By Yasmin Ranade
We all know that in order to get a job we need to “stand out” and show the employer the unique contribution that we can make. But just how is this done? How do we learn to do it? There’s no better way than to get advice from those with rich experience.
At a Wired Woman development seminar on August 23rd, three top Canadian tech hiring experts explained what employers are looking for and how to leverage what you have to get the work position you want. The event was called “You are Hired! Successful Strategies to Career Advancement”.
Wired Woman is a Canadian non-profit, volunteer organization that encourages women to look for careers in technology. It was launched in 1996 by Emma Payne and a group of visionary women and turns 15 years this month.
Panelists at this career strategies seminar included:
- Charlene Hutt, Vice President, Human Capital at GuestLogix
- Diana Chan – Personal Branding & Talent Coach
- Travis O’Rourke – Division Manager for Hays Recruitment, an international HR and recruitment firm
Each shared their knowledge on new hiring practices and trends, tips on resume and interview skills and the importance of the ‘soft skills’ when seeking career advancement. They addressed strategies for how stand out in order to get hired in today’s competitive environment, and what to do before, during and after an interview.
Charlent Hutt spoke of making a difference in any work position as a vital and often overlooked aspect of a way to single out your work ethic and talents. She spoke of “7 things she knew”, such as:
- Understand your ‘true’ talent as well as your learned skills.
- How to find and be a mentor.
- Know who you are – being prepared at all times with a ‘sales sheet’ (resume) and your ‘elevator pitch’ (1 – 2 minute summary of your skills & talents).
- Understand your employer’s needs.
- Build your toolbox – skills and credentials.
- Remain optimistic.
Diana Chan made an impression with the audience as she shared her mantra, “You need to know who you are to be remarkable. You need to be remarkable to be marketable.”
Chan addressed the importance of building your personal brand and offered these helpful strategies:
- Know yourself, your strengths and if your values fit with the values of your employer.
- People will know you when they see you doing what you love.
- It is important to work to define your brand (your uniqueness) and be able to communicate and demonstrate it.
- Be clear, concise and consistent in how you describe yourself.
- Be aware of the power of first impression.
“Be brave. Don’t hesitate to apply.”
Bravery was a theme also touched upon by Travis O’Rourke, Division Manager for Hays Recruitment. “Be brave, ” O’Rourke explained. “Many people don’t apply for roles when they don’t think they fit the position. Don’t hesitate to apply. HR doesn’t always know what they are looking for. Fight for yourself.”
O’Rourke also offered handy resume and interview tips, including:
- Do not use a cookie cutter resume. Tailor each resume to each job. position. Make sure all of you points are relevant and mirror the job ad.
- Be clear and concise. An ideal resume is 2-3 pages long and contain your objective statement followed by your skills and work experience.
- Your key points should be accomplishment driven.
- Demonstrating professional ‘soft skills’ in an interview is critically important.
- Bring multiple copies of your resume to an interview in case a panel interview presents itself.
- Manage your references and recommendations carefully and strategically. LinkedIn is a great application for referencing..
- Be prepared and willing to address areas for improvement in an interview.
- Be gracious. Thank people for their time and accept or decline opportunities respectfully.
What I most enjoyed about the seminar was that the panelists truly offered hiring tips for everyone; from those just starting out or for those looking to advance internally or externally with an established career.
And from long managerial experience, I absolutely agree that it is vital to understand what employers are looking for in these competitive hiring times, and to get ready to sell yourself as remarkably skilled, personable and different!
A final note – Wired Woman’s 15th birthday!
I am so pleased to be celebrating the start of Wired Woman Society’s fifteenth year this month. Wired Woman has played a significant role in developing its members through professional development, mentorship and networking initiatives.
Completely managed by its volunteers, the Society’s mentorship and development efforts have seen new graduates reach professional heights, and its mid-level members achieve remarkable career advancement within some of Canada’s best technology and scientific companies. It is so fulfilling to watch Canadian talent grow and be rewarded.