Tips on applying for a job at BCCIC
Searching for a job is an emotionally and mentally challenging task. We sympathize! Finding a good job, working in our sector, doing what you want to do in life, is rare. We are aware of that. Finding a decent paying meaningful job, in Vancouver, which is an expensive place to live, is also precious.
That is why we get a lot of applications for very few jobs. This tip sheet is based on many years, indeed, decades of interviewing job applicants. These tips are unusual in that we are striving to be 100% honest about being in our shoes as employers. We truly do sympathize with all of the good people who are looking for a way to make a living while striving to make the world a better place. There are a lot of you and we write these tips in a spirit of encouragement. If you don’t land a job with us don’t be discouraged. Just keep on trying.
- The competition is hot – If you read a job posting and say to yourself “My gosh, this job was written for me” know that others are thinking the same thing. I cannot tell you how many introductory letters we have read that claim the “perfect fit”. You may think so, but keep in mind that we need to be convinced… not you. So, don’t imagine your own perfection. We pretty much toss out applications that make this assumption and have a deep respect for those with the humility to understand final decisions can be a toss-up between very, very competent applications. Apply with that understanding.
- The introductory letter is key. Imagine a stack of resumes. A stack! After years of sifting through resumes it can be confusing for the evaluator to remember the details of which candidate could speak a second language or not. But a well written, articulate, passionate letter creates a feeling…a hunch that just might get you past the preliminary shortlisting stage.
- Format, grammar and spelling mistakes. We love to find them because it is a very quick way to toss some of the resumes out and shorten the time involved on our part. Have someone read over your resume for you and make sure something as simple as a spalling mestake or typpo does not ruin your day.
- If you have been in school your whole life do not assume we are impressed by the same things your professor might have been impressed by. So many fresh-out-of-school resumes assume we care which courses you took and what your grades were. We don’t really care. We care about competency and so don’t prove you have been in an academic bubble your whole life.
- Competency is usually found between the lines of a resume. We note which years there were gaps… and if there were gap years we look for reasons. Don’t assume we don’t like gaps… that usually means you had a life and we will look carefully for evidence you are a human being. “Other interests” is almost always the first place we scan a resume and volunteer experience tells us a lot about you. Are you someone we actually want to spend our day with? We spend 7.5 hours a day with each other and so we include a “hip factor” in our hiring matrix. Yes, that is right; we score you on this quality which is entirely subjective! Give yourself a chance to shine and find a way to tell us that you love to scuba dive or jump out of airplanes or wrote the musical score for a play or have three sweet children that you like to coach soccer for.
- This is going to hurt. You spent a lot of money and time getting that masters degree or an extra certificate in widget assessment. Unfortunately, just about all of the applicants that are short listed these days are equally as competent. It is going to boil down to proven ability and a degree does not prove anything except that you know how to survive in school. We are not knocking a degree. It certainly is helpful, even essential, in some cases. And it may be the deciding factor between you and another candidate, we are just saying you should not rely on your formal education. Think of your education these days as covering the bases. Now we are looking for proof you know how to play ball. Extraordinary accomplishments, work experience, proven volunteer experience, or very solid proof that you did not just go to school… you went to school and rocked the world while you were there… is what we are looking for. We are searching for extraordinary people with balanced lives. Find a way to show us that.
- Google… yep… your darn right we google you. In fact, we will go anywhere and do anything to find out more about you before you ever set foot in the interview room. Facebook, twitter? Yep…but before you panic about that crazy photo you posted remember we are looking for human beings. Competent, qualified human beings with lives.
- If you get an interview please don’t show up not sure who we are or what we do or what the job is about. Here is a strong hint. We will ask you what you think the job is about and we cannot tell you how many times people get this wrong. Do your homework… it proves you are intelligent and motivated and you understood our first tip… because if you don’t your competition will.
- This tip is just a general observation… almost everyone when asked what their weakness is will be tempted to say “I work too hard” or “I sometimes make work my priority when it should not be and I just don’t know how to underperform” or some other self-aggrandizing comment about your work ethic. We are actually seriously asking these kinds of self-assessment questions to see if you know yourself well not to confirm that you are going to work hard or show up on time or stay late. Tell us seriously what your weakness is and if it feels honest and heartfelt and shows us you can hold a third person perspective about yourself you have a much better chance of getting past this tricky question.
- Worried about what to wear… how to appear… or that you will seem nervous? Don’t be. Any employer who is going to hire you based on your exterior appearance, us included, is not worth working for. Let your inner beauty shine as a person and know we don’t give a @^%$ about your age, race, spiritual belief, gender, sexual orientation, background, good looks, bad looks, fancy suit or shined shoes. We are looking for competency, inner spirit and open minds. Help us to get past everything to know who you really are… and yes, we are likely to ask you.
- Finally, remember that while you think you are being interviewed… the process is actually a two-way street. Are we worth working for? Is BCCIC really the place you want to spend your precious time in life? Think of it that way and when the opportunity comes to ask us questions let it reveal your values. We are not dummies… if you have no questions and they are not good questions… you are not thinking and we are looking for people who want to enter into an employer/employee relationship who value themselves as much as we value who we want to spend time with.
- Don’t apologize during an interview…just don’t… and be extremely careful about flattery. It almost always bombs on you. Just come in and be yourself. There is nothing to apologize about. You are a great person whether we judge you to be a good fit or not. We respect you and just because we are offering a job does not mean you should be hard on yourself or obsequious. If we don’t offer you a job don’t take it personally. There are a thousand reasons why something might not work and 99% of them have nothing to do with your value as a person or a potential employee. Chances are we truly think you are a good person but there is some nuance that leaned us in another direction. If you are ever being given a hard time in an interview…ask yourself if you want to work for people like that anyway. Looking for a job is not easy. We understand that and look for people who have a tonne of self-respect. These are the kind of people that tend to respect others the most.
- If you get the job… take some time to think about accepting the offer but don’t start making last minute deals, or mull over it for too long. That just shows us you were not honest during the interview. Tell us your conditions during the interview when we ask. Telling us later is an instant non-starter. You claimed you could start right away but now suddenly there are issues? Also, it not OK to go through an interview… have us mull it over and debate your application with others only to have you change your mind when we offer you the job. Keep that in mind before you apply or accept an interview.
- Finally, if you get the job don’t think the interview is over. Probation periods are there for a reason and 90 days is a long time to hide your personality or incompetence. Good jobs are scarce. We know that and understand there are a lot of people who can fill your shoes. Sorry to sound mercenary…but it is actually out of compassion for those that would jump at the chance to work here. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work here and want to work with like-minded people.