Color & Control:

FYI: Fact or Fiction?

There are plenty of misconceptions that may slow down your job search and lead you in the wrong direction. Here is a heads up on a few of the most popular tips for overcoming them.

FACT: A well-written cover letter is a must.
Always include a customized cover letter that carefully outlines why you are a great fit for the job and encourages the hiring team to invite you for an interview. A good cover letter is an opportunity to tell your story in words. 

FACT: It is impactful to network with human resource managers.
One of the many roles human resources serves is to fill open job requisitions. Often, there are numerous requisitions in the pipeline and filling these jobs is a top priority. So, networking with people in human resources is in your best interest. 

FICTION: It’s best to just wait until the employer you want to work for calls you.
Plan to follow up with someone in human resources after you have submitted your application to confirm it was received. Don’t be intimidated. Ask what the time frame is for filling the job, if you have a chance, highlight your qualifications and ask for an interview. 

FICTION: The best time to network is after the job is posted internally/externally.
Start early—in advance of the public posting. Network with HR managers and people within the company you wish to work for. It’s likely insiders know ahead of time that there will be a vacancy or a new position coming up.

FICTION: You will get a response and an interview when you apply.
Most of the time you will not receive a call. When the hiring team feels that you could be a better match than others they will reach out by email or in person to ask questions or discuss next steps. Remember their priority is to fill the job quickly with the right applicant. Given the number of applications for each position, often upwards of 250, there is just no time to contact everyone.

FACT: The best time to look for a job is when you already have one.
A wise applicant is always assessing the market, researching opportunities and, if applicable, taking interviews while they are more secure and relaxed. This process will keep you current, fresh and aware of industry trends and allow for a more confident approach. In other words, don’t quit while you’re ahead. Be patient in your search.

FACT: Your resume needs updating for each job.
A clear, current resume and tailored cover letter should be a compelling story to get you the interview.

FICTION: Today job hunting is all done online. 
It’s a mix. The best formula is to cast a wide net. Networking, looking online, using recruiters, attending professional association meetings, volunteering, and reaching out to new people every day.

FACT: You need professional and personal references. 
It costs a company time and money to verify references. That said, references will be contacted once you have been identified as a viable candidate and, often, once an offer is made. Notify your references ahead of time that you are applying for positions so that they are not caught off guard. If you have written references include them. 

6 Biggest mistakes made during a Zoom or in-person interview

Stiffness, name-dropping and salary talk could hurt your chances. Try to avoid these common mistakes when interviewing for your next job.

It’s game time. You’ve been asked to come in for a face-to-face job interview or a video call.

You’re a little apprehensive, but you’ve done your preparation. You know why you want the job and how you’re qualified. But, yes, there are plenty of ways you can be thrown for a loop. Here are six common interview mistakes and how to avoid them.

1) Acting arrogant
Humility rules the day. Even if you feel you’re overqualified for the position, don’t wear it on your sleeve. Employers want people who work well with others and don’t hold themselves above anyone else.

Be confident, with just the tiniest dose of swagger. But never go egotistic. If you believe in yourself, you don’t need the crutch of haughtiness or brassness.

In the end, whether you get tapped for the job often will depend on a hiring manager’s gut sense of how well you’ll play with the other kids. Someone who is willing and happy to chip in and works effortlessly and collaboratively with others wins the day.

You want the interview to convey that you have this quality. One way is to be sincerely enthusiastic about the company. It will show up in the spark in your eyes and the tone of your voice. Be clear about why you’re motivated by what the organization does, its mission, the challenges of the position for which you’re interviewing and why you think you’d be a good fit with its culture.

2) Dropping names
It may be OK to briefly mention names of people you may know in common or those of big players in your industry with whom you’ve recently worked. But, generally, this technique is a turnoff and suggests insecurity. Your interviewer may take it as a flaunting of high-level connections that will get you in the door, so zip it on names. We all know how we feel when people drop names to us.

3) Asking for compensation/work schedules too early
Wait for signs that the organization wants you before broaching how much it’s willing to pay or whether it offers flextime or telecommuting options. Ask too soon and you may end up lowballing yourself or giving the impression you want special scheduling privileges and don’t want to be a team player in the office.

4) Not being engaging enough
Calm down. When you’re tense, you can come off as being stiff and standoffish. There is an easy fix: Take a breath, relax and make eye contact with your interviewer.
Get in the spirit of the game. Keep the interview volleying back and forth at a steady pace. Leaning slightly forward can signal that you’re interested. Smile and laugh (though not too hard!) when it’s appropriate. That instantly creates an atmosphere of engagement and breaks the inner tension for you—and your interviewer, too.

5) Focusing on what you would get out of the job
This is one of the biggest errors you can make, so steer the conversation not toward what the employer can do for you, but what you can do for the employer. If and when you have an offer, you can shift your focus to getting some specifics on your personal situation.

The best way to sidestep this blunder is to keep your attention focused on your interviewer and the reality that you’re sitting in that chair to sell solutions to the company’s problems or challenges. Listen closely to what he or she is saying.

Generally speaking, employers are looking for certain characteristics in you as a candidate that will make the workplace run more productively. They want to glean your enthusiasm and your curiosity to learn new things. One stereotype older workers must push back against is that they are set in their ways.

Ask questions about the company and its services, products, customers and competition. Be sure these aren’t generic questions that are easily answered by a look at the company’s website. Ask things that demonstrate you have done your sleuthing and are digging deeper. Be sure to mention any new certificates or technology skills that you’ve added.

Creativity is a big seller, too. Talk about a specific way you innovatively solved a problem or met a challenge for a previous employer.

Grit is another core trait that’s in demand. Interviewers want to see a whatever-it-takes attitude. Be prepared to discuss situations at work or in your personal life when you faced adversity or experienced a setback and overcame it.

6) Twisting the facts
This is an interview killer. You have nothing to gain from exaggerating or massaging the truth, whether it’s about past jobs and responsibilities, graduation dates or experience. Honesty is nothing to play around with. It can be tempting in the heat of an interview to overplay your qualifications in your desire to be hired. But if your interviewer calls you on it will be tough to regain your composure and credibility.

Up your chances of steering clear of pitfalls by practicing ahead of time. You might have a friend or job-search partner play the role of interviewer. You may also create your own simulated video interview with Skype, an online communications app or a video camera and tripod. Ask a friend to pitch questions your way. Record it and review to see where you can smooth your delivery and responses. Another option is an online job interview simulator.

If you’re starting a job hunt and worry that your in-person interview skills are rusty, consider joining Toastmasters. You’ll learn how to focus your attention away from your own anxieties and concentrate on your message and audience. You might also take a public-speaking course at your local community college. Most courses cover techniques for managing communication anxiety, speaking clearly and tuning into your body language. Finally, work with a personal coach. A good career coach can give you feedback and offer advice to hone your presentation. 

Kerry Hannon, AARP jobs expert, is an author. Follow her on Twitter @kerryhannon.

Canada’s volunteer centres

An untapped resource

Volunteer Canada works in partnership with the Canadian Volunteer Centre Network, which includes local volunteer centres and provincial associations of volunteer centres, to strengthen volunteering and citizen engagement.

Beyond working in their own communities, volunteer centres recognize that they can have a greater impact as a larger network of more than 200 volunteer centres and provincial/territorial associations of volunteer centres. The Canadian Volunteer Centre Network strengthens volunteer centres, individually and collectively, to better promote volunteering, provide leadership on volunteer engagement and make connections in their own communities and across Canada. 

Establishing a common voice and building a cohesive knowledge base strengthens volunteering and increases the impact of volunteer centres locally, provincially and nationally.

How to find a local centre
Use the volunteer centre directory at or consult the organizations below to find a volunteer centre near you:

Alberta: Volunteer Alberta is an inclusive member association serving and representing Alberta’s diverse nonprofit organizations. They are a voice for the value of volunteerism and the nonprofit sector, encouraging participation and collaboration that contributes to the common good in Alberta.

British Columbia: Volunteer BC works with various partners and serves all members of the public who want to volunteer and be engaged in their community through meaningful and productive volunteer opportunities.

Ontario: OVCN provides a provincial network and voice to strengthen the individual and collective ability of Volunteer Centres in Ontario to promote and develop volunteerism.

Quebec: JeBenevole is the provincial platform that matches volunteer centres and non-profit organizations with volunteers. (French website only) Fédération des centres d’action bénévole du Québec: Its mission is to mobilize, support and represent volunteer centres to encourage the promotion, recognition and development of diverse practices of volunteer action in communities. (French website only)

As defined by Volunteer Canada, volunteer centres are organizations which either have non-profit status (preferably with registered charitable status) or have a ‘qualified donee1’ status (as defined by the Charities Division of Canada Customs and Revenue Agency) or are hosted by a non-profit status organization (preferably with registered charitable status).

To qualify, an organization must:
• Have an advisory committee and/or terms of reference clearly indicating a mandate to promote volunteerism to the entire community, and how this will be accomplished; and
• Have the word “volunteer” contained in the name of the volunteer centre or its host organization;
• Have a designated person responsible for the volunteer centre;
• Be eligible for membership with their provincial volunteer centre body (where they exist);
• Have a statement of purpose (mission/mandate/vision) that aligns with the national definition—which suggests they exist primarily to foster and develop volunteerism in the community as a whole engage in four general kinds of activities:

1) Promoting volunteerism
Volunteer centres raise awareness of the power of service, encourage people to volunteer, provide information about volunteerism and recognize the contribution of volunteers. Some examples include celebrating National Volunteer Week and conducting volunteer fairs.

2) Building capacity for effective local volunteering
Volunteer centres help voluntary sector organizations, and other groups and individuals that work with volunteers, do a better job recruiting, managing and retaining volunteers. Some examples include offering training programs, one to one consultations, and providing support to organizations that work with volunteers.

3) Providing leadership on issues relating to volunteerism
Volunteer centres serve as a convener for the community and a catalyst for action. They work through local partnerships and collaborations with various groups and organizations, government, schools, and community leaders to identify needs and mobilize volunteer response. Some examples include speaking on behalf of volunteers, convening or participating on committees and collaborations, and advising volunteers of community needs.

4) Connecting people with opportunities to serve
Volunteer centres provide people with easy access to a wide variety of opportunities to connect to their community through service. Some examples include targeting programs for special populations, offering recruitment and referral services, and managing direct services involving volunteers. 

What to ask after the interview

You’ve finished answering their (many!) questions. Then they ask you if you have any. Don’t say no! Ask a few questions. It shows you’re interested in the position and you’ll learn more about the job—you may even learn something that’ll make you lose interest. Just don’t ask questions that relate to yourself, like compensation, or anything easily searchable because that demonstrates you made no effort to learn about the job. These are some questions you can ask:

What would you like me to accomplish in the first three months? How is the success of this job measured and evaluated?
If you’re already asking about job objectives, the interviewers may feel that thinking about success so early in the process could translate into success on the job. It also suggests you’re confident, excited about the opportunity and eager to start working. Asking this also means you know this job is special—it’s not like any other and you need to know how to succeed right away.

What do your most successful employees do differently?
You don’t settle. Getting this job isn’t enough—you want to be one of the best in the company and you want to be the best at what you do. Also, this shows you’re open to staying with the company, which earns you additional points because companies don’t want people who will quickly jump on to the next opportunity. They want someone they can develop and shape into a leader.

What is the most challenging aspect of this job?
This gives you the opportunity (provided it is true) to tell them you’re great at performing what the interviewers believe is the hardest requirement of the position.

Is there anything about my qualifications that you need me to clarity?
This is the time to clarify! If there’s anything about your background, education, experience, skills or anything else listed on your resume or cover letter that you’re worried the interviewers may misunderstand or harm your chance of earning the job, address it now—you’ll regret not doing so.

What do you like most and least about working here?
This shows you have the courage to address tough issues and seek honesty. If the worst part of working there is a deal-breaker for you, move on. But if it’s something you don’t mind, the job is worth accepting. Asking the interviewers what they like and dislike could also direct the conversation from a formal interview to an informal conversation, and show you’d smoothly fit it in socially.

What are the next steps of the interview process?
This is the simplest method of letting them know you don’t have any more questions and allows them to end the interview.

Virtual volunteering

Giving back without leaving your home

Volunteering can now be done online, via computers, tablets or smartphones, usually off-site from the non-profit organization being supported. More and more, organizations are engaging people who want to contribute their skills and time via the internet.

What are the benefits of virtual volunteering?
Virtual volunteering is flexible, often allowing the volunteer to complete a task or project around his or her own schedule. It is also not limited by geography, physical ability or work arrangement. You can choose to volunteer for an organization in your local community, across the country or across the globe all without needing to leave your home. 

What is the time commitment? 
Willing individuals can complete one-time, short-term or ongoing tasks and projects. You may choose to volunteer once to write a blog, over a few months to design a website or on an ongoing basis as a tutor to a student for one hour per week over a school year.   

What skills do I want to share or learn?
Consider the types of skills and talents you would like to share or learn through your volunteering and match them to the needs of an organization. Some people want to share their professional skills; others would rather share talents not related to their profession. Some are seeking to learn a new skill or build work experience. Many opportunities are skills-based and can include pro bono legal services. 

Applying for a virtual volunteering opportunity?
As with any volunteer opportunity, there are steps to ensure a good match and a safe experience for the volunteer and the non-profit organization. Some opportunities require specific expertise and screening, others don’t. Depending on the position or task, this may include some or all of the following:
• Completing an online application form 
• Sending your resume and references
• Meeting/connecting for an interview (by phone or online)
• Getting a Police Record Check, or a Vulnerable Sector Check 
• Completing an online orientation
• Participating in position-specific training 

Examples of virtual volunteering 
Individuals engaged in virtual volunteering can take on a variety of activities and projects from one-time to long-term and everything in-between. Here are some examples of areas where you might be able to help out:
• Social media strategy development 
• Technology assessments 
• Employee handbook development
• Organizing photo libraries  
• Business or marketing plan creation
• Project proposal writing  
• Financial analysis 
• Graphic design 
• Translation, editing or proofreading of documents
• Social media posting and blogs
• Project management for a new program 
• Mentoring or tutoring
• Telephone assurance for seniors

Here are four examples of virtual volunteering opportunities that we found listed:  

1)Telephone Reassurance Volunteer: Use your phone to connect with an isolated senior or adult with a disability and bring some light to their day!

2) Public Relations Specialist: Are you a communicator who is interested in volunteering for a young and energetic organization where you’ll enjoy flexibility in setting your own schedule and freedom to contribute your ideas? Your role will be to help support communications efforts and contribute to the development of a media relations, influencer engagement and social communications strategy. 

3) Writer: Assist with writing marketing and communications documents such as newsletters, request letters, website content, and more. 

4) Volunteer Social Media Specialist: Join an organization’s marketing team to produce and implement social media strategies. You could manage, maintain and grow an organization’s social media presence on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

In your area
Many volunteer centres across the country have volunteer matching platforms where individuals can find and apply to virtual volunteer opportunities online. (see next page). 

Source: Volunteer Canada

Job hunting in a virtual world

With over a year of dealing with this pandemic, it’s time for job seekers and employment support staff to welcome in the “New Normal.”

Let’s face it—we now live in a virtual world where online job applications and video job interviews have become the norm. During the coronavirus pandemic, in-person interviews have become a thing of the past. Adapting to the new online way of looking for and securing work is critical to successful job hunting. 

Using online resources
The internet is the best source of information about job opportunities these days. Start by making a list of all the employers you’d like to work for in a particular sector. For, example, if you have your sights set on finding a job in the grocery business, do an online search for all the grocery stores in your area. Then narrow your search down to the ones that are actually hiring. For example, if you want to work at Walmart, search “jobs at Walmart Canada” and look for a link to apply for jobs online. You should also check out online job boards, such as Indeed Canada, and LinkedIn, to find out who’s hiring.

Chances are, you’ll be completing job applications and submitting your resume online these days. In the absence of face-to-face interactions, it’s important to make a good virtual first impression. Make sure your resume is up-to-date, free of typos and grammatical errors, and succinct yet compelling enough to stand out from the crowd.

Many employment centres offer online job search skills training workshops including resume writing and interview skills. Your local library also has some terrific online resources to assist you with your job search, including online learning courses, blogs and podcasts.

Acing the online interview
Once you’ve secured an online interview, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared to ace it. Following are five great tips, courtesy of

1. Learn the technology. Confirm the interview platform (e.g., Zoom, Skype, Office Teams), and make sure you have answers to the following questions: 
• Is it an audio interview or both audio and video? 
• Is there someone on the other end of the video or are the questions pre-recorded? 
• If the questions are pre-recorded, how many chances do I get to record my answer? 
• What do I do or who do I call if I start having technical difficulties? 
• Are accommodations available and how do I access them?

Download the app well in advance and become comfortable with it. Make sure everything works properly. Test your internet connection as well as the audio sound and video. Practice the interview with a job coach, friend and/or family member.

2. Be professional. Although non-verbal communication is harder to detect in a virtual interview, the interviewer will probably be trained to be more alert for this feedback. So, be just a professional as you would for an in-person interview. Dress professionally (business casual to be safe) and sit up straight. 

First impressions still matter, so don’t forget to smile! Whether you’re talking to an actual person or recording your answers, do your best to look the interviewer in the eye through the webcam or camera. Connect into the meeting about 10-15 minutes earlier so you are ready to go when the interviewer logs in.

3. Get prepared. Just because you won’t be in an office with live human beings, it doesn’t mean they aren’t taking this extremely seriously. Just as you would do for an in-person interview, prepare and practice your responses to anticipated questions with someone as many times as you require to be ready for the interview. Research the company and the job description and have your own questions ready. Make sure the interviewer has a copy of your resume and cover letter before the interview and be ready to take notes. 

4. Pick the perfect spot in your home for the interview. Select a quiet space that isn’t too dark and stay away from overhead lights. Bad lighting can be distracting and a glare could make it difficult for the interviewer to see you. You may want to invest in a ring light for about $25 dollars to get the best possible lighting for online interactions. 

Eliminate distractions. Make sure that you’re alone and nothing interferes with your conversation, including your phone and email notifications, or even pets. Consider the background. What will your interviewer see behind and beside you? Is it tidy? Is it appealing? Does it make you look friendly and approachable? 

5. Calm your nerves. Looking for a job is often stressful. Being ready, physically and mentally, can often help reduce the stress. Have breakfast or lunch beforehand. Take your time when answering questions. 

Afterwards, congratulate yourself for taking this risk. Do something that you enjoy to reward yourself, within the limits of COVID guidelines. Focus on what went well in the interview. Connect with your job coach or trusted friend or family member immediately to discuss the experience and supports available for self-care if you feel you need support. 

Joanna Samuels, MEd, is an adult educator with an expertise in career/ job coaching and community/business partnership building. She is also is an employment resource supervisor at

It’s good for you!

Top 10 Reasons to Volunteer

10) It’s good for you.
Volunteering provides both physical and mental health rewards. 
• Reduces stress: Experts report that when you focus on someone other than yourself, it interrupts usual tension-producing patterns. 
• Makes you healthier: Moods and emotions, like optimism and a sense of control over one’s fate, strengthen the immune system.

9) It saves resources.
Volunteering provides valuable community services so more money can be spent on
local improvements.

8) Volunteers gain professional experience.
You can test out a career.

7) It brings people together.
As a volunteer, you can assist in:
• Uniting people from diverse backgrounds to work toward a common goal.
• Building camaraderie and teamwork.

6) It promotes personal growth and self esteem.
Understanding community needs helps foster empathy and self-efficacy.

5) Volunteering strengthens your community.
You can help with activities that:
• Support families (daycare and eldercare).
• Improve schools (tutoring, literacy).
• Support youth (mentoring and after-school programs).
• Beautify the community (beach and park cleanups).

4) You learn a lot.
Volunteers learn things like these:
• Self: Volunteers discover hidden talents that may change their views on self-worth.
• Government: Through working with local non-profit agencies, volunteers learn about the functions and operation of our government.
• Community: Volunteers gain knowledge of local resources available to solve community needs.

3) You get a chance to give back.
People like to support community resources that they use themselves, or that benefit people they care about or want to get to know.

2) Volunteering encourages civic responsibility.
Community service and volunteerism are an investment in our community and the people who live in it.

1) You make a difference.
Every person counts! 

Combatting ageism in the workplace

Recruiting experienced and skilled workers has become a challenge. No wonder companies are putting in place incentives to hire older workers or to retain those who are contemplating retirement.

Many older workers, however, face stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination because of their age, which may have an impact on their health and well-being, and also on the work climate and productivity.

We need to create work environments that promote the participation of older workers and combat ageism.

Like in most industrialized countries, the Canadian population is aging due to a low fertility rate and a longer life expectancy. The number of young workers entering the labour market is not offsetting the loss of older workers who are retiring, which is causing a labour shortage that is already being felt in many sectors. As a result, recruiting experienced and skilled workers has become a challenge. No wonder companies are putting in place incentives to hire older workers or to retain older workers who are contemplating retirement. Governments are also involved in introducing fiscal measures to delay workers’ retirement or to encourage those in retirement to return to the labour market.

What the research tells us
A recent systematic review examined 43 studies on ageism in the workplace. Four main themes emerged from the analysis:

1) Stereotypes and perceptions of older workers:
Some studies show that positive stereotypes exist about older workers, who are sometimes seen as more sociable, reliable or loyal than younger workers. Nevertheless, the majority of stereotypes associated with older workers are negative: less competent, less productive, unable to use new technologies or learn new things, cognitively and physically limited. These prejudices are unfortunately shared by several employers or human-resource managers, among others.

2) Intended behaviours towards older workers:
Studies show that many employers have negative intentions regarding the hiring of older workers. With equal qualifications, employers seem to prefer hiring a younger worker. Also, human-resource managers are less likely to ask an older worker to update their knowledge and encourage them to take training. Most employers do not intend to retain their older workers for a long period of time, and many older workers end up internalizing these negative perceptions: these older workers will be more likely not to seek training and plan to leave their organization early.

3) Discriminatory practices denounced by older workers:
Studies revealed that there are discriminatory practices in terms of recruitment, hiring, training, promotion and retention of older workers. For example, employers have reported using internet advertisements to limit older workers’ access to job opportunities, believing that older workers do not use the internet in their job search.

4) Strategies used by older workers to deal (or negotiate) with ageism:
Although few studies have addressed this theme, it appears that older workers who have internalized ageism in their workplaces are increasingly disengaged and have lower job expectations. On the other hand, many older job-seekers have adopted strategies to prevent employers from guessing their age, for example, excluding “year of graduation” from their resumes.

Creating age-friendly environments
Older workers are an asset to our society. We need to create an environment conducive to their participation in the labour market and thus combat ageism. But dealing with ageism is not an easy task because we have to combat stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination against older people that go beyond the workplace. That said, many governments and organizations seek to promote the participation of older people in the labour market, including through:
• awareness campaigns to combat ageism;
• financial incentives to hire older workers or support their retention;
• occupational health and safety initiatives targeting older workers;
• favourable fiscal measures such as adjustments to retirement income systems;
• training for older workers to upgrade their skills; and
• adaptation measures in the workplace.

If you are employed (or if you are looking for a job) and you think you are being  discriminated against because of your age, remember that this is illegal. You cannot be denied a job, training or promotion, or forced to retire because of your age. With very few exceptions, mandatory retirement is not allowed in Canada. You can make a complaint to your organization, to your provincial or territorial human rights agency, or to courts on the circumstances. 

McMaster University has developed the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal to give you access to research-based information to help you age well and manage your health conditions. Visit their website ( for the latest evidence-based information to support healthy aging.

The benefits of volunteering as a newcomer TO Canada

Volunteering is an integral part of Canadian culture. Children are encouraged to do it, high school students must complete mandatory volunteer hours, and older adults are known for helping others. 

Adults volunteer their time and skills at charities, non-profit organizations, political parties, religious faith organizations, youth groups and many other places. According to Statistics Canada, in 2013, 44 per cent of the population aged 15 and older participated in some form of volunteer work. 

Volunteering involves giving personal time freely for the benefit of another person, group or cause. According to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), volunteering is the time you give to strengthen your community and improve others’ quality of life as well as your own.

Giving back to the community is usually well-regarded and valued in Canadian society. In this article, we will focus on the importance of volunteering, highlight the benefits it offers, and provide resources to find potential volunteering opportunities. 

Here are a few ways you can realize how important volunteering is to Canadians and how it can benefit you: 

1. Build your network
Volunteering can be a key tool in building your Canadian network. During your initial days or months as a newcomer in Canada, you may not know many people. Cultural differences may limit you from proactively reaching out to locals to build connections. Volunteering offers a forum to meet other like-minded individuals—newcomers and locals alike—and build your social and professional networks. 

Canada has a hidden job market, which refers to positions that are filled without employers publicly advertising them. It is said that 65 per cent to 85 per cent of job openings are not posted. That’s why it’s important to build your network—and volunteering is a great way to get started.

2. Gain Canadian experience
Newcomers in the job search phase can try looking for volunteering opportunities in their field of work. You can also identify roles that involve the usage of skills that are relevant to your profession. Volunteering can help you bridge gaps in your work history while you look for a job and is a good way to gain the much-coveted Canadian experience. Moreover, you can always ask the company you volunteer with to provide reference letters, which can be useful in your job applications.

Volunteering also offers the opportunity to learn new skills and brush up on your English or French language skills. In a survey conducted by Statistics Canada, many stated that their volunteer activities had given them a chance to develop new skills. For example, as per the survey results: 
• 64 per cent said their interpersonal skills had improved, 
• 44 per cent said the volunteer experience had improved their communication skills, 
• 39 per cent reported to have improved organizing skills, 
• 33 per cent improved fundraising skills, 
• 27 per cent improved technical or office skills, and 
• 34 per cent reported that volunteer work had increased their knowledge of certain subjects including health, women’s and political issues, criminal justice and the environment.

3. Keep yourself busy so you don’t get depressed
Volunteering can help you develop empathy and compassion and gather positive life experiences. As a newcomer in a foreign land, away from your friends and family in your home country, it’s very easy to feel isolated, homesick and depressed. Keeping yourself occupied by being involved with the community is a good way to care for your mental well-being. 

Volunteering is also a brilliant way to discover new interests and hobbies, visit different parts of the city and travel. It can help you reduce stress and provide a sense of purpose. 

How can you volunteer in Canada?
ESDC has suggested some ways in which you can volunteer your time:

Show leadership
• Facilitate a strategic planning session
• Chair a fundraising campaign
• Help start a tenants rights association

Management and administration
• Review or help write a human resources manual
• Organize a volunteer schedule for an event
• Enter data at a resource centre
• Provide general office help

Technology and social media
• Design a website for an eldercare co-op
• Write a blog on affordable housing
• Customize a donor database for a food bank
• Teach computer skills in a community centre

Building and handicrafts
• Build a bookshelf for a reading room
• Sew costumes for a play
• Teach card-making in a rehabilitation centre
• Build a stage for marathon ceremonies

Nature and environment
• Walk a dog for a local animal shelter
• Research pesticide bylaws in different cities
• Plant vegetables in a community garden

One-to-one support
• Tutor school-aged children
• Comfort a victim of violence
• Be a mentor to a teenager

Direct service
• Answer the phones for a helpline
• Prepare lunch in a soup kitchen
• Coach a sports team
• Drive people to medical appointments

• Play piano for a sing-along at a retirement residence
• MC at a volunteer service awards night
• Do a stand-up comedy act at a fundraiser
• Join a choir that participates at community events

How to find volunteer opportunities in Canada
Finding a volunteering opportunity that aligns well with your situation and experience might take a bit of research. 

Here are a couple of action items to get you started:

Research: Look up companies and organizations that are offering volunteering positions in your field or find ones that represent causes you care about. Include positions that involve the skills you would use in your desired job—these may be skills that you’re already proficient in or are hoping to learn and improve. Another way to find volunteering opportunities is to keep an eye out for volunteer requests in your neighbourhood.

Connect: Reach out to these organizations by sending an email, contacting them through their website or through their LinkedIn pages to learn more about their needs. Evaluate the areas where you might be able to offer your skills. 

Where to find volunteer opportunities across Canada:
Volunteer Canada
Charity Village
Go Volunteer
LinkedIn’s Volunteer Board
Canadian Volunteer Directory
Heart and Stroke Foundation
CARE Canada
Canadian Red Cross
World Vision Canada

In addition, most provincial government sites and major city websites list volunteering opportunities. For instance, here are the websites for Ontario, British Columbia, Toronto, and Vancouver. 

Giving back to the community is usually well-regarded and valued in Canadian society. As a newcomer, volunteering is a great way to integrate yourself into the community, get to know the local culture, and even improve your chances of finding paid employment opportunities. Volunteering experience also adds immense value to your resume and could be a stepping stone in helping you reach your goals. 

RBC Arrive—an organization dedicated to helping newcomers achieve their life, career and financial goals in Canada.

QUIZ: What’s right for you?

Once a week, or once a month

How do you figure out the best way to make your neighbourhood stronger, protect human rights or help someone out? Whether you are considering making a donation, getting involved in community life or volunteering with an organization, it is not easy to sort through all the campaigns, canvassers and recruiters and figure out your volunteer interests.

Like all good relationships, values and mutual respect between an organization and its volunteers need to be in alignment. Volunteers benefit when they take the time to choose an opportunity, a cause and an organization wisely. This process involves getting to know oneself better by learning more about the issues that matter to you most, be it locally, provincially, nationally or globally.

This Volunteer Quiz is a combination of a personality test and horoscope.  In ten minutes, you can work through 13 questions to help you explore what is important to you, what skills you have to offer, what you would enjoy learning and what kind of organization might suit you best.  Once completed, the Volunteer Quiz will indicate which of the 6 volunteer types you might be. You may discover that you are a Cameo Volunteer, a person who does not want to be front and centre, but who is happy to make an appearance when needed.  Perhaps you are a Roving Consultant, a person with a specialty that can be offered to several different organizations. Maybe you are a Rookie, a person who is just starting out as a volunteer and who is testing the waters.

In addition, the Volunteer Quiz is linked to a Matching Tool on GetInvolved. The tool is easy to use and is constantly being updated with new opportunities.

Get involved and take the quiz at

Find Your Fit

Take these free quizzes and tests

When you’re re-entering the workforce or looking to change positions, it’s important to take a step back and develop a realistic plan. For many of us, it’s been a few years since we looked for work and assessed our skills, wants and needs. So now is the time! 

Part of the search process involves looking at a range of new choices,and exploring the type of jobs that might fit your interests and goals at this stage of your life. Will it be indoors, outdoors, remote or in person, technical or software based? In an office or retail setting, flexible, part-time or full-time? There’s a world of options! 

To make your task easier, we’ve  found a series of free quizzes and tests, created by the Government of Canada that will help you explore the types of jobs available that may suit you well. Divided into sections, with different areas to explore, the collection will help you understand your personality and learning style.  Working through the exercises will assist you on your journey and help you figure out how you can leverage your strengths, determine your interests and explore a variety of  innovative career ideas and options.