Category Archives: Job Search Skills

How to get a job with a disability (Infographic)

For people living with disabilities, there are many day-to-day situations which pose a real challenge, such as getting around and trying to negotiate multi-storey buildings. Logistical difficulties such as these also make it harder for disabled people to find work, as employers could be hesitant to hire someone who would struggle with the physical demands of the job. That said, employers who discriminate against candidates on the grounds of disability could be subjected to court action if a case is taken against them.

This infographic from Burning Nights has some sound advice for people with disabilities who are actively seeking employment. There may need to be an acceptance that some jobs are out of the question due to the physical exertion they would involve or the need to travel regularly. Ideally, they would find a job which enables them to work from home and involves relatively little stress. It also helps to work for a company which has a proven track record in being highly accessible for people with disabilities.

If a disabled candidate secures an interview, it’s generally a good idea to at least inform the employer of their disability so that convenient arrangements can be made. For example, the interview could have been initially scheduled for a room several storeys above ground level, but if the employer knew of the candidate’s physical limitations, they could switch it to a ground floor location or even organise a VoIP interview.

Find out how jobseekers with disabilities can improve their chances of securing employment by reading the infographic below.

Getting a job with a disability (infographic)

4 Steps to Improve your Interview Skills

Interview SkillsThe purpose of the job interview is to give the interviewer the opportunity to evaluate your application to determine if you can do the job, whether you will fit in and if you are the best candidate for the position? The interview also gives you, as the candidate, the chance to better understand the job and the organization and determine whether the job will offer you the opportunities you may want for advancement or experience? Keep in mind that even though you may possess excellent office technology skills, the prospective employer will also be evaluating your personality, attitudes, professional appearance and ability to communicate. Your ability to convince a prospective employer that you can make a real contribution to their department or company will depend on how well you prepare for the interview. In addition to reviewing the soft skills required by most employers today, follow the guidelines below to help you prepare for your interview:

Step 1:  Prepare for the Interview?

Research the Company

It’s important to thoroughly research the company and get to know their products and services before the interview.  This will show an employer that you took the time to learn about their company and will help you in your quest towards making a good first impression.  A good place to start would be to visit the company website.  Many companies will provide information about their mission, culture, number of employees, locations, leadership and other statistics such as the example here at Facebook or here at Google.  Requesting a copy of the annual report is another good way to learn about a company.  Some items to look out for include:

  • What are their products and services
  • How profitable is the company?
  • How many employees are there?
  • How long has the company been in business?
  • Any recent expansions or mergers?
  • Who are their competitors?
  • What are their hiring practices?

Prepare Questions to Ask

Once your research is complete, think of a list of questions you want to ask your perspective employer that may help you determine if the job is for you.  Avoid asking questions about salary, wages, holidays with pay, paid sick days, personal days or time off until you get a job offer. Some questions that you may consider are listed below:

  1. Could you tell me about a typical work day and the tasks I will be doing?
  2. Which duties or responsibilities are most important for this job?
  3. What are the major challenges I will face in this job?
  4. How will I be trained or introduced to this job?
  5. Can you describe the ideal person for this job
  6. Who will I report to in this job?
  7. How many people in your department will I be supporting?
  8. Please explain the opportunities for advancement and professional growth in this department/company?
  9. How soon do you plan to fill this job?
  10. How many people work in the department/company?
  11. What are the department/company goals for the year?

Update your Information

Update your resume with your most recent employment, education and relevant experience. Once updated, prepare copies of your resume, a typed list of your 3 references and their contact information, copies of your certificates, diplomas, letters of recommendation and your portfolio or samples of your work (if applicable.)

Step 2:  Practice Basic Interview Questions

While you’ll never be able to anticipate every single question you may be asked at your interview, you can at least be prepared to answer some of the most commonly known frequently asked interview questions. There are many websites that list these questions and ideas of how to answer them. A good place to start would be which lists some of the most popular questions and their thoughts on how to answer them.  Some job sites, like, also provide guidelines on how to answer common interview questions.  The following list also gives some commonly asked interview questions.

  • Can you tell me about yourself?
  • Can you tell me about your experience?
  • What do you know about this company and why would you like to work here?
  • What are your greatest strengths?
  • What are your biggest weaknesses?
  • What would you like to be doing in 3-5 years from now?
  • Why did you choose a career as an Administrative Assistant/Office Professional?
  • What salary are you looking for?
  • What was your greatest accomplishment in your last job?
  • How do you react to working under pressure?
  • Do you enjoy working independently or as part of a team?
  • Do you require close supervision when you work?

Beware of Illegal Questions

In the United States there is a federal law that forbids employers from discriminating against any person on the basis of marital status, sex, age, race, national origin or religion. Therefore, interviewers who want information on these topics need to phase these questions very carefully. For instance, an interviewer cannot ask what your native tongue is but he/she can ask you what languages you speak and write fluently. It is also illegal for an interviewer to ask your age, if you are married, plan to have any children or what church you belong to. For a complete description of illegal questions and how to handle them, visit Martin Yates blog on Illegal Questions at

Step 3:  The Day of the Interview

Timing is Key

  • Know the date, time and address of your interview.
  • Know the best way to get to the interview and how long it will take to get there. Prepare a map through mapquest or Google maps and do a trial run if time allows.
  • Know the name of the company/business, the job title of the position you are applying for and the name of the person who will interview you.  Write down this information.
  • Read the job description carefully to understand the job duties, salary and qualifications required, etc…)
  • Plan to arrive at the interview 10-15 minutes early.
  • Be prepared to fill out an application by taking with you a separate sheet of past employment, dates employed, supervisor names and phone numbers
  • Review the information on your resume and practice your answers to the basic interview questions.
  • Participate in a Mock Interview and get video-taped if time allows
  • Arrange for child care (if necessary)

Dress for Success

While dressing for success may not always get you the job, it will give you a competitive edge and create a positive first impression.  The following tips will help you make a good, first impression:

  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before your interview
  • Shower and shampoo your hair
  • Have a well-groomed hairstyle
  • Wear clean and polished conservative dress shoes
  • Avoid trendy fashions. Dress in the clothes that you would wear on the job
  • Wear clean, freshly pressed clothes
  • Have cleaned and trimmed fingernails
  • Shave
  • Use minimal cologne or perfume
  • Have no visible body piercing beyond conservative ear piercing’s for women
  • Brush your teeth, floss and use a mouth wash. It’s important to have fresh breath
  • Have no gum, candy, or other objects in your mouth
  • Use minimal jewelry
  • No body odor
  • Review these Dress for Success tips

Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Is it Critical for our Success in Today’s Competitive World?

Until recently, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Emotional Intelligence (EQ) was a term seldom used by companies, employees or job candidates. Now, it is one of the most common elements in evaluating employees and candidates. And, it is also viewed as an excellent predictor of company success.

Companies, particularly Tech companies, are focusing more on EQ. or Emotional Intelligence, than intellect when selecting or promoting employees. These companies have found that without high levels of Emotional Intelligence, employees are more likely to fail as productive, engaged workers. They also have learned that Leaders with high EQs make better leaders.

In today’s highly competitive world, productive, engaged and high performing employees are critical to company success. These elements of success comprise the basics of EQ, so it’s understandable that a company’s employees have high levels of EQ.

Most successful companies now require a standard of EQ for both job candidates and employees. Since statistics indicate that maximized EQ results in greater company and employee success, it’s now critical that employees attain higher levels of EQ as they progress in their careers.

EQ on-line testing is now standard in most tech companies, with many non-tech companies utilizing ‘’behavioral-based questions’’ and competency analysis to determine the most critical elements of overall job competence, work ethics and emotional intelligence of all employees and job candidates.

Almost 50% of today’s employees are millennials. This group of young employees and job candidates do not tolerate a lack of EQ, especially from their managers or leaders. Millennials generally have achieved at least basic levels of EQ and expect their leadership to be excellent examples of EQ. They are intolerant of old style managers who believe ‘’do as your told’’ is more than adequate for successful employee management.

Millennials are demanding more EQ from their companies, while companies are demanding the same from their employees? Will this create even more confusion or greater results in our economy as it struggles with worldwide competition?  To find out more, read Pierce Ivory’s article on Emotional Intelligence and the Future of Work.

What to Wear at Work – Cracking the Office Dress Code

Whether you’re planning for an interview or starting a new job, knowing what to wear at work can be a challenge even for the most fashion conscious among us.   Today’s flexible,  trendy and digital work environments pose a particular challenge as many people are no longer working in a traditional office setting, so the question is often posed as to whether a dress code is even necessary at all?

So how do you know how to dress appropriately as work environments continue to evolve?  The folks at T.M. Lewin have created an infographic on how to cut through the clutter and crack the dress codes of today so that you can arrive at work both confident and fashionable from head to toe, no matter what work environment you are in.  The infographic below discusses the five business dress types and when it’s appropriate to wear them:

Business Formal – Whenever you need to impress, such as going for an important interview, always dress in business formal clothing.  Women looking to dress smarter and sharper should choose a trouser suit or a conservative length skirt in a neutral, dark color. This can be accompanied by a white collared dress shirt as shown as shown here, modest accessories, dark tights and neutral colored closed toe heels. For men, a two or three piece suit in neutral dark colors with a white or plain shirt is recommended.  You could match this with a solid colored unflashy tie and some accessories such cuff links or a watch.

Business Professional – Dressing in business professional is recommended for meetings with important new customers or giving client presentations.   Business professional for women can be a conservative length skirt in modest colors matched with a solid color top or blouse. Dark or nude tights with neutral colored closed toe heels is recommended. Business formal for men is always dark colored suits in subtle conservative patterns or pressed suit trousers paired with a matching jacket. Accompany the suit with a formal shirt in traditional patterns with a brightly colored or conservative patterned tie as shown here. T.M. Lewin recommends avoiding dressing more than 1 level up from your office dress code to avoid being overdressed.

Business Casual – Business casual is one of the more common, every day dress styles for the office or casual off-site events. T.M. Lewin recommends dressing in business casual even if you work from home as this will not only help get you into work mode but you will always be prepared for that unexpected video conference call.  Business casual for women involves dressing in skirts or trouser suits accompanied with blouses in solid colors or subtle patterns.  Closed toe heel shoes, flats or loafers and use of more casual jewelry is recommended.  Men could wear suit trousers with formal shirts in any color and pullovers with collared shirts. Ties are optional.

Small Business Casual – Every small business  is different when it comes to dress code and often times you may have to wear many hats when working for a small company.  Therefore, having the flexibility and wardrobe to alternate between dress levels may be required.  Generally speaking though, small business casual for women allows for a more casual dress style and even fabrics such as cotton or dark denim accompanied with blouses in a variety of colors and patterns are appropriate.  It is not recommended that men wear jeans unless explicitly stated such as on designated casual days. Even if denim is okay at your company, T.M. Lewin recommends sticking to dark colors, as shown in the infographic below, and straight legged styles.

Creative – Sometimes the way you dress at work depends less on the company you work for but more on the particular department or office environment you work in.  For example, if you work in an engineering or research and development department, the dress style may be extremely casual and you may have more leeway to wear your most casual of clothes. On the other extreme, if you work in a sales and marketing department where you are interfacing with customers on a regular basis, you will spend most of your days wearing your business professional outfits.  It’s best to take note of what the majority of other employees are wearing, notes T.M. Lewin,  but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative, stylish and trendy according to your own particular personality and style.

tmlewin_whattoweartowork_x2_v03-1Infographic courtesy of T.M. Lewin.


Get your Resume/CV Seen

How to Get your Resume/CV Seen by Recruiters

Did you know that most of today’s Resumes/CVs are likely to go into a Resume/CV database and some of these databases contain millions of resumes?  As this process is automated, job postings will reflect the exact wording and phrases of the Job description and consequently, these are the words and phrases that recruiters use when searching these databases.  According to LinkedIn 72% of CVs aren’t even looked at says Stephen Prichard in his blog on 15 Tips To Make Sure Your CV Gets Seen. According to the article, this is because software used by recruiters and hiring managers can mistakenly decide your CV isn’t relevant for the position, preventing your CV from ever getting in their hands.

Identifying keywords specific to your line of work is now critical in order for your Resume/CV to get seen.  The best way to do this is to perform a job search on career websites for your primary job description that you are qualified to do.  Some experts recommend examining at least six different job postings so you can identify common job titles, skills required, needs, experience and most importantly, the words (keywords) they use to describe the job.  Keep in mind that some job postings can be vague, so be sure to include any specific skills and responsibilities that you know are mandatory for the job.

So once you have identified your primary job postings and all the relevant keywords, how do you prepare your Resume/CV so it actually gets looked at by recruiters?   The team at Adzuna have put together a list of Dos and Don’ts for getting your Resume/CV past the Automated Tracking System and into the hands of the hiring manager.  See the details in the infographic shown below and explained in detail here.

Get Your Resume and CV Seen

Infographic courtesy of Stephen Prichard at Adzunza