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Career Focus

Laid off? Packaged out? Not sure how to navigate the scene?

By ADMIN - January 9 2020
Laid off? Packaged out? Not  sure how to navigate the scene?

A plethora of free services for job seekers, while transitioning between jobs

By Judith Hart

As a Career/Life Skills and Executive Coach, I often meet clients in career transition who haven’t had to look for a job for the past 15 to 25 years. They are called ‘long tenured workers’ who all of a sudden face the crude reality of a lay off (with or without severance pay) and with it a fast awakening to the fact that their skills have been either outdated, or not on par to compete with on today’s labour market. Let’s face it, no one has to hire anyone…we compete for opportunities, as the labour market of the 21st century. Canada is tilted towards the supply and not as much on the demand side, as in the early 80s, when I came to Canada from Eastern Europe.

Self-check is a start! However, it takes sometimes quite a journey to:

a) admit that the person’s skills need to be updated to 21st c. company needs

b) find customized services free of charge that can help clear the confusion and empower the individual

c) learn how to ‘show up differently’ on the competitive labour market (i.e. becoming pro-active, speak ‘industry language’, having a growth mindset, focusing on revamped image and more)

d) understand the deeper dynamics of one’s own market (trends: shrinking vs. growing industries and other important dynamics)

Often clients’ current language & mindset usually don’t include words such as: self-marketing, power networking, and personal branding…which used to belong to marketing products. The shift happens usually, when clients realize that absolutely no one owes them a job and we do compete for opportunities. Quite a change from even 15 years ago!

Both provincial and federal governments spend enormous amount of moneys on a plethora of programs to bring job seekers up to speed to become actually ‘marketable’.

Aren’t we so lucky to live in a country where laid off employees can continue to learn, upgrade their knowledge, prepare them for the next level of upgrade with FREE SERVICES and SUPPORTS of all kinds (both financial and in kind)

FREE services across the GTA

Ontario social services structure allows any unemployed or underemployed taxpayer to take advantage of a wide range of FREE services such as:

• 1:1 job search assistance

• coaching (career, motivational, 1:1 strategic or life skills)

• free workshops in at least 10++ important areas of work/career life

• career planning and exploring various careers/fields/industries

• access world class skills testing software (i.e. IBM Assess)

• access to Canada’s largest business database housing vital and detailed information on at least 72000 companies updated on an ongoing basis

• resume and cover letter trainings, reviews

• mock interviews with or without video recording to see/hear constructive feedback from experts in the field

• hiring events / job fairs to meet potential employers

• mentoring events / presentations by subject matter experts

• job development, placement and  job matching

• financial supports (interview clothing, licences for eligible clients)

• re-training options (bridging, apprenticeship and Second Career programs)

Some useful links to check out for all GTA residents to find an employment center or staffing agency or executive search firms:

Useful links to find staffing agencies in the GTA:

How do you qualify for FREE community employment services?

Are you UNemployed or UNDERemployed… what’s the difference anyway?

Unemployed persons, residing in Ontario (i.e. landed immigrants or Canadian citizens or international students with work permits or mothers after maternity leave trying to reconnect with work or students-graduates, persons with disabilities or belonging to minorities or racialized communities, refugees with PR card & court decisions) are eligible* for free career/employment services offered by provincial service providers.

Underemployed means, the person is not working within her/his field of study, but in another field within a much lower stratum, than the credentials validate her/him for. Also, persons whose work hours do not exceed 20 hours/week – considered part time, or contract/project based work.

Who are the players on the transition market? How are they different?

When you google employment agencies/services in your area, you need to be able to differentiate between paid for private service providers vs. free, community services. There is an almost intimidating number of service providers in all GTA neighbourhoods, but the sorting gets easy once you are aware of the different business models/structures they operate based upon. There are 3 major categories that will give you services at no extra charge as they are either paid by employers/business owners or funded by either provincial or federal government:

  1. Executive Search firms (specializing in mid-level, managerial positions)
  2. Staffing Agencies (specializing in entry to mid-level jobs; often with industry speciality focus)
  3. Employment Centers/Agencies (do not specialize in any particular industry as their clients can be from any field, any level hence if they offer job development, chances are they are networking with dozens of potential employers/business owners in their particular catchment areas)

Regardless of the goal of the job seeker/self-marketer, there needs to be an integrated ‘campaign’ drawn up, harnessing the power of multiple resources (such as above) in order to generate good results/offers. There is no limit as to how many Staffing Agencies a job seeker can register and build networking contacts with, as well as, how many Executive Search Firms one approaches with a resume and register with.

However, when it comes to Employment Centers/Employment Agencies that are funded by the Government, clients can only access ONE AT A TIME as these programs are run by tax-payers money hence no ‘double dipping’ is allowed. The idea has logic behind it: by registering only to one agency/center at a time, client doesn’t take away a chance of being serviced from another client. It is only fair. However, if/when clients are not satisfied with one service provider then they are allowed to ‘close their files’ and open with another provider. It is highly advisable to pick a center nearest to client’s address as most of the time it will take several visits to generate results and even just to show up to the workshops, trainings or 1:1 coaching sessions or employment events that each client would greatly benefit from. 

Please note: I had not mentioned (deliberately) Head Hunters in the above list as HH are focusing on clients who are currently employed and they mostly don’t work with clients in between jobs. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, when a client establishes a good networking relationship or being referred by someone to a HH…but these cases are isolated and not the trend, and definitely not the rule of the marketplace.

I hope above will clear some of the confusion about the various FREE service providers in Ontario for job seekers or clients in job transition who need guidance in preparing for new employment.

Judith Hart is an Employment Specialist, MBTI and 

Soft Skills Solutions© facilitator

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