Landing the perfect job: Part 2

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Be prepared and get organized before your big interview

Job hunting

I once had a job interview at a provincial government office. The day of the appointment, a wicked February northeaster was threatening to sever souls. So nasty was it outside that I had to take a taxi or else I would’ve arrived with my suit in tatters.

I set out in the taxi 45 minutes before the interview time, but when we drove up Higgins Line, the driver informed me that he couldn’t cross the picket line manned by angry civil servants. He let me out in a sign-swallowing snowbank near the lights and by the time I beat my way through the sideways snow and past the picket line, I looked like a mangy cat.

I tried my best to preen myself in the lobby of the annex before heading upstairs. I got in the elevator, headed up, and lo and behold, the office was … gone.

I had been to an interview in the same office twice before, but I had spent the previous year away, and while I was gone the whole kit and caboodle had been relocated. The office had moved to LeMarchant Road and no one had told me.

And I had committed the cardinal sin of failing to confirm the location of my interview.

Back out in the storm, across the picket line, I waited in the snowbank for another cab, arriving on LeMarchant Road completely dishevelled, late and in a sour mood.

Guess what?

I didn’t get the job.


Be prepared

But you will not make the same faux pas as I. You will arrive at your job interview well-prepared, amply rested, and ready to kick … soccer balls, or whatever the job may entail.

Remember to dress appropriately, offer a firm handshake to whoever is in the room, introduce yourself clearly and settle in for a learning experience. Even if you don’t get the job, chalk it up to experience, make note of the questions you were asked and practise responses to them before your next interview.

It helps to have an adult you don’t know well ask you the questions, like the parent of a friend. That will make you übernervous so that in a real interview you’ll be calmer.

So, if you still don’t know what you’ll be doing this summer, read on for The Job Hunt: Part 2.


Youth summer work student exchange

The YMCA is interviewing students and families for a work exchange program that allows 16- and 17-year-olds the chance to practise their second language while getting work experience and earning money.

For six weeks you might get to live and work in a section of the country you’ve probably never seen. Interviews are underway so get your applications in. There are 10 positions in the St. John’s metro area and six in Grand Falls-Windsor.

Applicants should have a working knowledge of French (or English if that’s your second language) and, if you’re accepted, you pay $50. Airfare and local transportation is paid for by the program and students live with a host family. Note to parents: this is an exchange program, so it’s not like you’ll be teenagerless for the summer, as you will host a French-speaking student in your house for the same time frame.

Pay is usually minimum wage and jobs include working in a playground taking care of children registered in local park programs. Outings are organized evenings and weekends so you’ll have lots of opportunity to get out and have fun. Visit, email or call 709-687-8099.


Jobs in the province, a website dedicated to jobs in this province, recommends that students register online. Once registered, you can subscribe to a notifier system by selecting keywords from a drop-down box.

If a job comes up and its description contains one of your key words, you’ll receive an email about the position. Otherwise, you can keep checking back to see if there’s a job of interest available. Once in the system you can store up to 10 résumés and cover letters. Phone 709-726-6600 or 1-800-563-6600.


Young Canada Works

Sign up at for federally sponsored jobs. You have to be between 16 and 30, register online and provide an email address and password. Don’t forget to write them down so you don’t forget which ones you’ve chosen.


City of St. John’s

The City of St. John’s has positions to fill each summer, but the deadline for applications was April 9.

I thought I’d still list them here so you can keep them in mind for next year. Positions include bike instructors, swimming pool attendants and life guards, recreation counsellors and soccer referees. Since some positions are filled by returning staff, the city encourages applicants to apply for multiple positions. These jobs require not only a certificate of conduct from the RNC but also a vulnerable sector check, as most jobs involve working with youth. Photocopies are not accepted and the check has to be for the current year.

Check out employment opportunities at


Job fairs

This year I have seen job fairs advertised for the new Montana’s Restaurant on Stavanger Drive in St. John’s and the new Rona store on Torbay Road. Last year I remember fairs at Kent and Piper’s. Be sure to scan The Weekend Telegram Careers section to find out which businesses have upcoming job fairs.

At the fair, you will probably hear about what the available positions entail and maybe watch a video about the company. Sometimes you may have to do a math proficiency test if the positions involve working with cash. Bring along your résumé with references listed on a separate sheet.


And about references

Make sure if you list someone as a reference, you give them a head’s up. You don’t want someone getting a call out of the blue asking about your strengths and weaknesses. And a reference is not going to get you far if the person you choose thinks you’re tardy or sullen. Make sure you know the reference will be a good one, and don’t forget to thank your references after the fact.

You should also thank the interviewers once you’ve completed the interview, whether there’s been a job offer or not. It will show them you’re appreciative and organized — not to mention the fact you really want the job.

A hand-written thank-you note might give you a one up over the next applicant who is equally qualified if the employer is trying to decide to whom to offer the position. Make sure you leave the interview with the interviewer’s contact information. A business card should provide all you need.


Getting ready

When you get called for an interview, prepare well. Google the company. Look up any recent news stories about it. Talk to anyone you can find who worked there. Have some questions ready to ask at the end of the interview.

The interviewer should tell you what kind of salary to expect. If not, you can ask politely about pay, hours of work and when you can expect to hear if you’re the successful applicant.


Be organized

Get a file folder and keep all your job-hunt-related materials together. Make a little spreadsheet of the jobs applied for, contact names and dates. Leave a column for when you get an interview and with whom. The final columns should cover whether you’ve sent a thank you or received an offer.

Do the same on your computer desktop. Create a file like “Job Hunt 2012” and add your résumé and any cover letters you have written. One cover letter can be revamped for other positions, but it should be specific to the job and what you can bring to it.

One cover letter should not be used for different applications. If it can, it’s too generic to catch the eye of the employer. Think about what skills you can bring to that specific job.


Last bits of advice

When you get the call for an interview, confirm location, date and time and the person who will be conducting the interview. Don’t be afraid to ask the spelling of someone’s name.

Finally, try to relax, think about me crossing the blustery picket line on Higgins Line looking like a stray. I sincerely doubt your interview will turn out as bad as mine.


Susan Flanagan can be reached at

Organizations: Rona, Google

Geographic location: LeMarchant Road, Grand Falls-Windsor, Montana Torbay Road

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Recent comments

  • Frank
    May 15, 2012 - 14:12

    Funny that I should have come across this post. I am a federal civil servant (do me a favour and save your bile) who is from NL but find myself living in Ottawa. I was one of the "lucky" ones that had to move away in the 80s in order to get a job. Now that there are some jobs to be had back home I have been trying for two years to get a position in the Prov government. 11 applications and not a single friggin interview, screened out without so much as a chat. So I did a little poking around and came across some interesting facts posted on the Public Service Commission website. NL has the lowest rate of hires from the public into the prov government in the entire country but the internal hires (a promotion) are on par with provinces who have much larger populations like Ontario. The public hires were 5.9% when I checked about 2 months ago but the internal hires were 39%. I got screened out of 3 web programmer positions when I have been doing that exact job at the federal level for 11 years and was willing to take a pay cut just to go home. Oh well guess I will just view from away as the stories pour out about the shortage of skilled workers in NL and grit my teeth because those of us who want to come home can't get in the friggin door anymore.

  • PC Part Membership Card
    May 15, 2012 - 10:27

    You do not have a chance at a provincial government job unless you are a card carrying member of the PC Party of NL. Senior executive positions right down to ceremonial jobs at government house. No card - no job.

  • Pbar
    May 15, 2012 - 09:58

    @ Don II Don It doesn't stop there I knew a whole family that was employed by Eastern Health Each more mind numbingly unqualified than the last It went through 3 generations

  • Don II
    May 15, 2012 - 09:12

    Don't beat yourself up. Your late arrival at the interview or your snowstorm battered appearance had nothing to do with the reason why you did not get hired for the Government of Newfoundland job that you were seeking. Most job postings and interviews in the Government of Newfoundland are a legally required formality. The reason you did not get the job with the Government of Newfoundland is because somebody else already had the job, you just did not know it and the Government of Newfoundland will never tell you that. Nepotism, favoritism and politically connected hiring is rampant in the Government of Newfoundland. I am told that there are families in Newfoundland and Labrador who have 12 or more members of their family employed by the Government. In select cases, some families have generational employment status as the jobs get passed from father to son or mother to daughter as people employed in Government departments retire or die. So, it was not your fault that you did not get hired by the Government of Newfoundland. You did not have a fair chance at that job from the start. The problem with the corrupt system of hiring in the Government of Newfoundland is that the Einstein's get passed over in favor of hiring the village idiots.

    • Pbar
      May 15, 2012 - 09:54

      @ Don II Don It doesn't stop there I knew a whole family that was employed by Eastern Health Each more mind numbingly unqualified than the last It went through 3 generations

    • Carol Ann Rogers
      May 15, 2012 - 11:07

      Totally agree with you, gov jobs are gone to the chosen few and posting the job is only done to give the appearance of fairness. Labour unions don't even make an appear fair, the receptionist just turns people away with a wave of her hand. "not taking any more members" was what she said. Yet next day I hear Long Harbour does not have enough skilled workers. Someone should tell the receptionist at the Union office in St. John`s. Then there is the Call Center`s. This is where well educated individuals work while waiting for that `really good job` to come through. A degree does not guarantee a person will get that job of a lifetime, but your local call center will always have a seat for you. Most of your friends are already there. Then lets not forget the buddy system. If your Mom and Dad, Grandfather, Uncle or Aunt work anywhere you can get a job where ever they work, because its all about who you know. You don`t really have to have the certifications, the diploma, much less a degree if your family is connected. ( not to the mafia, just to the boss of anyplace in NL) That is how it works to get work. The empty head that provides the worst service is usually the bosses relative.

    • Ash
      May 15, 2012 - 11:14

      Don II I second that my friend, to have someone already on the inside is the key to getting a job with the government of NL. I try all the time state my qualifications only applying for jobs I am qualified for, great references and I always state my minority which is aboriginal and that does absolutely nothing for me, I lost all faith in the government and that "who you know" crap.