If you're looking for work in Alberta, you're not alone — so here's some help

It’s not a great time to job hunt in the province. You are among about 170,000 people looking for work. Last week alone, about 1,000 jobs were eliminated, some due to the provincial budget.

Down with resumé bullets, up with successes, says recruiter

If you are looking for work in Alberta right now, it's maybe time to revisit your resumé, because 80 per cent of the time, you get 11 seconds in front of a hiring manager. (Lynne Sladky/The Associated Press)

It's not a great time to be job hunting in Alberta. If you're looking for work, you're among about 170,000 people. Last week alone, about 1,000 jobs were eliminated, some due to the provincial budget.

And oil and gas jobs are just one piece of that puzzle. An independent labour analyst says since 2014, there have been 53,200 job losses in that once-lucrative sector alone.

"Those people will not be returning to oil and gas," Cheryl Knight told Alberta@Noon on Tuesday.

"There are pockets of hiring, but there is no way all of them will be returning to oil and gas."

She's been studying this sector for a few years now and says related or oil and gas adjacent industries are where some of those jobs are today.

"Other areas can be described as the energy eco-system," Knight said.

"Like clean technology, so methane emissions reduction, carbon capture, usage and storage and even well decommissioning work."

And a recruitment expert says changes to the old school resumé are needed, now more than ever.

"Don't use a traditional resumé, two or three pages of bullets describing your functional responsibilities. That doesn't work," Sheila Musgrove said.

Sheila Musgrove is a Calgary-based recruitment expert and best-selling author. (Submitted by Sheila Musgrove/Kirstey Jane/Super Corporate People)

She started TAG Recruitment Group 14 years ago and is a best-selling author.

You have 11 seconds

"Eighty per cent of resumés are rejected within 11 seconds. Hiring managers skim," Musgrove said.

"We look at company name and title, position start and end date, education. Then we are looking for numbers and percentages. I want to know how well you did your job. Ensure you list key successes on your resume."

That's news Kevin Sinclair of Lethbridge can use right now. The journeyman plumber was laid off just last week due to a shortage of work.

"It's pretty dead out there. There is not a lot going on," he said.

"We knew things were slow, so it was only half of a surprise."

Musgrove says Sinclair and others in trades need to pump up the successes on their curriculum vitae.

"Get rid of the bullets. Think about key successes, like how many clients have you serviced, how many repeat clients do you have, what has been your biggest job, how many hours do you have as a plumber. How long have you gone without an injury?"

That's less relevant to Alex Perl of Edmonton, who was just laid off from his Grade 10 social studies temporary contract after one of the schools in his district posted a big deficit, creating a domino effect of bumping.

"I am a new teacher, I have only been working for three months," Perl said.

"I don't think there is much of a future for me in this province. I got my degree to teach in Alberta and I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me."

He's open to leaving Alberta, but he doesn't want to.

"It's kind of crummy. I was born and raised in Alberta. I don't want to leave. I feel like I am being forced out into this position by the government."

Musgraves says in Perl's case, it might be helpful to ensure previous experience — perhaps not career-related — and volunteer time are prominent on the resumé.

"How many hours a week did you work while going to school? Were you asked to train or mentor others? Where did you excel in the position? Put volunteer work on the first page. If you have done some cool things, talk about it," she said, and explain gaps honestly but positively.

"Employers are looking for traits of success."

While a victim of oil prices and other factors, Andrew Rockwell in Calgary says he's actually richer after losing his oil and gas position about a year ago.

"It was a blessing in disguise, a silver lining," Rockwell said.

"I found a new start in Calgary's emerging tech industry. I am finding it interesting, rewarding. I am working more for less money but my work engagement and enjoyment has substantially increased. It can be a curse to be paid a lot to do something you don't enjoy."

Edmonton economist John Rose says things are starting to look up, but we aren't out of the economic blues just yet.

"It's been difficult since 2014 but we are beginning to see the first signs of improvement in employment. Alberta has picked up about 20,000 jobs in the last year and that's good news," Rose said.

John Rose is an economist with the City of Edmonton. (Submitted by John Rose)

"But we have a long way to go to recover from the downturn. There may be a few more rough weeks and months in the future."

Job growth can be found in sectors like health care, engineering and environmental sciences.

"Manufacturing is making a comeback, and surprisingly wholesale and retail, we are seeing significant improvement there," Rose said.

There are even worker shortages in information technology and artificial intelligence, he added.

Meanwhile, recruiter Musgrove says it's time to market yourself a little differently.

"Put target position at the top of your resume. I would also be tempted to keep education on page one," Musgrove said.

And if you are overflowing with experience in one sector, maybe hold some of it back.

"Employment-wise, go back 10 to a maximum of 15 years. Keep your age a secret. Take your high school graduation dates off your resume and make sure your email does not have your birth year," she said.

"Leverage your networks, let them know you are looking for work and LinkedIn is a good place to be."

With files from Alberta@Noon


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