Anxiety in the job market
I had a difficult time job hunting. I applied to hundreds of job postings. And even though I was qualified for each position, I couldn’t get an interview. My anxiety grew knowing that I was only 3 weeks away from graduating.
Questions raced through my mind… Will I find a job I enjoy and the right enterprise to launch my career? Or will my studies go to waste and I settle with a pay cut? Mid-pandemic, I was completing my undergraduate degree in Digital Enterprise Management at The University of Toronto, and I didn’t know what my next move after graduating was…
Frustration grew as I received rejection emails. Disappointed, I sought help from career services at the student centre, career blogs and close friends. The key takeaway was to use my resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile as mediums to tell employers a story. A story that summarized my experience and spoke directly to keywords in job applications. – So, I did just that!
I spent an entire weekend tweaking my resume, cover letters and my LinkedIn profile based on my job interests in tech consulting from the big 4 accounting firms (EY, PWC, KPMG and Deloitte). The more I worked on them, the better I felt I could market my skills. The truth is that getting hired by popular employers like EY, PWC, KPMG, and Deloitte meant that I was trying to stand out during a pandemic in a highly competitive environment.
Keys to standing out
I pondered – what more can I do to differentiate myself? Well, I remembered Acadiate! Acadiate is a talent marketing platform made available to all students in my program (The Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology (ICCIT) at the University of Toronto Mississauga). It gives students a place to quickly create targeted online portfolios called Showcases. The first time I used Acadiate was to showcase my leadership skills and student experience as part of a student mentorship program. I used Acadiate again to ace a final assignment during my time in school. The professor asked us to create a digital portfolio to summarize and reflect on projects done in the semester. Points were scored for creativity and of course, the professor was impressed with my submission.
Thankfully my changed approach worked. One week later I had interview calls with recruiters talking about the very same work I uploaded to my Acadiate portfolio. Within 3 weeks, I had 2 competitive offers and eventually, I was hired by Ernst & Young LLP (EY).
In this blog, I will share the steps I took to help employers see my potential and differentiate myself on the job market. Therefore, my aim is to share my success story with you so that you may create your own success story. – Now, let’s begin!
Breaking down the steps
Using Acadiate was effortless and took me less than 15 minutes. 3 minutes to upload links and files to all the major projects I worked on during university. Another 8 minutes to write short descriptions for each project and included a special message to my job reviewer. I was pretty much done but took another 3 minutes to edit and proofread everything. This may sound too easy. So here are the guiding steps I took:
First, I made a shortlist of 3 job postings that really stood-out to me. For each job, I highlighted the top skills mentioned from the posting. For example, my EY job application was related to creative writing, user-experience (UX) designs, user-interface (UI) designs, prototyping, researching, and producing learning content. Therefore, the portfolio content I selected showcased my UX skills, UI skills, prototyping skills, written pieces on technology, data visualizations and a social media link to the student club I started. I contemplated embedding a 30 second welcome video, but I felt that I had enough things to continue the professional story I had in mind from my resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile.
Figure 1: Sample snapshot of my showcase to EY
To me, a targeted showcase meant only including content that would continue the story I’m selling to employers. In this case, it meant serving as an extension to my resume by visualizing my work.
Figure 2: Snapshot of my portfolio library and selections of the most relevant files to create a showcase targeted at your dream job
Next, I was sure to leave a short showcase message and highlighted the 2 main categories of my work (see figure 1) to describe why I thought I was suited for the job.
Then, I used Relevant keywords to highlight my top skills relating to the job, added a Branding statement / Tag line (see figure 3).
Figure 3: Snapshot overview of overall portfolio content
To personalize my profile, I added a professional photo and background photo under the Appearance section. Under the Communication section, I turned on the Advance Contact Button Options to enter my email address and saved my showcase. I was then ready to share my portfolio link and embed it within my resume. As an experienced person with the platform, this took me less than 15 minutes to put together. If you have any questions or would like to connect, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. I’m always happy to help students showcase their talent!