Is a Bachelor’s Degree Worth Pursuing? (Part 3 of 3)

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In this final segment, I make some final conclusions as to whether a bachelor’s degree is still worth achieving.

If you haven’t already read the previous parts, check out 

As I mention in the article, universities are already taking action, in response to criticisms that they are not doing enough to prepare graduates for the job market. For example, at the University of British Columbia, my alma mater, there is a Tri-Arts Mentoring Program where students are matched up with alumni members who share the same Arts major.

The idea behind the program is for mentors to share their experiences of transitioning to a work life outside university, finding a career, and tackling the job market.

University graduate salaries

Finally, I discuss the issue of salaries.  University graduates can take comfort that, over time, those with degrees do make higher incomes than those with just a high school or college diploma. Paul Davidson, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, stated in The Globe and Mail that “the basic premise that the value of a B.A. is not what it used to be is wrong.” In his research, based on census information, Davidson found that people with a basic undergraduate degree make $1.4 million more over their lifetime than those with no post-secondary education, and $1 million more than college grads.

Read more of this final segment in BCJobs.ca to find out my conclusions of obtaining an Arts degree in today’s competitive job market.

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Is it worth pursuing a bachelor’s degree? (Part 2 of 3)

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In this second segment, I continue my discussion as to whether a bachelor’s degree is worth pursuing. I explain some of the benefits that studies in the humanities can give students. But what about preparing students for the tough job market? Can an Arts degree give students “job ready” skills?

Can an Arts degree give students “job ready” skills?

Before we get into this debate, we have to ask ourselves whether it is the responsibility of universities to give students job-specific skills. Anyone looking at job ads today will have noticed that more and more employers are asking entry-level applicants to already have at least one or two years of relevant experience.

I cite Craig Alexander, chief economist for TD Bank, who said in a Toronto Star article that this new emphasis on skills, rather than education, is basically a manoeuvre to “get the education system to do the training that in the past the employer would do.” Review my article in BCJobs.ca to learn more about this debate.

Professional Application Writer Vancouver

I am a professional writer in Vancouver BC and I specialize in writing resumes and University Application Services that help prospective students gain a competitive edge. Learn more about my application and statement writing services here.

Is it worth pursuing a bachelor’s degree? (Part 1 of 3)

Views from a Vancouver Resume Writer

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 Cost vs Benefits, Getting a B.A.

The topic of getting a humanities degree is sure to illicit a range of strong opinions. We have all heard of Arts graduates who end up working at Starbucks or Home Depot for minimum wage. With the cost of university tuition being at an all-time high, and the job market still recovering from the Great Recession, there are many who feel that post secondary students ought to enter vocational institutes if they ever hope to secure gainful employment.

I used to think that universities did a poor job in equipping university graduates for today’s competitive job market. As a professional resume writer in Vancouver BC, I would sometimes look at a young person’s resume, observe the number of degrees and programs that the individual has taken, and wonder how it is that the person still can’t find decent work in her field, or a job with a promising career path.

My view has since changed. Like many complex subjects, there isn’t a straight-forward answer as to whether a liberal arts degree is the preferred route for anyone getting out of high school.

In this three-part series that I wrote for BCJobs.ca, I discuss the pros and cons of obtaining a liberal arts degree.

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Update Up Your Resume In 7 Minutes Flat

how to spruce up your resume1

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Alright, I might have exaggerated. It’ll take a bit more than seven minutes. But if you follow my guidelines, you’ll know what you need to focus on straightaway.

Fast but effective checklist

In an article I wrote for Freshgigs.ca, I set out seven checklist items that you should keep in mind as you update your resume.

For instance, you will need to provide updated information on your current job title and responsibilities, recent certifications and training, volunteer positions, and the like.

How often should you update your resume

Updating your resume is one of those things you should do on a periodic basis. Most people leave this till it’s time to start looking for another job. As a result, most people’s resumes start to look outdated, and the job of updating becomes a formidable task.  Try to set aside at least an hour to update your resume, perhaps once or twice a year. You never know when you might need it in a hurry, and it’s always good to be well-prepared.

Hiring a Professional Resume Writer

If you want to gain a special advantage in the job market or are just too pressed for time to write a strong resume, there is always professional help. I am a professional resume writer in Vancouver BC, giving applicants a competitive edge is what I specialize in.

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Using A Recruiter To Look For Work (Part 3 of 3)

how to work with your recruiterRead Part 1, Part 2.

In this final segment of a three-part series, I discuss the optimum number of recruitment firms one should use when looking for work. Some people have the impression that using more recruiters will increase one’s chances of finding work. That’s not necessarily the case.

Manageability

It’s really a question of manageability. That is, how many recruiters can you stay on top of, without getting your lines of communication crossed?  Can you remember which recruiter sent your resume to Company XYZ, and which recruiter sent your resume to Company ABC? This is what I mean by “manageability”.

Should you always go through your recruiter?

Also, in this article, I discuss the delicate question of whether it’s proper for you to call up your job interviewer, or whether you should go through your recruiter. Suppose you had a question you wanted to ask your interviewer, and she happened to give you her card, saying “Call me up anytime if you have any questions.” Should you still go through your recruiter if you had a question that needed to be answered? Believe it or not, there are some rules of protocol that should be followed.

Should you give your resume to a recruiter?

And finally, I discuss the question of whether you should give your resume to a recruiter who calls you out of the blue, and tells you there is a great job opportunity. With the popularity of LinkedIn (a godsend to recruiters everywhere), it’s not uncommon to receive solicitations from recruiters asking you for your resume. On one hand, you don’t want to miss a great job opportunity, if indeed, such a job existed. But on the other, you don’t want to send your most private document to just anyone who asks for it.

To find the answers to these questions, read on!

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Using A Recruiter To Look For Work (Part 2 of 3)

Using A Recruiter To Look For WorkRead Part 1, Part 3.

In this second part, I discuss a question clients sometimes ask me:  Are my chances better if I apply to a job recruiter’s ad, or if I apply directly to the hiring company? In order for me to answer this question, you should know how recruitment firms operate.

Whenever you see a recruiter’s job ad for a vacancy, a recruiter will have been engaged either on an “exclusive” or a “non-exclusive” basis.

Exclusive recruiters

If a recruiter is hired by the employer on an exclusive basis, all resumes will be sent to that recruiter. (This means that even if you sent your resume to the employer, that employer will have to send your resume to the recruiter to be screened and assessed.)

Non-exclusive recruiters

If a recruiter is engaged on a non-exclusive basis, this means that multiple recruitment firms are used to fill a vacancy. Sometimes, even the employer will post its own job vacancy ad to find candidates.

What does this mean for you? Well, if a recruiter is engaged on an exclusive basis, your chances of landing an interview are the same whether you sent your resume to the employer, or whether you sent it to the recruiter. However, if a recruiter is engaged an non-exclusive basis, you might want to consider your options. There are certain factors that might make it more advantageous for you to send your resume to a recruiter rather than to the employer (and vice versa).

At the end of the day, you need to make sure that you have a strong resume and that you meet most of the job requirements. Recruiters will almost certainly scrutinize your resume before sending it to the employer with its recommendation that you be contacted for an interview. Recruiters are paid by the employers to identify “hard-to-find-candidates”, and they want to make sure that they send only the best candidates for job vacancies.

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Using A Recruiter To Look For Work (Part 1 of 3)

Job recruiters for finding workRead Part 2, Part 3

This is the first article of a three-part series that appears in BCJobs.ca. I wrote this series because I think most people aren’t familiar with “the rules of engagement” when it comes to working with recruiters.

In this blog series, I discuss commonly asked questions, such as: When shall I work with a recruiter? How many recruiters should one use? How are recruiters paid?

Situations for working with a recruiter

In this first instalment, I discuss situations where you would work with a recruiter to find work. The most common situation is when you see an ad posted by a recruiter, soliciting job applications for a particular job opening with Company XYZ. Once you send in your resume and cover letter, and get contacted back, you’ll then find yourself working with a recruiter. Another common situation is when you go and visit a recruiter to have an informal interview, and then have your personal details and resume filed into a candidate database so that you be contacted for suitable job vacancies. 

How recruiters operate & get paid

It’s important to know how recruiters operate and how they get paid, so that you can work with them in an effective manner. Recruiters are paid by the employer to find job applicants – usually, hard-to-find job applicants. You, the job candidate, never need to pay the recruiter. Therefore, the recruiter is at the service of the employer, not you. Despite what you might think, the primary objective of the recruiter is to fill the employer’s job vacancy, not to find you a job. Yes, the recruiter will be courteous, polite and helpful to you, but don’t be misguided in thinking that the recruiter is here to help you find work. 

For further elaboration on working with a recruiter, read Part 1.

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Before Accepting That Job Offer, 5 Things You Should Know

In this article I wrote for Freshgigs.ca, I discuss five things you should consider before accepting a job offer. This is presuming that everything else about the job is acceptable to you: your new title, job responsibilities, salary & benefits, commute time to office, etc.

These five items are sometimes overlooked when you’re anxious to leave your old position and excited to start with your new company. It’s like being enamored by a new love and wanting to jump in bed!

In this article, I argue that it’s worthwhile to take a few sobering moments to consider 0verlooked aspects about your new job. For example, in item 3, I ask you to consider: “What are your job deliverables, and what resources do you have to complete your job?”  You should have a pretty good idea of what you need to deliver, as part of your job. Is it reaching quarterly sales quotas?  Writing monthly or weekly reports? Training new staff on a half-yearly basis? Whatever it is, you should also have some clear notion of whether you will have the resources (e.g. staff support) to complete the job. I have seen new employees join a company only to find out they are completely swamped within the first few weeks of starting. How happy will you be working evenings and weekends on a protracted basis? It doesn’t help anyone to have a new employee burn out and quit so early into her new position – the new employee will have to look for another job, and the employer will have to start looking for another person to fill the post.

Granted, it’s difficult to know whether you have the resources to complete your job deliverables even before you start. But by asking some carefully-worded questions during your interview, and really listening to what your future boss tells you, you should get some sense of whether this is a role that you can reasonably perform, or whether you are walking into a landmine.

For more things you should consider before accepting that job offer, read on!

How To Say “No” During A Job Interview

how to say no

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I wrote this article for BCJobs.ca because I felt my readers interviewing for jobs could use every advantage they could get. It’s important to keep an interview upbeat and positive, and when you say “No” to a direct question put forward by an interviewer, it tends to create a feeling of negativity.

So the question becomes, how to do you say “No” without actually saying “No”? This is where diplomacy and tact come in. As a former recruiter, I have come across five commonly-asked interview questions where it is sometimes necessary to answer in the negative. For instance, what if an interviewer asks you if you were prepared to take a pay cut? Without actually telling the interviewer to take a hike, there is a diplomatic way of handling that question. Also, what if the interviewer asked whether you were prepared to work weekends and evenings? What if they ask you about skills or experience that you don’t have? Again, there are diplomatic ways of handling those questions.

Being human, many of us avoid negativity. Japanese people, who are concerned with harmony in society, have a reputation for avoiding the use of the word “No” in public discourse (even though their gestures might indicate a different message).

So learn from the Japanese, and try to keep things positive, especially during an interview! Put yourself in a positive light during an interview, and avoid saying anything that might be perceived in a negative way. By following my tips in this article, you will come across as being polite and tactful, while making your intentions and desires clear, during the job interview process.

The Zen of Networking: 10 Rules to Follow

zen of networking

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I think many people have the mistaken notion about what is networking, according to my blog in BCJobs.ca. First off, people tend to think of a professional networker as someone who tirelessly passes out his business cards at every gathering, or someone who busily works a room at a cocktail or business function.

What is professional networking

In this article, I propose that true networking is actually a more low-key, long term activity. It’s something that you work towards over the long term, slowly cultivating quality relationships covering expansive social and professional networks.

You know who’s a true networker, when you ask them for a referral; they always seem to know someone who works in a particular sector or industry, or at least knows someone who does. They personally know of people who you can contact if you are looking for a way into an organization or group or business. A true networker isn’t someone you run into everyday, they are a rare breed. And if you want to be a true networker, I suggest in this article some useful guidelines for you to follow.

Networking gentler

For instance, as a professional resume writer in Vancouver, I tell my clients that true networking isn’t about going to a business function just to collect business cards, or to find the maximum number of people you can talk to just to tell them about your business. It isn’t about being able to sell your services or products after going to one or two business functions.

I suggest that networking is a more subtle, “gentler” activity, where you focus on one person at a time. Your true purpose is to get to know the person, to learn about what she does, and to actually enjoy your conversation with that other person. Bear in mind that it takes years and years – a lifetime, really – to build up, and be part of, a wide professional and social network.

Note that I employ the words “part of”: a network is something that you are “part of”, not something that you use solely for personal gain. It’s something that you contribute towards, by offering referrals, helping others make connections, opening “doors” for others, etc. And if you make personally gains from your network, consider that to be an incidental, rather than primary, purpose of having a wide social network.

How to start networking

A great way to start networking is by joining a social or professional organization that you can volunteer with. This allows you to get to really know a core group of people, and from there, you will meet others. Service organizations, such as the Rotary Club, is a great place to meet people from other professional and social networks. Finally, to be a good networker, you must like meeting people and getting to know them.

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