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Old 07-11-2018, 08:05 PM   #1
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Default The Job Searchers' Thread

This is meant to be a catch-all haven for discussion, tips, tricks, and advice for those starting a new career, looking for a change, or currently unemployed.

To start off, I have been unemployed for over a year now. After sending out approximately 150+ applications over the past 14 months and only receiving 4 interviews (2 of which never even bothered to follow-up with me) it's becoming increasingly difficult to stay optimistic.

Having not looked for a job in a number of years I see that the application landscape has really changed. Most everything is done online, and I must have over 50 registered accounts through various companies and organizations online application platforms. I have application fatigue, and I am almost out of creativity when it comes to writing cover letters.

Question: Generally, if an employer notices a person has to re-locate, even though they are clearly qualified, do you even bother setting up an interview? For someone trying to get a job in Calgary while living in Red Deer it seems there's a prejudice, even if it's somewhat understandable. Still, I wouldn't apply to your company if I wasn't ready and willing to relocate.

Question: How truly important is a quality cover letter? I mean, if it outlines your qualifications and suitability for the job, shouldn't that be enough? How much do you need to beg for a paycheque in these things?

Question: For those in the know, what do you think is most effective format for a resume? After consulting with a professional and doing some research I went with a combination style that leads with my qualifications and skills, and briefly overviews my work history.

TIP: It seems Indeed.com is the most robust aggregate job search engine. Frankly, I don't understand how other sites stay competitive. You can really narrow down your search, and even keep a running list of places you're interested in, have applied to, are interviewing, etc.

Anyone else know other solid places to look? Charity Village seems alright for non-profit outfits, but places like the Job Bank, Monster, GlassDoor, etc. are all pretty lame in comparison.

TIP: This was some advice given to me by posters in another thread. If you're looking to do some easy online upgrading, check out Lynda.com or Udemy.com. Udemy is a bit more expensive, while Lynda has a monthly fee for unlimited courses. They aren't accredited (at least Lynda isn't), but you certainly can build the skills you might need.


Anybody in this or a similar situation, or has just found a spot among the employed, able to offer some advice and direction?

For those that will ask, my education, training, and experience is in communications, marketing, and public/community relations.
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Old 07-11-2018, 08:24 PM   #2
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I didn't see mention of applying through staffing agencies. Have you tried this route?
Having someone else do the leg work for you is always nice.
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Old 07-11-2018, 08:42 PM   #3
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I know that if you live in Calgary and have a library card, you can get a free Lynda.com account. I use it regularly. I find that Udemy good but definitely not as consistent in terms of trainers as opposed to Lynda.

There's actually a bunch of free tools you get with the library card that make very useful (besides the books).
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Old 07-11-2018, 08:44 PM   #4
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What field are you in?

For the question about relocation, I find that Canadian employers are weirdly against hiring someone who doesn't live in the same city. While I was unemployed, living in Calgary close to 3 years ago, I tried applying to companies in Vancouver, Montreal, Edmonton and Toronto and none of them would give me the time of the day. On the other hand, US employers will bring anyone that is qualified for the position and they'll move heaven and earth to bring them on board. Depending on what you do, you might be able to get a job in the US fairly easily.
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Old 07-11-2018, 09:33 PM   #5
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I didn't see mention of applying through staffing agencies. Have you tried this route?
Having someone else do the leg work for you is always nice.

I want to emphasize this one, I rarely have to reach out for opportunities, I've almost exclusively used staffing agencies, the best I can give advice wise if you're going to use it is to find staffing agencies that focus on your skills, there are specific ones for IT, for sales professionals, etc. Focus on them first.


Also make sure if you have a linked in profile that its up to date and descriptive of your career, most staffing agencies use it as a primary took for searching for candidates.
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Old 07-11-2018, 10:07 PM   #6
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I would visit indeed quite regularly for postings but I now find that LinkedIn is much better for the type of positions that I am looking for. I actually think that LinkedIn is a great resource for a wide variety of uses if you take the time to dig into it. Obviously it is great for networking. One thing that I usually do if I see a job posting that interests me is to try to find the direct manager for that position and introduce myself. Outside of networking, LinkedIn learning is great. I'm lucky to have received a free subscription to it from my current employer so that I can access anything I want. I have about 50 courses shortlisted right now. Another great thing that I have found on LinkedIn is user groups. As a Geologist there are lots of technical user groups that someone can join. The user groups for Geology/oil and gas/drilling are great because a lot of experts are actually willing to share presentations and videos and provide free training sessions and seminars.
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Old 07-12-2018, 01:42 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yamer View Post
Question: How truly important is a quality cover letter? I mean, if it outlines your qualifications and suitability for the job, shouldn't that be enough? How much do you need to beg for a paycheque in these things?
I think it depends on the recruiter. I've heard some recruiters on my LinkedIn say they don't even look at cover letters and just go by what they see on your resume and in my case your portfolio.

Ironically one of them asked me to come in for an interview. That's actually the only interview I've had since getting laid off 2 1/2 years ago. The other was just an art test/making something with 3D LEGOs and the job that I got at the beginning of the year after I moved back I knew the owner so she just offered me it with no interview. That didn't work out though and I had to give my notice after 7 weeks so I'm back to job searching and getting no luck.
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Old 07-12-2018, 05:17 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yamer View Post
Question: Generally, if an employer notices a person has to re-locate, even though they are clearly qualified, do you even bother setting up an interview? For someone trying to get a job in Calgary while living in Red Deer it seems there's a prejudice, even if it's somewhat understandable. Still, I wouldn't apply to your company if I wasn't ready and willing to relocate.
If you are looking to relocate, leave your address and the address of the companies off. I would assume anyone looking at your resume would assume you are already local then. Explain you aren't in your phone interview.
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Question: How truly important is a quality cover letter? I mean, if it outlines your qualifications and suitability for the job, shouldn't that be enough? How much do you need to beg for a paycheque in these things?
I would say a decent cover letter can be equal to a resume. It depends on the way you are applying though, online submission forms with tons of other information probably less relevant than an email/resume combo.
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TIP: It seems Indeed.com is the most robust aggregate job search engine. Frankly, I don't understand how other sites stay competitive. You can really narrow down your search, and even keep a running list of places you're interested in, have applied to, are interviewing, etc.
I only have experience with indeed and linkedin. LinkedIn costs the companies quite a bit of money to post on. I would assume most jobs hit 1 of these 2 if not both.
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TIP: This was some advice given to me by posters in another thread. If you're looking to do some easy online upgrading, check out Lynda.com or Udemy.com. Udemy is a bit more expensive, while Lynda has a monthly fee for unlimited courses. They aren't accredited (at least Lynda isn't), but you certainly can build the skills you might need.
The Calgary library has a partnership with Lynda.com. You can signup for free with your Library card number. Calgary library is also free.
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Old 07-12-2018, 05:31 AM   #9
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I tend to save cover letters for when I'm emailing applications - I attach the resume and treat the email itself as a cover letter. For portals and online submission forms I usually just attach the resume.
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Old 07-12-2018, 07:52 AM   #10
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Quote:
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This is meant to be a catch-all haven for discussion, tips, tricks, and advice for those starting a new career, looking for a change, or currently unemployed.
Great thread, as someone with a good job and in the location I want, I'm very lucky. That said, I think we'd all be amiss if we didn't keep our eyes open to better our careers.

Here's what I look for when hiring:

Quote:
Question: Generally, if an employer notices a person has to re-locate, even though they are clearly qualified, do you even bother setting up an interview? For someone trying to get a job in Calgary while living in Red Deer it seems there's a prejudice, even if it's somewhat understandable. Still, I wouldn't apply to your company if I wasn't ready and willing to relocate.
To me, I want the right candidate for the position. I want someone that has the qualifications, that is willing to learn, and that will fit in to the culture.

If a person is local, that's a huge leg up. However, that doesn't mean that I exclude others. If you applied for a job from Red Deer that I posted, and qualified for an interview, I'd interview you. I would let you know the expectations of the position, when to start, and as a not-for-profit we don't have the financial means to pay for relocation. I would do that at the start of the interview, so if that doesn't suit you I'm not wasting your time.

That said, how the frack do I know that you don't have family here, or are originally from here and want to move back home?

You're applying for a position for a reason, we're looking for a reason, I'm not going to assume your intentions.

However, that's just me. I do feel the same way, that if you're not already living in the city, then into the 'no' pile you go.

Quote:
Question: How truly important is a quality cover letter? I mean, if it outlines your qualifications and suitability for the job, shouldn't that be enough? How much do you need to beg for a paycheque in these things?
To me, if you don't have a cover letter, you don't want the job. I want someone that wants the position I'm looking for. If you just give me a resume, you're going through the motions. A cover letter lets me know that (a) you know about this specific position; (b) you want to work for my organization; and (c) have put time and thought into your application.

Anyone can just give a resume. If you don't have the initiative to write a cover letter, why would I think you have initiative in the position? The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, and no cover letter is past behaviour of not showing initiative.

Also, I don't think of a cover letter as you begging me for a job. The cover letter should be "where's why you should be begging me to work for you".

Quote:
Question: For those in the know, what do you think is most effective format for a resume? After consulting with a professional and doing some research I went with a combination style that leads with my qualifications and skills, and briefly overviews my work history.
I wouldn't say I'm 'in the know'. I do a lot of hiring, but 99% of my hires are university students.

Honestly, I look at the cover letter far more than the resume. If your cover letter is good, I'll then look at your resume.

Quote:
TIP: It seems Indeed.com is the most robust aggregate job search engine. Frankly, I don't understand how other sites stay competitive. You can really narrow down your search, and even keep a running list of places you're interested in, have applied to, are interviewing, etc.

Anyone else know other solid places to look? Charity Village seems alright for non-profit outfits, but places like the Job Bank, Monster, GlassDoor, etc. are all pretty lame in comparison.
I have email notifications from Indeed and Linked-In. Out here CareerBeacon.com is good too, but I think that's mostly an Atlantic Canadian/Nova Scotia thing.

Quote:
TIP: This was some advice given to me by posters in another thread. If you're looking to do some easy online upgrading, check out Lynda.com or Udemy.com. Udemy is a bit more expensive, while Lynda has a monthly fee for unlimited courses. They aren't accredited (at least Lynda isn't), but you certainly can build the skills you might need.


Anybody in this or a similar situation, or has just found a spot among the employed, able to offer some advice and direction?

For those that will ask, my education, training, and experience is in communications, marketing, and public/community relations.
Never heard of it, but I'd look favourably upon anyone who is trying to better their knowledge base.


Again, I'm no expert.

Those are just a few of the things that I look for when hiring.

I don't hire in any professional industry (for the most part). I'm constantly hiring as I work in a student environment and the turnover is about 90% every year (because, gosh darn it, students graduate and for some reason don't like to apply to on campus jobs until their last year).

Hope that helps, or provides some insight on what some managers look for when hiring. The norms of skilled trade Alberta would be different from university students in Nova Scotia (I have no idea your industry, just want to show contrast) but I would like to think some of the things I look for, good hiring managers would also be looking for.
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Old 07-12-2018, 08:28 AM   #11
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I haven't been involved in hiring for a long time, but when I was, I always looked at local applicants first. Basically, I figured the out-of-towners sent an application because they really wanted a job, but were probably hoping for somewhere closer to home and we were a backup. The type of job I was hiring for though was a job that was available in any location, we didn't pay great, and it was a charity so we couldn't cover costs to entice people to move to Calgary.

Perhaps something about wanting to move back to Calgary because of.... would help.

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Old 07-12-2018, 09:28 AM   #12
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The place I left hired a Director that was unbelievably unqualified and a walking HR issue. His tenure gives me a bit of insight into why places are hesitant to move you, despite your willingness: it's a big commitment.

This guy wouldn't have lasted his probation, but the owner kept him on because he moved him. He was met with daily backlash from employees and really had a big mess on his hands, but stood by this guy after moving his family. He really let the company go to shambles in a few areas over it. I could see someone in a hiring position hiring a lesser candidate they don't have to move just to avoid that risk.


I actually was coming in here to promote Lynda though. I have a few courses that I really liked, and I've had clients hire me noting that they liked seeing it. My sister went nuts and she has everything a client wants, and in social media marketing it's a big deal to prove you actually know what to do. I've had a few conversation with clients on how they've hired employees with Lynda credentials, and a few even mentioned that seeing 'Lynda: Google Adwords Advanced Training - March 2017' is more valuable than 'UWO: Business Marketing - September 2001' to them.
Great on you for recognizing this, and keep it up!

I think you're on the right path, but please let me know if someone with design skillz can help you out at all. A little spruce-up to the resume goes a long way when they're sitting on a pile.


I'm no expert, but I'd echo a lot of what's in here. Maybe remove the location from the resume to avoid the red flag. If you're not asking them to pay for your relocation, taking relocation out of their mind will be huge. As long as your smiling face is there day 1, I don't think it matters one bit that you're relocating. Be honest if they ask, but I'd make it very clear to them that you're looking for a job in Calgary if it comes up.

I think an agency is also a huge help with this as well. They'll be putting out a request for an employee, and they'll be putting forward your credentials, with the caveat of moving being something between you and the agency.

Just my thoughts! Best of luck!
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Old 07-12-2018, 09:37 AM   #13
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I think it's highly dependent on the job/field you're applying for, but a strong cover letter could be the difference to getting shortlisted IMO. Especially if writing and/or communication skills are needed for the position.

For example, in the cover letter you could explain why you are willing to re-locate and perhaps other circumstances that have lead to your application for said job. Obviously, it's also an opportunity to further outline your skill set and how that specifically applies to the position being sought.

Good luck!
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Old 07-12-2018, 10:01 AM   #14
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I think that there's still a argument for a good cover letter that sells the perspective hiring organization on taking the next step and looking at your resume instead of depending on the candidate screening software that a lot of companies are using or starting to use.

A good cover letter can sell you on that final 10% climb on why you should be the 1 out of 10 applicants that they should look at closer.

For actors its called a head shot, it gets them interested. Why are you a good fit for a position, what do you offer thats unique, why should they use resources to look at you.

Frankly in Alberta with the way the economy has been, if they put out a position through a hiring agent, or on a website they are getting flooded by resumes from actual qualified and counterfeit candidates (Fake their way into a month long paid vacation), they're receiving 100's of resume's and they do a quick filter either using a person with a check list or a candidate filtering software. If you don't have something that shows that your more then your resume, or that you have an intriguing skill set above the people that don't you go in the circular filing system and as much as organizations say they'll keep you on file for other opportunities, if your in that file its likely that you'll never be contacted.

A summery of what and why you should be their gold standard is essential. I also modified my resume to show results more then duties or tasks.

If I managed a sales department what were my results. If I'm an engineer how did I control costs or speed up the project I was on, if I'm an aerospace engineer how did I get the mars landers percentage of safe landing up.

Also, and I can't emphasize this enough. Clean up your social media accounts. If you have facebook entries that are in the least way out there or negative zero them, because in the absence of references, companies will google your name and geographic location, and you want things for example from your linked in account or volunteer activities to be on the top and not a video of you butt chugging snaps while eating an endangered species.
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Old 07-12-2018, 10:16 AM   #15
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I think networking is always important, throughout your career. Many things you can do, whether you are extroverted or not:

Formal or informal networking clubs (though I don't like BNI). Chamber of Commerce.

Sports - play a sport in a social league, or beer league.

Volunteer in your community. The sky is the limit - do something that interests you.

Be active in your Church or other community group.

Attend meetings for your professional organizations.

Attend continuing education courses in your profession.

Meet those people in person that you talk to all of the time on message boards.

Be active on social media -write a blog. Be smart and target your audience.

Stay in touch with classmates/alumni.

Don't look at others in your industry as competitors. They are your colleagues, and one day you may do favors for each other. Consider mentoring younger people.
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Old 07-12-2018, 10:36 AM   #16
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Relocation: I actually started fudging my address to try and get my foot in the door (I am using friends' addresses in Calgary and Edmonton) as I was told it's a red flag not to include an address. I've only tried this strategy for the last 2 months, but it hasn't moved the needle yet.

I'm looking to relocate because A) there is absolutely no opportunity for someone in my field in Red Deer and B) I am looking for a fresh start. I have the financial means to make the move, but that diminishes each day I have no money coming in.

Cover Letters: I would consider myself an exceptional writer, but it's become an absolutely exhausting grind to come up with something unique for each cover letter. After you've written as many as I have, you start to notice a pattern of what you're writing. So I've developed a master template and cobble together from that depending on the position.

Problem is, every place I've looked or anyone I have talked to have a different opinion on what a cover letter should be, and it's confusing. Some say a summary of your resume, some say it should talk about you and your fit with the company, some say it should be a personal essay of sorts. Others say it should be all this, but don't make it over 1 page long. Ok? How is that even possible?

Cover letters seem to be the most contentious part of the application. It's infuriating. I just try to look over the skills/qualifications/type they are looking for in the posting and plug in why and how I can meet and exceed those. Frankly, you tend to run out of creative energy around cover letter #80.

Staffing Agencies: I've heard they aren't cheap, but perhaps it's something I need to look into.

Anyone have any recommendations for the folks like me out there?
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Old 07-12-2018, 10:37 AM   #17
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I've adjusted my cover letter a few times over the last couple of years. The hook has to be in the first paragraph - 4-5 sentences. I have a separate short intro for email applications - blurb, LinkedIn link, and include an attached cover letter. Never know when a junior staffer will print out the CV and cover letter to pass on up the ladder.



I have had many phone interviews and I think that I got to that point through a good cover letter. A few became in person interviews.


I recently asked an HR professional about long gaps in work history and seemingly declining job titles. I was told that so long as I could explain the gaps in some way, it would not be a deterrent (thoughts?). And that the titles were meaningless (thoughts?).



My other concern is about references. I'm afraid that my references are from too long ago or not giving a decent report (as when we discussed). I've only made it to the reference stage twice in the past year.



Once over the "resume pile", I found that the biggest sticking point preventing moving to the next step is the dreaded "what's your salary range?" question. I have tried to avoid it buy saying that I am not chasing the money, etc., but can rarely get away without giving a number that I am never sure is too high or too low.


Good luck to all the searchers out there!
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Old 07-12-2018, 10:49 AM   #18
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Once over the "resume pile", I found that the biggest sticking point preventing moving to the next step is the dreaded "what's your salary range?" question. I have tried to avoid it buy saying that I am not chasing the money, etc., but can rarely get away without giving a number that I am never sure is too high or too low.


Good luck to all the searchers out there!
I hate this question, and I don't think it should be part of an interview or application. Salary range is all over the place in my field. Entry level positions are literally spaced across $30,000 per year. Just tell me the salary range for the position.

Also, I hate having a phone or in-person interview, being told they will follow up with you by a certain date, and then they never get back to you. Highly disrespectful. I think you are obligated to at least let me know if you thought enough to consider me a candidate.
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Old 07-12-2018, 11:18 AM   #19
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I hate this question, and I don't think it should be part of an interview or application. Salary range is all over the place in my field. Entry level positions are literally spaced across $30,000 per year. Just tell me the salary range for the position.

Also, I hate having a phone or in-person interview, being told they will follow up with you by a certain date, and then they never get back to you. Highly disrespectful. I think you are obligated to at least let me know if you thought enough to consider me a candidate.

Agree 100%.
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Old 07-12-2018, 11:18 AM   #20
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Relocation: I actually started fudging my address to try and get my foot in the door (I am using friends' addresses in Calgary and Edmonton) as I was told it's a red flag not to include an address. I've only tried this strategy for the last 2 months, but it hasn't moved the needle yet.

I'm looking to relocate because A) there is absolutely no opportunity for someone in my field in Red Deer and B) I am looking for a fresh start. I have the financial means to make the move, but that diminishes each day I have no money coming in.

Cover Letters: I would consider myself an exceptional writer, but it's become an absolutely exhausting grind to come up with something unique for each cover letter. After you've written as many as I have, you start to notice a pattern of what you're writing. So I've developed a master template and cobble together from that depending on the position.

Problem is, every place I've looked or anyone I have talked to have a different opinion on what a cover letter should be, and it's confusing. Some say a summary of your resume, some say it should talk about you and your fit with the company, some say it should be a personal essay of sorts. Others say it should be all this, but don't make it over 1 page long. Ok? How is that even possible?

Cover letters seem to be the most contentious part of the application. It's infuriating. I just try to look over the skills/qualifications/type they are looking for in the posting and plug in why and how I can meet and exceed those. Frankly, you tend to run out of creative energy around cover letter #80.

Staffing Agencies: I've heard they aren't cheap, but perhaps it's something I need to look into.

Anyone have any recommendations for the folks like me out there?

Staffing agencies don't charge the person looking for work, they charge the employers, the benefit to the employer is that they get a guarantee on the job searcher.


I've found that the ones that do charge are offering things like interview and resume coaching, but tend to be expensive and their results aren't terrific.


I don't know your skill set, at all so its tough to recommend any but general ones.
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Calgary Flames
2017-18




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