Frequently Asked Questions

Goodman School of Business




Frequently Asked Questions


Disclaimer: Responses are designed to address common questions as they relate to job search and career development. They are primarily geared towards business and accounting students/alumni seeking new grad, part time or summer jobs; internships; or volunteer opportunities. Questions related to finding and securing co-op placements should be directed to the Co-Op Programs Office.

       

        

DEVELOPING SKILLS

How can I gain skills and experience in my concentration area if I am not registered in a co-op program? Where do I begin?

How can I make the transition from retail jobs to a "real" job that will help me in the future as relevant experience?

I am not certain on what concentration I will be pursuing next year. What kind of clubs, activities or volunteer placements could I get involved in to get a better feel and understanding of what a career within a certain area of concentration would be like?

English is not my first language. Are there any resources available that help with my English pronunciation?

CAREER OPTIONS
What is the most rapidly growing and changing business field in today's business world (HR, Finance, Marketing)? What area of concentration is there a greater demand for within Business?

What qualities are managers looking for when hiring a new graduate?

Will some jobs in a certain field be more difficult to get into than others? If so, why?

If you are still unsure about your career path in business, how can you assess your likes and dislikes of a subject to assist you in making the right decision?

I am confused as to what career path I should take. What are some steps I can take to narrow down careers that would be right for me?

What are the prominent differences between working for a Fortune 500 or a smaller company? How do we know what is best for us?

CONCENTRATION DILEMMAS

Is it more beneficial for me to pick a concentration or leave it as just a Business Administration degree?

Does accomplishing a dual concentration lead to a higher starting pay? How does this impact job prospects?

As a co-op student in the Business Administration program with a concentration in accounting, what courses do I need to take after graduation if I want to become a Chartered Accountant in the future?

PURSUING FURTHER EDUCATION

What are the different career/educational paths that I can take after completing my undergraduate degree? Is seeking a Master’s degree the best route and would it help me find a job quicker?

INTERNSHIPS

What types of responsibilities are typically awarded to interns? Are they paid or unpaid? How do I know if the internship is “valid”?

When looking for an internship, what are some key factors to look for in an employer?

Where can I find information about international internship opportunities?

In the workforce today, are hiring managers looking for students who have had experience with internships?

We are told that for our internships, we should be including academic references on our resumes. What if I haven’t had very many small classes or had the chance to get to know a professor? What are recruiters looking for/what will they accept?

JOB SEARCH AND EMPLOYER EXPECTATIONS

What is more important when trying to get a job, your resume (i.e. your education and experience) or your performance during an interview?

How aggressive/ persistent with following up would you like a prospective candidate to be, before you find them overly aggressive and intrusive?

What makes an applicant’s cover letter and resume stand out among the rest for within the accounting professionWhat kinds of things do employers look for when selecting candidates for an interview?

What if you did not participate in any extra-curricular activities such as club involvement, competitions, events, service learning projects, etc. during your university career? What else could you do after your 4 years to enhance your resume?

Do employers rely heavily on your grades (transcript) coming out of university? How much are university marks weighed into an applicant’s chance of getting a job?

How important is work experience compared to other attributes on your resume?

What steps should I take to gain a competitive advantage against other students and people competing for a position in the workforce?

Does an individual with relevant co-op experience have an advantage when applying for a job than an individual with no co-op experience?

What is the best way to submit your resume/cover letter (online applications or e-mailing directing to the human resources department)?

What type of company would use electronic technology to screen out applicants?

How important is it to get a job in your concentration area, rather than general business experience?

If there was one tip to give a recent graduate about trying to secure a full-time job, what would it be?

TARGETED JOB SEARCH

What is the best way to find entry level jobs in the public service?

Within the field of human resources, does a compensation-based job help you in a recruiting based job? For example, is it more important to study one stream of HR such as recruitment, as opposed to knowing every stream such as payroll, benefits, compensation, selection, etc.?

INTERVIEWING

How can you answer questions in an interview when you do not have relevant job experience in that particular position?

During an interview, what is the most important thing that candidates should convey?

What is the most important part of an interview?

How would you handle multiple interviews and possibly multiple job offers when deadlines conflict?

What is one of the most common interview blunders that would make employers think twice about hiring a potential candidate?

What is the first thing interviewers notice about applicants when they enter the interview?

AFTER YOU GET THE JOB

What is the best way of approaching your employer about changing your tasks or discussing a promotion?

CAREER TIMELINE

On average, how long does it take after graduation to find a steady, stable job related to your career goals?

Where else can I go for career advice/job search assistance if I take a couple of years off after school?

Should I accept the first job offer I receive out of school or hold out for one that is more aligned with my interests/career goals?

What are some realistic expectations about moving up in a company while in your 20's? In terms of both position and pay.

How would taking a couple of years off after school impact my job prospects and starting my career?

 

DEVELOPING SKILLS

How can I gain skills and experience in my concentration area if I am not registered in a co-op program? Where do I begin?
Gaining relevant experience in your concentration area will give you an advantage over students
without this experience and although you have to take a more proactive approach to searching for
these opportunities, they are available.

  1. Research potential volunteer opportunities on campus. This could take the form of volunteering with one of the Goodman Student Clubs in an area relevant to your concentration. Consider positions that are relevant to your career area even if the opportunity is with a club that may not match your specialty (i.e. volunteering for a finance position within the Human Resource Management Association).
  2. Get involved in the local community. Consider possibilities within your local area (while here in Niagara or back in your home town). Many non-profit organizations would be eager to work with business/accounting students in their offices. Search for opportunities linked to your concentration/interest area; however, don’t stop there. If there is a particular skill that you would like to apply in a workplace, contact the organization and ask if they could use someone with your skill set. In other words, create your own volunteer opportunity in collaboration with the non-profit organization. One place to search for opportunities within Niagara is Information Niagara. You can also check CareerZone for volunteer opportunities on the Goodman Career Board.
  3. Explore service-learning opportunities within the Goodman School of Business. These experiences are invaluable and the Goodman Career Development Office can assist you in displaying this information on your resume.
  4. Seek out summer/part-time positions in your concentration/interest area as much as possible. If you cannot find something exactly within your field and find yourself in a position within the service, retail or manual labour industries, mention to your supervisor that you are eager to apply your business knowledge in any capacity, should the opportunity be available. Be specific about what you would like to do. Ask to see the operations side of the business if possible when your daily job tasks have been completed. Review a financial report or inquire about the possibility of creating a marketing strategy for the company. Be resourceful and leverage the positions that you are in, even if not directly relevant to your career goal.

How can I make the transition from retail jobs to a "real" job that will help me in the future as relevant experience?

  1. Leverage the opportunities within your retail position and find ways to apply your business knowledge. Ensure that any business relevant experience is highlighted on your resume – even if it was not in your “official” job duties.
  2. Maximize your volunteer/extra-curricular experiences if you have been involved in this capacity. For example, if you have relevant volunteer experience, consider displaying on the first page of your resume under the heading, “Relevant Experience”. To ensure transparency to the employer, be sure that your bullet points and/or job title clearly indicate that the position was a volunteer role.
  3. Be creative with the headings displayed on your resume. Reconsider listing all of your retail experience under the usual “Work Experience” heading. If you want to transition into a marketing or sales role, create a heading entitled, “Sales/Marketing Experience” and ensure that the most relevant bullet points are listed first. Focus on the transferable skills from your retail experience within your bullet points and create accomplishment statements that demonstrate these abilities.
  4. Finally, if you have not yet done so, get involved in volunteer/extra-curricular activities.

I am not certain on what concentration I will be pursuing next year. What kind of clubs, activities or volunteer placements could I get involved in to get a better feel and understanding of what a career within a certain area of concentration would be like?

  1. Consider specific clubs and the different roles for which they recruit. Try to get into a position that will expose you to different aspects of business and attend club events that will introduce you to speakers/individuals and topics that will introduce you to various options and improve your knowledge of different areas.
  2. Conduct informational interviews (talking to people who work within a job, company, or industry that you want to learn more about). You can work with the Goodman Career Development Office to get connected with people who would gladly donate some of their time to tell you more about what they do and the company they work for. This can be a very valuable research step to gather information, learn, and build your network.
  3. Attend Goodman events including the “How To Get A Job In…” series. Students hear from a panel of speakers (representing alumni and employers from the various industries in each of the topic areas). This is an opportunity for you to learn from the experience of those in the profession/industry, while developing your professional network.

English is not my first language. Are there any resources available that help with my English pronunciation?
A Brock linguistics researcher has developed a website and mobile app to help non-native English speakers fine-tune their English pronunciation. Ron Thomson, Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics, recently launched English Accent Coach, an interactive online game that improves your English pronunciation.

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CAREER OPTIONS

What is the most rapidly growing and changing business field in today's business world (HR, Finance, Marketing)? What area of concentration is there a greater demand for within Business?

This is a difficult question to answer. The unique and valuable thing about a business degree is that all areas are relevant and all areas play an important role in business. The Goodman Career Development Office would never advise a student to choose one concentration over another simply because it’s the hot ticket item that week. The economy will always have its peaks and valleys, and the various concentrations/specialties will always have a role to play. In addition to your education, your on-the-job experience will provide you with the knowledge and skills needed in today’s economy. Regardless of concentration, your degree remains the same (Bachelor of Business Administration). I recommend choosing a concentration that appeals to your personal interests and skills.

Something to consider about “rapidly growing/changing” areas is the following:

  • Marketing has seen changes because of the infiltration of social media, online marketing, and digital marketing.
  • HR has seen changes because of evolving workplace demographics.
  • Finance has seen changes because of new business processes and fluctuating markets that are impacted by natural disasters and other economic factors.
  • And these are just the changes seen in the 21st century so far.

What qualities are managers looking for when hiring a new graduate?
Employers will seek new graduates who are ambitious, professional, and motivated. They want to hire people who know where their skills are best applied and have some sense of what they are looking for (i.e. they have direction). With that said, no one expects you to know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life at the time of graduation, and employers want to see that you are open to learning and exploring to ensure your career evolves as you do. The specific skills employers seek in new graduates include the following:

  • Interpersonal/teamwork/collaboration
  • Flexibility/adaptability
  • Decision making/good judgment
  • Creativity
  • Communication (most critical)
  • Initiative
  • Leadership
  • Problem solving
  • Analytical skills (for some jobs more than others)
  • Others such as multi-tasking ability and organizational skills

One of the biggest aspects is PROFESSIONALISM. This is not something that you acquire overnight…it
is something that you develop over time with your experiences. 

Will some jobs in a certain field be more difficult to get into than others? If so, why?
It can be the case that some jobs/industries are more difficult to break into than others and this is typically driven by the competitiveness of that particular job/industry. The more people competing for a spot, the more challenging it can be to get your spot. When you consider the different areas within business that the majority of students focus on (HR, Marketing, Finance, Accounting), none of these are really in a niche market. Opportunities in these areas exist in countless organizations, and all have opportunities for new grads.

If you are still unsure about your career path in business, how can you assess your likes and dislikes of a subject to assist you in making the right decision?
Begin to identify the themes within your course work. What projects did you enjoy? What aspects of the subject are appealing to you? What are the career options related to those subjects? Create a list or an organized catalogue of this information and begin to research occupations that relate to those subject areas. Contact the Goodman Career Development Office to arrange a personal appointment to discuss your current individual situation for more direct feedback and tailored information.

I am confused as to what career path I should take. What are some steps I can take to narrow down careers that would be right for me?
Consider booking an appointment with the Goodman Career Development Office for a more individualized response and approach. Generally speaking, it is important to conduct occupational research when making decisions as to career possibilities and next steps in defining your career path. The first step is to research the opportunities that best fit with your individual interests, experience, values, etc. and then you have to begin narrowing your search.

Step One – Know Yourself: Spend some time thinking about your individual preferences, interests, attributes, skills, etc. Try a few self-assessments to help you get started: Service Canada
Step Two – Online Research: Search online to learn more about the professions of interest to you and the status of the current job market. Find out the common career path for this industry (i.e. what is involved within the entry, mid and upper level positions and corresponding salary ranges). Search by location area to get a sense of opportunities within your chosen location. A few websites to get started are: www.workingincanada.gc.ca and http://talentegg.ca/incubator.
Step Three – Network: Talk to people working in the industry to find out what it is really like working in the field. Ask questions about the industry: What are the typical/interesting job opportunities out there within the business sector? How did you get into the field? What companies are currently expanding? Are there new trends within the field? What skills/education/training are most in demand? How can you gain these networks or connect with people working in this industry?
Contact the Goodman Career Development Office to ask for assistance in connecting with alumni working in the various occupations. Search LinkedIn for networks. Consider becoming a member of a professional association. Review the Information Interview Resource Guide for more information. Consider arranging a job shadowing or workplace tour to lean more as well.

Step Four – Narrow your search: Begin looking at job postings and start to catalogue positions that appeal to you. Print or save postings of interest (regardless of location, start date, etc.) and look for themes/patterns. You should start to notice a trend in the positions of interest. Review the list of qualities, level of experience, skills and educational requirements in the postings to get a sense of how you measure up.

What are the prominent differences between working for a Fortune 500 or a smaller company? How do we know what is best for us?
Every individual has a unique set of work values that will influence their preferred work environment. It is important to understand your core values and how they relate to work. Take some time to assess your work values and really look at what is important to you in a work situation. What motivates you to excel in your work? Are you motivated by financial rewards? Do you prefer to see the results of your work? There are no “right” or “wrong” answers; however, you need to know these things about yourself in order to determine what company (or companies) is the right fit for you. Service Canada offers an online work values quiz as a starting point. Once you have an understanding of what is important for you, you will be better equipped to make decisions on whether a Fortune 500 company is better for you or if a smaller company would be a better fit. Generally speaking, larger companies may be able to offer perks such as higher salary ranges, benefit packages and financial rewards. Smaller companies often promote their flexible work environment
and/or ability to move through the company more quickly while developing a broad skill set. Only you can determine what is the best fit based on your own work set of work values.

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CONCENTRATION DILEMMAS

Is it more beneficial for me to pick a concentration or leave it as just a Business Administration degree?
When it comes to choosing a concentration, you certainly want to consider the relevance and usefulness of the concentration in the business world. However, it is equally important to choose a concentration that genuinely interests you (i.e. one that offers courses/subjects that appeal to you).

Ultimately, regardless of the concentration that you choose (or even if you choose one at all), your degree remains the same (Bachelor of Business Administration). There are only a few industries where a specific concentration may make you a more competitive candidate - finance and accounting are the ones that come to mind. If you plan to pursue a career in the financial sector or in the accounting profession, a concentration in finance or accounting would be beneficial.

With that said, earnings potential is rarely, if ever, based on the concentration that you choose. Earnings potential is really based on the industry, type of job, and type of company (private, public, not-for-profit) combined with your degree (BBA) and experience.

One other aspect to consider is that a concentration may or may not have much weight to an employer when making a hiring decision. Every employer has different needs and preferences, and depending on the job and employer, your concentration may not even be a factor in making the hiring decision. It can be a bit of a gamble, which is why it is important to consider selecting a concentration that appeals to your interests.

Ultimately, having a declared concentration may add value to your resume, but not having one is not going to disadvantage you in any way. From purely a course registration standpoint, something else to consider is the fact that having a declared concentration gives you priority registration on certain courses required for that concentration, which can be beneficial when registering for courses, but this should not be the reason you ultimately choose a concentration.

Does accomplishing a dual concentration lead to a higher starting pay? How does this impact job prospects?
Earnings potential is rarely, if ever, based on the concentration that you choose –including a double concentration. Earnings potential is based on the industry, type of job, and type of company (private, public, not-for-profit) combined with your degree and experience.

One other aspect to consider is that a concentration may or may not have much weight to an employer when making a hiring decision. Every employer has different needs and preferences, and depending on the job and employer, your concentration(s) may not even be a factor in making the hiring decision. It can be a bit of a gamble, which is why it is important to consider selecting a concentration or dual concentration that appeals to your interests.

Ultimately, having a declared dual concentration may add value to your resume and will likely distinguish your resume from the average candidate, but not having one is not likely to disadvantage you in any way.

As a co-op student in the Business Administration program with a concentration in accounting, what courses do I need to take after graduation if I want to become a Chartered Accountant in the future?
This question relates to academic courses and therefore, you should contact an Academic Adviser in the Goodman School of Business to review the courses you will need (above and beyond what is required in your BBA program requirements) in order to achieve the necessary courses to pursue the CPA designation. You can contact an Academic Adviser through the portal: http://portal.bus.brocku.ca.

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PURSUING FURTHER EDUCATION

What are the different career/educational paths that I can take after completing my undergraduate degree? Is seeking a Master’s degree the best route and would it help me find a job quicker?

It is important to conduct occupational research when making decisions as to career possibilities and next steps in defining your career path. The first step is to research the opportunities that best fit with your individual interests, experience, values, etc. and then you have to begin narrowing your search.

Step One – Online Research: Search online to learn more about the industry you are considering and the status of the current job market. Find out the common career path for this industry (i.e. what is involved within the entry, mid and upper level positions and corresponding salary ranges). Search by location area to get a sense of opportunities within your chosen location. A few websites to get started are: www.workingincanada.gc.ca and http://talentegg.ca/incubator.

Step Two – Network: Talk to people working in the industry to find out what it is really like working in the field. Ask questions about the industry: What are the typical/interesting job opportunities out there within a particular sector? How did you get into the field? What companies are currently expanding? Are there new trends within the field? What skills/education/training are most in demand? How can you gain these networks or connect with people working in this industry? Contact the Goodman Career Office to ask for assistance in connecting with alumni working in the various occupations. Search LinkedIn for networks. Consider becoming a member of a professional association. Review the
Information Interview Resource Guide for more information. Consider arranging a job shadowing or workplace tour to lean more as well.

Step Three – Narrow your Search: Begin looking at job postings and start to catalogue positions that appeal to you. Print or save postings of interest (regardless of location, start date, etc.) and look for themes/patterns. You should start to notice a trend in the positions of interest. Review the list of qualities, level of experience, skills and educational requirements in the postings to get a sense of how you measure up. Look to see if there are certifications/training or other requirements that seem to be common throughout the positions. If you notice that the positions are looking for candidates with graduate level education, perhaps this is an area to consider. Once you have a sense as to the expectations from employers regarding their “ideal candidate”, you will have better information for which to make your decision to pursue a Master’s degree.

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INTERNSHIPS

What types of responsibilities are typically awarded to interns? Are they paid or unpaid? How do I know if the internship is “valid”?
Internships typically provide new grads with an opportunity to learn about multiple areas within a company – sometimes this is presented as a rotational cycle where the intern rotates from one area of the company to another over a period of 12-24 months. Internships that are specific to one area (for example, marketing), would likely present the intern with opportunities to learn and apply their skills in multiple aspects of marketing, under the guidance and mentorship of a senior marketing professional within the company. Internships are really seen as practical learning opportunities that
have an element of training and mentorship attached. As with any career-related opportunity, it is important for you to research the company/employer offering the internship for due diligence. Internships – whether paid or unpaid – can offer great benefits to you in terms of building your professional network and gaining relevant experience in your field.

When looking for an internship, what are some key factors to look for in an employer?
Like any position, it is important to do your research into the employer/company offering the internship. You will want to know if it is a paid/unpaid internship, length of internship, location (including need for flexibility for relocation, travel, etc.), minimum education requirements, recruitment timelines, etc. I would also look for testimonials or references from past participants if possible. Search online for comments about the internship regarding participants’ experiences. Try to find out more about the internship program and what will be involved during the duration of the
term to ensure that the skills to be developed are a good fit for you. Ask about the networking opportunities that will be provided within the internship and the support you will receive. Is there a formal mentorship component to the program, etc.?

Where can I find information about international internship opportunities?
You can find information about international internships at the following website: Absolute Internship. As with any job search, it is very effective to contact companies/organizations directly to inquire about internship opportunities. One company who offers internships abroad is the Royal Bank of Scotland.

In the workforce today, are hiring managers looking for students who have had experience with internships?
Employers are looking for students who have experience…period. Whether that comes in the form of an internship, summer job, part time job, student competitions, or volunteer/extracurricular activities is irrelevant. The most attractive candidates will have a combination of these experiences (i.e. a well-balanced resume) along with a reputable degree and a strong network.

We are told that for our internships, we should be including academic references on our resumes. What if I haven’t had very many small classes or had the chance to get to know a professor? What are recruiters looking for/what will they accept?
If you are specifically being asked for an “academic reference” then you need to identify a professor or possibly a TA who can speak on your behalf. Typically speaking, it is extremely rare that an employer will specify that you need an academic reference (this is usually only the case when applying for academic opportunities (such as grad school). Most employers will simply ask for “references” which should come in the form of individuals who can speak positively about your skills based on their own observation from supervising or working with you. If you are being specifically asked for an academic reference, think of professors or TAs (if you don’t have a professor you can ask) who knows you or who can speak to your performance in the classroom.

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JOB SEARCH AND EMPLOYER EXPECTATIONS

What is more important when trying to get a job, your resume (i.e. your education and experience) or your performance during an interview?
It is a combination of the two. Keep in mind that the resume and the interview serve different purposes. The resume is designed to demonstrate your technical experience and how your skills have been applied in a variety of practical situations (demonstrating to the employer that you have the skills necessary to do the job effectively). The interview is your opportunity to elaborate on your skills/experience but also an opportunity for the employer to get to know you better. They will be evaluating your ability to listen and communicate in the interview, along with your ability to draw on past experiences and formulate professional and thought-out responses to their questions. They will also be looking to better understand your personality and what motivates you to determine if you will be a good fit for their company (which is different than just being technically able to do the job). The short answer is that both the resume (i.e. your education and experience) and how you conduct yourself in an interview have a role to play in this process. Sometimes a candidate can have all the right experience and skill, but ultimately won’t be a good fit with the company and therefore may not get the job as a result.

How aggressive/ persistent with following up would you like a prospective candidate to be, before you find them overly aggressive and intrusive?
If this question is referring to after a job interview, I would recommend sending a follow up e-mail (or handwritten note) within 24 hours. Hopefully, you will know the recruitment timelines before you leave the interview…so that you have an idea about when they will be making decisions about the next steps. If you have been provided with a follow up date and have not heard anything, it would be acceptable to contact the interviewer by phone or e-mail and politely ask if they can provide information as to the current situation for that position. Keep in mind that businesses often
have competing priorities for their time – filling a job vacancy may not be the top priority for the company even if they are actively going through the recruitment process. Be mindful (and respectful) of holidays and vacation days that may occur within the recruitment timelines – these days tend to slow the process down. I recommend asking the employer/interviewer when the best time to reconnect with them would be and follow up accordingly. Do not become overly aggressive in demanding a response (even if you just want an answer either way) – the interviewer/employer
will remember you, but not in positive light.

What makes an applicant’s cover letter and resume stand out among the rest for within the accounting profession? What kinds of things do employers look for when selecting candidates for an interview?
CA firms are very specific in what they look for. They want to see a good balance of strong academics AND experience from paid employment, volunteer experiences, and extra-curricular activities (this is one of the most important). CA firms will review transcripts because there has proven to be a strong co-relation between good grades in accounting courses and a student’s ability to successfully pass the CKE, School of Accountancy, and the UFE. With that said, they also want people who have excellent communication skills (both written and verbal), problem solving skills, relationship-building skills, initiative/drive, and leadership skills.

What if you did not participate in any extra-curricular activities such as club involvement, competitions, events, service learning projects, etc. during your university career? What else could you do after your 4 years to enhance your resume?
It’s never too late to get involved. While you are job searching, I strongly recommend getting involved within your local community – in some capacity – to not only develop your skills but also your network (which will be instrumental in a successful job search).

  1. Research potential volunteer opportunities. Many non-profit organizations would be eager to work with business/accounting students in their offices. Search for opportunities linked to your interest area, however, don’t stop there. If there is a particular skill that you would like to apply in a workplace, contact the organization and ask if they could use someone with your skill set. In other words, create your own volunteer opportunity in collaboration with the non-profit organization. One place to search for opportunities within Niagara is Information Niagara. You can also find additional resources on the Goodman Career website that will provide
    information on volunteer opportunities.
  2. If you are working part time, although not in a job to your field, seek out opportunities to gain relevant experience. Mention to your supervisor that you are eager to apply your business knowledge in any capacity, should the opportunity be available. Be specific about what you would like to do. Ask to see the operations side of the business if possible when your daily job tasks have been completed. Review a financial report or inquire about the possibility of creating a marketing strategy for the company. Be resourceful and leverage the positions that you are in, even if not directly relevant to your career goal.

Do employers rely heavily on your grades (transcript) coming out of university? How much are university marks weighed into an applicant’s chance of getting a job?
This depends on the industry. In the accounting and finance sectors, transcripts often play a role in the application process. Also, some larger companies will incorporate transcripts into their applications (regardless of role) – GE is an example of this. Keep in mind though that transcripts are only one part of the application – employers still want to see that you have experience and relevant skills. A student with a 90% average with limited to no work/extracurricular/volunteer experience is less likely to secure a job against a student with a 75% average and a great balance of work/extracurricular/volunteer experience. For employers, it’s about finding a balance and finding
the right candidate who can not only do the job, but who is also a good fit with the company.

How important is work experience compared to other attributes on your resume?
This depends on what you are qualifying as “work experience” and what you mean by “other attributes”. If work experience refers to paid employment, then certainly there are other attributes that can be included on a resume that will be seen as valuable to an employer. For example, volunteer experience, extracurricular experience, professional development workshops/training, designations/certifications. In the end, it’s all about your ability to communicate relevant SKILLS and how you have used these skills on your resume. Every job has its own unique aspects and requirements – it’s up to you to understand what the employer is looking for and tailor your resume and experience appropriately to showcase relevant skills.

What steps should I take to gain a competitive advantage against other students and people competing for a position in the workforce?
Competing in a competitive job market is about differentiating yourself from others. You can do this with the variety of experiences on your resume and by showcasing experiences that are more unique (for example: an international exchange, an academic competition, a dual degree, a double concentration, an executive/leadership role with a student organization, leading an initiative that has benefited a local not-for-profit organization). In addition to differentiating your resume, you can differentiate yourself by establishing great professional networks and putting yourself in situations where you get to meet new people and network (i.e. attending job/career fairs, attending networking events/dinners, attending professional workshops, volunteering on a committee for a professional association).

Does an individual with relevant co-op experience have an advantage when applying for a job than an individual with no co-op experience?
Not necessarily. It all comes back to skills and variety of experience. Certainly a student with co-op experience will likely have some excellent professional experience and a well-established professional network, but that’s not to say that a non co-op student doesn’t also have great professional experience and an established network (through summer jobs, part time jobs, extracurricular involvement, etc.). The only difference here is that one student gained their experience as a part of their academic programming (co-op), where the other completed it in a different way.

What is the best way to submit your resume/cover letter (online applications or e-mailing directing to the human resources department)?
Online applications are used to help employers screen resumes for keywords (i.e. skills) that are relevant to a specific job. With job postings being advertised online, employers are often overwhelmed with applications. An online system allows them to more effectively track candidates, and more efficiently screen candidates. Either way, HR is reviewing the applications. The key difference is that one approach allows them to filter through applications so that they are only manually reviewing those that meet the requirements of the job (those who are best suited from a technical standpoint). My suggestion is to follow the instructions provided on the job posting. If an employer has instructed
you to “apply online”…DO SO. Many employers get frustrated (and ultimately redirect candidates who don’t follow these instructions, or simply avoid considering a candidate for the job) when candidates choose to email their application directly to HR even though the posting has specified that they apply online.

What type of company would use electronic technology to screen out applicants?
Any type of company may choose to use electronic technology when collecting applications. Online applications are used to help employers screen resumes for keywords (i.e. skills) that are relevant to a specific job. With many job postings being advertised online, employers are often overwhelmed with applications. An online system allows them to more effectively track candidates, and more efficiently screen candidates. In general, if you are submitting your information to an online application system (often by cutting and pasting your material into an online form), you can make an assumption that that the company is using some sort of electronic software system for screening. In these cases, ensure that your cover letter and resume contain key words (skills, competencies, specific computer programs, etc.) listed in the posting to be sure these are recognized through their electronic system.

How important is it to get a job in your concentration area, rather than general business experience?
This is an individual question that would depend on your current situation and career goals. In general, remember that you are going to be new to the business world in whatever position you find yourself. Within your first few years in any post-grad position, most of your time will be spent learning the functions of that particular industry – while applying some of your business knowledge. Any position within the business world will help in developing your skills and experience…and networks. Keep an open mind about positions and apply for those that are of interest to you and
seem to match your skill set. Consider the first 2-3 years after graduating as your opportunity to learn about yourself, your career aspirations, and where your skills are best applied. At the same time, you will gain some great work and life experience that will help you make informed decisions as you advance in your career. No experience is useless…there is something to be learned and gained from each one. Until you get into a role and a company, it is difficult to truly confirm what you like and don’t like. And over time, this will likely change/evolve (as will your career). It is suggested that you seek opportunities that will align with your personal career goals (short term and long term), but don’t underestimate/discount opportunities that will allow you to develop your skills in other relevant business areas. A career is not always linear…it is important to have goals and milestones…it is also important to consider new opportunities that may get presented along the way. For co-op experiences, this is your opportunity to try out different types of jobs and types of employers to not only develop your experience, skills, and network, but also to determine the types of jobs and employers to which you are best suited.

If there was one tip to give a recent graduate about trying to secure a full-time job, what would it be?
Talk to people – be proactive and engage in conversations with people. Be specific when telling people about the type of work for which you are looking – do not assume that they know (even your family and friends may not know exactly the type of work you are interested in pursuing). The other side to this is to remember that networking should not just be about you asking for a job or referral. It’s about identifying commonalities and helping others out as well. Networking is not a job search strategy – it is a lifetime of building relationships with others throughout your career and profession.

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TARGETED JOB SEARCH

What is the best way to find entry level jobs in the public service?
Check out the Ontario Internship Program offered through the Ontario Public Service. To ensure a solid application, review the Ontario Public Service Cover Letter and Resume Resource Guide.

Within the field of human resources, does a compensation-based job help you in a recruiting based job? For example, is it more important to study one stream of HR such as recruitment, as opposed to knowing every stream such as payroll, benefits, compensation, selection, etc.?
For jobs in HR, typically, new grads will start in more of a generalist role (touching on all/most aspects of HR). Specializing usually happens once you have been in the field for a few years and have built up your experience. Sometimes in larger organizations, you may be hired into a specialized role, but even in these cases, having a good understanding for all areas is important.

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INTERVIEWING

How can you answer questions in an interview when you do not have relevant job experience in that particular position?
When it comes to job applications and interviews, it’s not always about having past experience in similar roles/jobs that makes you qualified. It’s more about the actual skills that were used in your previous experiences and the relevance of those skills for the job you are applying for or interviewing for. Remember, an employer will not invite you to an interview if they don’t feel you have the skills that are needed for the job. If you have an interview, this is an indication that the employer feels your skills/experience are already relevant. Now they want to hear from you about your experiences and how you have used your skills effectively. If you are preparing for an interview, or just wanting to brush up on your interview skills, I highly recommend that you book a mock interview appointment with our office. This has proven to be a very effective way for students to prepare for interviews and to perform more successfully in
interviews.

During an interview, what is the most important thing that candidates should convey?
Enthusiasm – let them see that you are genuinely interested in the position and excited to be interviewing with them. So often candidates get caught up in how they “think” they should act in an interview that they forget to smile, show enthusiasm, and allow the employer to get to know who they really are (which is the whole point). 

Research – make sure you have done your research on the role and the company. This is also a demonstration to the employer of how interested you really are in the position and in working for their company. Also, make sure you have questions prepared for the interviewer. Interviewing is a two-way street…the employer is assessing your suitability for their company, and you are also assessing whether or not this company is a good fit for you. The questions you ask should provide you with further information that cannot already be researched on their website.

Be specific – do not assume that the interviewers have thoroughly reviewed your resume and therefore know your experience/skills. Of course, most employers will review your resume/cover letter prior to your interview, however, it is up to you to communicate how your points on your resume reflect your suitability for the positions. In other words, be specific in your responses, provide enough detail to ensure the interviewer understands your experience and relate your
answers back to the question asked.

What is the most important part of an interview?
The first impression. First impressions are made within 3-5 seconds and it sets the tone for the entire interview. Dress the part, be professional, and be yourself. Make sure you smile, shake hands, and listen attentively. A few other important pieces include being genuine, honest, and allowing them to get to know you…they are there to assess your skills for the job, but they are also assessing your fit for their company (i.e. how well will you fit in with our existing team, culture, etc.)

How would you handle multiple interviews and possibly multiple job offers when deadlines conflict?
This is a typical dilemma that many job seekers face, and there is no easy answer. You have to use your best judgment – make sure you know what you are looking for in a job and company. Hopefully you have asked some good questions in the interview to help you in making an informed decision about a particular job or company. In the end, it’s a judgment call – if you accept an offer (prior to hearing back about another offer), then you are committed to fulfilling that offer (even if another offer comes in afterward). If you choose to decline an earlier offer, then you run the risk of potentially not receiving an offer from a later interview. Ultimately, you will have to make a decision that feels right to you. Trust your instincts, however, be sure to give every opportunity a fair chance before discounting it immediately. Remember, there is rarely a “perfect” job out there and as a recent grad, you will need to spend time developing your skills along the path to your career goal.

What is one of the most common interview blunders that would make employers think twice about hiring a potential candidate?
Not following up after the interview. Although this is a fairly simple task, many interviewees do not bother to follow up with the interviewers afterwards. This could be a deciding factor between two potential candidates and the interviewer(s) are looking to see if either applicant follows up when making a final decision. Send a thank you e-mail or hand-written message within 24 hours of your interview (regardless of how well you think you did in the interview or if you are no longer interested in the position). It’s a simple step that many job seekers do not follow through with and
this could set you apart from other candidates.

Impolite or rude behaviour. This is not often something that most interviewees do “wrong”; however, it is important to remember that you are being evaluated from the moment you arrive at the location. Be polite to parking attendants, security personnel and administrative staff as many interviewers will ask these individuals about your interactions.

What is the first thing interviewers notice about applicants when they enter the interview?
Interviewers will notice how you present yourself (i.e. your attire, your posture, your eye contact, whether or not you are smiling and offering to shake hands) and will get a good sense for your confidence level and enthusiasm/interest level. An employer can tell a lot about your personality from the way you present and carry yourself when they first meet you.

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AFTER YOU GET THE JOB

What is the best way of approaching your employer about changing your tasks or discussing a promotion?
Timing is everything. Don’t be too aggressive too fast. In your first job after graduating you will do a lot of learning – take this opportunity to learn from colleagues and to volunteer yourself for committees and projects that may fall outside your actual job duties. This is a great way to learn, to network, and to demonstrate initiative. This will likely make a favourable impression on your employer and will open your eyes to new opportunities that may interest you. With that said, don’t get too far ahead of yourself within the first year on the job. When it comes to promotions, you
should be able to clearly demonstrate your worth through the outcomes you have achieved in your role and for the company. Also, you should have a clear idea of where your skills can be applied in a more advanced role. Ultimately, this discussion should be had during a closed-door meeting with your supervisor and should be approached with tact and professionalism. Focus on your accomplishments and interest in further developing your skills with that company through new challenges. Be prepared during this meeting to provide concrete examples of where you have been
successful. Prepare a list of your achievements (and print to bring to the meeting) as they relate to the company targets, strategic plan, etc. It is important to be realistic about the outcomes of your meeting. Do your research and be realistic about the possibility for promotion based on the company’s current financial situation. If they are not in a position to offer you a promotion, yet are interested in exploring the possibility of you taking on a new role or increasing your responsibilities, would you still be willing to accept this offer? Consider the possible outcomes of your meeting and plan for how you will address these. Be sure to thank your manager for the meeting and follow up with a hand-written or e-mail message within 24 hours.

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CAREER TIMELINE

On average, how long does it take after graduation to find a steady, stable job related to your career goals?
This is a difficult question to answer because the job market is not predictable. In addition to the efforts you make as a job seeker (to find employment), also consider the variety of external factors that can impact your success (both positively and negatively) in finding employment. For example, a volatile market/suffering economy, the number of other qualified new grads who are applying to similar opportunities, the timing of new opportunities becoming available, and being in the right place at the right time with the right connections.

Students who take the time to build their resume and their network over the course of their education (from first/second year until their graduating year), in addition to utilizing the services through the Goodman Career Development Office, are the ones who often secure full time opportunities before they even complete their studies, or more typically, they secure a full time position within 3 months of graduating.

For students who have done little to build their experience/resume and professional network, and who have not used the Goodman Career Development Office while in school, it sometimes takes a year or longer for them to find relevant full time employment. This is not to say that they aren’t working during this time, but likely they are not working within their chosen field.

Also keep in mind that your career is something that will build and evolve over time. Your first career-related job after completing school is not likely the one you will stay in for the rest of your career, but it hopefully will provide you with an opportunity to build your skills/experience in an industry/profession/company that interests you, while helping you to continue building your professional network and opening up doors for you to try new things and get involved in projects that would not otherwise be presented to you.

Where else can I go for career advice/job search assistance if I take a couple of years off after school?
This question is difficult to answer without knowing your individual situation. It would depend on location, what type of career you are interested in and your current level of experience/education. There are a variety of organizations in the community that offer career guidance and job search assistance. Review http://www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/jobseekers/resourceCentres.html to search locations within your area.

Should I accept the first job offer I receive out of school or hold out for one that is more aligned with my interests/career goals?
This is a personal decision that only you can make and it will depend on your individual circumstances such as current financial situation, expectations from family members, etc. Seek out opportunities that are a good fit with your education and work background that are of interest to you, while being realistic about your expectations. Keep an open mind when you are considering an offer and realize that you will not have a full understanding of a position until you are actually in the role. This means there may be opportunities to develop your skills (and industry networks) within a
position that may not be apparent at first glance. It is also important to do your research on the company/position and ask questions during the recruitment process. Learning as much as you can about the position should help in your decision-making. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in the interview – this is your opportunity to determine if the company/position is a good fit for you too.

Ultimately, you will have to make a decision that feels right to you, based on the information you have collected. Trust your instincts, however, be sure to give every opportunity a fair chance before discounting it immediately. Remember, there is rarely a “perfect” job out there and as a recent grad, you will need to spend time developing your skills along the path to your career goal.

What are some realistic expectations about moving up in a company while in your 20's? In terms of both position and pay.
This will depend on the type of job and industry/sector you work in, and will also depend on your skill set and the availability of opportunities in the company. In the private sector, it can be easier to advance more quickly as far as position and pay, but it can also be more competitive to do so. In the public sector, there is often a higher level of bureaucracy with many policies around promotion and pay increases, but often these organizations place preference on internal candidates which can open doors for those looking to advance from within the organization into different roles. In the not-for-profit sector, financial advancement can be challenging because these organizations are typically operating on government grants and corporate donations, but the opportunity to take on more advanced roles (and greater responsibility) can exist. Assuming the opportunity for advancement exists, individuals in their 20’s can move up in an
organization in terms of both position and pay in relatively significant ways. With that said, an individual’s ambition, drive, and motivation to succeed are only one part of this equation. There is something to be said about building experience over time and establishing oneself as knowledgeable and professional with the ability to appropriately manage themselves in advanced level roles. If you have this combination of attributes, then the opportunities are there.

How would taking a couple of years off after school impact my job prospects and starting my career?
This depends on what you mean by “taking a couple of years off”. If you plan on doing nothing in those two years then this can have a significant impact on your ability to secure relevant employment because you will be competing with new grads who have fresh, recent, and relevant experience (and who have a support network at their university to connect them to employers and jobs). Many new graduate recruitment opportunities require that candidates be fresh out of school (or at least out of school for no more than 1-2 years). By taking time “off” you potentially limit the number of opportunities that are available to you with your education and experience.

If, during the time off, you are pursuing other interests, this can actually add value to your resume. It is important while you “take time off” to stay connected with your network, continue to build your network, and stay involved in things that build and enhance your employable skills. You don’t necessarily need to be doing this on a full time basis, but it should be something that is continued in order to keep your resume and your experiences fresh and evolving. 

For more detail on how to approach this type of situation, I strongly encourage you to contact the Goodman Career Development Office to arrange an appointment to discuss your individual situation.

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