Your Complete Job Search Guide!!

[Source: Emploi Quebec]

The Guide lists seven steps to help you find a job tailored to your experience, training and interests. It's VERY COMPLETE!!

The seven steps

1. Recognizing your strengths and interests
2. Finding out more about the labour market
3. Using the right tools to market yourself: résumé, cover letter, job application form
4. Finding job leads: local employment centre (CLE), newspapers, Internet, email, etc.
5. Making a good impression during the job interview: preparing for the interview, anticipating questions, going through the interview, following up
6. Settling into your new job

1. Recognizing your strengths and interests

Choose your field: to determine the type of job that suits you, find out what occupational fields interest you.
  Learn to recognize your strengths: are you self-sufficient, reliable, flexible? Find out the personal skills that best define you.
  Determine your profile: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising or conventional. This exercise will reveal your profile.
  Assess your job situation: specify the type of work you are seeking, which best matches your experience and skills.

2. Finding out more about the labour market

You must be familiar with the labour market or in the region/country where you wish to work. That way, you will have a better knowledge of the occupations available to you.

3. Using the right tools to market yourself: résumé, cover letter, job application form

A résumé is a written portrait of you. It gives employers an idea of who you are and what work experience, training, and interests you have. Enclose a résumé with every job application you submit, and bring along a copy to every interview.
Tips for a good résumé
  • Keep it short (maximum 1 to 3 pages). Employers receive a lot of résumés and ignore those that are too long.
  • Use a computer or typewriter.
  • Carefully choose your words. Use simple vocabulary and action verbs such as administer, analyze, compile, oversee, inform.
  • Make sure your résumé is easy to read:
    • Use a font that is clear and easy to read
      (Times New Roman 12 point, for example).
    • Space out your text.
    • Avoid drawings or pictures.
  • Make sure your contact information (address, phone number, email address) is correct.
  • Provide only truthful information.
  • Do not strike out words or fold your résumé.
Common Pitfalls
  • Errors may indicate a lack of professionalism. Have your résumé checked by someone who has a firm grasp of spelling and grammar.
  • Incoherence can imply that your thinking is confused. Clearly set out each section (professional goals, education, work experience, recreational interests, etc.). Avoid contradicting yourself.
  • A humorous résumé may give the impression that you are not serious. Keep the tone serious.
Types of résumé
Depending on your work experience and skills, you can set up your résumé in one of four ways. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right one:

- Chronological résumé: highlights your experience in one professional field. List the jobs you have held in reverse chronological order (starting with the most recent). This type of résumé is recommended if:
  • you already have work experience in a given field;
  • you are seeking a job in the same field;
  • your work experience or training follows a distinct pattern.
- Functional Résumé: highlights your skills rather than your work experience. Describe your skills, starting with those that pertain to the job you are applying for. This type of résumé is recommended if
  • you have little or no work experience;
  • you have held a number of jobs that are unrelated;
  • you wish to emphasize talents you have not had the opportunity to demonstrate in a working environment.
- Combination Résumé: is the most common and lays out your work experience and skills in chronological order. This type of résumé is recommended if
  • you have changed jobs frequently;
  • you have a lot of experience in a field, but have worked for a number of employers.
- Electronic résumé: contains the same information as a paper résumé, but it allows you to create a more dynamic presentation and include hyperlinks. For example, you can direct the employer to the Web site of a company you worked for. The advantage of an electronic résumé is that it lets an employer type in keywords to search your application for selection criteria.
A few tips
  • Keep the format simple.
  • Avoid using special characters, bullets, and columns, as formatting may be altered when you send your résumé.
  • Do not include pictures or special effects as that will prolong downloading time and may irritate the employer.


Your portfolio can show the employer that you have what it takes to do the job. It showcases your achievements at work or in your volunteer or leisure activities. The interview is generally the best time to present your portfolio.

Putting together a portfolio can be quite time-consuming as it means going back over all your achievements. Here’s how best to proceed.
  1. Identify the most important skills for the job you are applying for. If you have a good idea of what the company is looking for, it will be easier to select your most relevant achievements.
  2. Identify your skills.
  3. Gather together the documents that show your skills, work experience, and participation in activities.
  4. Arrange your documents in an organized manner.
  5. Present your portfolio to someone and ask for their comments.
  6. Be sure to go over your portfolio before the interview.

Your portfolio should contain the following:
  1. Cover page (name, address, phone number, email address, date)
  2. Table of contents
  3. Statement summarizing your career goal
  4. Description of your skills as they pertain to the job you are applying for
  5. Description of a situation in which you demonstrated your skills
  6. Appendices (attach documents that illustrate your achievements)

Documents that illustrate your achievements:
  • Documents you created, photos, development plans
  • Your diplomas, certificates, and other attestations
  • Positive assessments of your work
  • Letters of thanks or congratulations
  • Awards you have received
  • Description of projects you have worked on
  • Documents in which your name is mentioned 

It’s your first contact with your potential employer and a good opportunity to show that you have the skills needed to do the job. Your letter should convince the person to take a closer look at your résumé and contact you for an interview.

Before starting to write your letter
  • Have your résumé and the job offer handy.
  • Seek out certain information about the company (size, operations, customers, projects)
  • Find out what the job entails.
  • Ask yourself what about the company and job really interests you.
  • Identify the experiences and skills you wish to highlight (think of things that are not already in your résumé to make your application more interesting).
  • Obtain the name and title of the person to whom you should address your letter.

Tips for writing an effective cover letter

  • Avoid repeating what is already in your résumé.
  • Keep it short (maximum one page).
  • Type it on a computer or typewriter (it will be easier to read).
  • Single-space your letter and use paragraphs.
  • Avoid talking only about yourself. Touch on the company’s needs.
  • Use positive wording such as “I developed…”
  • Be original without being aggressive or arrogant.
  • Avoid mentioning your difficult situation, conflicts with former employers, or worries about your job search.
  • Do not strike out text or stain the letter.
  • Carefully reread your letter before sending. 

4. Finding job leads: local employment centre, newspapers, Internet, email, etc.

Consult newspapers and the Internet
  • Watch for job offers in the daily newspapers and in classified ads in your local paper.
  • Visit the Web sites of companies you are interested in. You may find job offers there and be able to submit an application online.
  • Visit job search Web sites

Other leads to help you find a job.
There are many ways of finding those elusive jobs. Use the following leads that apply to your situation:
  • Show up in person at the company you are interested in working for. You may make a good impression by showing that you have initiative and are keen to work.
  • Let your friends and family know that you’re looking for a job. Explain the kind of work you are interested in and ask them to let you know if they learn of any job opportunities.
  • Consult the Yellow Pages. Companies are listed according to the lines of business they’re in or the products or services they offer. 
  • Contact your professional association. It may have a list of job offers.
  • Register at one or more placement agencies. Many employers deal directly with agencies rather than advertising in the papers. Check whether they charge a registration fee.
  • Visit job fairs and shows. They are a great opportunity to meet employers looking to hire.
  • If you are still in school or have just completed your studies, check whether your educational institution offers a placement service.
Making the most of email.
With electronic mail (email), you can forward your cover letter and résumé to a potential employer from any computer with an Internet connection. Your message can be sent anywhere around the world in a matter of seconds.

Tips for a successful phone call.

  • offer your services to an employer;
  • find out what jobs are available;
  • follow up with employers you contacted earlier. 
  • Prepare for it: Memorize your résumé and organize your ideas in a coherent manner.
  • Jot down the questions you wish to ask.
  • Speak clearly and slowly, control your breathing.
  • Smile! Your enthusiasm will be heard.
  • Stay friendly throughout the call.

5. Making a good impression during the job interview: preparing for the interview, anticipating questions, going through the interview, following up

This is your chance to convince the employer that you are the right person for the job and have something valuable to offer. Being well prepared for the interview will make you feel more at ease.
When an employer calls you to schedule an interview:
  • Carefully note the date, time, and place.
  • Try to find out how many people will be present at the interview.
  • Ask if there will be a written exam or exercise.


A few days before the interview
  • Select appropriate clothing. Try to find out how company employees dress and opt for the same dress code.
  • Make sure you know how to get there and how long the trip takes. You may even want to make the trip once beforehand.
  • Find out more about the company and the job offered. That way, you’ll be more at ease during the interview. Ask yourself questions and come up with the answers. 

What you should know Where to find the information
What are the employer’s or company’s activities?
Who are the customers?
Read the company’s annual report and visit its Web site.
What skills is the employer looking for?
What duties and responsibilities will you have?
Review your job search notes.
Reread the job offer.

Anticipate the questions and answers
Anticipate the employer’s questions and be prepared. You will come across better if you are able to respond well to questions. Memorize your résumé so you can clearly describe your education, work experience, and skills. You will be asked a number of precise questions. Here are a few examples:
  • Why did you leave your previous jobs?
    If you resigned or were fired, avoid mentioning details that could make you look bad. Don’t criticize your former employers. Explain what you are looking for in a new job.
  • Why do you want to work for our company?
    Show that you have carefully selected this company and have the employee profile they are looking for.
  • What are your strengths?
    Mention your qualities as they relate to the job offered. Prepare examples that illustrate these strengths.
  • What are your weak points?
    Talk about your weaknesses, but explain what you do to correct them.
  • Can you work under pressure?
    Be truthful, you may be put to the test. If you have no problem working under pressure, mention that pressure motivates you. However, you should specify that, nevertheless, you prefer to plan ahead.
  • Why should we hire you over another candidate?
    Talk about your skills to convince the employer that you are the right person for the job.
  • What salary are you expecting to make?
    Avoid bringing up the question of salary and working conditions at the first interview. However, if the employer broaches the subject, have a response ready. You could also answer, “I am aware that the pay scale for this kind of position ranges from $___ to $___, and, naturally, I would like to be as high as possible on that scale.” This is a positive response that leaves room for negotiation.

Prepare what you should bring along to the interview:
  • Your résumé, cover letter, and letters of recommendation. Prepare copies for each person present at the interview.
  • A copy of your diplomas and portfolio.
  • List of references.
  • Paper and a pencil to note the names of people present, the date and time of any subsequent interview, and any other pertinent information.

  • Be on time. You should even arrive 5 or 10 minutes early.
  • Remain calm and self-confident.
  • Say “hello” to all the people present at the interview. Introduce yourself and offer a firm handshake and a sincere smile.
  • Let the employer or committee members lead the interview. Look them in the eye and answer questions in a firm voice. Take the time to think through your answers.
  • Be enthusiastic. Give positive answers by stressing your strengths and skills.
  • Listen to questions carefully and, if necessary, ask the employer to repeat them or to be more specific.
  • Ask questions. Towards the end of the interview, it is quite likely that you will be asked if you have any questions. Take this opportunity to show your interest in the company and the job offered. Here are a few examples of questions you may wish to ask:
    • What has led your company to hire at this time?
    • What is the next step?
    • How many people work here?
Interview followup
The interview is over. You deserve a break, but don’t put away your job search folder just yet. This is the time to assess the interview. Sit down and go over it in your mind.
  • What kind of impression did you make on the employer?
  • What were the strengths of the interview?
  • Did you have trouble answering any questions?
  • Did you manage to highlight your strengths?
  • Did you forget anything?
  • What’s the next step?
  • Did you learn anything new or important about the employer?

The employer's response
It is important to follow up on the interview. If the employer mentioned which day he or she would call, be at home that day to take the call. If you haven’t heard back from the employer, call back at the end of the day to follow up. If the employer didn’t specify the day, wait two weeks, then call the employer to find out when you can expect a response.

If the employer calls to offer you the job, be enthusiastic, thank him or her and mention how much you look forward to joining the team. Now is the time to ask for details on working conditions:
  • When do I start?
  • Where and at what time should I show up on the first day?
  • What is the name of the person I should ask for?
  • Do I need to bring any special work material or clothing?
  • What will my duties and work schedule be?
  • What will my salary be?
If you didn’t get the job, try to find out why. You may wish to reassess and improve your approach.

6. Settling into your new job

  • Keep a positive attitude. Accept criticism and take heed of suggestions for improving your work.
  • Be on time and stick to your work schedule.
  • Dress appropriately. Follow the lead of your supervisor and colleagues.
  • Accept responsibilities. Make sure you’re up to the task. Understand what your employer expects of you. If you’re not sure, ask.
  • Treat everyone with respect. Being respectful is the key to a healthy work environment.
  • Show initiative. Don’t always wait until you’re told to do something. If you see that a job needs doing, offer to do it.
  • Be reliable. If you say you’re going to do something, do it.
  • Support your colleagues.
  • Control your emotions. Don’t let little misunderstandings blow up into major conflicts. Settle differences calmly and objectively. Displays of anger are frowned upon and could result in your losing your job.
  • Speak well of the company you work for.  


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