Color & Control:

The Scoop

4 reasons not to retire

When asked, older adults said they:
1) Find fulfillment in an organization’s work.
2) Want to improve their retirement finances.
3) Enjoy supporting worthy causes.
4) Stay engaged and mentally sharp.

Tradition vs reality

Age 65 has generally been considered the age for full retirement. When the Canada Pension Plan was established in 1965, men were expected to live to 69 and women to 75. With life expectancy rising to 80 years for men and 84 for women, and many people living well past that, the days of retiring at 55, or even 65, may be long gone for many Canadians. 

Use it or lose it

Evidence shows a strong correllation between age at retirement and a person’s risk of developing dementia. Results indicate the benefits of staying at work longer and maintaining high levels of cognitive and social stimulation. In fact, among healthy retirees, a one-year older age at retirement was associated with an 11 per cent lower risk of all-cause mortality independent of their sociodemographic, lifestyle and health situation. 

Perceptions of older workers

• Bring more knowledge, wisdom and life experience
• Are more responsible, reliable and dependable
• Are a valuable resource for training and mentoring
• Have higher healthcare costs
• Command higher wages and salaries
• Are less open to learning and new ideas

Don’t lose touch

Strong social connections are key to physical and mental well-being. Conversely, the effects of prolonged isolation are said to be equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

What are reskilling and upskilling?

Changing industries is called “reskilling.” A culture of upskilling, on the other hand, teaches employees additional or enhanced skills to bridge a company’s talent gap. “Upskilling” is a strategy that helps advance an employee’s career path and helps employers keep valued employees during changing times.

Never stop learning

In Japan, the Labour Act supports older adults working until age 70. It urges employers to raise mandatory retirement age to 70 or, in some cases, abolish retirement all together. Masako Wakamiya of Japan shows that age has nothing to do with learning. She bought her first computer at age 58, then invented Excel art, using Microsoft Excel as a design tool for clothes and decorative round fans. At age 81, she became the world’s oldest app developer when she created “hinadan,” a game for older users. 

Stumped for job ideas?

Based on your interests, here are some suggestions for roles to consider:

If you want to stay working in a similar field:
• Consultant/researcher
• Writer/editor/subject matter expert
• Tutor/lecturer/teacher/teacher’s assistant
• Project manager/planner 

If you still want social contact:
• ESL or FSL teacher
• Retail service 
• Tour guide 
• Greeter or usher 
• Casino worker
• Uber driver or courier
• Caterer
• Older model

If you want to help others:
• Tutor or childcare worker
• Home health aide
• Library assistant

If you want less physically challenging work:
• Virtual admin assistant
• Tax preparer or auditor
• Online seller 
• House or pet sitter

If you want to work to stay active:
• Pet walker or trainer
• Handyperson or painter
• Coach or referee
• Security guard or usher
• Gardener or handyperson

If you have a hobby or passion:
• Musician, singer or teacher
• Creative writer or memoirist
• Blogger or writer
• Artist/craftsperson

Did you know?

Homemakers are considered excellent at organizing  and managing daily tasks. Therefore, event planners, personal shoppers or home health aides are ideal professions or experienced homemakers to consider.

You’re invited…to reimagine your future

Much has been said about the impact of COVID-19 on older adults. Many have struggled with loneliness due to isolation from family, friends and colleagues, as well as financial challenges due to lost or reduced employment, not to mention changes in personal health and well-being. Things can be tough, especially if your circumstances have changed or if you’re new to Canada. 

A fresh start 
If your senior years aren’t turning out quite as you envisioned, perhaps it’s time to take a fresh look at your skills, experience and interests and “parlay” them into a world of surprising new opportunities. Perhaps it’s even time to think about giving back and learning about the many ways you can contribute to your community.

To support you in this venture, The Canadian Abilities Foundation is pleased to introduce Parlay, a new education program designed to encourage, assist and connect you in your search for new horizons. 

A complimentary program 
Our specialized digital magazines, in concert with our existing publications and programs, will provide you with curated content, advice and plenty of ideas to help you try new things, experiment and come up with a refreshing new vision and action plan. And our video interviews will share highlights and wise counsel from energetic experts and older adults with real-world experience. 

With appreciation 
A special thanks to all of our authors and interviewees for their personal contributions and to our Patron’s Council Chair, Joel Dembe, for working on the video collection with us.

Caroline Tapp-McDougall
Editor in Chief


Meaningful Travel Tips and Tales First Time Volunteers

By GoAbroad and GVI
Volunteering abroad for the first time can seem overwhelming and no one knows that better than GoAbroad and GVI, who put their heads together to come up with a comprehensive resource for first time volunteers. The main point: It’s not “voluntourism.” It’s work, hard work so you must be ready to put in a little elbow grease and prepare for some growing pains. Here you’ll also find all the best info on how and when to apply, the best possible program options for you, scholarships and grants, and many other things you’ll need to know.

The Volunteering Lens of COVID-19: Data Highlights

By Statistics Canada and Volunteer Canada
This report presents select findings from a recent Volunteer Survey by Ipsos. It gathered data on the inspiration and source of volunteer opportunity, ability to volunteer during COVID-19, the experience of current volunteers during COVID-19, and the experience of those who could not volunteer or were unsuccessful in their attempts. It also looks at post-covid intentions.  •

Doing Good Better

By William MacAskill
While a researcher at Oxford, William MacAskill devoted his study to finding out how we can really make a difference. He found that we often decide how to help based on assumptions and emotions rather than facts which often leads to ineffective outcomes. As an antidote, MacAskill developed “effective altruism”—a practical, data driven approach that uses evidence and careful reasoning to select opportunities.

Little Princes

By Conor Grennan
This is the epic story of Conor Grennan’s battle to save the lost children of Nepal and how he found himself in the process. Part Three Cups of Tea, part Into Thin Air, Grennan’s remarkable memoir is at once gripping and inspirational, and it carries us deep into an exotic world that most readers know little about.
William Morrow Paperbacks

Hoping to Help

By Judith Lasker
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people travel from wealthier to poorer countries to participate in short-term volunteer programs focused on health services. Churches, universities, non-profit service organizations, profit-making “voluntourism” companies, hospitals, and large corporations all sponsor brief missions. Hoping to Help is the first book to offer a comprehensive assessment of global health volunteering, based on research into how it currently operates, its benefits and drawbacks, and how roles might be organized to contribute most effectively.
ILR Press

Building a Kindness Army

By Katie Dahlheim
The Lowcountry Blessing Box Project is a network of more than 200 anonymous food donation sites with the motto “Leave what you can, take what you need.” This is the story of the unexpected movement it created. More importantly, Katie Dahlheim presents a step-by-step blueprint for anyone who wants to establish a successful network of free pantries.

Travel with purpose 

By Jeff Blumenfeld
People often wonder how they can explore the world and help the less fortunate. 

That’s where voluntourism comes in—a mix of both travel and volunteering. Is it hard work building wells and schoolhouses or excavating dinosaur bones? Yes, it is. But voluntourism here doesn’t take a particular skill, just plenty of sweat, the desire to see the world and leave it a better place. These are stories of inspiration from everyday people, all of whom have definite opinions about the best way to approach your first volunteer vacation.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

In the news

Meeting your “giving” needs

Finding a volunteer placement requires taking some time to reflect on your passions, interests, and experiences to determine what sort of volunteer work aligns with who you are. Identify your goals and aspirations prior to starting your search and remember, it is important that these will change over time as your interests change.

The following questions can aid the reflection process, which will help you identify what you want to do and what you don’t want to do.
• What are my interests?
• What type of position would I want?
• What do I most want to learn from the experience?
• What skills am I looking to develop?
• What type of work environment do I prefer?
• Do I want to connect with a professional in a specific field?
• How much time per week would I be able to devote to the volunteer position?
• What type of work environment do I prefer?
• Is this a one-time or short-term or ongoing project?

Once you understand your interests and goals, you can move on to networking to find the right position. 


Change the world in a few clicks?

What organizations need done and what volunteers want to do are not always the same. But rather than wringing hands and recalling the good old days when volunteers showed up every Tuesday, non-profits are looking for new ways to attract the help they need.

Advances in technology, shifting demographics and increased resource pressures mean many groups can use micro-volunteering, a type of volunteering that is convenient, bite sized and requires little to no training or ongoing commitment. Many micro-volunteers also find it rewarding to see the immediate, tangible impact of their work.

One of the earliest social/digital micro-volunteering projects involved volunteers tagging and matching photos of missing people with media images in the aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake. It involved short chunks of time and made a meaningful difference.

While the shiny aspect of micro-volunteerism is the way social media and digital expertise can be leveraged for social good, the idea that short-term volunteers can make a tremendous difference is not a new one.


Volunteerism on your resume 

Simply put, including volunteer work on your resume can help employers learn about your interests and experience—especially if you have limited professional experience. You can include volunteer experience in your professional experience section, skill section or in a separate volunteer section. Add keywords from the job description that connects your volunteer experience back to the role.

The goal of writing a resume is to quickly show employers you are a great fit for the job. Adding information like your transferrable skills, professional experience and relevant education can help convey why the employer should advance you in the hiring process. Another option you might consider is adding a section in your resume to highlight your volunteer experiences. While you can format this section the same as your professional work experience section, you can also write a shortened version that takes up less space.

Be sure to give context when there are gaps in your resume due to leaving the workforce for an extended period of time. Seeing your volunteer work highlighted may also be beneficial for anyone applying to work in.


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