Job Search Skills

28 Job Search Skills

Visible and Hidden Job Market

Experts estimate that only 20% of jobs are ever advertised through a newspaper ad, job posting, or an employment agency. This 20% is the visible job market. It takes relatively little time to apply for advertised jobs. Be sure to search the visible job market as thoroughly as possible. An employer will not be impressed if you phone looking for a job, unaware of an advertisement.

Job Advertisements

Online job boards, classified ads, and newspapers are the main channels through which jobs are advertised. A number of hospitality-specific websites cover all aspects of the tourism industry enabling employers to advertise positions in specific fields. Useful hospitality and tourism websites include go2HR, Hcareers, and Workopolis (hospitality and tourism sections). The B.C. government has also recently invested a great deal of resources into a provincial job board and other tools such as an apprentice job match at its WorkBC website.

In smaller communities, check the local newspapers, or newspapers from the nearest metropolitan area as well as classified ad websites like Craigslist and Kijiji. Each ad usually includes the job title, qualifications, and experience needed, and how and where to apply for the job.

A job advertisement may also give you information about the company, the salary and some of the benefits offered. Read the ad very carefully to see what the job requires. Compare the requirements with your own qualifications. In the current job market, you will need to meet all of the requirements in order to be interviewed for the job.

Job Postings

Most companies will have a career section on their website that may include available positions and how to submit resumés. Many of these will also include an online application form that must be completed.

Job ads may also be posted in trade publications, websites, and newsletters. Professional associations and special interest groups such as trade associations and organizations are a helpful source and often have job postings.

Colleges, institutes, and universities often have student employment or placement offices that provide information about job postings and advice on job searches.

Positions with the provincial government (for example, a cook in a provincial penitentiary or provincially run hospital) may be listed on the B.C. government’s MyHR website.

Private Employment Agencies

If you choose to do your search through a private employment agency, be sure that it deals with employers in the hotel, restaurant, and food service industry. Employment agencies must register with the Employment Standards Branch. They are not permitted to charge you a fee for finding you a job or identifying possible employers. They receive payment from the employer who uses their services.

Hidden Job Market

Many jobs are filled without ever having been advertised. You can find these jobs by contacting employers directly or using your personal and business contacts to develop job leads. You can contact employers directly by email, mail, or in person. Usually, personal contacts are preferable.

To identify employers who might hire someone with your qualifications, consult an online search engine or a local business directory.

A good way to find job leads is to become involved in the local branch of the restaurant association or the Canadian Culinary Federation. Some associations offer student or junior membership. Volunteer to assist with fundraising and other events. When a chef or restaurant manager knows that you are interested in the trade and willing to volunteer, he or she may be more willing to help you find a job. Attend trade fairs, restaurant, and food shows. This will help you find out more about the businesses in which you could work and can be a source of job contacts.

Watch for news items in your local media that may identify job opportunities. For example, a local travel magazine may have an article on a resort that will be opening soon or a hotel that is expanding its dining room. You might also come across a website that caters to foodies that lists upcoming restaurant openings.

Another source of direct contacts for job leads comes from your family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers, as well as from former employers, customers, and suppliers. The wider the range of your contacts, the greater the likelihood of a successful lead. Let people know that you are looking for a job so that they can be on the lookout for possible opportunities. Social media is an increasingly popular way to identify the hidden job market. Posting your profile on LinkedIn or asking your contacts via social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter for leads can pay dividends.

Conducting an Information Interview

The process of exploring possible job leads is called information interviewing. There are five steps to keep in mind:

1. Make initial contact

Speak with people directly. Have a specific person’s name if possible. If not, ask to speak to the restaurant manager or the chef. In large hotels, ask to speak to the executive chef. If you are contacting someone you know well, you may leave a message if that person is out.

If you don’t know the contact well, try and find out the best time to reach that person. Take into account the schedule of the business that you are contacting. If a restaurant is open for dinner only, try in the early afternoon. If they are open for lunch, try before lunch service or after it ends. Be polite and thank the person to whom you are speaking.

Once you have reached the manager or chef, ask the person to meet with you briefly about job leads. Explain that you would like to speak with him or her even though the company is not hiring right now. Be clear and to the point as you describe your background, training, and experience. Prepare yourself for the call so that you can speak clearly and concisely. If the person agrees to meet with you, confirm the person’s name, address, and the time of the meeting. Thank the person for his or her time.

If the person is unwilling to meet with you, ask whether he or she has any suggestions for other persons or companies you can contact. Get the necessary information. Thank him or her for speaking with you and go on to the next contact.

2. Request assistance

Arrive for the meeting on time. Dress neatly and be well groomed. Treat this meeting as though it were a job interview. Be polite. Bring a copy of your resumé and references. Be prepared with the necessary information to fill out an application. Be prepared with specific questions. Some questions that you might ask include:

  • How are new employees usually recruited and what strategies work best (e.g., dropping in on employers, going through an employment agency)?
  • Where might a person with my skills and background fit in this field of employment?
  • Who would you recommend I talk to about job opportunities?

Ask whether the person might be willing to make an introduction for you. Having your contact write or phone other prospects is always more effective than you making the contact. If you make the contacts yourself, use the initial contact’s name when you call. For example, you might say, “This is Peter Jones calling. I was referred to you by Mr. Goodhost, the manager of Jerry’s Good Eats.”

3. Record information

Make notes during each contact interview for later follow-up. When you contact any of the leads given to you by another source, make notes for each person. Be sure to update your files each time you contact someone. Also be sure that you keep copies of all letters, job ads, and other job search information.

4. Encourage contact

Leave your name, email, and telephone number to make sure that everyone you contact knows how to get in contact with you. Request that the person contact you if he or she thinks of a lead after you leave. Leave a copy of your resumé. This provides the person with the necessary information for talking about you to others. Write a brief thank-you note after the meeting. This provides you with another opportunity to remind the person of your name and goal.

5. Keep checking

Check regularly and briefly with all of the people on your list of contacts. This acts as a reminder for them and may also provide new information. It is especially important to check with those people who have agreed to put you in touch with someone else. You want to be able to make that new contact as soon as possible. When you get a job, send a brief thank-you note to the contacts who assisted you in finding the job.


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Working in the Food Service Industry Copyright © 2015 by The BC Cook Articulation Committee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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