I met Gisel during university and we became roommates in our early 20s. Fast forward to 2013, I actually took on Gisel’s great advice to return to Canada, to apply for immigration before they switched to the current express track entry program. She has been a great friend and support throughout the process and I would recommend anyone to consult with her on any immigration/work permit matters.

 

Immigration

                                                                                                                                        Gisela Newton, RCIC

When it comes to foreign nationals pursuing Canadian post-secondary degrees, a big question facing most of these students is: I now have my Canadian degree, what do I need to do to get my Permanent Residency?

Although graduating with an academic degree would most likely qualify you for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP), it does not mean you can automatically qualify for Canadian Permanent Residence. There are different paths to apply for Canadian PR, from Federal to Provincial programs, and almost all programs would you to have a valid job offer in a “Skilled” level position, relevant to your field of studies. The ‘skill’ level and classification assigned to most jobs is given by the NOC (National Occupational Classification) provided by ESDC.

From a hiring perspective, very few employers are willing to hire graduates with little to no relevant experience, and the fact that international graduates are on temporary work permits, makes their cases for employment sometimes even harder. If you are a prospective international student, who wish to stay in Canada post graduation, it is highly recommended that you plan for your career in advance to qualify for skilled immigration.

For any immigration related questions, feel free to reach me on gnewton@iglobalcanada.com.

Sincerely,

Gisela Newton

RCIC | iGlobal Canada Immigration

E-mail: gnewton@iglobalcanada.com

Web: www.iglobalcanada.com

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images.jpgHi Ms Kotwall,

I am starting a new job next week, can you shed some lights on work e-mail etiquette?

Congratulations on your new job, and how exciting!

Two simple rules to go by – ‘always proofread’ and ‘your emails are tracked’ ie no inappropriate use of language/backstabbing/ politically incorrect statements and try to limit personal use on your work account.

5 Quick Tips on professional e-mail etiquette

I. Make sure e-mail is the best channel for communication – If you require immediate attention within the next 30 minutes, calling is probably the best option when you can confirm the other person understands your request and the urgency to complete the task. Now it is your judgement to gage whether it is an ‘urgent’ matter or not.

E-mails also allows you to track the communication trail, sometimes it is good to have certain information on record eg employment start date if it is not printed on your contract. E-mail can be used as a documentation for any important information, which can protect you in the future eg reference check from future employers etc.

II. Subject line – This helps the recipient to decide whether or not/ when to open the email. It is wise to use keywords related to the project/ topic, as many professionals use keywords to search for their e-mails later on. Include a deadline if it is relevant eg XXX needed by end of Wednesday. It is recommended to start a e-mail on a separate topic even though it is going through to the same recipient.

III. E-mail body – State your purpose in a precise manner, since many professionals read their emails via their mobile devices. Before you write each mail, ask yourself ‘why am I writing this and what do I need from the recipient?’

IV. Whether to click ‘reply’ or ‘reply all’ – If it is a small team email to notify everyone on certain important details of a project, it is fine to click reply all just to make sure everyone is on the same page, although I suspect there are plenty of project management tools out there these days that may have replaced emails as the main way of communication.

When in doubt, think from the other person’s perspective ie is it important for the other person to know that you have received the memo / is it important for everyone on the email to know that you have received the memo. Use your judgement. (I had once worked in a top investment bank, where someone crashed the e-mail system by clicking ‘reply all’ to the global staff list of over 30,000 members )

This also goes with company culture, there are certain firms that prefer to keep everyone in the loop, while others don’t.  It is best to check with your manager during the on-boarding process and mirror your co-workers’ email mannerisms.

V. When to follow -up – For internal mails, consider the project/internal approval deadline and work it backward. Eg When I was working as an in-house recruiter for an investment bank, all the job postings would have to go through legal approval. There was a deadline for the job posting submission but I also understood this would be at low priority within the legal team.  I would generally send them the draft a week in advance and followed up with the team 1-2 days before the deadline submission. It is wise to ask your counter-party the best time to follow up if this is a new collaboration.

For cold e-mails, it is generally advised to wait for a week before follow up although you maybe told otherwise in a sales environment.

Interested in more career tips? Please subscribe to my blog and like my Facebook page to receive industry news and hiring updates.

 

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The best way to impress a professional is to show him/her your genuine interest for the industry with your insights. The best insights you can get are from the Pros. Below are couple resources you can check out prior to your meeting. 

I) Professional Association websites most professions will have one. Look at their upcoming events and blogs. Learn the hot topic and industry buzzwords.

II) Industry Conferences – Type into Google search: ‘your industry’ ‘conference’ ‘location’ and see what comes up. Then look into the topics being covered and speakers bio, that should give you a better idea what industry professionals are interested in. If there is one coming up soon, you can even ask the professional, are you going to the xxx conference? He/she is going to thinking – wow this kid is for real!  :)

Be creative with your online search, you may find a few gems on industry publications. It is also wise to ask the professional ‘how do you stay current with the news/ movements in your industry ?’, to get their input on industry resources you can follow.

Interested in more career tips? Please subscribe to my blog and like my Facebook page to receive industry news and hiring updates.

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The purpose of a profile statement is to explain to employers what you have to offer and why you are interested in the chosen career field. It is wise to include 1)  your education, 2) job specific skills, and 3) proven ability or past experience. Try to limit the excessive use of soft skills and personality traits as they do not add much weight to your resume. Your personality shines in person, not on paper. 

For positions that require technical skills such as finance, engineering or any science-related field, you can title your profile as ‘Core Competencies’ or ‘Highlights of Qualifications’ and lay out your skills in bullet point format. You can also choose to omit this to save room for your ‘skills’ and ‘related projects’ on your resume. 

resume-skills.jpg

A profile is also recommended if:

1) you are floating your resume around through your network eg family friends or fraternity etc, it is important to express your specific career interest so it gets to the right decision maker 

2) you are a unconventional applicant, eg you are a social sciences student who has passed the Chartered Financial Analyst Level One exam looking for a finance position, then I would highly recommend highlighting this as well as your career goals on your profile.

Lets review the profiles below for a business development position in a tech startup company :

Candidate A

An efficient and organized student with multitasking skills. Excellent communicator and team player. A Fast learner with great attention-to-detail skills looking for a summer sales position in a fast growing company.

(Here we highlighted a set of soft skills, are they relevant to the job description? Are you supporting these statements with accomplishments listed on your resume?)

Candidate B

An ambitious third year economics student with a track record in KPI driven sales environment . Proven ability in strategic relationship management and sales strategy as demonstrated in current club involvement. Fluent in English and Mandarin. 

(Here we highlighted the language skills, some job related skills and proven sales track record.)

Candidate C

  • Three years of experience in customer-facing sales in a business solutions environment
  • Winner of the XXX case competition
  • Fluent in English and Mandarin

(Here we highlighted the language skills, competitive personality and proven sales track record)

Who would you invite for an interview?

Interested in more career tips? Please subscribe to my blog and like my Facebook page to receive industry news and hiring updates.

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Question of the week

Following my last post, some students began to wonder how resumes are being screened. Below is a guideline of how HR recruiters review  your resume.

Resume screening

Seasoned recruiters generally spend less than 10 secs on each resume, just imagine there are hundreds of submissions to each posting and there are multiple openings going on at any given point in time. Needless to say, a minor typo can cause you an interview, even if you have got all of the following right. 

Here is a guideline of how resumes are being screened:

Most recent paid position: a paid position with relevant work experience is of course perfect, then any paid position within a professional work environment eg office administration with an off campus firm is also acceptable. If you do not have any paid work experience, then be sure to demonstrate the required hard skills and ideal character traits through your extra-curricular activities.  

Education:  year of standing and the program you are in to make sure student is eligible for the application. Grades – over 80% is relatively safe, 75% is borderline depending on what other activities you are involved in and networking is almost a must.

Extra-curricular:  please refer to my last post. Clubs – scope of the club(s) & the direct impact you have made. Volunteering – causes you support. It is important to have community involvement, but for most competitive internships, that alone is not going to get you far. 

Interests: how open and interesting of a person you are. Be specific, recruiters look at thousands of resumes each week, imagine how many ‘jogging’, ‘cooking’, ‘hiking’ they have seen. Give them a little bit more, and be sure it is something you are excited to talk about for a few minutes at interviews or networking sessions.

Online presence:  They also look at your Linkedin profile and the portfolio of your work eg wordpress/ github

For most university students, a one page (unless otherwise stated) resume is standard. You all have obtained many great accomplishments, now use your judgement to select activities that best represent you in the industry you are aiming for.

For the more popular postings, recruiters may receive over thousands of resume, which means not every single one will get a look at. In this case, I cannot stress enough the importance of networking. Always network with the business line rather than with HR and I will explain later in my upcoming posts the reasoning behind this. 

Interested in more career tips? Please subscribe to my blog and like my Facebook page to receive industry news and hiring updates.

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Question of the week

At the end of last year, I met with a few panicking students who were looking to reevaluate their club commitments, so they could refocus on their school work. They all asked the same question, ‘which activities are better regarded by employers?’

Building your profile – Extracurricular Activities

Over the holidays I caught up with a few friends who are responsible for the campus recruitment function for global firms, and had a pretty open conversation on how resumes are being screened. Below are some questions they have when going through your resume, this is based on their own subjective opinions, but is definitely worth a share.

Interest clubs – Do the clubs demonstrate your career interest and allow you to build industry related or transferable skills related to your field? It is perfectly fine to participate in a social club based on your own interest, however be cautious of how much room you dedicate to this activity on your resume.

Sports – Are they competitive in nature and require a high level of performance? Do they demonstrate, leadership, teamwork and commitment? Your experience in the highest ranking league/ team should be elaborated, while the rest can be kept short. Any sports you do on a regular basis can be listed under interests if you can talk about them with great enthusiasm.

Case Competitions –  They demonstrate your open-mindedness and ability to work under pressure, it is always good to know the scale of the competition and where you stand. If you do not have any direct work experience in your chosen career field, you can elaborate on this to highlight any relevant skill-set eg ‘conducted DCF analysis on XXX’ or  ‘developed a business web application within 48 hours using XXX’.

Service Groups – What causes do you support and how do you contribute to the growth of the organizations?

Rule of Thumb

Your resume builds a profile of who you are and establishes your personal branding by showing the causes you stand for.  On average a recruiter can scan through your resume in less than 10 seconds, and build a mental profile of who you are. Use the space you dedicate to each activity on your resume wisely, they give weight to who you are.

When choosing extra-curricular activities, always ask yourself, what kind of personal or professional development you are hoping to get out of the experience. During the screening process, recruiters always look for the direct impact you have made, as well as progression in each organization you are part of. 

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images.jpgQuestion of the week

I am glad to be back in Vancouver after being away for 2 months. This place is great, it’s got fresh air, water, mountains and all.. However if you are young, hungry and somewhat ambitious you may choose to start your career in a bigger city. Here are a few tips on how to reach out to professionals outside of your location.

Networking outside of your own city

I worked in the recruitment industry for over 8 years across Europe, Asia and Australia. Many times I would have to ‘coldcall’  professionals outside of my reach, for example I would have to reach out to software engineers in Poland when I was in London. In my personal case, I started ‘networking’ for my own job search in Vancouver when I was still physically in London UK.

#1 Connect on a common ground

The first question professionals will have in mind when they receive a ‘coldmail’ is ‘ WHY ME? There are thousands of other employees here, WHY ME?’ 

My advice is find someone with a common interest eg sports or other hobbies. If you are a computer science student at the UBC who is looking to network with someone in San Francisco, I would use keywords on Google search such as ‘UBC, San Francisco, Product Manager, hockey, LinkedIn’, with this I have generated a few relevant leads from my search results.

In the above case, you can also try networking with professionals who have relocated from San Francisco to Vancouver.  When you meet them for a coffee, you can ask them politely for further leads within their network in San Francisco. A good way to phrase it will be ‘ I am planning for a trip down to San Francisco next month, who would you recommend me to get in touch with / what online resources or meet-up groups would you recommend me to check out if I am looking to learn more about virtual reality? 

#2 Showing commitment

Most professionals are willing to help, and they decide on whether to invest their time based on your commitment.  Explain your action plan to them during the first reach out, for example if you are a finance student who is going on an exchange, start reaching out at least a month before your trip. A good way to phrase it will be ‘ 

#3 It is a numbers game 

After spending 2 years in Vancouver, I almost forgot people have way busier lives in other major cities. When I was back in Hong Kong during the holiday season, most of my friends were either busy travelling, training for a marathon or minding their young families. It would take me over a week to get lunch or coffee organized. My point is, although most people are willing to help, replying to your mail is probably not going to be at their top priorities.

It is a numbers game after all, you may get a ‘YES!’ after reaching out to the tenth person. Just remember, your creative approach and determination will weed out the rest of your competition. 

Keep on hustling and may the force be with you!

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Welcome back to school everyone!

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be working at Google? I am very excited to share with you some insights from my friend Alex Feinberg. He currently works as a Vertical Lead for Sports and Fitness Mobile Integration Partnerships. Previously Alex enjoyed an early career in professional baseball, he had also completed a stint working at a hedge fund in Asia.

TECH

Alex Feinberg

Continue reading An Insider’s Guide – A Day At Google

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images.jpgQuestion of the week

Happy new year everyone! Sorry this is a bit overdue, as I am still recovering from my jet lag from Asia. I have received a number of emails on prepping for aptitude tests over the holiday, and would like to share with you some resources available online.

Prepping for aptitude tests

Aptitude tests are used as a standardized way to benchmark job candidates’ abilities to perform specific tasks. There are usually three components to it: numerical, vocabulary and inductive logic.

Time management is key, always find out the number of questions and time given beforehand. My advice is first identify your weakest area, then work on practice questions to improve your test scores.

Most companies use one of the following test providers:

SHL    Kenexa    Cubiks  Saville

More practice tests:

Job Test Prep 

Assessment Day

KPMG Mock Aptitude Test

McKinsey Practice Tests

There are countless resources available online. You can always type in the name of your targeted employer and ‘practice tests’ into Google and see for searched results.

This is not rocket science after all. Happy practising and good luck!

Got a pressing career related question? Get in touch now! Each Thursday I will pick the most interesting topic to be posted on my blog on an anonymous basis.

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Question of the week

A 3rd year Economics student has reached out recently, he is keen to break into the financial industry and is wondering whether he should target a CPA designation after graduation or start preparing for his CFA level one exam.

CFA vs CPA vs MBA

My advice is first consider your career goal and identify the specific job roles of interest before making a decision.  If you are looking to work in a front office position at an institutional investment bank upon graduation, the CFA is probably a better bet.  

CFA

The CFA program focuses on a range of technical subjects such as quantitative methods, economics and financial reporting and analysis. To receive your final designation, you must possess work experience that involves investment decision-making. According to a recent research conducted by EFinancialcareers.com, the highest percentage of CFA holders work on the buy-side in positions such as Portfolio Manager and Research Analysts. To get into this field, you should target sell-side graduate programs within  front office.

Nowadays an increasing number of students are preparing for their CFA level one exams while studying at the university. This is all very impressive, although given the prep time for CFA level one is over 100 hours, your time is better spent networking if your ultimate goal is to land on a full time /internship position. I would recommend getting some relevant work experience prior to writing the CFA level one exam, so you can better understand the topics covered and effectively apply what you learned from the program. 

From my experience, almost all students who landed on banking roles have yet to complete their level one exams at the time of their placements. When it comes to campus recruitment, relevant work experience and a practical sense of the financial markets most definitely will win over any types of qualification. Meanwhile students from other disciplines outside of Business and Economics, can take the CFA to show their interests and commitment to the financial industry.

CPA

The CPA program requires a three year commitment, you are most likely going to be working at a Big Four or in an accounting function to gain the required work experience for your designation. Potential exit opportunities include: finance/middle office positions within an institutional investment bank eg rroduct and finance controller & risk management. You may be considered for roles in equity research and investment banking within mid market firms in your earlier part of your career, if you possess strong knowledge of a certain industry eg real estate, technology and natural resources etc. Corporate strategy is also a popular area to get into.

MBA

MBA is great for candidates who are looking to re-brand and network, to break ultimately break into financial services as a career change. Most organizations would prefer an undergraduate with strong technical skills and relevant experience than  a fresh MBA  graduate with little technical knowledge and industry exposure. 

To further explore career options that best suit your interests and skillset,  please get in touch for an initial conversation!

 

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