On being overqualified

Many foreign-trained professionals who want to continue their career in Canada choose to apply for jobs that are entry-level or intermediate in responsibility. This is a recommended strategy as it provides workers the opportunity to gain Canadian work experience and deepen their understanding of cultural workplace issues.

Employers however can have a different view of hiring someone who appears to be overqualified. An article that ran in the Wall Street Journal looks at how people are paring down their resumes in order to lessen the appearance of being overqualified and sums up the fear of employers.

In the past eight months, Jamaica Eilbes, an information-technology recruiter for Milwaukee employment agency Manpower, has had to weed out more overqualified résumés than usual from the stacks that cross her desk each day. “I’d never feel comfortable putting a really high-level candidate into a lower level position,” says Ms. Eilbes, who recruits for Manpower and other clients. “We don’t want to take you on if we think you are going to jump ship.”

If you are applying for jobs that you are obviously over-qualified for you have a choice. You can try and prune your resume in an appropriate manner in order to re-frame your employment history or address the issue directly in a cover letter.

Growing your network

This excellent blog post has 37 tips for building you offline and online network. Check out the whole article but I want to highlight a few important tips below:

1. Get an easy-to-remember email address. A good format is firstname.lastname@webmail.com where “webmail” is Gmail, Yahoo Mail, etc. Use this address for job search/work purposes only.

3. Prepare an elevator pitch. In 30 seconds you need to be able to describe who you are and which problems your expertise can solve. Practice until it comes naturally. Tweak as you go, judging by listener response.

28. Find a mentor or mentoring community. You want people who have achieved your goals and can help you achieve similar success. Take your mentor out for lunch and pick their brain.

The mentorship advantage

This Toronto Star article looks as how mentorships are being used to help foreign-trained professionals expand their network and bridge the gap to unemployment.

“In Canada, networking is a very big part of finding a job. “A lot of new immigrants don’t know what that means, or might be shy or apprehensive to network based on their own comfort level or language skills.” 

Career Solutions has the ability to help arrange mentorships for our clients. Please call us for more information.

See also: Building mentorships for success

Job growth ?

Today’s Times-Colonist features an article that looks at various job sectors on Vancouver Island and their potential for growth. I feel obligated to read these types of articles. They help me to understand the small and larger trend shifts that happen in our labour market. Anybody who is interested in career management or searching for work should seek out this type of information.

The cold truth of the matter is that these type of articles, even one like this one that is based on economic analysis from a private consulting firm are inherently flawed. For example the construction sector has been placed in the vague “Declining at least in the short-term” category. I guarantee you that as recently as ten months ago there were projections about the construction sector that forecasted strong and ongoing demand for workers. What was this based on ? An inventory of large scale commercial construction projects, continuing strong demand for residential housing and an aging work force.

What has happened since then ? Obviously a lot has changed in the last ten months. There continue to remain large-scale construction projects in the pipeline but many are now dependent on infrastructure funding from various levels of government. How long will governments be able to maintain deficit budgets while they attempt to stimulate the economy ? Unclear. The demand for residential housing has had a large drop-off.  Many new condominium projects in the Capital Region feature unsold units. The average construction tradesperson is nearing retirement age. But given recent stock market and mutual fund losses in the 20-30% range how many of them will retire ? Again, unclear.

So if these types of articles are inherently flawed why do we give them our attention ? By acquiring information about short-term trends in the labour market we are able to connect this information to larger national and global trends which can help to guide us. Projections are a “best guess”. We don’t use them to make major decisions about our careers but as a tool to understand the bigger picture.

Engineering and Technology Labour Market Study

This study is examining the current and future employment picture within the engineering and technology sectors of the Canadian economy. Five issues are the focal point of the study:

  • Employer labour requirements
  • The available workforce
  • Attitudes and practices related to certification and licensing
  • The role of diversity groups
  • Globalization

You can check out the affiliated website or an interim report.

Here are some points of interest from the interim report.

  • Individuals who obtained their engineering degrees outside Canada accounted for approximately20% of all employment in engineering occupations
  • In 2006, members of visible minorities accounted for 25.8% of engineering employment and 14.9% of technology employment
  • In BC The engineering age profile is older than average and this adds to supply pressures

Those of you who attended our workshop on “soft-skills” will be aware of the following points:

  • Asked to rank a range of non-technical skills, by far the majority of employers ranked most of these skills between ‘essential’ and ‘very important’.
  •  More than 50% of employers identified serious weakness in the
    non-technical skills of internationally educated professionals as the greatest obstacle to hiring them into engineering jobs


Getting to Yes

If you are putting yourself out there – applying for jobs and getting job interviews then you run the risk of rejection. How we cope with this rejection, whether we choose to personalize it or see it as a learning opportunity can often impact our future job search activities.

It is not pleasant to get an interview and leave the room full of hope only to be deflated by a short rejection phone call two days later. But of course, the big picture is our friend here. Richard Bolles in his famous book “What Color is your Parachute” characterized the job search process as a series of “No’s” followed by a “Yes”. Taking ourselves out of action while we cope with a “No” can lengthen the time before we get to Yes.

A post at the Brzaen Careerist website examines how to cope when you don’t get a job offer.

Roadmap to Recognition

There are a series of fact sheets on the Ministry of Economic Development’s website that I want to draw your attention to. These documents are designed for immigrants and provide helpful information related to credential recognition, language and skill upgrading and conducting an effective job search.

Online branding

How important is your on-line reputation ? According to a recent poll one in five hiring managers screen applicants by checking the Internet for info on websites such as FaceBook and MySpace. The poll found that one-third of these employers chose not to hire an applicant based on what they saw.

On communication

This enlightening blog post examines the relationship between communication skills and career success. Those people who continuously strive to improve their communication skills are more successful at getting and keeping jobs. Check out the blog post for some solid advice on how we can improve our communication skills.

What are your weaknessess ?

How do you answer this difficult interview question? This type of question is very common and poses a risk if you are not well prepared. Check out these two excellent blog posts on the subject for some wise advice.