My first job fair

I attended my first job fair on Friday – a JVS/Emet Employment event, held at the Joseph & Wolf Lebovic Jewish Community Campus.

I didn’t find a job there, and didn’t even end up giving my resume to any of the employers. But there were other reasons I’m glad I went.

1. It was a good impetus to polish my resume.

2. Two recruiters suggested I look at their respective company websites for communications jobs. I knew in advance that Starbucks was looking for baristas and other employees for their outlets, which didn’t interest me as a downsized community newspaper reporter. As it turned out, Scotiabank was also looking for branch employees only. But it was good to talk face-to-face with their recruiters. It was good to reinforce what I’m interested in and what I’m not, and to leave knowing I haven’t hit a brick wall.

3. I spoke to an employment counsellor from JVS Toronto, even though I’m not sure I need or want career counselling at this point. However, once I told her my background, she gave the name of one of her colleagues, and seemed to think that this woman in particular would be able to help me. I intend to follow up.

4. Because there were no actual jobs for me at the job fair, it was a bit of “practice” for me, an opportunity to gain confidence talking to employers about my background and what I’m looking for.

5. A couple of my friends also attended the event. It was nice to see them, and we were (are) able to provide context and support for each other.

Another milestone in the post-downsizing journey.

Cutting through jargon

Recently, I began to examine job postings on LinkedIn and other websites as an exercise in defining what type of work appeals to me – and what doesn’t. I also want to figure out what employers are looking for that I have to offer, as well as what skills I should consider upgrading.

To my surprise, I found that the first thing to appeal to me – or turn me off –  was the language used in the job descriptions, not the jobs themselves.

The admittedly small sample I looked at included a few examples of fresh, clear writing that contrasted sharply with jargon I saw elsewhere. An ad seeking a “rockstar storyteller” captured my attention, as did one that specified “a can-do person who loves what they do.” I even found an ad that offered bonus points for finding typos that had been deliberately included.

Fresh, unambiguous writing is compelling and “real” in a way that jargon isn’t. To work in an environment that is similarly compelling and “real” definitely appeals to me.

Serendipity, Jane Lynch, and me

It’s a long time since I’ve had to look for a job. Before I joined The Canadian Jewish News in the early 1990s, I was a stay-at-home mom hoping to find time to write the occasional freelance article.

To be honest, serendipity had a lot to do with my career path. “Full-time staff reporter” wasn’t a job I applied for, or even one I thought I’d be able to fit into my life. I had written a total of four freelance articles for The CJN over a period of several years when I heard then-editor Patricia Rucker speak at my synagogue. I approached her after her talk, and she invited me to send her a copy of my CV. One thing led to another. I was asked to cover an event, then a second one. I became a regular freelancer for the paper, then a once-a-week proofreader as well. A reporter job became available, and it provided me not only with work I loved, but the flexibility to carpool my kids and be available for them when they needed me, as long as I covered some weeknight and Sunday events.

That’s why I was intrigued by a quote in a recent Toronto Star article by Richard Ouzounian. He wrote about Jane Lynch, aka Sue Sylvester on the TV hit Glee:

“Ask Lynch where she wants her career to go next, however, and the answer is surprising.

‘I don’t make lists. I don’t have aspirations. It’s served me well. I do all the footwork and then I allow the universe to roll in at my feet. I make good decisions when they’re offered to me, but I don’t go looking for them.’ ”

Lynch’s philosophy resonated with me. I’m brushing up my resume and looking for work, but I’m also hoping to create a bit of serendipity – networking, and reminding myself to stay open to possibilities.