Welcome to the employment program: the Discovery process

Individuals coming into our employment program participate in the creation of a document called a Discovery, which gives our employment specialists the details necessary to place them in a job that will be right for them.

The discovery document is a detailed profile of an individual that can be used to match them with appropriate work opportunities. This document describes a person’s strengths, interests, and values, their previous experience with work and volunteering, and other relevant background information. It also contains details of a person’s disabilities in order to accurately assess their barriers, support needs, capabilities and limitations, and any safety concerns.

We take the discovery process very seriously. It usually takes anywhere from 1 to 3 months to complete. It involves direct interviews with the individual and information pulled from assessments. Whenever possible we try to include input from family and friends, and to observe individuals in their volunteer positions and in their communities. We try to keep this process as transparent as possible, so the individual always has the chance to review the final document before it is submitted.

The final result is an in-depth profile of a job seeker which aids our employment specialists in finding the best possible position that can be customized to the individual.


 

We strive to match individuals with jobs that work well for them, based on our understanding of their strengths, interests, and goals for the future. A lot of this information is captured in the Discovery document. Sometimes, though, the Discovery alone isn’t enough to give someone a real idea of what they would like to do – especially if they have not had much opportunity previously to try different things and explore their interests in a work-type setting. In these cases, we have a variety of “next steps” available to help individuals further explore their options:

  • A weekly employment workshop that covers a wide variety of employment readiness skills and topics.
  • Assistance with conducting hands-on activities such as career cruising and informational interviews.
  • One-on-one individualized support with the job search.
  • Goal setting and career counseling.

 

Know Your Rights: Tips for job seekers (and employers) preparing for interviews

Job seekers, do you know your rights when applying to jobs and attending interviews? Knowing your rights can help you protect yourself from discrimination during your job search and assist you to make informed decisions about potentially discriminatory situations.

Employers, do you know what questions to avoid asking potential employees? Not knowing can land you in a lot of hot water! Much of the time, such discrimination is unintentional, but taking the time to educate yourself on what questions are inappropriate to ask and why could save you a lot of trouble down the line.

Interview_Rights_Tip_Sheet_LNV

Check out this handy downloadable tip sheet for job seekers preparing for interviews, created by our own Employment Specialist at Lifetime Networks.

Tuesday Employment Workshop

Every Tuesday afternoon, the Employment program hosts a workshop open to all of our active job seekers. The workshop is lead by our Employment Specialist, and focuses on employment skills and employment-related life skills.

Recently, the employment workshop group spent a couple of months doing some intensive study into the topic of interviews, and have now moved on to learning about writing successful resumes and cover letters.

Check out our summer workshop schedule to see all of the employment-related topics we plan to tackle this summer!

 

Summer Workshop Schedule

If you or someone you know is interested in attending our employment workshops, contact Lifetime Networks for more information!

How to write a cover letter

So you’ve done your best to create an eye-catching resume that highlights your skills and experience, but you’re still not getting any responses. Maybe your work history is spotty, or your qualifications are outdated. Maybe you are getting lost in a swarm of other applicants and your resume just isn’t standing out. Whatever the reason, don’t give up! The cover letter is here to save the day!

Most employers, unless they specifically state otherwise, will be open to receiving a cover letter attached to a resume. The same employers who admit to spending 5 seconds on a resume say that they will almost always take the time to read through a cover letter. Submitting your resume with a cover letter helps to expand on the basic information contained in your resume. Do your past experiences vary wildly? Talk about how your varied skills relate to the position by writing about them in your cover letter. Is your work history full of holes? Explain the gaps in your cover letter. Do you have little work experience? Highlight your volunteer work in your cover letter. The cover letter is your chance to shine!

There are three very important things to keep in mind when writing a cover letter. Your cover letter needs to be relevant to the position for which you are applying; it needs to be honest about your experience and qualifications; and it needs to capture the attention of the reader. A basic cover letter can be broken down into three main parts:

Introduction – One (short) paragraph.

A cover letter is a business letter. It should be addressed in a formal way to the person who is going to be reading it. Whenever possible, address your letter to a specific person, not “to whom it may concern”. “To the hiring manager of [company]” will do in a pinch, but if you can find out that person’s name and address your letter to them directly, that is even better. The introduction of your letter should clearly identify yourself, the position you are applying for, and how you found out about the position (if you have been referred by someone you know, name drop!). It can also be good to indicate why you are applying for the position at this point – aside from needing a job, what makes you want to pursue this position in particular? Is it your dream job? Did you train specifically for this position? What motivates you and sets you apart from the other applicants?

Qualifications – One or two paragraphs.

This is the biggest section of your cover letter and outlines your experience and qualifications. Don’t just repeat the information that is in your resume! This is your chance to highlight your understanding of the position and how to apply your particular skills to the job. Look at the language used to describe the position in the job description and mirror that language in your letter. Make sure you touch upon all of the key points in the job description. Talk about not just the position but the company itself: why do you want to work for this company? What specific skills or traits do you have that make you a perfect fit for both the job and the company? Be sure to keep the information in this section relevant. Don’t talk about unrelated experience just to fill out your letter. If you don’t have a lot to say in this section, try explaining why. Be honest, but keep things positive.

Thank you and follow up – One paragraph.

Reiterate in a single sentence why you are the best candidate for the position. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS end your cover letter with a thank you. It is so important to acknowledge the time that is being taken by the employer to read through your application. Be sure to indicate a follow up procedure (phone, email, etc.) if one hasn’t already been established. Don’t wait for the employer to contact you! Let them know you will follow up in a few days (and then do it!). If you are emailing your letter, be sure to save it in an easily accessible format. If you are mailing or hand delivering your letter, it is customary to sign it by hand.

Additional tips:

Your cover letter should be a single page in length or less. Be precise and concise.

Create a header for your cover letter that includes your name and contact information. Use this header on your resume to create a seamless transition between documents.

Include the full name and address of the person you are addressing the letter to (if that information is available to you).

Date your cover letter.

Personalize your cover letter thoroughly. Don’t just reference the company name. Make sure all of your content is relevant to the position for which you are applying.

Formatting, spelling, and grammar are important! Have someone look over your cover letter before submitting it.

How to craft an eye-catching resume (Part 2)

When crafting your resume, you want to highlight your accomplishments, not just rattle off job descriptions. There are different ways to do this depending on the type of format you choose. The most common resume formats are chronological, functional, or a combination of the two. Mastering these basic formats and knowing when to use them will help you make sure your resume catches the eye of any employer.

Chronological Resume

This tends to be the most commonly used resume format, but that doesn’t make it the best. Knowing when and how to use it is important. A chronological resume usually starts out with an objective or a summary followed by a reverse chronological listing of your employment history with the most recent at the top. This is followed by any related accomplishments, as well as education and certificates. This type of resume highlights work history rather than specific skills, and so it is very useful for people with a lot of experience in a particular field. This type of resume does not work as well for someone who has little or no work experience, has gaps in their work history, or who is looking for work in a different field. In these cases, it simply highlights a lack of experience, and should be avoided. If you are submitting a chronological resume, you need to submit a cover letter with it!

Functional Resume

A functional resume is going be to be more challenging to put together, but can be worth the extra effort in some cases. In a functional resume the emphasis is on your skills and abilities. Rather than listing job titles and employers, it focuses on skill sets and transferable experience. This type of resume might begin with a section highlighting your qualifications followed by an in-depth skills section. It will still have a chronological work history component but this should be near the end. A functional resume is going to be useful for people who have gaps in their work history or are reentering the workforce, people who have frequently changed positions or are looking to enter a new field, and people who might not be conventionally what the employer is looking for. Because a functional resume is often longer and can appear more cluttered than a chronological resume, not all employers will appreciate this type of resume.

Combination (Hybrid) Resume

For the majority of job applicants, the combination resume is the way to go. It takes the best aspects of each of the above resume types and combines them into one hybrid super resume! A combination resume leads with a career summary highlighting your strongest skills and credentials. This gives employers a clear idea of your strengths. Follow this with a reverse chronological listing of your employment history, highlighting your experience and accomplishments. Avoid focusing on job descriptions and duties that are unrelated to the job you are applying for. Education, training and certificates, and other miscellaneous experience should also be included in a combination resume. This type of resume still benefits from a cover letter personalized to the position you are applying for.

Other Types of Resumes

There are other types of resume formats that can be used in specific scenarios. Some professional or business resumes can be 3 to 5 pages long, with information carefully targeted to a specific position. An academic resume is known as a CV (curriculum vitae) and can be up to 10 pages detailing your professional background. Something as extensive as a CV should only be used when necessary. Positions that involve art, marketing, or writing can use a portfolio-based resume containing samples of your work presented either in a digital or hard copy format.

 

For more detailed information about making the layout of your resume look its best, check out Part 1 of this blog post!

How to craft an eye-catching resume (Part 1)

When it comes to job applications, an eye-catching resume is crucially important. While the odd employer will spend up to two minutes on each resume, the majority of employers spend just 3 to 7 seconds assessing a resume. That’s an average of 5 seconds for you to convince them to send your resume into the “maybe” pile for a closer look. Resumes that don’t impress within that first 5 seconds go straight to the “no” pile never to be seen again.

The appearance of your resume needs as much care and attention to detail as the content does. Resumes that look sloppy or are otherwise hard to read will go straight into the “no” pile. Following these simple steps when crafting a resume will increase your chances of making it into the “maybe” pile where your skills and experience will be more closely examined.

Length

A standard resume should be 1 to 2 pages in length, unless you are applying within a specific field that calls for a longer professional or academic type of resume. I recommend keeping to a single page whenever possible, especially for job seekers with little experience and education or a spotty work history. If you are further along in your career and have too much information to keep within a single page, be sure that the second page contains at least a quarter-page worth of writing and that your layout flows smoothly through the page break.

Margins and layout

Your resume should have plenty of white space. Avoid the urge to use very small print, and don’t shrink the margins just for the sake of keeping within a single page. Everything should be neatly spaced, with clear headers separating sections of your resume. Be consistent with your layout. If one header is bold, they should all be bold. The idea is to make it as easy to read as possible.

Colour

Your resume is your first impression with an employer. Some people think that being creative with the layout design and using coloured paper and fancy fonts will set them apart from the crowd. Unfortunately, this doesn’t often work as planned. It is a much safer bet to use plain, bright white paper and black text. Your resume should be clean and clear, and free from distracting colours.

Spelling and fonts

Fonts should be size 10 to 12 and black. Use a simple, easy to read font such as Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman, or Verdana. Fonts should be neat and professional. Always proofread your resume for spelling errors! A resume that is riddled with spelling mistakes will not make the cut.

Grammar and language

Like spelling, proper grammar is crucial when writing your resume. However, proper grammar for a resume is slightly different than what you might be used to. Avoid using the first person pronoun and instead try to start your sentences with an action verb. For example, instead of saying: “I swept the floors and I emptied the garbage cans,” say: “Swept floors and emptied garbage cans.” Use simple, plain language, and keep things short. Sentence fragments are okay!

Professionalism

Above all else, your resume should look professional. If you are delivering your resume in person it should be free of wrinkles, stains, and tears. If you are emailing it, make sure you save it with an easily referenced file name (e.g. J_Smith_Resume). Your resume should contain only relevant information, it is not the place to express your quirky or creative side.

 

What goes into a resume?  Check out Part 2 of this post to learn more about content and choosing a resume format.

Welcome to the Lifetime Networks Employment Blog!

The Employment program at Lifetime Networks now has a blog! The Employment Blog aims to be your source for information on our supported employment program. We’ll be publishing articles on all kinds of employment related topics, including tips for job seekers, profiles of our job seekers and employer-partners and employment success stories. We hope to provide a little something for everyone: job seekers, families, and employers!

Be sure to check out the About and For Employers pages for more details on our program.

Let us know what you would like to see here by leaving a comment below or using the form on our contact page!

At Lifetime Networks we understand the importance of relationships. We listen and meet you where you are at. We aim to work together with you to help you achieve your goals, whatever they may be. We build Networks of Friends, provide Continuing Education, Community Engagement Support, Employment Preparation, Job Search, ‘on the job’ support and more…… all within inclusive, safe, welcoming settings. Please give us a call to discuss how we can work together for you. Registered Charity # 87366 0625

Find Out More about what Lifetime Networks can do for you!