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Welcome to the Workforce

You've probably been in school for nearly your entire life. And it may seem as though it's been a very long and drawn-out session of on-the-job training. But what feels like the end of one part of your life is actually the beginning of a much larger one. Welcome to the job market.

Where to Start?

  • Visit the career centre at your school. If it's a good one, it'll be full of options for students looking for jobs in their field of study.
  • Sign up for on-campus interviews. Recruiters from major companies often visit university campuses looking for good prospects. It's a great way to get your foot in the door of otherwise hard-to-break employers.
  • Headhunters and employment services can be a good yet expensive source of job leads. The good news is that you don't have to pay them, and that they don't get paid unless you get a job, so they're going to do their best.
  • The phone book is an underutilized source of job leads. Decide what types of companies employ people with your skills. Then look for that category in the Yellow Pages. Call up a bunch of companies listed there and talk to their Human Resources department.
  • Networking has become a buzzword in professional circles. Many of the best jobs are never advertised. You just have to know the right people. So the key is to get out there and meet the right people. Don't be afraid to ask everyone you know. Prepare an e-mail stating exactly the type of position you want and send it to everyone you know. You'll be surprised how supportive your friends, family and even casual acquaintances can be. After all, everyone has been there at one time or another. And if they can't immediately connect you with a job, they can often provide some valuable advice on where to look.

What job do I want?

Take time to think about not only what job you want now, but to imagine your possible career progression. Beyond a paycheque, what do you want to get out of a job? What skills do you want to learn and what experiences do you want to gain? Look past your first job to the next step of your career. What job will get you closer to that step?

And while salary is an important part of a job, you should also consider the benefits that come with it. A high-paying job with no benefits may not be as advantageous as a lower salary with a complete benefits package.

Where are you willing to go?

If you want to stay close to home, your job prospects may be limited. If you covet a job in an advertising agency and you live in Vancouver, Montreal or Toronto, you'll have many opportunities. But if you want to be a fashion designer and you aren't willing to move out of Gravenhurst, you may have some trouble finding a job.

If you plan to move to another city for employment, take the expense of that move into consideration. First, different areas have different costs of living. If you are actually considering an offer, make sure you can live on that salary in your new city. And don't forget to figure in moving costs. If your prospective employer isn't going to pay your moving costs, make sure the salary will make up for these costs in the long run.

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