Skills and Certifications

Many people have a tough time breaking out of roles they have been in for an extended period of time. Every day we encounter frustrated candidates who are trying to break out of retail, food service or other roles into a more stable 9 to 5 type of position. These candidates are sometimes railroaded because of their extensive experience in one or two fields that don’t have skill sets that appear as readily transferable.

If you find you are a candidate looking to break into a particular field, a few things that can help are cover letters, certifications and skills assessments.

Skills assessments are an especially valuable asset to breaking into an office position. Many recruitment firms such as Diversified Staffing are asked to place junior or entry level candidates. While we try to meet with as many candidates as we can, when submitting candidates to our clients we have to send the best suited for the task. We commonly find employers requesting that potential employees complete tests for MS Word, Excel, Typing, and Data Entry. Therefore if you are able to have your clerical skills assessed prior to submitting an employment application or resume your chances are already improved.

You will have demonstrated to both the recruiter and to any potential employers that you understand the job role and have taken steps toward developing the necessary skill set. In every city there are many institutions that can provide basic classes on common office skill sets. If you already have the required skills but want a concrete score to put on your resume or cover letter these institutions can also set you up for online testing. Some websites will ask you to pay for results, however if you dig around you can find some that offer tests for free as well. Having these certifications or at least the test results readily displayed on a cover letter will help set you apart from any other candidates vying for junior or entry level positions.

If you are trying to attain a trades or professional level placement, you always want to be looking at the qualifications prior to applying. Do your research, find out about the required programs and where they can be taken. Community colleges are a valuable asset to starting you on the right path to trades and professional level careers. Trades positions are harder to break into as some companies are willing to train and others are not. If possible, learn about a company’s hiring policy regarding trades people prior to applying. If you are unable to ascertain the company’s hiring policy, or find that a company requires applicants who already have training, you may have to apply to the college and take your training independently. Most colleges have programs in place that can set you up as a registered apprentice for a trade within 10-15 weeks, sometimes less.

Use these tools to strengthen your cover letter or resume prior to applying for positions outside your usual field of work. Avoiding clichés such as ‘hard working, quick learning enthusiastic go-getter’ and keeping your personal description to solid verifiable facts and ability indicators will show that you have both the insight and the drive to succeed.

Below are some helpful links to obtaining the training you might require, or having skills assessed for inclusion in a job application.

and for Central Alberta/Red Deer area job hunters

Post by Jarrett Viczko