Arsheen Virani graduated from York University this summer confident that her graphics design degree would lead to a job in her area of specialization: user experience design, working as a bridge between software developers and users who create mobile applications.
Unfortunately, given the pandemic economy, it hasn’t been quite that easy. Virani has reached out to her professors and mentors for guidance and has applied to jobs online through both LinkedIn and Indeed, but nothing has panned out.
“There have been a lot of layoffs during COVID-19,” said Virani, “and many companies I’ve contacted have been more focused on keeping the staff they have, rather than on looking for new hires.”
As a new graduate, her industry network isn’t large, and she has found the search “draining,” supporting herself meanwhile by working at a Starbuck’s on the York campus.
“I’ve given myself another month before taking a volunteer opportunity in the field in the hope it will develop into a full-time position,” Virani said. “It will give me experience.”
Luckily for Virani and her fellow 2021 graduates, Canada’s economy is beginning to open up. Statistics Canada’s monthly Labour Force Survey, released July 9, indicated that employment increased by 1.2 per cent, after dropping the previous two months, and the unemployment rate fell 0.4 percentage points to 7.8 per cent.
“There were 230,000 new jobs created, which were tilted toward the industries that are reopening: restaurants, hotels and salons,” said Katherine Judge, senior economist for CIBC Capital Markets. “We’ve recouped almost all the jobs lost in the third wave of COVID-19, but many industries are still operating at 20 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.”
Many of these job gains were in part-time work, which is typical of the service industries now reopening.
“We saw a very asymmetrical recession. It’s a tale of two economies,” said Judge. “Some (people) could transform their jobs and work from home, while others could not, and that’s where we expect a rush of hiring. The high-paying jobs have been hiring all along.”
Jodi Kasten, head of Canadian sales for Indeed, the online job search site, agrees there is strong hiring demand for service industry jobs as the economy opens, especially in Ontario.
“There’s also continued demand in the health-care space and tech is always in demand, jobs such as software architects and software engineers,” said Kasten, who notes that Indeed has just launched a hiring platform to make the interviewing process easier for employers and the search process more transparent for job seekers.
Karin Lewis, an employment counsellor with JVS Toronto, a non-profit employment and vocational service, notes that it’s not necessary to be a techie to land a job with an online platform; there are numerous customer service jobs available, too, that require good interpersonal skills. Companies such as Netflix, Shopify and Pinterest, for instance, all use customer service representatives.
Lewis offers advice to job seekers looking to find positions as the economy opens.
“Make sure your resumé is readable online,” Lewis says. “Many companies use electronic hiring systems, so don’t include boxes or tables. You need to check how the computer will read your resumé. Be very detail-oriented to make sure it looks good.”
Indeed’s Kasten also reminds job seekers that including metrics on your resumé — such as, I helped increase sales by 25 per cent — is something that stands out, along with credentials and certificates.
Lewis acknowledges that job hunting can be “a tiring and frustrating process,” made even harder by the emotional burden of acting as if each job “is the best job you’ve ever found.” Often, applying online can mean sending your application into the ether and being uncertain it will ever be seen again.
“You must be willing to invest the time and effort to compete online,” Lewis said. This means that whether on LinkedIn, Indeed or elsewhere, your resumé and cover letter “should use the same wording the employers use in describing the position to show that you’ve read their notice and are a good match. They only see what’s in your application, so be specific and realize that companies don’t make assumptions. Microsoft Office, to employers, may not be the same as PowerPoint.
“In addition, show enthusiasm. Previously, job seekers were told to be formal, but now employers are more focused on enthusiasm and passion.”
She also advises job seekers to be prepared for online interviews; not all companies have returned to their office space and some never will.
“If you’re doing an interview on Zoom or Microsoft Teams, set up your video and test it beforehand,” Lewis said. “Make sure it’s in a quiet place and DON’T use your bedroom. Ensure the connection is a good one and prepare in advance by checking the lighting, choosing your clothing and your distance from the computer. You want to be aware of how you appear.
Lewis also advises keeping a resumé and the job posting in front of you as prompts in case your mind draws a blank during the conversation.
Highest-paying jobs in Ontario right now
Job Title, Median Annual Salary
Software engineering manager, $132,500.00
Director of finance, $118,259.75
Software architect, $115,550
Director of human resources, $113,526.5
Assistant professor, $110,000
Clinical psychologist, $107,967.75
Vice-president of operations, $107,250
Technical lead, $106,509
Nurse practitioner, $106,112.5
Senior project manager, $106,018.33
Senior software engineer, $105,000
Site superintendent, $105,000
Senior Java developer, $104,000
- Do your homework — know something about your prospective employer
- Be prepared for interviewing online — choose a businesslike background, minimize noise and interruptions
- If you’re interrupted, handle it gracefully; an employer will note your performance under pressure
- Maintain eye contact
- Smile and be confident
- Don’t sound too rehearsed
- Be enthusiastic, as if this were your dream job
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