When I was 17 years old, I needed money for books and transit for college next year, so I needed a job. All I had back in those days was my friends and neighbours, the newspaper classifieds, and my two feet. The latter were put to good use as I went into each store to inquire about work, up and down Yonge Street and along Eglinton Avenue West. While it was a classmate who got me a job as a cleaner at the Eglinton Theatre, I was considered by some of the store owners as a possible hire, so it was not a fruitless effort. I also lost 10 pounds from all that walking!
Flash forward to the modern age of the Internet and Ipads in the 21st Century. I posed a question during a workshop on “The Hidden Job Market” to a presenter about “pounding the pavement” to find work (a question that I will ask again at another job search centre during a second workshop). I was told, bluntly, that “no one does that any more, because it’s inefficient and you should concentrate on your network of contacts”.
Well, I’ve been concentrating on my contacts for the last two years. While I’m not blaming any of them for anything, as they have been really amazing in passing tips and suggestions on where to send my resume, I still haven’t found a job. I’m also in the same position now that I was when I was 17 years old, but it’s not books and the Metropass that I need, it’s rent, food, and everything else. I’m running out of money and I am running out of time. With the summer here and companies entering into hiring hibernation because people have vacations and barbeques on their minds, I knew I have to do something. It was at that point I remembered my first steps taken to landing a “real job” when I was a teenager.
I figured since I’m not getting as many calls for interviews from my job applications online, it was time to try a little experiment. On Saturday (June 16) I woke up at 7:30 a.m. to prepare to canvass the stores at Eglinton and Yonge. I had breakfast, washed, trimmed my beard, printed some resumes off and placed them in the bag you see in the picture, put on a clean shirt and tie, and went out the door.
I will admit I was feeling a little blurry that morning (and you thought it was my cellphone being out of focus?). Rising early on a Saturday is practically a heresy my body and spirit reminded me repeatedly about as I was getting ready to go, but out the door I went despite the protests. I spent a little over 4 hours walking up and down Yonge Street and along Eglinton East, visiting stores and offices and companies to inquire about jobs. The response from the people I spoke with ranged from indifference bordering on rudeness to very supportive and helpful. Here are three examples from the latter group that I felt justified my efforts. I won’t mention the name of the people I spoke with, but I will mention the company names: Chapters-Indigo, CIBC, and Carlton Cards. Interestingly, all three were at the intersection of Yonge and Eglinton, though I think that was just coincidence. Before I continue, I’d like to say to those three companies that your staff have excellent customer service skills. Well done!
The young lady at Chapters-Indigo was really pleasant and told me that applying for positions at the company was done online after setting up a profile there. That conversation lasted about 2 minutes but she did give me the URL to go to and wished me luck in my job search.
A woman at CIBC really went the extra mile for me. I got the impression she was the assistant manager, but I was not sure. All I remember is that the moment I walked in the door, she came to me and asked if I needed help with anything (very nice!). When I told her I was looking for information on how to apply to this CIBC branch for any positions available, she spent just over 5 minutes explaining to me on the many ways that I could apply at CIBC, including filling out a profile online. She also offered to take my resume and personally deliver it to the bank manager of the branch. When she noticed on my resume that I was in information technology, she enthusiastically told me it was a good career to be in and that I should continue along that track, adding also that she wished she was in information technology. She clearly had great people skills.
For Carlton Cards, I had to wait in line to speak to someone at the cash register, which I did not mind too much as it was a short wait. I explained to her that I wanted to apply for a job at this store. She said I could fill out an application form but there were no openings available. She did take my resume, though, and was very courteous and friendly. That conversation was the shortest, about 30 to 45 seconds.
So, what’s my final take on this experiment? Well, I think it’s worth continuing for the summer at least, since I’m not getting as many call-backs to positions I applied for online at places like Monster, Workopolis and TorontoJobShop. Since that Saturday morning, I’ve gone to other businesses near my area to personally hand-deliver my resume. There’s nothing wrong with tweaking a job-search plan a bit to try to get more nibbles.
Besides, it’s the summertime! Shouldn’t we be outdoors more during that time?
Thanks for reading!