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Top 4 expert job-hunting strategies that work

We spoke with recruiters and students at this year’s Career Fair and asked for tips on the best way students can stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs. 

1. Stay open to opportunities

Not all entry positions are what you’ll end up doing long term, and there’s plenty of opportunity for promotion to various positions from within. 

Speaking to Constable Amy Humphreys with the Edmonton Police, she says, “There are many people I work with who have been with the police for 25 years, and I believe the reason is there is a lot of mobility within. You could go in any direction. If you decide after a number of years you like working with children, you could begin taking on more child protection calls or taking more courses, for example, the child forensic interviewing course, and eventually specialize in child protection.” 

It doesn’t hurt to take on positions outside your exact area of expertise either. Student Sasindee Palansooriya has strong math and IT skills, but she decided to take on a role in marketing – which she now has a passion for.

I never knew I could do a job like this, but I took a chance applying and now I find that some of my skills in coding are very useful to my current role in marketing and making web updates.
— Sasindee

Long-term opportunities could also come from those casual summer jobs you picked up for extra cash. Lynette Lacass from Matco Moving Solutions told us, “We hire around 15 students for summer jobs to help with moves, like military moves or RCMP moves – students could work anywhere from 4, 8 or 11 hour days. In year two they might become more focused and we have mobility in the company to move into administration, accounting and logistics. It’s good to have a grounding in the operations of our business prior to being promoted to other roles.”

2. Don’t let fear get in the way of you applying

Apply for positions even if you don’t have 100 per cent of the qualifications. Sasindee advises students to use problem-solving skills and a willingness to learn all you can when applying for jobs. 

Sasindee explained that when she was applying for a part-time marketing position at CUE she didn’t have all the qualifications, “One of the requirements for the position was to know WordPress. I applied just crossing my fingers that I would be lucky enough to be accepted. Once they told me I had the job, I spent two weeks learning WordPress from YouTube videos. I had a lot of motivation to learn all I could, and now I feel very competent in WordPress.” 

Also, ask yourself if you’re confident you can handle these tasks, or if you have done something similar, even if it’s not the exact description they mention. Graedon Cornfield, a firefighter at CUE’s Career Fair said, “Some women might think that they are not capable of doing the physical training portion, but I find that many women are more than capable of completing the requirements.”

Put yourself in a position of at least having the opportunity. It can be scary to put yourself out there, but when you do you’ll have more choices in life. Don’t let fear stand in your way.
— Manjinder Nagra, firefighter.

3. Stand out from the competition

Recruiters from the Career Fair said that volunteer and internship experiences will jump out to them on your résumé. 

Meagan Lacoste from Alberta Parks said, “we have a lot of opportunities to volunteer with Parks Alberta, and if we are looking to hire students and they have some direct experience with us, this could put them ahead when we’re reviewing résumés.”

Constable Humphreys also mentioned the importance of volunteering, she says “Volunteering is important to show when applying for the police, because it is showing that you are valuing service.”

Service can come in any form, it could be dedicating 10 hours to the Mustard Seed, but could also be just cleaning up your neighbourhood by getting rid of garbage or shovelling an elderly neighbour’s driveway.
— Constable Humphreys.

Meagan also advises students to do their research. “If you’re applying for us, spend your time on our website learning about the activities and facilities we have. Write down some questions you would like to ask your interviewer, it will show you have a lot of interest in the position.” 

Sasindee said she made a lot of use of the student services available at CUE, including the Writing Centre and Career Services. “Any student should make use of these resources, they are there to help us while at university and have been useful in providing me with advice on possible career paths going forward,” she says.  Career Services provides support with résumé writing, interview preparation, job and graduate school applications, and LinkedIn. 

4. Any university degree is an asset

Recruiters said that any type of university degree will give you an advantage when applying for most jobs. “It doesn’t matter what university degree you have. We are looking for diverse applicants who can problem solve in unexpected ways,” says Constable Humphries. 

“Someone who has a political science degree can think in a different way from someone who comes from education or religious studies. The more diverse our force is, the better we can think outside the box to solve problems,” she adds.

She also urges students to consider world travel by taking advantage of study abroad programs, to learn more about other cultures. “The broader your knowledge of other cultures the more you can empathize and understand what others are going through, this also helps to solve problems in your community.”