Montreal Job Search Strategies Forum Report
A participant asked Mancuso to discuss cold calls in more detail.
Mancuso said the cold call is contacting a person previously unknown to the job seeker at a company for which the job seeker would like to work. She recommended targeting someone in the department of interest rather than someone in human resources, suggested gathering information about hiring practices, and stressed the importance of doing research ahead of time. Mancuso prefers informational interviews to cold calls, because they are requests for information rather than for a job. She encouraged participants to network and then follow up to keep the connection alive.
Another participant asked whether a CV is equivalent to a resumé. Mancuso explained that in Quebec the terms curriculum vitae (CV) and resumé are used interchangeably. She recommended resumés be no more than two pages in length, one page for the United States.
A participant asked whether there is a strategy to deal with cold calls that end in someone responding, “Send us your CV and we’ll get back to you.” He asked how best to follow up in this situation.
Mancuso said, “The door is pretty much closing” in such a situation. She recommended preparing a script, including an introduction and questions to keep the other person engaged. She suggested expressing interest in the company as a recent graduate and requesting information about the company and their work.
One participant asked when to mention a disability to a potential employer. Mancuso responded that the best time to mention a disability depends on the individual and his or her comfort level, the job, and whether the disability is visible or invisible.
Dillon agreed that it depends on the situation. She recommended determining whether it would be more advantageous to disclose before or after the interview. She said job seekers could mention that they require accommodations at the end of the interview.
A participant agreed with Dillon’s advice around disclosure and tying it in with accommodation. He also suggested that it depends on the type of interview. A job seeker may need extra time and an alternative format for a written test.
Another participant asked whether disclosure before an interview would have a negative impact. Mancuso responded that this is something that cannot be foreseen. She said it should not have a negative impact, but that one never knows.
Dillon replied that she has had both positive and negative experiences. She said that much depends on the employer and on the job seeker’s confidence in presenting and disclosing their disability. When job seekers are called in for an interview, they can ask about whether there is any written test or whether the offices are wheelchair accessible. She said most employers would respond positively. If they do not, then the job seeker would not want to work there.
One participant said an organization is not allowed to discriminate based on disability. He said disabled people with equal qualifications to the other candidates who are rejected because of their disabilities can take legal action.
Another participant expressed his delight to be participating in this forum. He said he has been actively seeking work for seven years, and encouraged people with disabilities to do volunteer work. He said it is easy to recognize whether an organization is open to someone with a disability. Employers should realize that a person in a wheelchair still has a brain, which is all that matters.
A participant said students entering the workforce should be aware of the available resources to support them in their integration in the workplace. He said employers will ask what they need to know, and it is important to be able to answer that question. At the very least, job seekers should be able to point potential employers to someone who can answer their questions. He urged students to have this information before going into an interview.
Mancuso mentioned that few students with disabilities were accessing McGill’s career services.
A participant explained his guidelines for disclosure, saying that in a phone interview he may not have to reveal his disability but, if things are going well, he might want to explain immediately.
Another male participant said many graduates with impairments do not want to identify themselves as disabled and prefer to go out into the workforce like everyone else. He said this decision is a matter of pride. He urged graduate students to know their limitations and barriers, and to explore some of the services being offered. Often, a career service will have good connections and credibility with employers.
A participant working in the mental health field asked if Mancuso had any advice for students with mental health disabilities looking for work. Mancuso said an invisible disability can be more difficult in some ways. She suggested students evaluate how their disability will have an impact on the work for which they are applying.
A participant asked whether it is essential for a resumé to be two pages long. Mancuso replied that the rule is two pages. She said she did not think that an employer would put a resumé aside if it were three pages long, but she encouraged people to be creative in presenting information, and to attempt to summarize their qualifications within two pages.
Another participant asked about chronological versus functional resumés. Mancuso recommended using chronological resumés. She said because functional resumés hide periods of inactivity, they are used by those who have not worked for a long time or who have time that is unaccounted for.
A participant agreed that many businesses prefer the chronological resumé. She said that some businesses would not even look at a functional resumé.