Most Commonly Asked Questions Answered by our Career Coaches in Residence
Over 10 weeks in October to December 2020, our Career Coaches in Residence, Cindy Fruitman, Jennifer Gaudette, Ken Lee and Tharsheka Natkunam, together held over 200 appointments and 13 workshops for younger adults. They offered career advice on job searching, networking, navigating a new employment landscape and more.
To wrap up the fall session, we asked the coaches to tell us the most commonly asked questions and their answers.
Did you miss out on speaking to our coaches this fall? Not to worry, our Career Coaches in Residence will resume consultations in Feb 2021. In the meantime, find more career and job help resources at the library on our Job & Career Help page.
Why should we hire you?
Toronto Public Library Career Coach in Residence, Cindy Fruitman:
In my 20-plus years as a Career and Leadership Coach, this is one of the most common questions I get asked and is actually one that’s most frequently asked in an interview. My answer? It depends on your situation.
Let’s look at sample answers for 3 different scenarios:
- When Skills and Experience fit:
Go through the job posting carefully to understand the job description. Focus on how your skills and experience apply to the position.
“The job posting indicates the ideal candidate is required to have superior sales interpersonal skills. In my last position I established a track record of meeting and often exceeding my sales targets. I pride myself on delivering exceptional customer service and easily building relationships that establish customer loyalty and increase market share.”
- When Skills and Experience don’t quite fit:
Changing occupations or industry? Emphasize how your experience and skills align and bring value to the new role.
“I’m confident that the skills in planning and project leadership that I developed in my previous job – together with my ability to create successful collaborations with diverse teams – would easily transfer and make impacts in this new role. I’m eager to demonstrate how my skills and enthusiasm for this role/industry would quickly become an asset to your company.”
- When you have little or no work experience:
Write a list of your transferable skills to date, including those from volunteer & co-op work, study projects, etc. Highlight how they would help you perform well in this new role.
“I understand the importance of providing quality customer service experiences as a call center agent. Throughout my life I’ve been a hard worker, responsible and highly organized. I enjoy helping people and know the difference a positive attitude can make. If you hire me, I’m confident you’ll be impressed with my professionalism and work ethic.”
PRO-TIP: Be ready for this interview question. Be your own cheerleader! Tell yourself you’re the right person for the job. Tell the interviewer what makes you a great fit. What may seem like a tough question is actually a great opportunity to stand out from the crowd!
How do I know if I should I apply for this job?
Toronto Public Library Career Coach in Residence, Jennifer Gaudette:
This is a common question for job seekers who are finding it challenging to evaluate whether or not they are right for a specific role. A lot of time and energy goes into an application, especially if you are tailoring your resume and cover letter to put your best foot forward and depending on where you are in your job search, being selective is wise.
It is also important to keep in mind that online applications are only 15-20% of how candidates are found. I often encourage clients to ask instead; “Is this the best use of my job search time and energy?” Focusing on quality instead of quantity is the rule. Blanketing resumes to every possible position does not increase your chances of getting an interview the way that a carefully crafted application and follow-up and/or networking strategy can.
On the other extreme, never applying to any roles or waiting for the perfect role where you meet 100% of the qualifications is also not a good strategy. If you are excited about a job ad, even if you only meet half of the qualifications, apply! It is important to note the rarely do candidates meet all qualifications for any role because of the variety of career paths, education and experience.
Think of a job posting as an employer “wish list” with the exception of skills that are an essential requirement to do the job. If you are targeting a specific role or company, if you do apply, occasionally, employers will notice your potential for a different role that you may be even better suited to do. I recommend creating a set of personal criteria to help you evaluate prospective postings based on your own deal-breakers, ambitions and ideal work environments or roles and use this to decide if the opportunity is a good investment of your time and energy.
If you’re looking for a book to read on this topic, try Knock Em' Dead: The Ultimate Job Search Guide by Martin John Yate.
Where do I meet people?
Toronto Public Library Career Coach in Residence, Ken Lee:
In the past month, I have engaged in many conversations centered around networking. One of the more common sub-topics has been “Where do I meet people?” Here are some quick tips:
One of the best ways to find people to meet is on LinkedIn, using the alumni network function. Since you share a common connection, it’s a warmer way for you to reach out to them. Here’s a LinkedIn blog post with more information.
When it comes to in-person meetings, I like to use EventBrite to discover what’s happening near me. Also, check out the programming planned by the Toronto Public Library. There’s always something cool going on where you can meet people, such as book clubs and writing groups.
Beyond this, I like to identify where professionals I want to meet may gather because of their job. If you want to pursue a career at a library, check out professional events from the Ontario Library Association. Do you see yourself working in human resources? Well, you may want to volunteer at the annual conference hosted by the Human Resources Professionals Association.
Is there a resume template?
Toronto Public Library Career Coach in Residence, Tharsheka Natkunam:
The most common question I get as a career coach is if there is a resume template. The short answer is not really. There is not a one size fits all template, as your resume needs to be specific to the job position/company so how you structure your resume may vary. However, there are certain components that can and should be included on a resume to fit the “template” or expectations that an employer is looking for. So to answer this question, my response is that there are two things you need to do make your resume stand out:
- organize all important information creatively and
- tailor the information to the job posting.
Organizing information involves including the important resume components (i.e. headings, skills etc.), and following the guidelines (i.e. size 12, readable font etc.) and using some creativity to design the resume to include the right information in a professional way (i.e. colour, clipart etc.).
Tailoring the information involves taking keywords from the job posting and using them as part of the important information on your resume. Your creativity and tailoring is the resume template.
The Career Coaches in Residence program is generously supported by RBC Foundation, and the Friends of the Toronto Public Library, South Chapter.