Now that 2018 is upon us, you might be looking to launch a search for your next career move. Whether you’re actively seeking a new role or passively perusing the job market, here are 5 very manageable New Year’s Resolutions you can complete with ease to set you on a path to success.
Resolution #1: Narrow-down your search parameters
The most important thing is to know what you are looking for. For some, this can also be the most difficult thing to determine. Here are a few key categories to think about to help break it down:
Fortunately, the Greater Toronto Area is a huge market, meaning there is a wide variety of industries to consider. Prominent industries in the GTA include Technology, Financial Services, Banking, Insurance, Real Estate, Private Equity, Property Management, Natural Resources, Mining, Energy, Oil & Gas, Power & Utilities, Renewables, Pharmaceuticals, Manufacturing, Automotive, Consumer Packaged Goods, Retail, Distribution, Logistics, and more. I often encourage my candidates to make a top-10 list of companies where they’d like to work.
Type of role
This boils down to the kind of work you’ll do. I’m a recruiter specializing in Finance and Accounting roles, so here are the most common types I work with regularly:
- Financial Reporting: Preparation of external Financial Statement packages, Management Discussion & Analysis, regulatory reporting, etc.
- Internal Reporting: Management reporting, ensuring data integrity, and effective collection and use of available data.
- Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A): decision-making support, including budgeting, forecasting, analysis, financial modeling, etc.
- Hybrid: Typically a combination of FP&A and either external or internal reporting
- Internal Audit: Evaluation of internal control processes, identification and mitigation of financial and operational risks
- Tax: Corporate or Personal; Domestic or International; Transfer Pricing; Mergers & Acquisitions; etc.
This is a crucial consideration. As they say, Location, Location, Location! You risk being unhappy in the long-term if you compromise too much with your commute. Determine the maximum length of commute you’re open to, and stay within it. Do you have access to a vehicle, or are you open to public transit? Are you willing to move to be closer to your new place of employment? As a recruiter, I always encourage my candidates to make a list of cities ordered by preference.
Salary, bonus, stock options, benefits, pension, RRSP, vacation time, sick leave, personal days. Determine what is important to you, and what compensation would entice you to make the next move in your career. I encourage my candidates against focusing solely on the base salary and rather look at the overall package, as many companies differ in how they compensate their employees. Tip: as a general rule of thumb, you might expect roughly a 10% increase in overall compensation when making a career move. This is of course contingent on many factors, such as tenure in your current role or place of employment, whether you are moving to a new industry or type of role.
These are the more qualitative considerations, which can differ from company to company. Are you looking for a structured working environment with clearly-defined roles, or something more dynamic and subject to change? Are you looking for a challenge? Growth? Work-hard-play-hard? Or is Work-Life-Balance more important to you? If interested in a particular company, I encourage my candidates to ask their friends or colleagues about their experiences if they’ve worked there. There are also excellent resources online such as glassdoor.ca where employees can anonymously rate their experience working for specific companies.
As a recruiter, my top priority is fit; making sure I match you with roles that closely line-up with what you are looking for, so being specific helps a lot. On the flip side, when my candidates are more open to various options in the above categories, it enables me to send them more potential job descriptions to consider.
Resolution #2: Polish Your Resume
Your resume is crucial to get your foot in the door and help your odds of getting interviews with potential employers. When you work with Lannick, you don’t need a cover letter, since we work directly with the Hiring Managers. Lannick has some excellent resources online, including a resume template to illustrate the tips below and assist in polishing your resume. Here are some additional things to consider when compiling your resume:
- Skills and Qualifications: I always encourage my candidates to insert a section with this title at the top of their first page. Such would list your technical skills, preferably in point-form keywords rather than sentences, to make this section highly scan-able so the reader can quickly get a sense of what you bring to the table (the Professional Experience section is where you would elaborate further on some of this content). List the following:
- Accounting Frameworks you’ve worked with (i.e. IFRS, ASPE, US GAAP);
- Regulatory frameworks (i.e. Bill 198, SOX, IIROC, CRTC);
- A point about people-management (led up to 3 Direct Reports);
- Software (i.e. MS Office, MS Excel, VBA/Macros, SAP, Oracle, Hyperion, etc.)
- Other technical skills: Financial Reporting, Budgeting, Forecasting, Financial Modeling, Risk Management, etc.
- Professional Experience: While it is important to highlight your job description by detailing your role and responsibilities, of equal importance is listing several achievements under each role, such as special projects, systems you’ve helped implement, process improvements, awards, or positive performance evaluations. I always encourage my candidates to insert a subheading “Achievements” to bring these points to the reader’s attention. In terms of formatting, I usually encourage my candidates to place the company name above the title(s) they held, as this enables you to list numerous titles you might have held, and the associated dates on the right-margin, efficiently highlighting your progression over the years.
- Maximum 2 pages: As a recruiter, I often see resumes where the candidate has tried to fit everything on one page. The result is often a resume with squeezed margins or small font-sizes. My advice is to keep a simple, standard formatting-style and not to exceed 2 pages. In fact, with the inclusion of a Skills and Qualification section, I would expect a typical resume to exceed 1 page.
- Dates: always place dates on the far-right margin; this helps make sure the dates clearly stand out. I also recommend including months and years.
- Begin each point in Professional Experience with a verb: This demonstrates the actions you’ve taken. You should always conjugate in the past-tense, with the optional exception of your current role, which can also be in the present tense.
Lannick Recruiters are always able and willing to help provide additional tips on the content, and review drafts of your resume.
Resolution #3: Update your online profiles
Online recruitment platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed.ca, and Monster.ca are ubiquitous in the job market and are excellent tools for any job search. Employers often post their open roles and use the online platform as tools to recruit potential candidates. Here are some tips to polish your profile:
- Company names, dates, and titles: These must be consistent with your resume. In LinkedIn, you can search your company when setting up your profile so the company logo appears along with your title.
- Get a professional-looking picture. I recommend business-formal attire and positive, confident posture (no selfies!). You can find professional photographers in the city for as little as $100-200. Otherwise, a good camera and a soft-coloured background can do the trick.
- “Currently Seeking New Opportunities”: LinkedIn has a relatively new function that enables candidates to click on a box with this label, which is only visible to individuals with paid-LinkedIn Recruiter accounts. This serves as a clear indication to recruiters that you are actively searching for new roles, and can increase your odds of being contacted about roles.
- Post your resume: You can upload your resume to LinkedIn, Indeed.ca, and Monster.ca, which can increase your odds of being found if a recruiter is searching for candidates with specific skills, titles, or keywords you have listed on your resume.
Resolution #4: Connect with References
Reference checks are standard in the final stages of any job search. It’s important to have at least two Supervisory references ready to be called-upon, preferably three in case one is not responsive when needed. If you don’t have that many Supervisory references, it’s sometimes sufficient to have a former colleague serve as a reference, too. For obvious reasons, you should typically rely on references from previous employers. Make sure you have their updated contact information, including full names, phone numbers, and email addresses.
Resolution #5: Ask for Help
The old saying rings true, “It’s not about what you know, but who you know.” Tap into your personal and professional network for guidance and assistance with your job search. Company insiders can often be aware of hiring needs that may not yet be posted publicly online or under engagement with external recruiters. If you know someone currently employed in a kind of role that interests you, consider offering to buy them coffee and to discuss their career. People are often happy to talk about themselves, and even more, content to provide advice to people they know who are earnestly interested in their choices.
Of course, a recruitment service provider like Lannick is an excellent means to put your resume directly into the hands of a Hiring Manager. Our Client Service professionals have direct relationships with decision-makers, and when you apply through Lannick, you are submitted amongst a pre-screened short-list typically no longer than 5-6 potential candidates. That far-improves your odds of being selected for an interview over an online application, where you might be up against dozens or even hundreds of competing applicants of widely-varying qualifications. An important thing to bear in mind is that recruiters cannot represent you at companies to which you have applied in the last 12 months (this is a general rule of thumb, and there can often be exceptions), so I often caution my candidates against peppering the market with online applications, and rather engage the service of recruiters early-on in their search.