The RBC Career Launch Team Teams Up With TalentEgg To Answer Your Top Career Questions

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We chatted with the RBC Career Launch Program team earlier this year during Office Hours!

This time, RBC Career Launch Program Director Rehana Ciriani joined TalentEgg founder Lauren Friese to answer career questions from students and grads from all over.

During the 1-hour live chat, Rehana and Lauren discussed the future of the job market and offered tips and tricks to TalentEgg-ers looking to accelerate their job hunt and career growth.

Check out the transcript below!

Elias (TalentEgg):

Welcome to Office Hours, TalentEgg-ers! My name is Elias and I’ll be moderating today’s chat.

Over the next hour, you can share your career-related questions with RBC’s Rehana Ciriani and TalentEgg’s Lauren Friese and get expert advice!

You can start submitting your questions now.

A number of you signed up and submitted questions in advance – that’s great! Today, Rehana and Lauren are going to address a number of live questions, as well as several questions that were submitted in advance, so we’ll cover a lot of ground in the next hour.

Let’s meet Rehana and Lauren! Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi everyone. I’m Rehana Ciriani and I’m the Director of the RBC Career Launch Program. I have the amazing opportunity of working with a talented team who brings this innovative program to life. I’ve spent my entire career in the banking industry and yet I’ve had so many different careers. I started out in retail banking experiencing many interesting roles serving clients; and then shifted my career to HR where I’ve had opportunities in Talent Management, Leadership Development, Recruitment and now RBC Learning. I’m excited to be here with you to share details about a program that we’re all very proud of.

Lauren Friese:

Hi everyone! I’m excited to be here. I’m the founder of TalentEgg.ca, and hoping my experience and background will be helpful to you all over the next hour.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Fantastic! Let’s kick things off with a question that was submitted by a student in advance:

Syed is studying finance at the University of Western Ontario, and asks:

Given how much things change in the job market, what should I take into account when planning my career?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Syed. It’s important to understand what’s changing and how positions may be impacted by the changing world of work. Some career management tips include knowing how the world of work may change over the next 3-5 years and the impact this has on future positions in the workplace. You’ll need to determine how realistic your career aspirations are in the current and future work environment. Network with individuals already working in your areas of interest as well as with your professors to find out more about the evolving nature of work.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Maria is a Humber College student in Communications, and asks:

I already volunteer with my youth group and have a part-time retail job. What else can I do to gain experience?

Rehana Ciriani:

Welcome to the chat Maria! You can seek other volunteer opportunities that are aligned with your career interests. Volunteer work can provide valuable experience and opportunities that you might not otherwise be exposed to in entry-level positions.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Ahmed, a student of computer engineering at the University of Toronto, asks:

How do you see the job search for new professionals changing in the near and distant future?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hello Ahmed, thanks for joining us today! Technology is changing the way we do business, and this also means changing the way we recruit people. Today, social media is a key method of sourcing professionals. Candidates will need to ensure they have an updated LinkedIn profile and leverage social media to network with other professionals.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Elanea, a Psychology student from St. Lawrence College, asks:

What advice would you offer an aspiring entrepreneur?

Lauren Friese:

Hi Elanea! Assuming you’ve already done the work to figure out that entrepreneurship is right for you, my biggest single piece of advice would be to do it now! As a student or recent grad, the opportunity cost of taking a chance on your own business is lowest right now. Once you get ‘cracking’ on your career, it’s harder to turn away from it.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Steve is a Classics graduate from Queen’s University, and asks:

It’s often said that the biggest challenge young people face starting their careers is a lack of experience. Do you agree?

Lauren Friese:

Hi Steve! Young people face lots of challenges at the beginning of their careers, and it’s true that a lack of marketable experience is one of the bigger ones, and also one that’s growing. While it can be frustrating, it’s important to understand that, from an employer’s perspective, it’s difficult to rationalize hiring someone that doesn’t have a demonstrated interest or aptitude for the job they’re hiring for, especially when other candidates exist. That being said, “experience” doesn’t have to mean formal work experience. You can get relevant experience by volunteering on campus, starting a blog, participating in an on-campus competition, participating in a TalentEgg Challenge, etc.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Karine is completing a Communications Studies degree at York University, and asks:

Whether it’s learning new platforms or softer skills, what do you think are the top things you need to succeed?

Lauren Friese:

Hello Karine! I think, as a new grad, the best thing you can do to help you succeed is to take a pro-active approach to getting to know yourself so that you can approach your career with a clear understanding of what you like, what you don’t like, what you’re good at and what you’re bad at. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how few students and grads take the time to really figure out the answers to those questions.

Aaron C:

What’s the best question an interviewee has ever asked you?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Aaron! The best question an interviewee has ever asked me was: What is the greatest learning you’ve gained from a failure? And my answer to this question was almost failing an exam in my first year of university. I didn’t prepare well enough, nor seek guidance from the professors to ensure I understood the material. I learned that preparation is key and asking the right questions are very important to achieving success.

Geoff M:

I like to have a few notes with me during an interview to help me remember my key points but someone told me that makes you look unprepared. Is that true?

Lauren Friese:

Hi Geoff. In my opinion, notes are never a bad thing. In the case of an interview, rather than making you look unprepared, it shows the employer that you’ve taken the time to prepare.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Amit, an Economics grad from McGill University, asks:

Is it possible to be “too confident” in an interview?

Rehana Ciriani:

Thanks for joining us today Amit! It’s important to be yourself in interviews – authentic and confident in your own abilities. You can demonstrate confidence by being prepared and answering questions thoughtfully. Being too confident can oftentimes be misconstrued as a negative behaviour.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Kaitlyn is a graduate of the Rotman School of Business, and asks:

How frequently should I be following up on the status of a job application if I applied to an employer online?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Kaitlyn, you can follow up once on the status of your application and if you haven’t received a response within a few weeks, I would recommend following up once more.

Morgan Smith:

Is it weird to look someone up on LinkedIn (a hiring manager or recruiter) and not interact with them?

Lauren Friese:

Hi Morgan: Not weird at all. It’s par for the course on LinkedIn, and professionals expect that you’ll find them/seek them out as you do your research, and especially if you’re preparing for an interview with them.

Brianne Mada:

It’s hard to sound natural during a phone interview. What can I do to sound less-rehearsed?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Brianne. Practice practice practice! Many people are nervous when it comes to interviewing. One way to help reduce anxiety and nervousness is to practice interviewing with a friend or colleague. Have a list of questions prepared and practice answering them. Ask for feedback and work on improving your ability to be comfortable and natural during the interview.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Carter, a Linguistics student at Brock University, asks:

Every employer I’ve ever had has wanted me to handle an error differently (fix it myself, immediately tell a manager, etc.) I’d like to know what you think is the best way to deal with an office error?

Lauren Friese:

Hi Carter! You hit the nail on the head – each employer has different expectations. As such, the best way to deal with office errors is in whatever way the person you’re reporting to instructs you to handle them.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Stephanie, a History student from McGill, asks:

What kind of info should you focus on when researching an employer?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Stephanie! Learn about the business, the industry and the business’ competitors. Find out how well they are competing in the market. If publicly-traded, what are their financial results now and year over year? What differentiates them from their competitors? What’s unique about this organization? Find out about their workplace culture. Can you picture yourself working at and contributing to an organization like that?

Kerri W:

How can I “shut-off” from work once the work day is done? I’m a hard worker but I want to have some sort of work-life balance!

Rehana Ciriani:

Thanks for joining us Kerri. Work life harmony is important. You need to schedule activities that you enjoy and commit to making time for them. It is also important to be flexible with your time when deadlines need to be met.

Justin DiMarco:

What should I do if I’m interested in applying for more than one role at a company?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Justin. You can certainly apply for more than one role in a company. You’ll want to ensure that the roles each align to your interests and qualifications.

Jasmine Sol:

If I’m interviewing with more than one person, whose hand should I shake first?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Jasmine. I would first shake the hand of the person that’s closest to you and then move to the next person.

Sam Chang:

I’m still in school but I want to get ready for after I graduate. What would be your #1 piece of advice for me?

Lauren Friese:

Hi Sam! Great question. Step 1) Get involved in as many different things as you can. Step 2) Take note throughout your involvement – what do you like? what don’t you like? where did you excel? where did you fall behind? In other words, get to know yourself so you can start drawing lines between what you’ve done in the past and what you want to do in the future. This is critical as you start narrowing down career choices and applying to jobs.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Daniel, a BA grad from the University of Victoria, asks:

What’s the best way to make small talk at a networking event?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Daniel. Enter a networking event with ‘a beginner’s mind’. Have a few questions on hand to get the conversations going. Be genuinely curious about others. Here are some questions that have worked for me: How did you hear about this event? Where do you work? What kind of work do you do? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Jade K:

Should I be out-of-the-box with my application to catch a recruiter’s attention?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Jade. You need to know your audience. For example, if you’re applying for a creative position, you’ll want to showcase your creativity in your application. If you’re applying for a conservative company, you may want to take a more traditional approach.

Jessica Reid:

Hello. What is one way to be remembered during an interview? Thanks!

Lauren Friese:

Hi Jessica. Do a ton of research on the industry, company, job and the people who are interviewing you. When preparing for your interview, think about how your experiences and ambitions line up with what you’ve learned about the opportunity. In your interview, be sure to showcase the research and work you’ve done to prepare – it will be evident that you took the time to go above and beyond, a signal that you’re passionate about the company and the job, and you’ll likely be remembered.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Rachel, a Politics student at UBC, asks:

I want to find a job I’m passionate about, but it’s tough and I’m feeling the pressure to start making money for my future. How can I pursue both?

Lauren Friese:

Hi Rachel! The answer to this really depends on your personal situation. Generally, I would say that, in theory, at the beginning of your career, it’s worthwhile to hold out until you find a job that will set your career in the right direction. Practically, however, this is often difficult. A happy medium may be to take on part time or freelance work while you charge forward toward the career and job you’d ultimately like to have.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Andrea studied education at the University of Windsor, and asks:

I have my teaching degree but am trying to find work in the private sector (finance or sales). How can I use my experience to my advantage?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Andrea! Identify the type of work you’re interested in pursuing within Finance or Sales. Network with individuals in this field and find out what qualifications and experiences are needed. List the qualifications and experiences you’ve gained while obtaining your teaching degree, and determine the transferable skills and knowledge you bring to that particular position in Finance or Sales.

Jordan Douglas:

If you realized you made a SMALL typo (an extra letter in a word) in an application, should you reach out to the recruiter to apologize/send an updated version? Do you even have a chance?

Rehana Ciriani:

Thanks for joining us today Jordan. If you know the recruiter and have the person’s contact information, you may want to send a revised version. However many candidates don’t have the recruiter contact details, so sending a revision may not be effective, especially if the job posting has expired.

Will Roland:

Hey! I’m wondering whether rotational programs or internship programs are a better option for someone with no real experience. Thanks!

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Will. Of course! A rotational program offers a variety of experiences and networking opportunities. This is especially important for new grads who still building their resumes and trying to figure out which career path might be right for them.

Mitch Regan:

Hi Lauren and Rehana! Thanks very much for your time today. Do you have a favourite interview question to ask candidates?

Lauren Friese:

Hi Mitch! Glad to be here! Yes I do. It’s: “Tell me about yourself”. You can learn a lot about candidates by the way they tell their own stories.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Pradeep is an engineering graduate from the University of British Columbia’s engineering program, and asks:

Why is personal branding so important?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hello Pradeep. Branding isn’t just for products – it can be leveraged to effectively manage your career. Think of your career brand as an individualized image that promises certain results. A personal brand statement, also known as an elevator speech is a short (30 – 60 second, 150 words) sound bite that succinctly and memorably introduces you; it highlights your uniqueness; it focuses on the benefits you can provide to an organization, and it is delivered effortlessly using common language.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Sasha, a Community Services student from Seneca College, asks:

If you could make ONE change to how the school/work transition operates, what would it be? More employers hiring Gen Y? Better skills development in high school and after?

Lauren Friese:

Hi Sasha! There are lots of changes I would make, but I’ve also been in this industry long enough to understand the nuances that make specific kinds of change difficult. If I could make ONE change, ignoring all those nuances, it would be for there to be a standardized, university/college-independant, regulated, funded work experience opportunity integrated into every student’s post-secondary education.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Chris, a Financial Services graduate from SAIT, asks:

Do you have any advice on how to adjust to professional life?

Lauren Friese:

Hi Chris. Yes, lots. My biggest piece of advice, however, would be to go in understanding that you don’t know what you don’t know. Be a sponge, soak up information from the people around you. Learn everything you can. Once you know how things are done in your new work environment, you’ll be in a good position to offer feedback and ideas, and maybe even change your environment for the better.

Reena Sangha:

I know technology makes it easier to find information about who to address your cover letter to nowadays, but sometimes it’s still impossible to find! Is “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To Whom It May Concern” ever ok?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Reena. A common way to address written communication is to open with ‘to whom it may concern’.

Julia Cutler:

There’s a company I really want to work for but they don’t have any specific roles posted. Can I send in a general application?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Julia. Rather than sending a general application, I recommend you network with individuals in that organization. Networking has proven to be a successful to way find out about upcoming opportunities.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Taylor studied Social Work at York University, and asks:

What’s the best way to keep motivated when you’ve lost momentum in your job search?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Taylor. Volunteer! Give back. You have a lot to offer and you can inspire others by helping the community or promoting a cause you’re passionate about. You’ll not only feel great about giving back, you’ll help others and at the same time help yourself by gaining valuable skills, experience and exposure.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Grace, an Accounting and Financial Management student at the University of Waterloo, asks:

I don’t feel like I fit in with the culture at my office. What should I do?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Grace. Knowing yourself is the foundation of a successful career. The options you choose to explore, the questions you ask as you investigate possibilities, the opportunities you accept and the company you work for all depend on knowing what’s important to you and what you can bring to a position and an organization. If your values are not aligned to the culture of your organization, you’ll want to seek a workplace that does align. Your career can be one of the most fulfilling parts of your life. After all, you spend more than half of your life working!

Elias (TalentEgg):

Rona, a graduate of the Queen’s School of Business, asks:

What is the most important thing you’ve learned during your career?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Rona. I’ve learned to seize every opportunity, no matter how small or big, in order to gain experience, exposure and build capabilities. Every opportunity is a learning experience.

Gloria Li:

What’s the biggest mistake someone can make while job hunting? Thank you.

Lauren Friese:

Hi Gloria. Thanks for the question. From time to time, you hear people complain about sending out 100s of applications and not getting any interviews. When someone sends out 100s of resumes, it tends to be because they’re not sure what they want to do, and it’s among the biggest mistakes you can make. Take the time to think about your career and figure out what jobs/companies/industries offer the best opportunities for you FIRST, and then take a targeted approach at each step of the process.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Peter, a Mathematics grad from Queen’s University, asks:

To build experience, some of my friends are doing freelance work as writers and artists. What role do you think freelancing plays in the recent grad career start?

Lauren Friese:

Hi Peter! We’ve all heard the saying “you can’t get work without experience, and you can’t get experience without work”. Freelancing is one (of several) great ways to take it upon yourself to get relevant experience as you embark on your career. For some, freelancing can even be a life-long approach to a career.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Mandie is a prospective student, who asks:

I want to be smart about planning for the future but am not interested in pursuing a “safe” degree like Business. Should I follow my interests (I’m leaning towards the humanities) or choose a degree program that ups my chances at employment?

Lauren Friese:

Hi Mandie, The short answer is that it depends. If you want or need a quick return on investment from your education, choosing a degree program like business, at a good school, is a practical route. If you are willing to go above and beyond throughout your education to demonstrate how your humanities degree equips you to work in a professional environment after graduation, you can also see a quick ROI from that path – it’s just not as straightforward. All that being said, there are happy mediums available at lots of schools. Many business programs, for example, not only allow you to take humanities courses, but insist.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Nicole, a student at the Schulich School of Business, asks:

What do you like most about working with Gen Y?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Nicole! I admire many qualities about Gen Y. They are eager to learn and embrace new opportunities with curiosity, excitement and creativity. They’re also highly social and leverage social media tools to collaborate, learn from each other and share their experiences.

Greg Bannister:

Due to a large number of candidates with university degrees, do you find that university degrees differentiate candidates less than their work experience or professional designations?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Greg, It depends on the type of work and organization you are seeking. For some roles and organizations, a university degree is table stakes.

Yulia:

What’s the best way to prepare for an interview? I’ve never had one before.

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Yulia, the best way to prepare for an interview is practice, practice, practice! There are countless tools available online that outline possible interview questions. Research the company you are applying to and know the expectations of the role. Be sure to rehearse how you will present yourself and position the experience you do have.

Edgar:

How do we maximize our job search, and how can we deal with the frustration that comes with it?

Lauren Friese:

Hi Edgar. That’s a really good question. I would say that you should treat your job search like a job. Develop a routine. Like a job, there will be great days and frustrating days. Ultimately (and statistically!) it will work out. Take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone – it’s a difficult time for everyone.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Kelly is studying Business Administration at Trent University, and asks:

I’m job hunting and feel like my whole day is spent tailoring my cover letter and resume to each role. Is there a better way to organize my time?

Lauren Friese:

Hi Kelly! There’s no way to get around tailoring your cover letter and resume – they’re your best and only tool for making a first impression, so it’s worth spending the time. Here’s a handy article with some advice on how to create a master resume for easier tailoring: http://talentegg.ca/incubator/2013/08/07/the-master-list-a-content-hub-for-your-future-resume-cover-letters/

Elias (TalentEgg):

Mariam, an English student at Dalhousie, asks:

How has working on/managing the RBC Career Launch Program influenced your understanding of the struggle young people face in the job market?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Mariam! We understand that youth unemployment is a critical issue in Canada and it impacts Canada’s prosperity. Making the transition from education to employment presents many challenges to young people; and the goal of the Career Launch program is to break the ‘no experience – no job’ cycle facing young college and university graduates.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Anna, a New Media student at Ryerson, asks:

I’m more active on social platforms like Vine and Pinterest than Twitter or Facebook. Do recruiters look at these platforms as much as the others?

Lauren Friese:

Hi Anna! This is a question with no hard and fast answers, because it really depends on what kind of job you’re applying to. If it’s not a marketing/social media/communications position, I would focus more on what an employer finds when they Google you. However, if you’re looking to get into one of the fields mentioned above, you could use your cover letter as an opportunity to highlight the social platforms where you’ve invested your time and made an impact.

Emily W.:

It’s been a while since I’ve applied for a job but I am in the process of job hunting and don’t know whether I need to update my old references. Should I re-ask them if they will be my reference?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Emily. Yes, you’ll want to provide an update to those individuals who are giving you a reference and keep them posted about your job search. If you’re applying for a position you should let your references know so they can be prepared for a reference check.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Jerry, an Accounting student at the University of Waterloo, asks:

When should I be sending a post-interview thank you note? I never know if I’m sending them too soon (within the hour) or too late (the next day)!

Lauren Friese:

Hi Jerry! Again, there are no hard and fast rules, but >1 hour and ormation on how to write an appropriate thank you note: http://talentegg.ca/incubat…

Elias (TalentEgg):

Daniel, a Sociology student from the University of Toronto who majored in Economics and Mathematics, asks:

What’s going to be Gen Y’s biggest influence on the modern workplace?

Lauren Friese:

Hi Daniel – I think that Generation Y is the first generation that simultaneously wants to change the working world, and also has the tools to change it – namely, the technology to work from anywhere, anytime. I think we’ll see a big shift in many traditional workplaces.

Marc C:

Hi everyone! I’ve been looking for work for the past 6 months and am not having any luck finding work. At this point I’m thinking about going back to school but would have to take out a student loan. Would advancing my education be better than finding part time work?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Marc. This is an individual decision, and there are a lot of considerations. Will you get a return on your investment? You’ll need to understand the pros and cons of going back to school and do your homework on this. Ask for advice from mentors, friends, professors, parents, guidance counselors, and anyone else you trust to help make the right decision.

Kevin Paulino:

What’s the number one piece of information that employers look for in the resumes of new grads?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Kevin, the qualifying skills for each position will be evaluated individually. The most important thing to convey is how transferable your skills are.

Lewis:

Should you bring a friend to a networking event?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Lewis, Sure if it makes you feel comfortable, however oftentimes people who bring a friend spend the entire time with their friend and miss out on great networking opportunities. While networking can be a bit intimidating, it’s important to get out of your comfort zone.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Great questions! Did you catch our recent Office Hours with the RBC Career Launch Program team in October?

Check out the transcript: http://talentegg.ca/incubator/2014/10/16/office-hours-rbc-career-launch-program-team/

Sean D.:

I’m from a small town in AB and there aren’t any networking events around. How can I connect with people when the biggest city is 3 hours away?

Lauren Friese:

Hi Sean! The internet is an incredible equalizer – while you may not be able to attend many (or any) in-person events, you can still network with employers on social media, via live chats such as this one (Office Hours), and through a number of other channels.

Elias (TalentEgg):

There were so many egg-ceptional questions during our last Office Hours chat with the RBC Career Launch Program team that we published a separate Q&A for TalentEgg-ers like you!

Get the answers to every top question by clicking here: http://talentegg.ca/incubator/2014/11/21/rbc-career-launch-program-team-answer-questions/

Elias (TalentEgg):

Katie, a Business Administration student from Wilfrid Laurier University, asks:

Do you think that businesses have a responsibility to help fix the youth unemployment problem?

Rehana Ciriani:

Hi Katie, Resolving this challenge will require a concerted effort by many of us including Canada’s business leaders, employers and all levels of government to commit to youth employment.

Elias (TalentEgg):

That’s all the time we have for questions today. Thanks for participating in Office Hours!

And of course, a big thank-you to Rehana and Lauren as well for answering all these questions! Do you have any final comments?

Rehana Ciriani:

Thank you for joining the call today, and for your great questions! Do one thing that makes you uncomfortable each day. Good luck on your job search.

Lauren Friese:

Thanks for all your egg-cellent, egg-ceptional questions. I really enjoyed participating!

Elias (TalentEgg):

Thanks again for joining us today, TalentEgg-ers! Keep your eyes on our Twitter (@TalentEgg) and Facebook (facebook.com/TalentEgg) for upcoming Office Hours events!

Marc C:

Egg-tastic chat!

Yulia:

This was awesome!

Logan Findlay:

Thanks!

Edgar:

Thank you Rehana and Lauren for your time.

Guest:

Thanks!

Roy:

Thanks!

Guest:

Thanks Rehana and Lauren! Great learning from you.

Farid:

Thanks.

Daniel:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today Rehana and Lauren!

Thabiso:

Thank you Rehana and Lauren. Your time is much appreciated.

Jade:

Egg-ceptional! Egg-cellent! Egg-actly what I needed.

Guest:

Really enjoyed getting this insight from you.

Guest:

This was great.

Maria:

Office Hours are so beneficial to students like me!

You can learn more about the RBC Career Launch Program here!

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