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Job hunting in a virtual world

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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

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Canadian Abilities Foundation

The Canadian Abilities Foundation (CAF) is a registered Canadian charity. CAF was founded in 1986 and has since been a national leader and partner with other organizations and governments on various projects related to disability and communications.

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Canadian Abilities Foundation envisions an inclusive, universally accessible society, where all people belong and are valued. Our mission is to make Canada the most accessible country in the world through advocacy, awareness building and sharing of best practice solutions.

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