Tag Archives: job search

Lessons for high-tech workers in Ottawa

Here are a few lessons for high-tech workers in Ottawa, based on my own experience being laid off and looking for jobs this summer.

1. Keep your resume up to date.

You never know when you will be laid off.

2. Keep in touch with recruiters.

Whether they are for companies that you can see yourself working for or for recruitment companies for the government (there are plenty in Ottawa), make sure at least two or three of them know your name and qualifications so that they can contact you for potential positions when they arise.

3. Keep in touch with your network.

You’ve worked with great people before. Hopefully those people have become not just respected coworkers, but also friends who you want to help in times of need and vice versa.  They are your future references and possibly lines in to other jobs at great companies.

Your network could be anyone. One member of my network is a fellow bus-rider, first to-and-from Kanata to downtown and later to-and-from the Kanata residential areas to the Kanata North business park. As I was leaving one job, she became a recruiter for a company I had been watching for years. I sent her my resume and within a few weeks she put me forward for a position I had not even considered myself for, but whose qualifications I clearly met.

I interviewed for that position a few days ago and probably would not have if we had not ridden the bus together all these years. Whether I am called back for a second interview remains to be seen (I am harshly critical of my performance and thus cannot accurately gage how I did), but the fact remains that almost everyone you meet can become part of your network.

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Job hunting is like dating

Looking for a job is a slog. It’s painful. It’s spending a lot of time hoping to catch the eye of strangers, working to make sure that your initial impression/profile is attractive enough that you attract the attention of someone who wants to talk to you a bit more and learn a bit more about you, and then doing your best to make it through that first interview so that maybe you get another one and hopefully get to spend a lot of time with them. In that way, job hunting is a lot like dating.

First impression/profile

We live in a wired world, so often the first place to make an impression is online, either through an application submitted through email or entered into a company’s database or through your online profile. Oftentimes, you make your first impression both ways, submitting your CV and linking to your online profile either in the CV, your cover letter, or both.

In the case of dating, you might set up a profile at a site like Match.com, PlentyofFish, or eHarmony. When job-hunting, you create a LinkedIn profile. The purpose and methodologies are almost identical, with the caveat that you tone down the sexy for the singles sites and amp up the professional awesomeness for the job sites.

First date/interview

If you’re lucky, someone will look at your profile and ask you for a first date/interview to determine whether you’re a good fit for them.

They will want to know more about you, like, “What is your greatest accomplishment so far?”, “What is your family situation?”, “Do you like to travel?”, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”, “What kind of compensation are you expecting?”

It’s also your opportunity to ask questions of the potential lifemate and find out if they are someone you want to spend some more time with.

Aftermath/postmortem

The aftermath of the first date/interview is followed by a, “So how did I do?” running through your head. You hope that you will be asked back for a second interview and maybe even be asked to go steady, but you just don’t know. And if you don’t hear anything for a long time, you get neurotic.

Neurosis

The neurotic period is the worst part of the jobhunt. “Did I say the wrong thing?” “Did I come on too strong?” “Did I not describe my skills well enough?” “Should I have asked more questions?” “Are my salary expectations out of range?” “Have I demonstrated enough past success to be worthy of a 2nd interview or an offer?”

Of course, if the 1st interview/date went well, you may be able to skip this step and go right to “success”.

Success

Success means, “You’re hired!” or in old-fashioned dating terms, “We’re going steady!” You will see them on a daily basis and work towards common goals together. In dating terms, you may see each other regularly, move in, maybe get a pet and, if it all works out, get married and have children.

In job terms, you will be employed with a steady paycheck for years to come, and maybe even get some benefits on the side, including vacation, health and dental insurance, and personal days.

This is everyone’s goal.

Will it last?

But will it last? With both dating and jobs, you never know. Today’s job market is such that you can find yourself out on the street and having to go through the whole process again simply because your job was offshored or your product was devoured by a competitor who could produce it for cheaper. Hopefully you’ve developed your skills while at the company to the point that it’s a no-brainer for someone else to hire you, but even then, your experience can work against you because you suddenly require more compensation than you did when you were green behind the ears and could live in a small 1 Bedroom and live off of packets of Ramen noodles.

Hopefully it doesn’t go that way, but you have to be prepared. So if you’ve managed to build a family with that person who caught your eye (or vice versa) on the dating site, you will be well-connected and skilled enough that you can go a few months without breaking the bank while you find another job. The ideal is, of course, a well-paid, permanent position with a good level of family benefits, so let’s hope you are able to achieve it.