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RDC Career Services: Your recruiting questions answered

Submitted by
Michelle Brown

It’s a tricky time for job seekers right now. Our economic environment paired with COVID-19 restrictions make it challenging to connect with potential employers and professional networks in traditional ways. This fall, RDC Career Services shares tools and resources that can help you search for career opportunities in a virtual environment.    

In our increasingly virtual world, many business activities have moved online and our way of working will likely be forever changed by the events we’re experiencing now, due to COVID-19. What challenges do these new ways of working present for job-seekers? We connected with Human Resource and Recruiting professionals to give us an insider’s perspective on some of the questions we’ve been hearing from job seekers. 

Thank you to our panel of experts: 

  • Renée Vetra – District Vice President, Alberta Central, Scotiabank 
  • Zandro Medina – Senior Consultant, Talent Acquisition, Scotiabank 
  • Jill Folkard – Human Resources Business Partner, Trican Well Service Ltd.  

You wanted to know where you should be looking for opportunities, so we asked our experts: How are you finding applicants? 

In addition to the major job boards and social networks, Jill Folkard at Trican Well Services recommends joining the professional association for your chosen profession, if one exists. “Memberships will often be deeply discounted or free for students, or those out of work. Jobs are often posted here, as are networking opportunities and, often, free courses and webinars. Our company uses an applicant tracking system, typically the system sends out the job posting to all of the major job boards so that is a good spot to look. If we are looking for something specialized or difficult to fill, postings may go out to other sources such as Linkedin. Often, applicants come from internal referrals – utilize your networking circles!“ 

Scotiabank representatives, Renée Vetra and Zandro Medina, echo this networking advice, noting that employee referrals are a key part of their talent searching strategy. “Our award winning employee culture and well-structured employee referral program makes it easy for employees to refer top talent from their networks,” says Renée. Employee referrals are one part of a multi-layered attraction strategy that includes three other key pillars. “We also focus on recruitment marketing, virtual networking, and proactive sourcing - utilizing subscription access to a multitude of top job search websites, we target and engage passive candidates for current and future career opportunities,” she adds. 

“At Scotiabank, career opportunities are posted to our careers page which automatically feed to our preferred list of job board, like Indeed, LinkedIn and Monster. In addition, we also job post opportunities to our personal networks on social media. In smaller rural communities, our recruitment marketing activities may also include job posts on municipal websites or association websites, newsprint advertising, localized Facebook groups, or career opportunity signage within our branch locations,” adds Zandro. “Creating a digital footprint on job board platforms and/or with professional organizations is an important job search activity for all job seekers. A digital resume profile affords you increased search visibility to a broader group of in-house recruiters and executive search firms. However, elevating your talent brand to the front of the line, whether in-person or virtually, still requires job seekers to strategically network their talent profiles. The deeper your network relationships are, the greater your opportunities: to be invited for an interview, to gain job leads, to access information on job descriptions, and to directly connect with hiring managers.” 

So, where should you be looking for opportunities? Look where you want to work! Join professional associations, follow the social media and websites of companies you’d like to work for, and let your network know that you’re looking. Then, put yourself out there. Ensure that your online professional presence is as strong as possible. 

Learn more about professional associations in your chosen field here. 


As a follow-up, we asked our experts: How do you network, both in a virtual and in-person world? What should students and alumni be aware of to ensure they are presenting themselves professionally online?  

Renée Vetra shared these tips, “Things to consider when building your personal online brand on social media platforms: identify your area(s) of expertise; keep your name, contact details, profile picture, pictures and image across your platforms consistent and positive; join a chat group(s), live events, or communities in order to connect with industry professionals, hiring managers or recruiters.” 

Jill Folkard expands on similar advice, reminding job seekers to ensure that your email address is professional, and that your social media is in line with how you want to present yourself. “Keep in mind social media is a public platform and that even comments you make on community pages or news articles can be viewed by the public. This is always important, but especially now where the opportunity may not be available to meet in person, you need to make sure your online presence reflects how you would like to present yourself to potential employers,” she says. 

“Networking online can be difficult, but attending webinars from professional associations, legal firms and industry associations often provide contact information of experts willing to answer questions and can be a good place to reach out and form relationship,” she adds. “While it’s possible we may not be able to have large-scale career fairs in the near future, I don’t foresee them being obsolete. Particularly, industry- or specialization-specific career fairs are important for us to meet large amounts of potential future candidates. Reach out to temp agencies, this is good way to get your foot in the door and is also a way to get yourself in front of many different employers when career fairs aren’t happening.” 

Zandro Medina expects the traditional career fair to change, but not to disappear. “While the current global pandemic has disrupted the traditional in-person job/career fair practices, the scale and frequency of them in the future will likely decrease as technology, telecommunications and virtual platforms are changing the talent acquisition landscape; agile, cost effective, and meaningful interactions,” he says. 


With in-person networking opportunities diminishing, you wanted to know how you can showcase your character qualities when all that a recruiter sees is your resume. We asked our experts: How can job seekers can stand out in a sea of resumes when most application processes have moved online? 

Renée Vetra returns to an earlier point, “Elevating your talent brand beyond requires job seekers to focus on strategic networking activities. Targeting connections with industry professionals, hiring managers and or recruiters, with an ask for virtual face time, will afford applicants opportunities to showcase their character qualifies well before jobs are publicly posted.”  

To that end, Jill Folkard recommends following up with a phone call, “It can be difficult and frustrating to feel like your resume gets sent to no one when applying online, but it never hurts to follow-up with a phone call to ask questions about the position, introduce yourself and reiterate why you’re interested in the company and position.” She also sheds some light on how to make your resume stand out in that sea of applicants, “With more and more companies pushing for online applications, it’s important to make sure your resume is tailored for applicant tracking systems (ATS). Use a proper format to make sure your application goes to the top of the list, as ATS typically auto-sorts resumes. For example, avoid tables, headers, footers, graphs etc. and if you have skills or experience that match the job posting, ensure they are listed in your resume.”  


With the opportunity to speak directly to these insiders, of course we had to ask: How do job seekers get it wrong? 

For applicants, Jill Folkard reminded us that resumes act as a testament to an applicant’s skills. “You wouldn’t believe the amount of applications I have seen with another company’s name in the attention line of a cover letter, and then attention to detail is a quality the applicant lists in their resume. While it is a small mistake, it demonstrates there is actually a lack of attention to detail,” she says. 

Zandro Medina shares this advice for interviewing and interview prep: “make sure you answer the question, and keep your responses clear and concise – leveraging the SHARE or STAR interview response models when possible. It’s important, especially as you progress in your career, to be able to articulate simply (making things complex is easy!). Plus it’s never a good idea to confuse your interviewer with a complicated response!”  


Our ways of working are continually changing. While the COVID-19 pandemic may have kicked off a sudden shift to remote working in many industries, technology, trends and innovation have been gradually steering hiring and recruitment activities online for many years. As you continue to navigate job-searching in a virtual environment, we hope that the tips and tools these insiders shared will help you put your best digital foot forward.  

For more career development support, check out our tools and resources at rdc.ab.ca/careerservices. 

 

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