• Job Hunting 101: Tips and Tricks

  • Springtime at last, time for another round of AESAC training courses and more questions from students looking for their first job. Over the years I have reviewed hundreds of applications and resumes and interviewed many hopeful job seekers; and I have a few tips to pass on. These apply mainly to the environmental industry, but could easily be adapted to other fields.

    Improve your odds:
    Many recent graduates respond only to online postings, job boards and employment websites. This is fine, and by all means you should continue to apply for these positions, but be aware you may be competing against hundreds of other candidates. You also have to get past the HR department, recruiters, and more qualified contenders. If an applicant can improve these odds they stand a better chance in getting noticed in the crowd. My suggestion is to target and personally visit small to medium sized consulting firms. You may be lucky and find a company that just landed a big new project, or has gone through some staff turnover, and now realize they are understaffed.

    Do your homework:
    Select an industry sector and geographic location that you are interested in, and compile a ‘hit-list’ of suitable firms that you can target. Find out as much about each company as you can, and especially look for those with shared values and skill sets that you possess. Be thorough in your research, and dig deeper than just the company’s website and mission statement. Search a variety of publications, social media sites, professional associations, and even regulatory agency websites that publish company reports. In order to better relate to that company, you need to understand the company’s history, future goals, operating style, and client base. This information can then be used to tailor your job hunting approach to that specific company.

    Target your audience:
    Once you have conducted your background research, put together a compelling application package to hand deliver to your target companies. I suggest preparing several types and styles of resumes focussed on unique industry sectors, to be accompanied by a company-specific cover letter. Especially at the start of your career, this is probably the single most important document you will ever prepare, so take the time to make it perfect. All the experience in the world is unlikely to get you an interview if there are errors or inaccuracies in your CV and cover letter. Your resume should not only demonstrate your experience, but where possible provide examples of your ability to apply your skills. For example, everyone’s resume usually states they ‘possess excellent written and oral communication skills’. It is far more appealing to a potential employer to read ‘I was responsible for preparing reports for presentation to management and the general public’ – even if your duties were simply preparing a newsletter or blog. You may think you have little directly related job experience, but when you leverage the knowledge and skills gained in education and prior jobs, you may be surprised how much valuable expertise you actually have.

    In a later blog I will discuss additional suggestions for job hunting, including tips for help prepare for, and conduct a successful interview.


     About the the Author:

    Bill Leedham, P. Geo., CESA

    Bill is the Head Instructor and Course Developer for the Associated Environmental Site Assessors of Canada (www.aesac.ca); and the founder and President of Down 2 Earth Environmental Services Inc. You can contact Bill at info@down2earthenvironmental.ca