How to Define Career Objectives and Preferences

Career Objectives and Preferences

To avoid confusion, this article does not discuss the resume, though aspects do apply to applications and interviews. Instead, let’s revert to square one—the stage before your job hunt commences. It’s important to first assess career objectives and preferences in order to refine your search and remain on target for all personal and professional goals.

Workplace Preferences

Consider your preferences, but do not allow them to trump your objectives. With that said, the more preferences satisfied the better. Likewise, essentials like salary minimums and health benefits take priority. Other than these factors, job seekers should also explore preferences relating to environment—style, pacing, structure, technology—location and industry. Think about where you want to work, why you want to work there and whom you want to work with, as well as the various values attributed to each. Your interests play a role too, but within reason: they need to be marketable!

Professional Objectives

Next, brainstorm what you can do—that is, what duties you are qualified to handle. Objectives include the types of roles and skills you might seek; this demands self-awareness and critique. Understand that what you can do may not align with what you want to do, so objectives help reveal how to get there over time. For this reason, draft a series of short- and long-term goals, as well as a few strategies to attain them.

Lastly, think of your career objectives as means and not ends, and then ask if such ambitions reflect who you are. Conflicts between personal and professional lifestyles develop over time when the career is incompatible. With this in mind, think about your own values and morals, as well as if your objectives leave room for collective learning and improvement—those who work with or manage you.

Posted in Discussion | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Market Value Gains for IT Skills in North America

The Q2-2014 IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index, produced and distributed by Foote Partners, reports fifth-consecutive market gains for both certified and non-certified IT skills. In terms of salary, research shows that employed professionals received modest pay increases for numerous technical abilities last summer: 374 non-certified skills rose 0.54% in value, while 337 IT certifications, also known as “skills premium,” shot up 0.85%.

In the past five years, only once has the market shown quarter-to-quarter gains like this. In fact, IT certification values have consistently declined since 2006. In total, 85 IT skills grew in full market value, only one-third of which require certification. Nevertheless, all eight segments exhibited growth—something that hasn’t happened since 2004. These segments include Networking and Communications, Web Development, Applications Development and Programming Language, System Administration and Engineering, Architecture and Project Management, Database as well as Information Security.

The charts below reflect the market gains experienced in Q2-2014. To see these charts in context, or to read the full report, click for the Foote Partners’ PDF.

Foote Partners Report

For more information pertaining to vendor-sponsored and vendor-neutral certification programs, visit two of our earlier posts: “Can IT Training Land You a Higher Salary?” and “Why Accreditation Matters to Employers.

Posted in Job Market | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Job Hunting while Employed—an Ethical Discussion

Job Hunting while Employed

Rumours and speculation damage credibility, which, in turn, affect your job hunt—so be discreet if employed but interested in other opportunities. Updating social profiles carelessly (i.e. posting about new jobs) and behaving differently in the office are two red flags for employers. In regards to the latter, make your current position a priority when looking for jobs. Even under poor conditions, it’s a matter of professionalism and integrity. Furthermore, you do not want to burn bridges or waste a valuable experience—this could lead to blackballing.

Below, you will find tips on conducting a job search ethically while employed.

  • Search on Your Own Time: Hunting over work hours wastes the company’s time and money. Use lunch breaks, personal days or vacation days for interviews/solicitations and call, phone or fax prospects from your own personal devices.
  • Admit to Your Situation: Keeping your job search secret is one thing, but lying to businesses you’ve applied to is another. Instead, tell recruiters and interviewers that you want confidentiality as well as a reason why.
  • Find Alternative References: Listing a current co-worker or boss could be a bad move if he or she isn’t aware you are actively on the market.
  • Avoid Job Boards: Posting a resume on popular job boards may expose your intentions to your current employer, who may or may not use the same source for new hires.
  • Stay Focused: Slacking off at work is still unethical even if you intend to leave. Try to finish on top even if only to demonstrate your commitment to new employers.
  • Say Positive Things: Criticizing or bad talking reflects poorly on you. Still mention why you wish to leave, but try not to form a bad impression by speaking unprofessionally about your employer.
Posted in Discussion | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

RBC Joins TD and CIBC in Backing CanWIT

Women in IT

Recently announced, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) became the third financial institution to sponsor the non-profit Canadian Women in Information Technology (CanWIT), an organization dedicated to promoting young women in tech-based roles. Through this agreement, each organization will contribute resources to develop mutual talent initiatives, including national advocacy programs, workshops and networking sessions. Other sponsors behind this initiative include TD Bank, CIBC, Accenture, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Cisco Systems Canada.

As we’ve discussed in other posts, government job surveys estimate that there are 5,400 women working IT in Canada, just shy of 24% of the workforce. On a larger scale, however, women comprise 47% of the nation’s job market. Compared to this ratio, the tech sector has room to improve. Furthermore, these ratios are more acutely skewed on corporate boards and for managerial positions, another issue tackled by CanWIT.

Founded in 2005 as a branch of the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA), CanWIT is a volunteer-run organization that recruits and mentors young women in the ICT sector through national programs year-round. Those interested in getting involved should explore the membership and event opportunities posted online. Currently, the Toronto chapter intends to launch a series of month and bi-monthly lunch-and-learns, workshops, networking forums and mentoring sessions. These will be announced later in the year.

Sara Kirke Award

Each year, the Sara Kirke Award goes to women who’ve demonstrated entrepreneurship and innovation within the technology sector. As outlined by CanWIT, this award celebrates large achievements to create positive role models within the community, ultimately fostering a likeness in spirit among female workers across the nation.

Posted in Discussion | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How Long Does It Take to Land a Career?

Job Hunt Duration

Although more anecdotal than scientific, job seekers can anticipate one month of hunting per $10,000 salary. Under this guideline, a $50,000 candidate must hold steady for upwards of five months, just as a $100,000+ candidate needs to wait a year. This formula, however, doesn’t account for market variables such as seasonal fluctuations, market swings and corporate protocols (i.e. number of interviews, contract negotiation, etc.), as outlined by Monster and Canadian Immigrant. Broadly speaking, then, the average hunt ranges three to six months, according to UCSB Career Services.

Unfortunately, few data exist on the topic of unemployment durations in Canada. With that said, one report published in the US may be of interest. Conducted by Challenger, Gray and Christmas, a global outplacement firm, a recent 600-participant survey reveals that 49% of its unemployed respondents had been jobless for over a year. Counting downward, the survey tallied eight percent who had been jobless for 10 to 12 months, five percent seven to nine, 16 percent four to six and 20 percent one to three. For the second part of the survey, the company asked both the employed and unemployed how long they believed the job hunt would last. In line with UCSB Career Service’s range, 65 percent answered somewhere between one and six months.

About: FlexStaf-IT is a Canadian-based organization that connects qualified I.T. personnel with companies offering short- or long-term contract assignments, permanent placement positions, and fully managed end-to-end I.T. project solutions. [Job Seeker’s Handbook 1] [Job Seeker’s Handbook 2].

Posted in Discussion | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Do Employers Socially Screen Job Applicants?

Social Media Screening

Professionals use social networking to land jobs and advance their careers. When job hunting, a strong personal brand can boost the chances of getting an interview, but those who’ve yet to consider their online image may be in for some surprises. Employers admit that social media affects the hiring decision because a quick Google search can reveal lots about a candidate’s technical and cultural fit.

Although common practice, many job seekers carry onward, posting inappropriate material online or neglecting the social sphere altogether, because they believe not all employers screen via social media. Well, let’s see what the statistics have to say:

  • Career Builder reports 51% of employers have denied applicants because of online content (43% in 2013 and 34% in 2012);
  • Cross Tab Marketing estimates 75% of companies have policies in favour of online screening;
  • Workopolis notes that 60% of job seekers anticipate social screening in Canada, 25% of whom view this practice as unethical;
  • William Staughton at North Carolina State University concludes two-thirds of professionals believe social screening to be an invasion of privacy (results compiled from two separate studies).

The above outlines only some available research in this field. For more information, consult Reppler’s Infographic on social media applicant screening.

Unfortunately, whether or not you agree with social screening, it happens. To protect yourself, then, understand the things that negatively affect your chances of employment – inappropriate photographs, posts about alcohol or drugs, poor communication skills, discriminatory comments, criminal behaviour and so on – as well as those that might improve your eligibility – cohesive branding, creative or valuable content contributions and so on.

About: FlexStaf-IT is a Canadian-based organization that connects qualified I.T. personnel with companies offering short- or long-term contract assignments, permanent placement positions, and fully managed end-to-end I.T. project solutions. [Job Seeker’s Handbook 1] [Job Seeker’s Handbook 2].

Posted in Discussion | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Attend NPower Canada’s TSC Program This November

NPower Program

In Toronto, youth unemployment soars above 20%. But when one considers this pool of jobless 18- to 25-year olds, a solution becomes evident for the 106,000+ in-demand ICT workers through to 2016. Age aside, though, the ICT workforce needs diversification moving forward: women comprise only 24% and new Canadians 5% of the industry overall.

Such statistics illustrate a need for programs that will provide young adults with the skills necessary to change and improve the tech industry, regardless of sex, race or status. Now, NPower Canada strives to achieve this through the launch of its Technology Services Corps Canada (TSC) program.

Beginning in November, NPower Canada moves into Ryerson University, where the organization will provide no-cost tech training to 25 students. The program runs for 22 weeks, balancing classwork, mentoring, coaching, networking and internship placement.

Based on the organization’s US model, which operates at an 80% efficiency, NPower Canada aims to finish the semester at a 75% success rate. As the organization professes, this is only possible with the help of partnerships and coalitions. To date, the program has received support from an array of companies including Cisco, Accenture, TD Bank and CivicAction.

Young professionals interested in this opportunity must meet a series of requirements, as outlined on the organization’s website. Follow through the link to learn more or to download the application form. Best of luck to all participants!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment