Mentorship during your job search

As someone that has been on the giving and receiving end of mentorship, I think that when done right, the results can be incredibly rewarding for both participants. If you are a job seeker that is looking to transition in your career, grow in your current role, or just unsure of what is next for you, mentorship is a great path to clarity.

Since every organization with a formal mentorship program operates in their own unique way, I think it is so important to really think about who you want as your mentor, what you want out of the experience and what level of support you really need.

In the last few years, I have supported and number of organizations including FEW, YWiB and most recently, have partnered with Locelle and Mentor Moments. Each of these organizations offer a different take on mentorship, so I encourage you to learn more about each if you are looking for a mentor (or to become one).

I believe strongly that a values driven process is paramount.

Today, I want to share with you 5 reasons why you should consider becoming a mentee:

  1. Learn from the experiences of other

This is where you’ll get insight and exposure to new ideas and ways of thinking

  1. Becoming more self-aware

Being self-aware is a process that takes time and should be continuous. It could be as simple as learning more about what you like, what you don’t like, identifying your strengths and weaknesses, what you are good at and what you need to improve on.

Learning your values and being able to identify them in career opportunities allows you to create a path to your true potential.

  1. Job satisfaction

Reaching your goals makes you feel fulfilled and successful. You can’t reach a goal that has not been identified yet. With mentorship, as you determine goals, you can then create a process of how to achieve those goals.

Did you know that reaching goals will naturally increate job satisfaction. It will create more meaning and fulfillment (don’t just take our word for it, this is from Psych 101).
  1. Expanding your network

The wider your circle, the more aware you are of what is going on in the world, outside of your bubble (and not just the COVID kind). Mentors automatically expand your professional network and can also impact your personal network as relationships grow. An introduction in a professional setting is one of the most valuable tools you can be handed!

Did you know that mentors are often the biggest champions of their mentees during a job search? Often acting as a reference, a guide, a sounding board and a confidant.
  1. Increased diversity and improved corporate culture

If you are an organization that isn’t sold on supporting your employees with opportunities to access mentorship (inside and outside of the organization), this one is for you.

Representation matters.

If employees in your firm don’t have the representation, they need at the levels they aspire to reach, then it’s the organizations duty to support them in acquiring that representation elsewhere.

From a corporate culture standpoint, a mentored employee becomes an employee with increased confidence, a heightened sense of inclusion and belonging, and empowers their ability to knowledge share, engage and contribute positively to the organization.

Stay tuned for part 2 on 5 reasons you should consider becoming a mentor!

 

Tips on Staying Safe at Work – on a worksite

This week we want to discuss a few pro tips on how to remain safe on a worksite! A typical worksite already has so many existing safety precautions in place, but it is important to have a set list of COVID-19 safety protocols as well.

Although health and safety should always be at the forefront of everyone’s mind, it is especially important now with the increased risk in contracting an illness through interaction. Any labour position on an active site involves a lot of, well, labour!

By using your hands and collaborating with your team throughout the day, it is crucial you follow safety protocols and procedures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect both yourself and your colleagues.

  1. Wear your mask

Plain and simple, make sure to bring your mask everywhere you go and wear it in all public environments (not just work). This will effectively limit the germs you spread, as well as protect yourself from others. Invest in one or two reusable masks that you are comfortable wearing for long durations and use them for work only. By doing so, you will be limiting work exposures to your home life, as well as remaining prepared for work and never without protection.

  1. Clean on-site practices

  • Wash your hands before entering work, throughout work, and before you leave
    • an extra precaution would be to carry a virus killing hand sanitizer to use as well
  • Avoid high touch areas such as door handles, shared tools, and kitchen equipment
    • now is a good time to splurge and invest in personal tools or reusable coffee mugs and lunch containers to avoid cross contamination
  • Do not touch your face, as the virus can be easily transmitted though your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Do your research and determine how you can support a clean site
  1. Physical distancing

As outlined by health officials and vocalized frequently, physical distancing is one of the most effective ways to ensure your safety! Be sure to apply this to work practices when possible and wear your mask while doing so. To ensure physical distancing on site, you should:

  • Remain 6 metres away from others where possible
  • Avoid common areas such site offices, bathrooms, and smoking areas while others are using them
  • Avoid confined common areas such as elevators, stairways, and trailers while others are using them
  • Follow all signs and safety protocols in place to support your company in creating a safe environment
  1. Monitor and report all illnesses

COVID-19 portrays similar symptoms to our common flu. No matter how small your symptom, be kind to yourself and others and report it to your supervisors and follow medical instructions to self isolate and recover before re-entering your work environment. Symptoms can include (but are not limited to):

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Chest pain/pressure
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
  1. Report all concerns to your employers

Whether you are feeling slightly under the weather, are concerned about site safety protocols, or uncomfortable with other individuals’ actions that may be contributing to unsafe work practices, we encourage you to inform your management team as soon as possible.

A few places to go are:
  • Site supervisors
  • The joint health and safety committee
  • The health and safety representative
  • The human resources department

As an employee you have the right to refuse unsafe work and should never engage in work duties you know are a danger to yourself as well as others around you. Please reference the link below if you would like to familiarize yourself with this code of conduct.

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/health-safety/reports/right-refuse.html#h2.3

We also want to take this opportunity to thank all of our clients and employees who have not stopped since March and continue to go to work, keep both themselves and their colleagues safe, and are working hard (often as essential workers) through this pandemic.

We truly appreciate all the work that goes into showing up onsite on time, in good health and ready to take on the added safety measures in place.

The entire Career Contacts team appreciate each and every one of our clients and employees.

Top 5 Ways to Stay Safe at the Office

At Career Contacts, we often write blogs based on the conversations we are having with hiring managers and candidates.

Top of mind for candidates going back into the office lately is around how to ensure they are keeping safe (and leadership is looking to ensure they are doing their part too).

This week, we wanted to share our top 5 most rewarding ways to stay safe in your office environment during the pandemic. Although they may seem like easy things to do, they hold a much deeper value than people may assume.

  1. Remember to PLEASE stay home if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how small!

This is by far the most important step when practicing safe living during this time. This will effectively flatten the curve as well as not only protect you, your loved ones and your bubble, but it also protects all those you may encounter! Think of it as you actively protecting so many people by simply being cautious. No matter how small or insignificant your symptoms may be, it is safer for us all if you stay home. Be sure to express your concern to your employer and bubble, and proceed to dedicate a few days to your health! In BC, we are fortunate to have easy access to testing should your medical advisor suggest it, we recommend taking their recommendations seriously. Get your necessary essentials delivered or dropped off by a member of your bubble and take your few days of quarantine with a peace of mind. After the lockdown, most roles are finding ways to function from home. If this isn’t possible, this is what sick days are for.

  1. Splurge on a mask you  LOVE!

It’s true, masks really do prevent the spread of COVID-19! While masks may not have been a common essential in our past, they most certainly are now. They are now required in most, if not all stores and businesses, and without wearing one you are putting yourself and your bubble at risk of exposure. You are more likely to remember, use and enjoy your facemask if you dedicate 20 minutes to surfing the web to find a design, fabric, or function of mask that suits your personal needs. A handpicked mask is also a great opportunity to support brands you love and show a bit of personality in a way we haven’t utilized before. Kick the disposable masks to the curb and spend a little extra on one you are happy wearing regularly! Whether it be in the elevators, to the coffee shop, or even to a team meeting, be sure to bring your reusable mask to all personal and work efforts outside your home (this will also actively prevent more single use waste entering our oceans and landfills!).

PRO TIP: Don’t forget to handle your masks appropriately and wash them as needed.       

(spotted: A few of our HR Consultants, Pam and Reena, staying safe while on site)

  1. Remain tidy and distanced while in office

When entering your office environment, be sure to check for symptoms prior to arriving and don’t forget your mask! As COVID-19 protocols are in full swing, this is a time to develop new personal habits and reminders in efforts to reduce the spread. Once entering the office, you must remember to sanitize and be aware of your surroundings. For example, if a coworker is in the common spaces, you should not be. Be sure to communicate to your co-workers that the friendliest thing they can do when communicating with you is ensuring their distance and practicing safe living at (and outside of) work. When communicating, be sure to emphasize your gratitude and be kind – these are hard times for everyone. In regard to your workspace, have your belongings close to you and away from others to avoid cross contaminating as well as have disinfectant wipes available nearby for all your equipment and materials for end of day sanitization.

PRO TIP: Minimize the materials and things you have surrounding you is a great way to eliminate potential contamination; it can reduce clutter which fosters organization and ultimately leaves you with more space and less stress!
  1. Keep your bubble small and well connected

Your bubble; your people! These are your cheerleaders, loved ones and best friends. They are your chosen support system, and you are theirs. As this is an uncertain time for everyone in the world right now, it’s important that we each do our part to support one another the best way we can; through distancing. With fall, winter, and flu season in view, it is especially important to be practicing safe living. When organizing your bubble, it is important to remember that every individual, family, and household will be under different circumstances. For the people you live with such as immediate family, a partner or roommates, there is no need for any restrictions on physical contact.

When considering who you socialize with outside of your household, it is important to remember that the recommended size is six individuals per bubble. This is being called your “Safe Six” and means a group of six friends or extended family members that is consistently involved with one another. These individuals may breach the 2 meter physical distance however, no physical contact should be practiced to ensure safety to all parties. This is a great way to refocus on some people who hold a special place in your heart, or a guilt free excuse to minimize your surface level relationships and devote time to those you can count on for support throughout the pandemic.

  1. Monitor your mental health

Last but certainly not least, please do not forget to monitor your mental health and advocate for yourself. COVID-19 has had an incredible impact on people worldwide and it is important to know you are not alone and there is support available to you from both your peers and the government. Be sure to indulge in some self-care, physical activity or a virtual happy hour with friends to ensure you are heard and supported in whichever way you may need. A hot bath, long walk and phone calls with loved ones can work wonders on your mindset! When creating your bubble it’s important to compile those you feel comfortable confiding in, so you may support one another when need be. It is okay to feel overwhelmed or anxious by the uncertainty the COVID-19 outbreak has created. It’s important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health, and to take measures to support mental well-being.

Here are some resources that can assist with maintaining mental health in the workplace during this time.

If you are an employer interested in learning more about how to ensure your office is a safe space for employees, please reach out to us at hiring@careercontacts.ca.

6 Tips to Make a Great First Impression at Work or In a Job Interview

Making a great first impression can be deal maker, or a deal breaker.

First impressions are made in the first 6 seconds that you meet someone.

We want you to make a meaningful impact when you are meeting someone for the first time, whether it is at a job interview, networking or at a social event.  Meeting people for the first time is easy for some people and hard for others.  This has less to do with the battle of introverts versus extroverts, and more to do with feeling equipped to know what to do and say when you walk into a room (or log into a screen).

When I am interviewing and recruiting, I try to put people at ease. At Career Contacts, our entire HR and Recruitment team is trained to focus on people first. This means that we walk into every interaction with a hope that we will get to know who you are, and what you are passionate about doing in your professional lives.  Here are a few tips to make a great first impression (and a bonus top on making a lasting impression):

  1. A bright smile and a friendly “hello” is what’s needed to immediately break the ice. We are talking to a lot of candidates who are nervous about being able to connect with their interviewers and hiring managers now that we are requiring them to wear masks.  Even if you are wearing a face mask, you can still see a smile in someone’s eyes.  At Career Contacts, we tested this theory during a team walk and were happy to see that not only were others able to receive our smiles, that we also felt the warmth and gratitude in return. This will put you at ease, as well as the person you are meeting.
REMINDER: Did you know that we often hear from hiring managers that they are also nervous about interviewing a candidate. Be mindful of this when you walk into a room, and do not expect that they will have all the answers (it will help you walk in with confidence too)
  1. A strong handshake. This used to be a key one for us as it was an easy way to demonstrate confidence in a first meeting. Now that you are not touching your interviewer, hiring manager, or others in a networking event, be prepared for how you want your greeting. Our team all have our own ways that we prefer to great others. Some prefer the elbow “bump”, others prefer a quick wave, while others still prefer to simply state “I would normally shake your hand, but it’s great to see/meet you”.
TIP: If you are ready for a new greeting, you’ll reduce any feelings of unease.
  1. Be positive, polite, and friendly. People enjoy spending time with people who behave in a way that demonstrates that they genuinely want to be there. A positive attitude shows confidence and leadership qualities.  It also shows the person you are meeting with that you value the time they are taking to meet with you. If you are requesting someone’s time or you’ve applied for a job and are being invited in, it’s important for you to thank the person for the time they are giving you (appreciation and gratitude always go a long way).
  1. Arrive on time. If you are running late please send a text, an email or call to let this person know so that they are prepared and not thinking the worst. Just like above, respecting someone’s time is critical. Even over Zoom, it’s important to log in a few minutes early and be patient with technology.

    In person, especially right now with added safety protocols in place, arrive early enough to ensure you have time to put on any PPE (personal protective equipment), answer any questionnaires and set yourself up from a safe distance to start your meeting.

  1. Use eye contact. Rather than looking down, looking away or not meeting a person’s gaze look them in the eye.  This will show them that you are interested, aware and paying attention. Not sure how to do that on an online call? Here is a hint: your eyes meet when you look into the camera, not when you look at their faces on your screen. Look into the camera to increase your ability to connect.
TIP: ensure you can see the face of the person you are meeting with. It ensures that you stay connected and not slowly move over to a social site or emails while the conversation is happening. It also allows you to mirror them and increase your connection.
  1. Practice a few filler questions to avoid awkward silence. Read more at The Muse for ideas, or check out these ideas of starting a conversation that will flow:
  • Tell me about yourself, what is your story?
  • Can you recommend a great lunch spot around here?
  • What is the most fun project you have worked on lately?
  • Have you been to any cool conferences or webinars lately?

Although in interviews a candidate often feels like they cannot be in the driver’s seat, most good recruiters and hiring managers know that they candidate should be speaking 80% of the time. That means that you have an opportunity to guide the conversation in directions that are most meaningful for you.

Making a great first impression is done quickly and does not take a lot of effort.  Give your attention to the person you are meeting.  Turn your phone off, give 100% of your focus and you will be a winner!

For more support during your job search, feel free to reach out to us – we are ready for your first impression!

Checking in with your teams; a message on mental health in the workplace

Checking in with your teams is really about starting from a place of authenticity, genuine care and compassion.

As many companies feel the uncertainty of the world and how their teams are doing, it is so important to take the time to check in with your teams to determine how they are coping, what they need, and how you can support. The worst thing we can do as leadership is to make assumption.

One employees' paradise is another employees' battleground.

After months of supporting our clients and teams both onsite and remotely, we worked together to come up with 5 tips on how to effectively check in with your teams:

1. Be proactive

When approaching your employees, the number one thing we would tell you, is that employees feel most supported when they don’t need the help, but know it’s available if and when they do.

This means that you don't wait for the forest to burn down, you reach out before the kindle even begins.

This holds true for everyone on the team; from your internal and external teams, remote and onsite, and the most junior employees right through to c-suite. This is the time to make everyone feel cared for and supported; contractors and employees alike.

The more you bring people together, the stronger your team will be.

2. Go beyond health & safety

With COVID creating a new reality, we are often focused on the health and safety of the teams. Career Contacts has been supporting a number of clients with ensuring that they are keeping their teams safe. Working with WorkSafeBC guidelines, we are supporting training, policies and practices, and constantly performing audits and encouraging dialogue. We are putting up signs, barriers, sanitizer and creating space for employees to feel safe while at work.

We value the health and safety of all employees but know that this goes far beyond COVID.

Through COVID, we have had discussions around:

  • Mental Health
  • Child and other dependent support
  • Ability and access to working from home
  • Burnout
  • Commute
  • Socialization
  • Building community
  • and on and on

For example, at the beginning of COVID, construction companies continued to do the work; learning as they went with the new COVID safety guidelines.

Career Contacts has had the opportunity of supporting in a number of ways to ensure that our temporary staff were feeling safe. At the beginning of each assignment, a member of our team would go onsite to check in and make sure the teams felt comfortable to raise any concerns. We also provided them with our personal numbers so they could text us throughout the day if they need to. What it felt like we were doing was ensuring social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing. What we were really doing was making ourselves available; valuing their needs over our time and providing them with assurances that we cared (because we genuinely did, and do).

3. Flexibility

Did you know that when discussing the benefits and perks of joining organizations, even above the ability to work from home, salary, benefits and vacation, is flexibility?

What does that me to us?

That people want to be treated with respect, and trust. They are adults, who have been given a list of roles and responsibilities, and want to be able to have some flexibility on how they execute against instructions.

It’s not just about the flexibility of working hours, but also in how they structure the day, how they manage their calendars, what technology they can add to create value, what process they use to reach their goals and targets etc.

4. Get out of the office/zoom

Moving employees away from their regular “office” environment, allows them to shift out of work mode, and know that the conversation is about them as people first, employees second.
We often encourage conversations that are lighter, that may even just be an opportunity to make genuine connections and build meaningful relationships that do not place all the value on what they do within the organization. If you have an office space that can be used, that’s a great way to connect physically. If not, meeting outside for a distanced walk, or even hoping on a different social platform so there is a different feel.

5. Be open yourself

As part of the leadership team, I am comfortable talking about my struggles, my insecurities, as much as I am talking about my goals and dreams. Not everything has to be about what isn’t working; sometimes it’s just about sharing where you want to see things moving, and ensuring that you are supporting that journey the best way you can.

We recently had a senior level executive assistant that was working with a client of ours for 20+ years who was facing a career dilemma. During COVID, she had a realization that she had been able to spend more time with her hobbies and creative outlets; one of which was writing.

After some discussion, we were able to approach the marketing department where she now works, and create a hybrid opportunity for her to create some news letter content that allowed her to flex her creative muscles, while still being able to continue to stay gainfully employed with her existing team.

The moral of this blog? Treat your people are whole people. Learn about what makes them happy at work, what they need to feel fulfilled, how they like to be appreciated, communicated with etc. Then, take the time to make a meaningful change in the way you work together!

Looking for some support in building out your communication and employee relations plans? Reach out to us at Career Contacts and one of our HR Consultants would be happy to provide you with an overall audit and ideation session.

 

 

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