Creating a job alert

Too busy to troll job boards everyday but also afraid of missing out on a great opportunity because you didn’t see the posting in time? Good news!  Now you can create a job alert with findworkfast.ca and receive daily, or weekly email notifications about job opportunities in Kingston, and the surrounding area that match your criteria.

What are the benefits of a job alert?

Creating a job alert will ensure that all job opportunities that meet your criteria will be emailed directly to you!  No more searching.  No more scrolling through hundreds of irrelevant jobs to find something of interest, and most importantly, no more missed opportunities.  Once your job alert criteria are set, your search is over.  Findworkfast.ca will automatically send all relevant job postings directly to you!

What criteria should I use?

At first, it is a good idea to cast a wide net.  Keeping your criteria broad will ensure that you don’t miss out on any jobs of interest.  Initially, we recommend setting your criteria based on job category only (eg. accounting), and only narrowing your search by other criteria (eg. type, duration, schedule etc.) if your initial search yields too many results.  This will ensure that you receive alerts for jobs in your field.

How do I create a job alert?

Just follow these four simple steps to create a job alert.

Step 1

  1. Click “Advanced Search” in the “Candidates” menu.

Note: Anyone can create an alert and unsubscribe at anytime.  However, you will need to create an account if you wish to edit your alert criteria.

Job Alert Step 1

Step 2

  1. Select the criteria for the type of employment opportunity you are interested in.

Note: the more criteria you add, the narrower your search will be.  We suggest starting with a wide search, then narrowing it if necessary.

Job Alert Step 2

Step 3

  1. From the results page, click “Subscribe to this Search”

Job Alert Step 3

Step 4

  1. Once the subscription panel opens, enter your email address.
  2. Select whether you would like to receive daily or weekly notifications
  3. Click “Subscribe.”

Job Alert Step 4

It’s that easy! Your job search is taken care of. Now all you need to do is read our article on resume writing, download one of our professional resume templates and be prepared for an interview.

5 tips for conducting a successful interview

You’ve written your job posting, combed through cover letters, read countless resumes, conducted your pre-screening and finally narrowed your search to a handful of potential applicants who seem to have the skills and experience you require.  Now it’s time to interview applicants and determine who to hire.  Not sure how to get started? These five tips will help you to interview like a boss!

Assemble an experienced and balanced interview panel

While conducting an interview it’s best not to go-it-alone.  For best results select an interview panel of 3-5 individuals who truly understand the demands of the position and the type of personality that will thrive in your work environment.  When selecting panel members, experience is key.  While anyone may be able to assess verbal communication skills, or professional appearance, you will need an interview panel who knows their stuff if you really want to find the best person for the job.  Remember, it’s often easier to develop technical skills than soft skills such as motivation, listening and communication skills.  Watch carefully for these things and weigh them heavily.  Finding someone who would be a good fit with your existing team should be a top priority.

Go online and research the candidates

In addition to reading each applicant’s resume and cover letter, it is wise to dig a little deeper and harness the powers of the internet to learn more about perspective employees before you interview them.  Your pre-interview preparation should include a detailed search of Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social networks.  The results will likely provide a wealth of information (good and bad) that wasn’t included in their application.  Most importantly, it will help you to gage their professional judgement and offer insight into their values and character that could not be obtained from an application or interview.

Plan and ask the right questions

Asking generic questions will not land you the best candidate.  Once you have assembled a knowledgeable panel, work with them to create a list of questions that are relevant and specific to the position you’re trying to fill.  Decide in advance what you really want to know and ask questions that will get you the answers you need.  In addition to planning the questions, discuss possible answers as a team and ensure each panel member knows what a reasonable response might look like.

Make time to review and discuss each interview thoroughly

While scheduling interviews make sure to include ample time in between for discussion.  Interviewing isn’t easy (especially when done well) and the candidate isn’t the only one under pressure.  Interviewers often miss comments or social ques while trying to scribble notes and it can be easy to lose track of the goal or rush through each applicant.  Discussing candidates as a team immediately following each interview will ensure everyone is up-to-speed while providing a valuable opportunity to reflect before small details are forgotten.  Carefully pre-screening your applicants and narrowing your list of interviewees to 5 or fewer will enable you to take the time you need to thoroughly evaluate each candidate.

Extend professional courtesy

Your top applicants are likely employed elsewhere and their managers may not know they are actively seeking new employment opportunities.  Be discrete and respectful of their time by ensuring their interview runs on time.  Assume they are working within a tight schedule and would prefer not to meet other candidates in the waiting room.  During the interview make eye contact, listen carefully to their responses and provide opportunities for them to ask questions and contribute further.  Including a question like “Is there anything you would like to tell us that you haven’t had an opportunity to?” provides a chance to expand and speak beyond the standard questions you have asked.  They will appreciate this courtesy, and quality candidates will take the opportunity to show you they have done their homework by sharing great ideas!

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The power of pre-screening

What is pre-screening?

Pre-screening is an efficient and effective way of ensuring interviewers are presented with only the most qualified and suitable candidates for the position.  There are several popular methods of pre-screening, but before you can even begin the process, you must narrow down the applicants by reviewing their applications and selecting only those who meet the basic qualifications.  If you read our article 5 reasons to write a better job posting, you already have a good idea of what you are looking for.

Step 1: Weed-out the weak!

You may find yourself overwhelmed by tall stack of applications, however, if you took the time to write a detailed job posting, you will find that your top candidates have already done the legwork for you.  Look for cover letters and resumes that have been customized specifically for the job you’re advertising.  Keen applicants will have taken the time to explain precisely how their personal characteristics, education and experience would make them an ideal candidate for your position.  Quickly weed out any generic applications (the ones that appear to have been produced by a Xerox machine rather than a motivated individual).  Using this strategy will allow you to quickly sort through the applications while pulling out those who don’t qualify.

Once you have narrowed your list of applicants to those who meet your basic needs, it’s time to figure out who your top candidates are.

Step 2: Evaluate the Cover letter

An applicant’s cover letter provides a snapshot of their written communication skills.  In addition to stating their relevant skills, experience and qualifications, it should be well written and free of typos and grammatical errors.  A cover letter that is disorganized, or contains errors suggests weak communication skills and poor attention to detail.  If such skills are important to you, discard all applications with poorly written cover letters.

Step 3: Evaluate the Resume

The resume should provide an organized and detailed history of the applicant’s qualifications and experience.  Look carefully for ques (see our article on 5 reasons to write a better job posting) that show your applicant is paying attention.  Keen applicants will study your job posting carefully and use their resume to demonstrate that they possess the specific skills and experience you are looking for.  Applicants who fail to highlight these skills suggest poor attention to detail or limited effort.  Also, be on the lookout for major gaps in employment or education history.  This may be a red flag for poor work retention, or worse!  If the application looks good, but a gap does exist, be sure to inquire as to why before moving forward!

Step 4: Give them a call!

Employers who require candidates to have excellent verbal communication skills may consider conducting quick telephone interviews as part of their pre-screening assessment.  Candidates who are seemingly unprepared or don’t perform well over the phone may not be suitable for the position and will only consume valuable time the interview panel can spend elsewhere!  Keep the conversation brief, limiting it to four or five well planned questions that provide insight or clarification into the candidate’s background.  Take notes and carefully document their responses and enthusiasm for the position and opportunity.  If the phone interviewer isn’t part of the formal interview, their notes should be shared with the panel so the responses from the two interactions can be compared.  In addition to soft skills (also known as transferable or professional skills) such as communication, teamwork and problem solving, this is a good opportunity to clarify such things as salary expectation, availability, or other non-negotiable factors that may eliminate candidates before the final interview stage.

Sample phone pre-screening questions

  • What challenges have you faced in your current position and how have you handled them?
  • Why are you leaving your current position?
  • What interests you about our company and this position?
  • What can you contribute to this position and why would you be an asset to the company?
  • What challenges do you expect to face and how do you plan to overcome them?
  • This position requires a great deal of flexibility.  Are you available to work days, evenings, nights, weekends and holidays?
  • Based on your knowledge of the position, type of work required and your past experience, what is your salary expectation?

After eliminating generic applications, checking the cover letters and resumes for errors and relevant information and conducting a brief phone interview, your list of remaining candidates should be short.  You are now ready to begin the final interview phase.

© findworkfast.ca

5 reasons to write a better job posting

You’re busy (we understand!), and writing a detailed job posting can seem like a hassle.  However, before you opt to leave the position description field blank or write the bare minimum just to satisfy form requirements, consider this: better job postings save time and money by producing more compatible applicants.  They clarify who and what you are looking for and what the successful candidate can expect from the organization.  In short, they attract the most compatible applicants and greater compatibility means easier applicant screening, more successful candidates and ultimately increased employee retention.  Writing a better job posting may take a little longer but your investment will pay off by saving time and money in the long run!  So here are 5 reasons to write a better job posting:

Showcase your organization to attract top performers!

Posting a job is a great opportunity to showcase your organization and outline what makes you stand apart from the competition!  In addition to outlining daily responsibilities, be sure to include reasons why your organization is a great place to work.  Do you offer quick advancement opportunities?  Flexible hours?  Vacation?  Benefits?  Pension?  Discounts?  Top performers will need good reasons to risk leaving stable employment elsewhere to join your team!  Tell them what you have to offer; they want to know!

Maximize content searchability!

Including specific and well written content in your job posting will make it easier for suitable candidates to find you!  Search engines are content based, and they use key words and phrases to determine how your job posting will rank in search results.  Strategically including key words in a detailed job posting will allow search engines to catalogue and find the information, and will increase the probability of your posting ranking higher in search results, especially when less common duties or position characteristics are included.

Get help spreading the word!

Better job postings are more likely to be shared!  When someone is looking for work, friends and family keep an eye out and are usually keen to share job postings they believe would be a good match.  Postings that advertise reputable employers and list specific knowledge, skills and benefits are most likely to catch the attention of others who will help to connect you with top quality candidates!

Save your organization time and money!

Writing a better job posting will save you time by answering applicant’s questions in advance and attracting the most qualified candidates.  Consider the most important qualities and skills needed to succeed in the position and list them clearly.  Similarly, consider the main questions an applicant is likely to ask (including possible work locations, hours and approximate rate of pay) and answer them.  This will encourage only those who believe they possess the required skills and experience, and are satisfied with the terms of employment to apply.

Find out who is paying attention and really wants the job!

Generic job postings invite generic resumes and do not let applicants know what or who you are actually looking for.  The result will be a pile of resumes that all look and sound the same, wasting time by making it more difficult to pre-screen and shortlist candidates.  Tell your applicants exactly what the demands of the position are and how they can strengthen your organization.  Being specific and upfront about your requirements will invite only qualified applicants, and will save the headache of sifting through the rest!  A strategically written job posting is also a great opportunity to screen for the type of candidate that would excel in your organization.  In addition to listing the usual roles and responsibilities, leave cues in your posting to see who takes note and customizes their resume accordingly!  Use statements like “looking for a candidate who excels at social media and can build a strong and stable online presence.”  Then watch to see who responds.  These opportunities provide candidates with a chance to expand on their experience and prepare for a potential interview.  It will also help you to easily distinguish mass produced resumes from those specifically written with your job in mind!

Better job postings attract better applicants, plain and simple.  They showcase your organization and appeal to top performers by including some of the perks of working for you!  Specific and well written content makes it easier for qualified applicants to find you, by maximizing online searchability and the likelihood that your posting will be shared by others.  Better job postings also save time and money by answering applicant’s questions in advance.  They enable you to quickly screen for who is really paying attention, and identify generic, mass produced applications.  Being specific and clear about exactly what you need and what you have to offer is key in finding the best match for your job.  Putting in the time to find the most compatible employee also increases the likelihood that they will be a good fit and happily remain a part of your organization for years to come.  Better to do it right than to do it over.

© findworkfast.ca

Converting your .docx resume to PDF

If you read our article on “Choosing the best file format for your resume” you already know why converting to PDF before submitting to an employer is important.  This article will walk you through converting your .docx resume to a PDF.

Once you have completed your resume in Microsoft Word and are completely satisfied there aren’t any typos, save the file normally, then follow these 3 easy steps to convert your .docx resume to a PDF:

Step 1: Select "File" in the top left hand corner

Create PDF Step 1

Step 2: Click "Save as Adobe PDF"

Create PDF Step 2

Step 3: Name your file then click "Save"

Create PDF Step 3

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Choosing the best file format for your resume

Whether you create your resume on a PC or MAC, there are numerous word processing software programs available to accommodate your style and preferences.  However, each of these programs produce a unique file extension.  For example: Microsoft word uses .doc and .docx, WordPerfect uses .wpd and Notepad uses .txt.  The program you decide to use isn’t important, but the type of file you submit to an employer is!  So what is the difference and why pick one file format over another?

File extensions offer information such as the type of data contained in the file and the program used to write it.  You may have tried to open a file before and been interrupted by a pop-up asking you which program you would like to use to open it.  This could be because you have multiple programs capable of reading it, or more commonly, your system does not have the same software and does not recognize the file extension.  Chances are, whichever program you pick, the information will not display as intended by the original author.  This is exactly the issue you want to avoid with a job application.

What if you pick the wrong file format?

For Example: if you write your resume using Microsoft Word 2016, when you save your file, the software will default to using the standard .docx file extension.  When you send this file to another person, their computer will read the file extension and attempt to open the document using Microsoft Word 2016.  But what if they don’t have Micorosft Office 2016?  Well, if they are using a current version of WordPerfect, they may be able to open the document, but chances are, the information will not be displayed as you intended.  The formatting may be mixed up because of incompatibilities between the two programs.  Even worse, if they are running Microsoft Office 2010 they will not be able to access the file at all!

This is the type of confusion you want to avoid.  When you are applying for a position it is your responsibility to ensure your resume is submitted in a readable format.  Employers receive countless applications for each job posting and will not take the time to track you down to request another format.

What is the best file format for your resume?

So, what is the safest way to submit your resume to ensure that it can easily be opened and read?  In short, always convert your resume to a Portable Document File (PDF) before submitting it to an employer!  Microsoft Reader (the software used to open and view PDF files) comes standard on most new computers and devices and can also be downloaded for free.  Therefore, you don’t need to worry about the type of software the employer uses.  As an added benefit, because PDF documents are read-only, you will have the peace of mind knowing your document cannot be edited by anyone else before being printed by the employer.

Ready to get started?  Check out our article on how to convert your resume from .docx to PDF.

© findworkfast.ca