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Career Resolutions - Some Advice

New Years Fireworks

by Jessica MacLean

It’s that time of year again-you pack up the Christmas decorations, head back to work and purchase a gym pass you use religiously the first few days but retire mid-January in favor of the comfort that only Mac and Cheese can provide; “It’s winter, I don’t need to hit the beach until July anyway.”  You vow that this year will be your best year yet! We sincerely hope it is, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t end up changing the world or wedding a Royal in 2015. If your New Years’ Resolution includes making a career move abroad, then we hope you consider some of the following.

Don’t Expect Immediate Results

This is especially difficult for new grads to comprehend. You have your degree in hand, ready to take on the ENTIRE WORLD and you expect the big bucks right away. You’re special, you’re different, you’re enlightened and you’re the type of person who watches films and reads Nietzsche for kicks. How could anyone pass up the chance to hire you? Listen, I’ve been there and big ticket offers will not come pouring in, not yet anyway, even if you are the next self-proclaimed Shakespeare.

I graduated with a History Degree at the height of the Financial Crisis of 2009 and thought, “Pfft..I got this. I’ll be making serious bank in no time!” This was not the case. I worked two part-time jobs for an entire year before finally landing a full-time position in the field I was interested in. This took a lot of hard-work, knocking on a few closed doors and enduring a lot of rejection. I had to be flexible before finally accepting the reality of my situation whilst coming to terms with my post-grad haze of youthful bourgeois entitlement (really, she uses the word, bourgeois?). I soon recognized that I was now at the career equivalent of Kindergarten. I had a lot to learn and no more teacher; taking baby-steps in my now adult world that I really knew nothing about at all.

It’s okay to set high career aspirations for yourself and apply for jobs you think you qualify for, but don’t expect employers, including overseas employers, to line up to interview you, even though you are a degree holder and a native English speaker. And while you’re super eager and ready to gain some invaluable experience in the workforce by teaching abroad, it may not happen right away. I know that this is incredibly difficult for us Generation Text to wrap our brains around but sometimes you really have to wait for what you really want. If teaching overseas in China this year is something you absolutely want to do, then it will happen if you keep that end goal in mind but, trust the process, and don’t rush into something you haven’t entirely thought through. Which brings me to my next point.

Think It Over

This has been mentioned in previous Footprints’ articles but I cannot stress it enough to really have a good think about whether you are ready for a new job, let alone a new job abroad. Everybody loves making grandiose changes at the start of a new year, but make sure your career resolution is sustainable. Adjusting to a new work place is never easy; it’s a new environment with new people with new rules, where yoga pants and microwaving leftover fish in the shared office kitchen are strictly forbidden. It can be stressful just thinking about it! Now throw in the added stress of being in a new workplace in a foreign country where they don’t speak your language. Right?! We know you can do it and, if you do decide to teach abroad, it’s a truly life-changing experience but make sure it’s the right life-changing experience for you at this juncture. Don’t hop on an airplane simply because you’re bored or frustrated in the local job search, because if you accept a position abroad for the wrong reasons without really thinking it through, it’s probably not going to work out the way you want it to anyway. And breaking a contract early and having gaps in your resume as a result is not something employers look highly upon. Cue pointer number three!

Get Noticed for the Right Reasons

I see a lot of resumes on the daily. Some are excellent, some are works in progress and others are, well, 15 page novellas that say nothing to me other than, “I DON’T KNOW HOW TO EDIT!” Writing a resume isn’t a barrel of laughs, I grant you, but make sure to designate some time this January to making yours clear, succinct and relevant to the position you’ve applied to. No future employer needs to know that you enjoy watching old episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation or that you make origami puppets in your spare time. You can mention these things on a date (although, I’d maybe wait until the third or fourth before divulging).

You also don’t have to go at this alone- there are countless resume writing resources online and in-person. If you’re a student or recent graduate, most colleges and universities will have career and writing centres for current students and alumni, so look into making an appointment with a specialist. If you’ve been in the workforce a while and your interview skills are a little rusty, get a friend or colleague to look over your updated resume or visit a community Employment Services Centre for extra guidance. And please, I beg you, don’t refer to yourself in the third person in your cover letter or address your application to the wrong person. This will most definitely get you noticed, I assure you, but for all the wrong reasons.

Other Job Application Tips

We wish you all the best this year in your New Year career resolutions and, while it can be stressful and time consuming, don’t forget to have a little fun with it. After all, it is also incredibly exciting to start something new and unknown to get you feeling inspired again. Even if you don’t get offered the job, interview after interview, look at it as excellent practice and experience you can take with you into the next one.


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