SFU Career Practitioners – Fall 2014 Cohort

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An Eye Opener

Like many people, I always considered online tools and resources as something I used to stay in touch with my friends and family: Facebook – a tool to gather information – visiting different websites and subscribing to newsfeeds or following journals or people; and also as something that I used in class with my students to help and direct them through the learning process using Google drive or Wikispaces. Besides, putting yourself out there has never been a strong suit of mine, it felt and still feels uncomfortable and dare I say pushy, especially for someone who values their privacy and the privacy of others as much as I do.

If someone had asked me a week ago “So are you on Linkedin or Twitter? I would have replied, “No, so what? What do I need that for? It’s only for bankers and marketing executives!”

So, what will I take with me from this course beside the incredible wealth of information and tips that it provided?

My realization is probably on three levels:

1.  On a personal level I have come to realize that online tools such as Linkedin and Twitter (and all their friends) do have value and provide a platform from which I can, if I wish to do so, connect with people and expand my professional network.

2.  On a professional level, Linkedin may not just be for bankers and marketing executives and can add value to anyone’s job search. I learned that an online presence can help clients find jobs as it seems to be used by prospective employers as a form of “vetting”. Going one step further, in this digital age not having a profile could potentially hurt you as much as having a bad one, at least it seems that way.

3.  Finally, jobs seekers come from all age groups and being able to help clients who are already into creating an online presence more efficiently is certainly a great plus for a future career practitioner.

What else? Well, this has reminded me, if I needed reminding, that keeping an open mind and being ready to try out and possibly embrace new ideas however “uncharted or uncomfortable” remains the best policy for me. Staying open to possibilities…Krumboltz would be proud.

Catherine S.


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Creating An Online Resource Library – You’ll Actually Use

Career information is abundant on the internet – so how do you decide what is useful, what is relevant and what is a waste of time? Googling a topic can result in a number of highly valuable resources but it can also be overwhelming.

As a CDP it is my duty to be thoroughly fluent in the resources available; I need to know the strengths and limitations of websites, and I need to know how they are meant to be used, but my real strength will lie in my ability to access the most relevant websites quickly.

Here are some strategies to successfully maneuver through this vast maze of resources.

1.  Know your Tools

Use all of the websites. Browse them and click on links. Become familiar with the look and feel of each site. Find strengths and weaknesses. Try to look for anything that might not be obvious at first glance – I have often found a link briefly mentioned in the right sidebar that turns out to be a rich resource later down the road.

2.  Categorize

Once you have grasped a basic understanding of each site try to think how it is different from other sites and how is it similar? Is it also targeting students but with a new spin on the information? Try to think of categories that mean something to you personally – ex. instead of ‘Student’ use ‘Older Students’, ‘Recent BA Grads’, etc.

Don’t be afraid to use more than one category for a page.  See if there is another way the information can be used – ex. “Interview Skills for Students” can also be a great resource for others who need basic interview skills.

3.  Bookmark

Bookmarking sites can be your best friend or your enemy if you don’t do it well.

Plan your folders / sub folders ahead of time. Avoid saving all of your bookmarks to one large folder named “Career Planning”. Try to think of folders and sub folders ahead of time ex. Folder: Student Career Planning; Sub Folders: School Information, Interview Skills for Students, Resumes for Students. You might think of additional folders later on but it’s easy to add if you already have a good structure

Take advantage of the ability to rename links – use a key term that means something to you – ex. “Excellent Trades Job Descriptions” is much more effective than “Stats Can JD’s”. It might be months before you need a link again and abbreviated names or names of companies will probably be meaningless by then.

Bookmark specific internal pages rather than just home pages. This will help you quickly maneuver to your favourite pages with one click rather than trying to find internal pages on a website.

Now go back and have fun. Search websites and bookmark them to their designated folders. You will find yourself looking at pages in a new way – how can I use this? When will I use this? Who will this information help? This process will help to create a rich personal resource library that you will be able to use quickly and efficiently.

– Cecylia Anderson

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Reflections on CPRA 115

I was very excited to have the opportunity to take the CPRA 115 course “Information and Computer Research”. I am pretty sure that it has broadened my view of career development and showed me ways of going deeper with career exploration.

Labor market information is crucial to someone who is struggling to find a job. CPRA 115 has equipped me with not only with the knowledge and information about the labor market, but also the skills that guide me to where I can discover the “gold mine”. It not only gives me the fish, but most importantly, it teaches me how to fish.

CACGS—Computer Aided Career Guidance Systems, play a vital role in assisting people with career exploration by using technology. I found this is the part most helpful to me. In the Information Age like ours, more and more employers as well as job seekers go to the Internet to post and obtain the information of jobs, making the process of recruiting and employing more efficient and effective. By participating in the workshops and activities, I feel I have developed skills in using the technology as a tool in my job searching, and would make full use of it in helping my clients do their career exploration as a CDP.

In general, CPRA 115 is a well-designed course, very practical and useful. It tells me what information to get and, most significantly, where to get it for job search. I would recommend it to anyone who intends to develop their skills in online career exploration.

– Winston Liu

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The Role as a Career Development Practitioner

This program has really given me insight into the role of a career development practitioner. This particular course has enabled me to truly visualize the process right from the beginning to the end – from researching the vocational opportunities for the client to looking at trends and statistics and understanding their reliability.

Working through the process we looked at holistic approaches to help clients gain insights and gather information. By asking open-ended questions we were able to gather as much information from them as possible. Through these questions we are able to really work collaboratively and act as cheerleaders for our clients. At this point I was able to envision myself within the employment centers, setting action plans and giving the client relevant tasks before our next meeting.

Looking at social media and at ways to increase my online presence has most definitely opened my eyes up to the possibilities. It has increased my awareness in the eyes of new perspective employers and how they will see me fitting into their company. This course really gave me a strong rich practical insight to the role to which I am very excited about.

– Louise Roberts

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Who cares about Social Media? I mean really!

Who needs a course on social media? Not me, I’m sure it’s a waste of time. Hold it. Not quite! This what I thought going into my CPRA 115 course but I soon found out that being internet savvy can help you gain an advantage in the job market and can help you to help your clients. For instance, I found out that approximately 93% of employers check an applicant’s online social media. Better start cleaning up that net presence. Okay so my net presence is minimal and it’s cleaned up now. Why do I need Linkedin I’ve got Facebook and I hardly use that? If I learned anything about finding work in today’s world it is that traditional resumes end up in a pile and then usually in the dumpster. Employers care about your Linkedin profile because that is now your resume and much more; it’s also where you can network with other industry professionals and join professional associations.

Because of what I’ve learned in my CPRA 115 course I am now looking forward to creating my online professional persona using sites like Linkedin, Twitter, and About.me. It will also enhance my chances of finding employment and it will help me to help my future clients to market themselves in the highly competitive job market. So what are you waiting for? This stuff works and is being used by all the top candidates and recruiters out there now. I don’t want to be left behind, do you? Who’d of thought that I, Ravi Manhas would be writing a blog on social media and career development? It’s already started for me and it can for you too.

My biggest change since starting this course has been how my perception of what social media is and what it can actually do for me. Youtube isn’t just for watching funny cat videos. I can actually post videos related to career development geared at industry folk at a higher level or geared towards job seekers of all ages. I’ve learned that social media is not just a vapid wasteland of entertainment but real tool, a serious tool which I can use to enhance my career and to help others enhance their own careers.

– Ravi Manhas

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Have You Googled Yourself Lately?

If you’re looking for work you may want to think about this question. I personally had never given it much thought until recently when I googled myself. You may be surprised by what comes up! Employers nowadays google prospective candidates. In fact, one recent stat I read said that it’s as high as 77%!

If you’re in the job market, you want to make sure your online presence actually represents you the way you want it to.

First step? Do an audit of your online presence. Try googling your name as it appears on your resume or LinkedIn profile. This is likely what an employer will put into a search engine. Scroll through the first 2 or 3 pages and see what comes up. Is there anything you don’t want a potential employer to see? What are the first few things that come up on the first page? This may be as far as the potential employer will get so make sure these represent you as you want to be seen. You’ve only got one shot at making a first impression!

Second step? Clean house. If there are posts or videos or pictures of you that you don’t want online, take the time to remove them yourself if possible. Are there some old social media sites like Myspace or Pinterest that you don’t even use any more? Go to those sites and delete your accounts. You may need to go to the owner of other sites and request to have your content removed.

Third step? Tighten up your privacy settings on existing social media sites. Make sure your Facebook settings are set to private and remember that anyone can view your profile photos. So resist the urge to post that picture of yourself doing shooters at your friend’s stagette party last month! Also ensure your LinkedIn privacy settings are set properly so people can find you easily, view your profile (all professional of course!) but that your connections aren’t notified every time you make a change or update your profile. Taking the time NOW to do this will save you having to do more clean up later on.

Last step? Develop a strategy of how you want to be viewed online. Think of the image you want to portray. Your goal is that when an employer googles you (and believe me, they will!) the first couple of pages come up with the “you” as you want to be seen. Write blog posts, volunteer for organizations that are in line with your values, write articles or comment on ones that inspire you. These will soon appear closer to the top, which is what you want.

Parting thoughts? It’s not a matter of “will an employer google me?” it’s more “when will an employer google me?” It can take up to 3 months for some of the “clean ups” to take effect. So don’t wait!

– Dionne Orrange

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How I Learned a Different View

I have been taking an Information and Computer Research course at SFU, and it has opened my mind to a very wide range of information. Like in everything, some aspects have been positive and some not so much.

I guess for me the not too positive is the fact that I am very private in my life and did not find and still do not understand the purpose of venting your life to the public, probably because of the image given for some blogs. But there is more to that. I know I am more open and more interested in finding out more. I feel challenged to learn more about it, and I will continue to do so at my own pace. I know now there is more, and I am thirsty for more knowledge and to help other people with this knowledge.

I get excited about all the job-related information that is available, and knowing the people I work with will make it easier to choose the right tools, and will give me less uncertainty. There are many tools to learn and to advise about.

– Elena Garcia