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  • Susan Flanagan

Landing the Perfect Job: Part II | The Kids are Alright | May 15, 2012

I once had a job interview at a provincial government office. The day of the appointment a wicked February northeaster was threatening to sever souls. So nasty was it outside that I had to take a taxi or else I would`ve arrived with my suit in tatters. I set out in the taxi 45 minutes before the interview time, but when we drove up Higgins Line, the driver informed me that he couldn`t cross the picket line manned by angry civil servants. He let me out in a sign-swallowing snow bank near the lights and by the time I beat my way through the sideways snow and past the picket line I looked like a mangy cat. I tried my best to preen myself in the lobby of the annex before heading upstairs. I got in the elevator, headed up and lo and behold, the office was… gone.


I had been to an interview in the same office twice before, but I had spent the previous year away, and while I was gone the whole kit and caboodle had relocated. They moved their office to LeMarchant Road and didn`t tell me.


And I had committed the cardinal sin of failing to confirm the location of my interview.

Back out in the storm, across the picket line, wait in the snow bank for another cab, arrive on LeMarchant Road completely dishevelled, late and in a sour mood.


Guess what?


I didn’t get the job.


But you will not make the same faux pas as I. You will arrive at your job interview well prepared, amply rested, and ready to kick… soccer balls or whatever the job may entail. Remember to dress appropriately, offer a firm handshake to whoever is in the room, introduce yourself clearly and settle in for a learning experience. Even if you don’t get the job, chalk it up to experience, make note of the questions you were asked and practice responses to them before your next interview. It helps to have an adult you don’t know well ask you the questions. Like the parent of a friend. That will make you uber nervous so that in a real interview you’ll be calmer.


So if you still don’t know what you’ll be doing this summer, read on for Part II of the Job Hunt.


YMCA Youth Summer Work Student Exchange

The YMCA is currently interviewing students and families for a work exchange program that allows 16 and 17 year olds the chance to practice their second language while getting work experience and earning money. For six weeks you might get to live and work in a section of the country you’ve probably never seen. Interviews are currently underway so get your applications in. There are ten positions in the St. John’s, Avalon, CBS area and six in Grand Falls-Windsor.


Applicants should have a working knowledge of French (or English if that’s your second language) and if accepted you pay $50. Airfare and local transportation is paid for by the program and students live with a host family. Note to parents: This is an exchange program, so it`s not like you`ll be teenagerless for the summer, as you will host a French-speaking student in your house for the same time frame. Pay is usually minimum wage and jobs include working in a playground taking care of children registered in local parks’ programs. Outings are organized evenings and weekends so you’ll have lots of opportunity to get out and have fun. For more information: www.summer-work.com, Info-SWSE@ymcagta.org or call 687-8099.

Jobs in NL

www.jobsinnl.ca, a web site dedicated to jobs in this province, recommends students register on line. Once registered you can subscribe to a notifier system by selecting keywords from a drop down box. If a job comes up with one of your key words, then you’ll receive an email about the new position. Otherwise you can keep checking back to see if there’s a job of interest. Once in the system you can store up to ten resumes and cover letters. For information call 726-6600 or 1-800-563-6600


Young Canada Works

Sign up at http://www.pch.gc.ca/ycw-jct/info-ppts/101-eng.cfm for federally-sponsored jobs. You have to be between 16 and 30, register on line and provide an email address and password. Don’t forget to write these down so you don’t forget which ones you’ve chosen.


City of St. John’s

The City of St. John’s also has positions to fill each summer, but unfortunately the deadline for applications was April 9. I thought I’d still list them here so you can keep them in mind for next year. Positions include bike instructors, swimming pool attendants and life guards, recreation counsellors and soccer referees. Since some positions are filled by returning staff, the City encourages applicants to apply for multiple positions. These jobs require not only a Certificate of Conduct from the RNC but also Vulnerable Sector Check as most jobs involve working with youth. Photocopies are not accepted and the check has to be for the current year. Check out Employment Opportunities at hr@stjohns.ca


Job Fairs

This year I have seen job fairs advertised for the new Montana’s Restaurant on Stavanger Drive and the new Rona on Torbay Road. Last year I remember fairs at Kent and Piper’s. Be sure to scan the Saturday Telegram Careers section to find out which businesses have upcoming job fairs.


At the fair, you will probably hear a talk about what the available positions entail and maybe watch a video about the company. Sometimes you may have to do a math proficiency test if the positions involve working with cash. Bring along your resume with references listed on a separate sheet.


References

Make sure if you list someone as a reference, you give them a heads up. You don’t want someone to get a call out of the blue asking about your strengths and weaknesses. And a reference is not going to get you far if the person you choose thinks you’re tardy or sullen. Make sure you know the reference will be good. Don’t forget to thank your references after the fact.


On that note, you should also thank the interviewers once you’ve completed the interview whether there’s been a job offer or not. It will show them you’re appreciative and organized – not to mention the fact you really want the job. A hand-written thank-you note might give you a one up over the next applicant who is equally qualified and the employer is trying to decide to whom to offer the position. Make sure you leave the interview with the interviewer’s contact information. A business card should provide all you need.


Prepare

Finally when you get a call for an interview, prepare well. Google the company. Look up any recent news stories. Talk to anyone you can find who worked there. Have some questions ready to ask at the end of the interview. The interviewer should tell you what kind of salary to expect. If not, you can ask politely about pay, hours and when you expect to hear if you’re the successful applicant.


Be organized

Get a file folder and keep all your job-hunt-related materials together. Make a little spreadsheet of jobs applied for, contact names and date. Leave a column for when you get an interview and with whom. The final columns should cover whether you’ve sent a thank you and an offer.


Do the same on your computer desktop. Create a file like Job Hunt 2012 and add your current resume and any cover letters you have written. One cover letter can be revamped for other positions. Yet a cover letter should be specific to the job and what you can bring to it. One cover letter should not be used for different applications. If it can, then it’s too generic to catch the eye of the employer. Think about what skills you can bring to that specific job.


Last bits of advice

When you get the call for an interview, confirm location, date and time and who will be conducting the interview. Don’t be afraid to ask the spelling of someone’s name.

Finally try to relax, think about me crossing the blustery picket line on Higgins Line looking like a stray. I sincerely doubt your interview will turn out as bad as mine.


Susan Flanagan can be reached at susan@48degrees.ca

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