About Joanna Samuels

Joanna Samuels, B.Ed (in adult education), M.Ed, CMF, RRP, is an employment resource supervisor at www.reena.org. She has over 12 years of frontline experience in providing supported and customized employment/career coaching, job development, and workshop facilitation to unemployed and underemployed job seekers from diverse communities and fields who are individuals with disabilities and multi-barriers. She also helps employers with building an inclusive workforce through innovative recruitment programs, as well as offers “train the trainer” courses. Also, Joanna is a certified Life Skills Coach, and certified Personality Dimensions Facilitator. She is a published author, and employment advice columnist as well as a guest speaker on issues related to employment and careers at conferences and podcasts as well as being featured on Kelly & Company, http://www.ami.ca/category/kelly-and-company and https://newcanadians.tv/about-us/

Employment Advice Column: How to Beat the Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) with a winning online application!

Dear Joanna

How does this ATS system work? How can I prepare a resume and cover letter application that will include those “keywords” that will be picked up by this ATS computer system? Please can you explain how I can increase my chances for a job interview with the right type of online application?

Signed: Keyword Confusion

Dear KC,

After consulting with the Reena job coaches from Channels, SET and RSES, as well as information from Borsellino’s https://www.themuse.com/advice/beat-the-robots-how-to-get-your-resume-past-the-system-into-human-hands, here is some advice to consider.

  1. Understand the system. All ATS systems are programmed to read the resume and cover letter to find out if you’re a match for the job opening. Just like you would scan a document, so do the recruiters but through this software. One way that the ATS selects candidates to interview is by searching for specific “keywords”.
  2. Including the right keywords. If you want to be noticed by the ATS, you need to include these special words that the recruiters search for – the most important ones for performing the job. Look for the “hard skills” that come up more than once in a posting and are mentioned near the top of the job posting’s requirements and duties. For example, for a receptionist job posting, the ATS keyword might be “customer service” or “MS Office”. Depending on your job goal, certain degrees and certifications could be important keywords. For example, if you are applying for a kitchen helper, your resume’s Food Handling Certification will most definitely be picked up in the ATS.
  3. Don’t Trick the ATS. You can’t fool the ATS or the recruiter. For example, I know one job seeker who pasted the entire job description in white, repeated the keywords many times in the resume and even added a section labeled “keywords” with various words from the job description. Guess what happened? The application was flagged by the ATS. And this trick was discovered by the recruiter who saw that the candidate added the full text of the job description in the resume and just wrote “customer service customer service customer service” many times. You’re showing the recruiter that you’ll cheat to get ahead. In the end, you need to be able to do the job and prove it on your resume.
  4. Choose the right file type. There are two formats to submit your application (resume and cover letter). Either “.docx” or “.pdf”. According to the blogger, the .docx format is the best one to be picked up by the ATS. However, it’s important to follow the instructions of the application process.
  5. Prepare an “Easy-to-Scan” resume by humans and the software. Recruiters want to find the information they’re looking for very quickly and in a readable form. For example, the ATS prefers chronological and combination resumes because your experiences, qualifications, education and skills are much easier to read in these formats. Don’t prepare a fancy resume with creative fonts and images. Avoid tables, text boxes, graphics, visuals, headers, footers, columns, hyperlinks, and more suggests Borsellino. Did you know that the ATS will convert your document to a text-only file? All the fancy formatting will be lost. And the ATS won’t be able to detect the important information on the application! Your application will not be presented!

If you want more information on this topic, visit Borsellino’s blog website and/or  feel free to ask me any questions or make any comments in confidence at jsamuels@reena.org.


Employment Advice Column: Handling Rejection in Your Job Search

 Dear Joanna, 

I am so frustrated. I am eager to find a job in a safe workplace during the pandemic, and have applied to countless office clerk positions. Yet, I have received very few invites to job interviews. And when I am finally have a job interview, I get rejected! How much more can I take of this? Any suggestions on how to move on?

Signed: Pain of Rejection

Dear PR

Welcome to the club! Doyle in https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-handle-job-search-rejection-2062999 and Reena’s SET and Channels’  Job Coaches offer some excellent suggestions to handle this way too common situation in the job search. To expand, Doyle advises that “to succeed in your long-term goal of finding that dream opportunity and getting hired, you need to learn to cope with being turned down. Otherwise, it’s easy to let a momentary setback turn into a major career roadblock.” It’s important to recognize that the job market is competitive and often rejection is due to this factor. And sometimes, if you aren’t hired because the hiring manager doesn’t think you are a good fit, you are better off.

Here are six ways to approach this rejection:

  1. Getting over the rejection by a potential employer. Talk to a friend or family member and share your feelings in a confidential setting. The best person to share this with is someone whom you trust and will not be your future boss or co-worker. Venting can help sometimes to get over the anger and frustration of not getting the job offer. But then it’s important to move on. Consider mindfulness workshops and other stress-reliever activities being offered virtually in the community.
  2. Don’t burn your bridges. Don’t share anything negative at the job interview. You never know whether you might want to apply to the organization again in the future. More often than not, you will never know the truth why you were rejected. And I’ve known cases when the hiring manager came back to the candidate at a later date with a job offer!!!
  3. Follow up the rejection with an email. This is a pro-active way that might open the doors with the hiring manager to consider you for other positions with the organization.
  4. Improve your job search skills. Job search rejection happens to everyone. It’s what you do next that counts. Use this opportunity to continue to get feedback on your techniques. This could include practicing your interviewing skills, revising your resume and cover letter, increasing your social media presence and professional networking as well as keeping busy with your hobbies and  learning new skills. Consider participating in employment centres that are operating virtual employment support services for persons with disabilities during Covid.
  5. Ask the hiring manager for “constructive criticism” on your application. Although this rarely happens, sometimes an employer will offer valuable feedback on your candidacy including your resume and cover letter as well as the job interview. It doesn’t hurt to ask – but remember, this is their choice.
  6. Don’t give up. Keep the momentum of your job search going even if you are waiting to hear if you got the job! Always continue looking until you have a serious job offer in writing that you have accepted!



To submit your questions and comments to this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email Joanna Samuels, Employment Resource Supervisor, REENA at jsamuels@reena.org


Employment Advice Column: Active Listening

Dear Joanna,

I just graduated high school and attended Reena’s Summer Employment Transitions (SET) program. One of the virtual job search skills workshops was on “active listening”.  I learned that I have to improve this skill for my job search, as a potential employee and in every area of my life. Please can you help me become a better communicator by improving my listening skills.

Signed: Listener on Alert

Dear LA,

I am impressed with your self-awareness and interest to learn!. Listening is one of the most important SOFT skills that you can have. How well you listen can help you obtain and understand information. We listen for enjoyment and we listen to learn!.

Some active listening skills that we use can include observing non-verbal behavior, focusing so you don’t do anything else while listening, acknowledging the message even if you don’t agree with it; and respect – don’t interrupt and let the speaker finish!

Active listening has plenty of benefits. For example, it can reduce your nervousness during a job interview or starting a new job! Active listening show others that you are ready to help out, that you think of others, and helps you understand what the other person is saying to you.  

Here are six techniques to help you improve your listening skills as recommended by the SET job coaches as well as from  https://www.4better4ever.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Good-Listener-Quiz-Final-1.pdf.

Technique #1 – Open-ended questions. This technique helps to build trust and rapport with the other person including the interviewer or co-worker. Here are some examples:

  • “Please tell me what I can do to help.”
  • “I was really impressed to read on your website how you donate 5% of each sale to charity.”
  • “When would be a good time for me to follow up after the interview”?
  • “What are important skills for this job”?

Technique #2 – Paraphrasing. This technique shows that you understand the person who is speaking. Some examples:

  • Is this what you mean….(repeat what the speaker just said)
  • “So,  you’re saying that it’s important that all employees come on time to work?”

Technique #3 – Affirmation. This technique shows the speaker that you are listening and care about what he or she is saying:

  • “Thank you. “ “I see,” “I know,” “Sure,” or “I understand”
  • “I appreciate your time in speaking with me about the kitchen helper job to me.”

Technique #4 – Asking specific (closed-ended) questions:

  • “When will you make a decision to hire? “
  • “What time do employees start work?”

Technique #5 – Non-verbal communication cues. These show the speaker that you understand and that what he or she is saying is important. For example, nodding, eye contact, learning forward and smiling.

If you want to assess the level your listening skills, here’s a quiz that can give you an idea of what you do well and what you would like to learn.

Now the ball is in your court to start practicing good listening skills. Choose one technique at a time and practice it with friends and family. Be open to constructive feedback so you can apply these skills in all areas of your job search. 


Note: You are invited to email any questions and concerns regarding your job search, employment and career in confidence to jsamuels@reena.org 

Employment Advice Column: Following up after the job interview

Dear Joanna

I am a new grad with Autism who has just returned from a fantastic job interview for a part-time receptionist position with my Reena job coach from the Summer Employment Transitions (SET) program.  I really want this job. The employer said he will get back to me with his decision in a couple of weeks. Is there anything I can do to influence the interviewer’s decision? What do I do after the interview?

Signed: A Hopeful Candidate

Dear Hopeful,

Other than doing the best interview that you can, in the end, you don’t really have any control over the final hiring decisions of employers. However, there are some follow up actions that you can do that might influence the interviewers or at least help your application look good. The advice below is a combination of my discussions with employers as well as the RSES/SET coordinator/job coaches Toni Ekunah and Victor Lam as well as Badawi’s blog in https://www.monster.ca/career-advice/article/Top-ways-to-sabotage-your-interview-follow-up and Cavazos’ blog https://www.ziprecruiter.com/blog/the-right-way-to-follow-up-after-a-job-interview/


  1. Write and email a thank-you note. This is a MUST. Email the note to the all interviewers in the body within 24 hours from the interview. The suggested email template is to keep it simple, and have someone proofread the email to make sure the grammar and spelling are correct. Don’t rush it. Run spell-check as well. Don’t risk having a mistake in your email. There are many examples of thank you notes on the internet. Here is one: 

EMAIL SUBJECT: Follow up from job interview on ____ for receptionist


Hi <NAME>,

Thank you for your time to interview me today. I enjoyed meeting you and learning about the exciting position as a receptionist with your company.  I’m very interested in this role and I have all the qualifications required including excellent customer service skills as well as  organizational skills and MS Office. I look forward to hearing any updates you can share at your convenience.

Thank you again.




  1. Follow up/Check-in. There is always a danger of following up too often and becoming annoying to the employer. Figuring out when—and how often—to check in with a hiring manager is tricky. You don’t want to sound desperate, pushy or anxious to the employer because this could turn them off. Unless the interviewer has agreed in your meeting or given you a specific date to follow up and/or receive a final decision, hold off. Some articles suggest that you you’re your first follow-up email five business days after the interview if you were not told when to expect feedback. Remember – delays do happen and the decision-making process takes time.
  2. Talking about the interview on social media. It’s important to keep your references informed about your interview, your job coaches and anyone else who is helping you with your job search. And, if you were referred by an employee at the company, then keep him or her updated. Otherwise, I would keep it confidential and I would definitely not post anything on social media. You never know if an employee including the interviewers are looking at your social media accounts after the interview, especially on LinkedIn.
  3. Don’t stop your job search. Just because your interview went well doesn’t mean you will get a job offer. That means your job search isn’t finished. Cavazos warns that “no matter how well you write your interview follow up email, it isn’t going to get a company to move its process faster, bypass delays, skip over other candidates, etc. This is why you should keep applying for jobs, because you never know if a company is interviewing 10 other people, considering promoting an internal candidate, or any number of other things that could cost you the job.” Remember – delays do happen and the decision-making process takes time. So the best thing to do while waiting for a status update is apply for more jobs and try to get more interviews scheduled. You shouldn’t stop doing this until you’ve signed a job offer!


To submit your questions and comments to this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email Joanna Samuels, Employment Resource Supervisor at jsamuels@reena.org




Employment Advice Column: Different Types of Work Styles in 2020

Dear Joanna

I would like to work, but remain at home and safe during COVID19’s lockdown. I am participating in Reena’s Channels virtual community/employment program and would like to start applying for jobs.  Can you help me identify the types of work situations available and which ones would be best for me to focus on during this pandemic?

Signed: Lots of Options

Dear Options,

In addition to the standard part-time and full-time jobs that we all know about, there are other models of working to consider in your job search. I will leave it up to you to decide which arrangement works best for you and I would consult with your Channels’ job coaches to best guide you through this process.

Consider these different models sourced from https://www.burning-glass.com/research-project/hybrid-jobs/ and https://www.thebalancecareers.com/hybrid-jobs-and-the-hybrid-skills-candidates-need-most-4586497

  • The Hybrid Job Arrangement: The hybridization of jobs are transforming the job market and the job descriptions as well as changing what employers look for in employees. Also, technology plays a huge role in the job including the traditionally non-technical positions. All employees now need to learn Zoom or a similar platform as this virtual communication platform has become an important tool of the modern workplace. Now employers look for administrative assistants who have hybrid skills – in addition to the typical office support tasks, employers want candidates to have social media skills, and designing presentations. Being able to write, communicate with different department staff through different technology is required. And they want employees to be “highly hybridized” (Burningglass.com) – creative, collaborative, good problem solving skills creativitypersuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and time management.
  • The Gig Economy or Project-Based Work: This type of arrangement is typically a contract or assignment and has many names. It gets its name from each piece of work being an “individual gig”. It is bits and pieces of work. For example, making deliveries, assembly work, cleaning homes. It’s also know as the “platform economy”.
  • Fixed-Term Contracts: This is a task-based contract temporary employment arrangement between one employer and one employee with a deadline or a pre-specified event to end the contract. This type of work arrangement has always existed in the labour market. Sometimes candidates who are hired in this way replace absent employees or it’s a way for employers to evaluate a newly hired employee before offering him or her a permanent position or long term contract. Some workers choose to be employed through this temporary job because they might be in school or have other responsibilities that keep them from committing to long term employment. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door or determine if this is a good job match for you or if this is a suitable career choice for you.
  • Casual Work. This work arrangement is short term or on an occasional and intermittent basis (as-need), often for a specific number of hours, days or weeks, in return for a wage set by the terms of the daily or periodic work agreement. It can be jobs associated with the “on-demand” or “gig economy”.
  • Temporary Work: Temporary employment, whereby workers are engaged only for a specific period of time, includes fixed-term, project- or task-based contracts, as well as seasonal or casual work, including day labour. Staffing agencies offer this type of arrangement. Again, as mentioned above, these are great strategies to prove yourself to an employer, see if the career/industry is suitable for your goals and get your foot in the door. You never know when a temp position can lead to permanent full time!
  • Remote jobs: Working from home has become the most popular work arrangement during COVID19. And I can speculate that this arrangement could become the new normal. There are plenty of job sites that present positions to apply for where you can work from home. Here are some sites to consider: flexjobs.com, www.remote.com plus all online job boards like Glassdoor, Charity Village, Indeed, LinkedIn offer job opportunities that you can work remotely. Just type in “working from home jobs [your location] and you will see a list of working from home jobs.


To submit your questions and comments to this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email me at  jsamuels@reena.org



Employment Advice Column: The Online Virtual Job Interview During COVID19 and Beyond

Dear Joanna

I have applied online for a warehouse job at one of the large box store’s distribution centre with the help of my Reena job coach. And I have great news – I have a job interview. But for the first time in my life, the interview will not be in person. It will be an online and virtual meeting using the popular application Zoom! I am so nervous. How do I prepare for this type of interview and be successful? 

Signed: Tech Novice

Dear TN

Congratulations on your job interview! By the way, with the advanced technological world we live in, the online, virtual and video interviews are more popular now than ever, long before COVID started! They are convenient for employers especially for candidates living in other locations or working remotely. However, during this pandemic, there might never be a face-to-face interview –  you might be hired to start working immediately. It is important that interviewees treat this experience the same as a typical in-person interview in an office.  

Below are a five tips on how to have a successful online interview are offered by https://www.chegg.com/advice/career-center/8-ways-to-conquer-the-video-interview/ and Shine (2017)’s blog at https://online.jwu.edu/blog/career-advice-six-tips-acing-online-job-interview.

1. Learn the technology.
Become comfortable with the technology used for the interview in advance. In your case, it’s Zoom.  Download the app and sign up on the website. I would do both just in case. Make sure everything works properly. Test the internet connection as well as the audio and sound. Practice the interview on Zoom with the Reena job coach and/or your family and friends. To prepare properly, Shine recommends to always ask the employer what format will be used for the interview and include the following: a) Is it an audio interview or both audio and video? b) is there someone on the other end of the video or are the questions pre-recorded? c) If they are pre-recorded, how many chances do I get to record my answer? d) What do I do or who do I call if I start having technical difficulties?

2. Pick the perfect spot for the interview IN ADVANCE.  Shine suggests selecting a location in your home that it isn’t too dark but also stays away from overhead lights during the interview if you can. Sitting near a window is the best because of its natural light. Bad lighting can be distracting. A glare could make it difficult for the interviewer to see you. Eliminate distractions. Silence is key. Make sure that you are alone and nothing interferes with your conversation, including your phone and email notifications on your computer. This includes pets too.

3. Be professional.  Sit up and dress professionally even though you aren’t meeting the interviewer in person. First impressions still matter! Dress in light colors against a darker background or dark colors against a light background. Basically dress as you would for an interview, because it is! Don’t forget to smile! Whether you are talking to an actual person or recording your answers, do your best to look the interviewer in the eye through the webcam or camera. Connect into the meeting about 10-15 minutes earlier so you are ready to go when the interviewer logs in.

4. Prepare. Just because you won’t be in an office with real, live human beings, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t taking this extremely seriously. Just as you would prepare for an in-person interview, prepare and practice your responses to the questions with your Reena job coach as many times as you require to be ready for the interview. Research the company and the job description. Bring a copy of your resume, the job description, a notebook and pen to the interview.

5. Calm your nerves. Interviews are always stressful. Being prepared can often help reduce the stress. Take your time when answering the questions. Don’t forget to congratulate yourself afterwards for taking this risk. Do something that you enjoy to reward yourself within the limits of the COVID self-isolation. Focus on what went well in the interview. Connect with your job coach immediately to discuss the experience and supports available for self-care especially during the pandemic.

Keep safe and healthy and good luck with the interview!



To submit your questions and comments to this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email Joanna Samuels, Employment Resource Supervisor at jsamuels@reena.org


Employment Advice Column: Using humour in the job interview

Dear Joanna,

Do you have any thoughts on using laughter and humour in a job interview? I’m a big joker with my friends and family.  I love to laugh, and make others laugh too especially when I am participating in a job readiness workshop run with the Reena job coaches!  Do you think this talent will help me with winning the job offer?

Funny Interviewee

drawing of a person thinking about their career

Dear Funny,

Much of the research in psychology reports that the use of humour and laughter in communicating with others is one of the most powerful relationship builder tools that we have when used appropriately.  Consider the tips below that I learned  from the job coaches from Reena Supported Employment Service and Amy Levin-Epstein’s tips in her article on this topic http://www.cbsnews.com/news/no-joke-how-to-use-humor-in-a-job-interview/. On one hand, humour can help you in the interview including putting the interviewer at ease, and showing them that you are fun and easy to work with. But, and a big ‘but”, unless you are interviewing for a job as a stand-up comedian or related, everyone above agrees that you need to be very careful when using humour on the job interview.  


1. Balance humour with content.

Make sure that the laughter and fun doesn’t interfere with your responses to the interview questions and the way you are communicating your skills, experience and education to the interviewer.  Show the interviewer that you are perfect for the job – you are smart, results-oriented, team player who is flexible and enthusiastic about the position. It’s better to be serious and stay away from using jokes, and humour if you have any doubts or concerns about your use of this “technique”.

2. Be prepared.

As I have written in past articles on this subject, being prepared for the interview makes a huge difference. Researching the company, communicating accomplishments and strengths in response to behavioural questions are some of the tasks that you can do to make sure you are ready for this interview. The laughter and humour should be a secondary and natural response from all participants in that interview, rather than forced.

3. Don’t make jokes.

Humour is highly complicated and culturally defined. What is considered funny in one culture, may be deemed as offensive in another. People’s backgrounds play a huge role in the way humour is perceived. Stick to the facts and your accomplishments in the interview. The interview platform is not your stage to perform, and don’t turn it into a comedy show. Unless you are being interviewed for a position as a stand-up comedian, the interview is very serious and you must remain professional the whole time.

4. Assess the non-verbal cues

As one who loves to use humour and laughter, I always wait to see how the other person acts first. Remember, you are being interviewed. It’s a test. As you are part of a Reena supported employment program, discuss this with your job coach before the job interview. As I mentioned above, preparation is key. If your job coach attends the interview with you, then take your cues from him or her. If you are on your own, try to assess the personalities of the interviewers. Learn what your interviewers think is acceptable. If they are serious, rigid and official, then you should try to do the same. Always wait to see how they respond and act first. If they are laughing and joking, then I would respond. Let them take the lead. Unwelcomed joking or laughter can ruin your chances for a job offer.

Best wishes for your job search,



To submit your questions and comments to this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email jsamuels@reena.org


Joanna Samuels, M.Ed., CMF, CTDP, RRP  is the Employment Resource Supervisor  at Reena with an expertise in  job development, job coaching, and workshop facilitation with people with disabilities and multi-barriers as well as staff training. Also, Joanna helps employers with diversity recruitment and selection, is a published author and columnist, as well as a certified Life Skills Coach, and certified Personality Dimensions Facilitator.


Employment Advice Column: Working with Recruiters

Dear Joanna

I have applied to many jobs for a receptionist position with staffing agencies and recruitment companies. I have never received any response. Not even a phone call! I don’t understand how they operate. Please could you explain how I can work effectively with recruiters in my field. I am part of a supported employment program for youth with developmental disabilities at Reena and my job coach suggested that I reach out to you with this question.

Signed: Recruiter Resistance

drawing of a person thinking about their career

Dear Resistance,

To help answer your question, I consulted with a leader in the industry, Raffi Toughlouian, Vice President at IFG – International Financial Group, as well as the job coaches from Reena’s Supported Employment Services (RSES  for youth with developmental disabilities. They have clarified some of the confusion around the role of recruiters in the job search process, and tips on how to work effectively with them:

  • Understand the business. Recruiting firms may be known as placement/outplacement firms, search firms, “temp” agencies (for temporary work), or recruiting/consulting firms. The staff may be called recruiters or “head hunters.” They commonly field offers of work for many occupations. Some specialize in specific professionals especially IT, supply chain, administration, accounting/finance, architecture, financial services, healthcare, marketing, creative, information technology, engineering and executive positions. Fee structures vary for different companies – but in all cases, a recruiter is paid by the employer. THE AGENCY SHOULD NOT CHARGE YOU for work they do on your behalf. Remember that the recruiter is working for the employer.  Typically, on-site job coaching that is part of the supported employment programs is not allowed. There may be exceptions to this but I would check with the recruiter first. Off-site job coaching is an option for you to consider to help you with preparing for the interview and handling any on-the-job issues.
  • Be ready. Recruiting firms work quickly. You cannot bring in a job coach. Remember, the recruiter only makes money from their “client” (employer)” if you are placed. If the recruiter feels your resume and/or social media profiles meet the qualifications of their “client” (employer), you will be invited in to be interviewed and potentially tested for work that is technical or office related. This is usually done before the interview with the prospective employer. You can be recruited on LinkedIn. Your resume may be requested after an interview if at all.
  • Do your research. Often, successful recruiters specialize in one particular profession or industry. Therefore, job-seekers should identify companies and positions they are specifically qualified for and seek out recruiters who work with them.  You have the right to register with more than one staffing/recruitment firm.
  • Build a partnership. When working with a recruiter, you are developing an important professional relationship. There has to be mutual respect between the candidate and the recruiter for this to be successful. If you are invited in for an interview and testing, you will be working with a recruiter, or a few recruiters, who are responsible for your file. Employers hire candidates who not only have the technical skills required to do the job, but candidates who they feel have a professional outlook that is compatible with the business culture. Same applies to recruiters. Follow up with them. They are your gatekeeper to your future boss. Be honest, state your employment accommodations, salary expectations and what your goals are for your next role.
  • Be flexible to both permanent, part-time, contract and/or temporary assignments (refer to my case above). After you apply for jobs on the staffing agency’s site, follow up with the recruiter assigned to the job (usually at the bottom of the job posting) with a phone call to make sure he or she received your resume and application.


 To submit your questions and comments to this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email jsamuels@reena.org



Employment Advice Column Helpful Tips for Working with a Mentor

Dear Joanna

I am matched with a Mentor who is working in my dream job – as an administrative assistant. This mentor understands my disabilities and accommodations. I would like to learn as much as possible from him. Do you have any tips as to how I can have a meaningful and successful mentoring relationship?

Signed: My Mentor (MM)

drawing of a person thinking about their career

Dear My,

I’m impressed that you know how to ask for help and want to learn from others. Mentors can offer support and encouragement, as well as introduce you to new people and employment related events. In addition to career advice, you can develop a new skill too. Here are some suggestions on how to engage in a successful mentoring partnership based on my experiences as a mentor and mentee, as well as from Denyse Ramjit, Manager of the Peer Mentoring program for persons with disabilities at Job Start:

1. Prepare. If you have a clear career or employment goal, that would be the best. But don’t worry if you don’t. The mentor can help you figure out a realistic one with an action employment/career plan. Prepare a list of questions to discuss at your meeting with the mentor (hopefully it’s in person). Consider emailing the list or even an agenda to your mentor in advance. Bring your resume, a pen, a pad of paper, and a few job postings of roles that you are interested in. If you don’t have a clear career goal, bring a list of your passions, interests, strengths and hobbies. The more the mentor knows you, the better he or she can help you achieve your learning goals.

2. Have clear learning goals. Make sure that both of you are clear about your learning goals and that you have realistic expectations in this relationship. Write it out and review them with your mentor. Remember – a mentor is not expected to get you a job offer or an interview or solve all your problems. Understanding workplace culture, self-marketing ideas, accreditations, establishing professional networks, identifying employment opportunities and setting job search strategies are some of the areas that can be explored in your discussions. Throughout the relationship, check-in to make sure that your goals are being met and that you and your mentor are on the same page.

3. Clear communication: Working with your mentor is a professional relationship. Decide at the beginning of the relationship how your mentor would like to communicate. Some mentors prefer emails; some prefer in person meetings; and some prefer the telephone. Establish a mutually beneficial timeline that works for both of you and will ensure that you maximize your time together. If you have to cancel a meeting, make sure you notify your mentor in advance. Be accommodating to your mentor’s schedule as well.

4. Stay positive and open to feedback: Listen carefully to your mentor’s advice and suggestions. Be flexible and open to his constructive feedback. It’s a unique opportunity to learn from someone who is experienced and professional and working

in your field. Be a lifelong learner. Take the suggestions of the mentor and test the waters. Try out the new ideas in the labour market. Show the mentor that you have initiative and welcome his opinions and feedback. This relationship offers both mentor and mentee to develop leadership, coaching and communication skills, as well as learn about the recent trends in their profession and labor market, and from the mentees’ experiences with their job search.

5. Be thankful. Anyone who is willing to volunteer to offer guidance, advice and time is going to expect something in return. Don’t forget to show your appreciation each time you communicate with your mentor. Gratitude and loyalty goes a long way. Maintain a professional demeanor (advance notice when cancelling, following instructions as to how the mentor likes to communicate, effective listening, to name a few) is critical as is saying thank you.

5. DO NOT ASK FOR A JOB. The purpose of this relationship is to help the mentee become more effective in their job search, and to reconnect with their profession in Canada. Mentors are volunteers. It is not their responsibility to find a job; nor are they expected to do so. It’s a learning and networking opportunity. It’s a professional relationship that offers you guidance, coaching and assistance with your efforts to build your career in your field. Hopefully you can take all this new information and insights and apply it to your job search. Eventually this knowledge will help you get a job in the long run.

6. Check in with your mentor. Your mentoring coach will conduct a monthly check-in by phone or email to review the progress of your partnership. Keep your mentoring coach updated as to your activities. If you have any concerns, or questions, consult with your coach to problem solve. Sometimes, the relationship isn’t a good fit. It’s important to discuss this with your mentoring coach to avoid potential and unnecessary conflicts.

I wish you lots of success with your mentor and I know you will learn a tremendous amount which you will be able to apply to your job search and building a successful career in Canada in your field.

Signed: Joanna

To submit your questions for this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email jsamuels@reena.org

Employment Advice Column: Preparing a successful LinkedIn profile as a person with developmental disabilities

Dear Joanna,
I was laid off from my job because the company is closing. I am looking for work in reception, and am working with a Reena job coach to help me with my job search. The coach is encouraging me to learn about LinkedIn and even to consider posting a profile. With my disability,  I have a hard time figuring out the instructions. I’m overwhelmed, and I don’t know where to start. Can you help simplify this complicated job search skill and offer any tips on how to prepare an effective profile?

Signed: Digital Learner

drawing of a person thinking about their career

Dear Learner,
Posting a LinkedIn profile is a critical part of the job search process..  Quora.com’s reports that research has shown that 87 percent of recruiters are using LinkedIn to source for candidates.  However, it’s important to understand how to prepare an effective one that will help you achieve your career goals. I’ve reached out for professional advice from the Subject Matter Expert Jake Hirsch-Allen, who is the Economic Graph and Learning Solutions for Higher Education Lead at LinkedIn Canada. Hirsch-Allen offers the following insightful tips for a successful LinkedIn profile:

  1. Identify your career goal and ambitions. To shape your profile for LinkedIn, or for any other social media site, you have to capture how you want the public to perceive you in the professional sense. Many job seekers don’t realize this but LinkedIn goes beyond helping people get a job. It’s about communicating your skills, experience, education and accomplishments in a professional framework. The key for you is to focus on not just on getting a job, but on creating a profile that represents who you are in the working world within the context of the internet. It sounds like you have a clear career goal which is a big part of this process. Research other profiles of people who have the same career goal as you. Pull some of their content that is relevant to you. It’s always great to get good ideas from other people. If you have examples of profiles from your job coaches that “worked”, this could be helpful.
  2. Post a professional photo. Our data analytics on LinkedIn report that profiles have more views with a photo than without. Unfortunately, this leads to discrimination and bias. The way around this is to add a photo that captures you in a professional setting which is how you want to be perceived. Consider dressing in business attire, sitting at a desk, on the phone with an office looking background.
  3. Tag Line. “Write an attention-grabbing headline” cites Hirsch-Allen, and “explain what it is you do. Show your passion and value to employers/recruiters.” This is NOT a space for your job title. For example, “Passion for dogs with a flair for creative problem solving and customer service in the workplace”.
  4. The summary section. “Focus on your work, career and volunteer accomplishments” says Hirsch-Allen, who recommends 40 words or more. Similar to using the key words in the job posting in your resume and cover letter, do the same with your LinkedIn profile. Key words are words that others on this site will use to search for you. It’s best recommended to use the most repeated words in the job postings for your career goal (receptionist in this case). Don’t use buzz words like “awesome”. Make it as long as you like as long as it’s clear, accurate and explains your experiences and skills. One or two paragraphs will be displayed on your profile and the reader can click on the dots to view the full summary if he or she wishes to read more.
  5. Detail your past work / volunteer experience. Hirsch-Allen emphasizes not to worry about the length of your profile as you have been advised with preparing a resume. This social media profile is different. LinkedIn is a full comprehensive resume of your experience – paid and/or volunteer. The system will again abbreviate the list and a reader can click on it to read more. Make sure that you have listed all the jobs and roles that you have had in both employment and volunteer experiences as well as your extra-curricular activities. Sort all your experience chronologically. Then you will be able to highlight what is most relevant to your career goal. Hirsch-Allen reports that that there are more profile views than those without this detailed information and you have a better chance of being found by recruiters! Don’t forget to include all your volunteer experiences and causes. The LinkedIn data confirms that profiles with this information receive more views than those without.
  6. Add examples of your work/projects. The more visuals of all your experiences in your profile, the better the views! Hirsch-Allen recommends to “ add as many visuals like photos, multi-media presentations, videos and project links that offers readers a dynamic, visually appealing presentation of your professional story”. If you don’t have any of this, start with photos of your volunteering and/or if you attended an event or conference. Some people write and post blogs.
  7. Continue to engage in LinkedIn. Add skills and get endorsed for them, find and join groups that are relevant to your career goal (for example, administrative assistant groups). Participate in the discussions related to your industry. Follow people and companies of interest to you. This is a great tip when you are new to LinkedIn as a start to building your profile and branding. Of course, you can always continue to invite people to connect with you.
  8. Accessibility. The site offers lots of accessible options including guidance and suggestions as to how you can prepare your profile. I recommend continuing to work with your job coach to learn LinkedIn and to prepare your profile. Here’s one article written by Renato Iwashima on this topic: https://blog.linkedin.com/2017/march/31/finding-solutions-to-provide-access-to-economic-opportunity–dig. Feel free to contact him directly or any other LinkedIn professional to help you with the process in an accessible way.

This column is only the tip of the iceberg. Check out LinkedIn’s learning tutorials or their help support for further help with preparing a successful profile.

To submit your concerns, questions, issues on your job, career and/or employment related issues to Joanna Samuels, Reena’s Employment Resource Supervisor, IN CONFIDENCE, please email jsamuels@reena.org.


drawing of a person thinking about their career

Dear Joanna
I’ve been working as a lot attendant at a local grocery store for five years. I’m a person with developmental disabilities so it took me a long time and lots of support from Reena’s job coaches to finally land and keep this job. I feel lucky to be employed but I’d like more responsibilities and more money. I have proven myself several times to my boss that I am competent, loyal, work overtime, and go beyond the call of duty to get my job (and others) done! He has given me excellent feedback that I am doing a good job. I would like to ask him for a promotion, but am afraid to lose my job. How do I ask for a raise?

Signed: Fear of the Ask (FOA)

Dear FOA,

In a recent interview with Reena’s job coaches from Channels North’s community day and supported employment program, they were impressed with your initiative and motivation to ask for a promotion and raise. Here’s what the team recommends but advise you to discuss the suggestions below first with your job coach before taking action!

1. Ask for a Performance Review. If you had one already, find out when the next one is so you can PREPARE and PRACTICE a script of what to say at each step of the process to ask for a promotion. Do this with your Reena job coach. Ask for 15 minutes of your boss’ time for a meeting to discuss a performance review. Acknowledge that you know he is busy and that you respect this. Some companies have a special form. I would start by telling the boss how much you love your job, love working for him, and appreciate the opportunity to learn and grow with the company.

2. Ask for a promotion or raise in person. This is not for emails or texts. Schedule a time to meet with the manager. Show him that you’ve earned a promotion and raise by outlining what skills, accomplishments, and growth you’ve brought to the supermarket since you began. Never tell your hiring manager that you want more money or that you need to support your standard of living. Your compensation should only be reflective of your job performance.

3. List your accomplishments over the year. Promote yourself. Don’t be shy. Be prepared to showcase your value to the organization, and present how you add value and help the company succeed. Do you bring in repeat business and customers? Are you helping with promoting the store’s image by your communications with your customers and other staff? Are you helping the team with unpacking, sorting and shelving the inventory? Be specific about articulating your accomplishments and how your work in addition to your lot attendant duties is helping the store grow.

4. Research salaries for your role. Visit www.glassdoor.com and www.payscale.com for this information. With the support of your job coach from Reena, consider asking your coworkers whom you like and trust regarding the salary you can ask for that is reasonable. The salary you ask for does play a role in the way your boss views you, and you don’t want to put any tension in your relationship.

5. Be open to the feedback: If you don’t get the promotion or raise you want, don’t quit. Take this response as a learning opportunity. Find out from the manager what you need to do to improve, and what you need to do to eventually get the compensation you think you deserve. Prepare a list with the manager of areas to improve. Ask the manager for a meeting in one month to review the “improvement list”. Schedule a 20 minute meeting in advance. Don’t give up. Remember, this is a discussion in progress!

6. Look for better job opportunities. At the same time that you ask for the raise and promotion, and regardless of the boss’ response, continue to research other stores and/or companies that you would be interested in moving to for a better job opportunity. Get a sense of the competition out there – who is hiring and how much they are paying. Continue to network. If you get a job interview, go to it because you never know. Don’t let this situation be an obstacle in looking after your career.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask. Consider asking for a raise or promotion as a discussion with your manager. It’s a process. Nothing happens quickly. Only you can look after your career. Speak with your supervisor or boss. But be strategic. Plan and prepare in advance how and what to say. Review what you want to present with your job coach, family or friend or even co-worker to get feedback. Advocate for yourself. You have a right to ask for help and speak to your manager about your career path.

All the best

To submit your concerns, questions, issues on your job, career and/or employment IN CONFIDENCE, please email jsamuels@reena.org and I will respond in a column with your permission.

Employment Advice Column: Handling the First Week of a New Job

drawing of a person thinking about their career

Dear Joanna,

Thanks to my Reena job coach, I will be starting a new job next week as a stocking clerk in a busy retail store. I’m excited and nervous as I want to make a good impression with my new employer. I don’t understand what is going on. I don’t know how to behave. I feel lost. Please can you advise me on how I can handle new employee challenges and be a successful worker as well?

Nervous New Employee

Dear Nervous,

Congratulations! I definitely get it that starting a new job is no less terrifying than starting your first day at school. The difference is that you are now an adult transitioning into a new workplace and job. I’ve consulted with Victoria Ghouchandra, Reena’s leading program coordinator of both Summer Employment Transition (SET) and Reena Supported Employment Services program (RSES) who offers the following advice regarding your question:

1. Prepare in advance. Research, research and research! Learn as much as you can about the company culture and your new job’s tasks and duties before you start. You can do this by exploring the company’s website, and analyze the job description. You can learn about other employees at the company by viewing their profiles on LinkedIn. Register to receive the newsfeed and email newsletter of your new employer. Learn as much as many of the tasks for the job on your own or at least understand them before your first day on the job. For example, if you want to learn how to handle cash, check out YouTube for a teaching video clip. And if you can, practice it. Employers like employees who are self-sufficient and use their resources wisely.

2. Dress For Success. First impressions do influence how surrounding people perceive you. When you receive the job offer, you can ask this question about the company’s dress code. Reviewing policies on this topic helps as well. Always be clean, perfume/cologne free and dressed professionally. Prepare for “wardrobe disasters” warns Victoria, who recommends having an extra shirt and pants in your desk, car or bag, especially if you are working in the food service business. When you look good, you feel good and this goes a long way to getting respect at your new workplace.

3. Understand the workplace culture. Learn the unwritten rules of your team and company. There are behaviours and protocols at your new workplace that you need to know. The dress code, the use of equipment (personal telephone calls, the computer), handling food and beverages, supplies, computer stations and more. Discuss scheduling issues. Can you change your schedule for a doctor’s appointment? Ask for the ‘do’s and don’ts’ in these areas with your supervisor or fellow team. Watch how others behave during your first week. Until you understand the systems and rules, don’t assume that you know.

4. Orientation week. Generally the employer will be giving you a lot of new information at the beginning. Take notes. Write everything down. Information that isn’t relevant now might be relevant later on. The first week you will learn your boss’ expectations of your role. If a task or responsibility is unclear, ask for clarification. It is your job to completely understand the employers’ expectation of what will make you a successful employee.

5. Be prepared to ask questions. Before you actually engage in the task or assignment, it’s important to ask your assigned “trainer or mentor” for clarification if you don’t understand the tasks or the assignment. It’s better to submit the work correctly and take time to understand it in advance. Write all your questions down in your notebook as you go through the day. Each boss has a different style of managing and responding to your questions. Find out what works best for him or her with addressing your questions.

6. Admitting to mistakes. If you do make a mistake, learn from it. For example, if you are asked to ask to write an email and there was a spelling mistake on one of the company’s terminology, then learn from this mistake. Admit to mistakes. There is no perfect employee out there and taking steps to correct the mistakes, goes much further as it can help you have a transparent relationship with your managers and coworkers.

7. Take initiative. Be as self-sufficient as possible in learning the job. Find out if there are company resources to help you via your boss, co-workers and even Human Resources. Use social media and internet resources as well. Don’t depend on your boss or employee for everything. Take charge. Again, if there is something you don’t understand, first research and try to determine the answer yourself. Your boss is there to help you out; not do it for you. Continue learning on the job. Sometimes the conversations in the lunch room with other colleagues are the best place for informal learning.

8. Maintaining your work ethic. Typically, new employees work their best during the first weeks of probation. Victoria encourages employees to keep up this motivation, hard work, interest in job and learning throughout your work life at your company.

9. Meeting new people. How you act in the beginning can make or break your success as a new employee and the role in the long run. Build workplace relationships. Eating in the lunch room with the team helps. Introduce yourself to people you don’t know. Shake their hand. List and learn people’s names. Greet everyone with a smile, while being professional and courteous, even on the telephone. Always be appreciative by saying thank you, accepting praise and don’t interrupt. Think about what you could do to make the team happy. Listen more than talk. Learn about the different roles and jobs in the company. Once you are comfortable in your role, you can start reciprocating by helping others. For example. “Hi, my name is Victoria. I just started this week as a stock clerk. If you need any help, let me know.” Make sure the person is not busy or in the middle of a deadline. Make everyone you meet feel important.

To submit your concerns, questions, issues on your job, career and/or employment IN CONFIDENCE, please email Dear Joanna at jsamuels@reena.org



drawing of a person thinking about their career

Dear Joanna
I am a recent graduate from community college as a developmental services worker. With one semester in a co-op placement at Reena, and a few summers as a camp counsellor with a special needs camp, I’m clear about my career goal. What would be the best type of resume in this field?

Signed: Relentless Resume Applicant (RRA).
Dear RRA,
I’ve consulted with Reena’s human resource coordinator, Lisa Perez, who has reviewed hundreds of resumes for multiple positions, to share her expertise and advice regarding your question.
1. Research. Gather as much information as possible to prepare the preferred resume format and style of your potential boss/hiring managers and industry. What is the company policy? What type of resume catches the eye of the human resource people, the hiring people, and professional employees at the company? What is the company policy? Use social media to find this out. For example, post the question in your Linkedin groups, through your twitter and/or facebook accounts? Search for answers through www.youtube. Talk to as many professional people in your field through information interviews. Information is power. Network!!! Analyze the job descriptions and company websites. Google the employers and the employees. .
2. Understand the employer’s perspective. Employers decide who to invite for an interview after scanning a resume (and cover letter depending on the job) within the first 20 seconds. They first look for the candidates’ relevant education, employment history as well as professional, work and volunteer experience with the accomplishments in the field. Can the candidate actually do the job? Does the candidate have the qualifications, skills and abilities required for the position on paper? Perez adds that employers who use the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), will initially screen resumes based on key words signifying the absolute minimum requirements for a position. This is then followed up with a short phone screening interview, before inviting candidates in for an interview. From my interviews with other industry specific recruiters, the financial, banking and business and related profession prefer either a combination, or project based resumes. Architecture, engineering and Information technology recruiters prefer a project based resume with technical skills used as well as achievements. Content and appearance are both equally important in today’s competitive job market. Perez evaluates the resume on its clarity, consistency and above all accuracy. Grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and a messy document will impact her decision regarding moving to the next steps in the hiring process.
3. Pick your format. There are four types of resumes: Chronological, Functional and Combined/Combination as well as a project-based resume. Whereas Perez prefers the chronological style, she is more interested in the content, accuracy and presentation. Please refer to the chart below for the suitable format for your career goal and discuss your choice with your Reena job coach: 

Source: Job Search Workshop, JVS Toronto, 2012
Wishing you lots of success that your resume “works”, i.e. lands you a job interview…!

To submit your concerns, questions, issues on your job, career and/or employment to me IN CONFIDENCE, please email jsamuels@reena.org

Employment Advice Column: Resigning with dignity – Don’t just quit

drawing of a person thinking about their career

Dear Joanna,
I told my job coach that I want to quit my job yesterday. The manager got angry at me when I made a mistake at work. I’ve been at this job for two weeks. I don’t want to work here anymore. I’m very unhappy here. My job coach recommends that I resign with grace and dignity and not just suddenly leave. How do I do this?
Signed: Quitting with Dignity

Dear QD,
After consulting with leading Reena job coaches from Channels North (community day and supported employment program), it was confirmed that your coach is offering the correct advice. As hard as this might be for you at this time as you are upset, resigning with dignity and diplomatically is the way to go. The following recommendations are offered by Ulster and Hansen’s article from https://www.livecareer.com/career/advice/jobs/resigning-job.

1. Leave on good terms. Never burn your bridges. Don’t brag to your coworkers about your great new opportunity. Job hunting is an unpredictable process, and you never know when you will run into your former supervisor, co-worker, or a former employer in another situation. Never ever say anything negative about this employer in your job interviews, networking or when you get a new employer.
2. Giving notice. Legally, you are required to give a minimum of two weeks. Consult your employer’s policies and/or the Collective Agreement if you are in a union. If you can, I would suggest giving extra notice as a special favour to your team and employer. Keep this in mind when discuss the job offer with your new employer.
3. Salary. Make sure you are paid for any outstanding salary, vacation, sick, personal days, commission payments or other compensation due to you.
4. Help with the transition. Offer to help your current employer find your replacement. Offer to train or work with your replacement to show them the ropes.
5. Remain an active employee until your last day! Try not to just disappear during your last weeks on the job. Stay an active member of the team and avoid taking a short-timer’s attitude or aligning yourself with any discontented coworkers. Complete all open assignments and leave detailed progress reports for your supervisor and coworkers. Work with your job coach to resolve the issue with your manager. You might decide to stay in the end! If you can when you have a new job, consider being available for questions from the new employee or your former team. Do this only if you have time in your new role. That takes priority.
6. Exit interview. This type of interview is usually offered to employees who resign and asks for feedback (positive and negative experiences with the company). Often it’s administered by the human resources staff. Not all companies have this procedure. And if you are offered such an exit interview to provide feedback, I would caution you with your response to the question. It depends on where the information goes – i.e. what will happen to your feedback. Will it be used against you? Would your input jeopardize your chances of getting a good reference? Stay tuned for a employment advice column on this topic.
7. References. Keep networking. Keep in touch with your (soon to be former) colleagues and supervisors, especially those who you want to keep as network contacts and references. Make sure you are connected with them on Linkedin, Twitter and any other social media venues.

To submit your questions, concerns and comments to this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email jsamuels@reena.org


Employment Advice for Persons with Developmental Disabilities

drawing of a person thinking about their career

Dear Joanna
I am both scared and nervous about my very first ever job interview that I will be attending for a customer service position at a local retail store. It’s my dream job. My job coach from Reena’s Channels program will be coming with me as she has arranged this interview. It would really help me if I bring my friend to the interview as it will help me with my stress. Is this acceptable etiquette at an interview?

Signed: A little help from my friend

Dear ALHF,

I’ve consulted with Reena’s leading Channels (and Pathways) community day and supported employment program supervisor Judy Biniaminov and expert Job Coach Ellery Ulster on best practices for their job seekers on what to bring to the job interview. Together with research presented from other professionals in the field including Bromstein’s blog www.careers.workopolis.com/advice/eight-things-not-to-bring-to-the-job-interview/, I’ve summarized the following 10 items that can ruin your chances of getting the job offer.
1. Your parents. As you will not be bringing your parents to your place of employment, do not bring your parents or any family member with you to the interview. Remember, you are an adult and getting a job is one of the important ways to become self-sufficient and an adult.
2. Your pets. Unless you require a service animal, keep your pets at home. And if you are bringing your service dog (or pet) to the interview, it’s important to advise the employer in advance. You will need this support when you are working as well.
3. Your phone / Electronic devices. Hide your phone, ear phones, or any electronic devices as well as turn them off. Phones can be put on silent or airplane mode). It is disrespectful and rude to have it ringing in the interview. It is important to show complete full attention to the interviewer(s). Carry as little with you as possible to make the best impression.
4. Coffee/Water. If the interviewers offers you a drink, I personally would not accept it. If you do require water because of dry mouth, or it’s a hot day, then bring your own bottle. I’d bring a small one. And I’d mention that you might have to sip some water during the interview before you get started. Remember, the interview is about what you can do for the employer, and not what the employer can do for you. Don’t show up carrying one not only in case you spill it but again, it could be interpreted as unprofessional.
5. A competitor’s product. Do your homework. “Don’t show up for an interview at Starbucks while carrying a Tim Horton’s coffee unless you intend to discuss the competition and how you can help the employer compete.
6. Inappropriate materials. Don’t bring any reading material that makes you look anything less than serious, intelligent, and professional like erotica, gossip magazines or inappropriate and unrelated reading.
7. Your shopping: Don’t bring your shopping bags to the interview. This presents the absolute wrong message. It makes it look like the interview is just something you’re fitting in between other things, not the sole focus of your day. You want to look like you really care about the job. Do your shopping later.
8. Food. Eat your meal before the interview whether it’s in person or virtual or on the phone. In all formats, it’s a serious interview. You must be professional and prepared. And don’t bring food.
9. Chewing gum or candy. This is a big no-no. Your mouth should be used only for responding to the interview questions and building rapport with the interviewers. Nothing else.
10. Old resume / cover letter. Make sure all of your documents are up to date, organized in a professional folder or bag and are neatly presented. Crumpled, messy and torn resumes and cover letters do not make a good impression for the employer.

To submit your challenges, concerns, questions and comments regarding this column and/or your job search IN CONFIDENCE, please email jsamuels@reena.org.