High on the New Year’s resolution list for many Canadians is the determination to find a new job.
It has been a tough year for workers in a number of industries — retail, hospitality and esthetics among them. Layoffs, closures and lots of uncertainty during the pandemic undoubtedly made this a real blue Christmas for many, even though Statistics Canada data show that an overall unemployment rate of 5.41 per cent for 2020 is far lower than the 8.34 per cent registered during the 2009 economic downturn. Try telling that to a server who hasn’t had work for weeks, however, or a department store salesperson who has walked the sales floor intermittently during the last 10 months.
A survey by Hays Canada, an arm of the worldwide recruiting agency, conducted prior to the second wave of the pandemic in July and August, showed that many employees are restless, with 21 per cent planning to switch jobs within the next three months and another 17 per cent hoping to do so within the year.
Many people are looking for a change, says Travis O’Rourke, president of Hays Canada.
“There have been layoffs, but work still needs doing, so there may be work but no extra compensation. With a lot of employees working from home, a lot of people are feeling the isolation and loneliness.”
So, for those who have been laid off and those who are looking for greener pastures, where are the opportunities?
Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, would steer job seekers to the revamped Second Career grant program. The $ 77-million retraining program will be giving preference to people laid off due to COVID-19 strictures. Second Career funding — at least, in this first round — is geared toward training programs of 52 weeks or fewer in duration, usually for programs at community colleges and career colleges. It provides up to $ 28,000 per person to cover costs for tuition, training materials and living expenses. Participants can still receive Employment Insurance while enrolled in the program.
McNaughton says there is a need for personal support workers, for example, as well as wholesale sales representatives, IT support technicians and production logistics co-ordinators.
“My intention is to fast-track people with lower skills or who were laid off, and I anticipate that by the end of March, we’ll see a pretty substantial uptake,” said McNaughton in an interview. “People can apply through any of the 700 provincial employment offices.
“Prior to COVID-19, there were 200,000 jobs across the province going unfilled daily. We need to train workers for the jobs that are going to be needed.
“In most cases, people will find these careers more lucrative than what they had in the past,” he said.
Of course, there are a number of companies that have thrived during the pandemic, such as delivery companies such as UPS and FedEx, as well as Amazon, the sales and distribution giant; they may offer job opportunities.
“In Canada, approximately 11,000 were hired to assist customers during government restrictions and to manage the holiday season,” said a UPS Canada spokesperson by email. “Many of these positions were hired to serve the GTA out of our Toronto Hub facility in Vaughan and our new flagship facility in Caledon, Ont. These positions include full- and part-time seasonal positions, and many past seasonal hires have landed permanent jobs at UPS.”
Job seekers are encouraged to visit the company’s website at https://en.jobs-ups.ca/. For front-line warehouse and driver positions, no previous training is required, noted the spokesperson. UPS provides the training.
O’Rourke of Hay’s Canada believes that 2021 will be a good year for jobs, because “employers are already starting to rebuild their workforces. There’s no better time than now to get new skills or research the industries you want to pursue.
He is bullish on tech jobs, noting that “the world of work has accelerated 10 years in three months, so I would encourage anyone with an interest in technology to take the leap. Our reliance on computers isn’t going anywhere.”
When it comes to hunting for jobs, O’Rourke recommends turning to connections who might know someone at a company you’re targeting or “you could go old school and go to the organization’s website to learn about them.” There are job search websites, too, such as LinkedIn and Indeed.
He also recommends touching base with recruiting firms like his own. They serve job seekers in their specialty markets at no cost — employers fund their searches.
“We can tell you behind the scenes what it’s like to work for a company and we can quietly shop your resumé around,” O’Rourke said. “We’re like agents for an athlete; we can see what your market value is.”
As for specific job search tips, O’Rourke suggests that job seekers practise online for video interviews, ensuring that their sound, lighting and network connections are all good, and that the working environment being showcased is an appropriate one.
He also recommends customizing a resumé for each individual position, tailoring it to the job description so the person reading it can picture the candidate filling that role. This includes using keywords featured in the ad to bring a resumé to the top of the pile, since search engine optimization may be used. Mock interviews are also useful in brushing up rusty interview skills and making the job seeker comfortable.
“The word of the year is resilience,” O’Rourke said. “Be resilient and keep applying. You can never try too hard. Sometimes the deciding factor is who wants the job more.”
Some of 2021’s hot jobs:
- contract administrator
- project manager
- construction superintendent
- construction estimator
- HR generalist
- software developer
- big data analyst
- corporate law clerk
- corporate legal assistant
- skilled trades
- supply chain manager
- logistics & transportation manager
- executive assistant
- office manager
- purchasing co-ordinator
- facilities manager
- digital marketing specialist
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Are you job-hunting in the new year? What skills do you think will be in demand?