impression — but did not necessarily land the job — were candidates who:
1. Sent a singing telegram.
2. Wore a tuxedo to the interview.
3. Brought references live, in person.
4. Sent a videotape of his typical working day.
5. Took out an ad in a trade journal.
6. Bought Starbucks coffee for the entire office.
7. Repeatedly sat next to the hiring manager at church.
8. Sent a flower arrangement résumé, with a little piece of information attached to each flower.
9. Photocopied his face as a background for his résumé.
10. Had her current boss cold-call the hiring manager to tout her qualifications.
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