What Training do Career Coaches Have?

“Career coach training is as varied as coaches themselves.”

The coaching industry is not regulated. So what does that mean to someone looking to hire a career coach? It means that anyone can throw their hat into the ring and call themselves a career coach. Whether someone has taken a one-year course, a weekend online course or no training at all, they can legally call themselves a career, business or life coach.

In order to get a qualified professional career coach, ask the coach about their experience, training and credentials. A safe bet is if the coach has a coaching accreditation from the International Coaching Federation (ICF). The ICF grants accreditation based on the courses you have taken from an accredited school, the number of hours you have coached, and a final written and oral exam.

When coaches get listed on Noomii, the company verifies which coaches have ICF accreditation. Then once the credential is verified, Noomii prominently displays the relevant ICF accreditation on the coach’s profile. When choosing a coach, you may want to ask them if they have an ICF designation. This guarantees that you are dealing with a certified coach that adheres to ICF standards and ethical guidelines.

The ICF has three designations:

  • Associate Certified Coach (ACC) – 60 training hours + 100 hours of experience
  • Professional Certified Coach (PCC) – 125 training + 750 hours of experience
  • Master Certified Coach (MCC) – 200 training hours + 2500 hours of experience

Career Coach Training

When looking at a career coach’s training find out where they obtained their coach’s training, how many coaching hours were involved and if they have ICF certification.

ICF accredited schools

The ICF lists approximately 100 accredited coach training schools. Here are some of the biggest ones:


In Canada, UBC, SFU and Royal Rhodes are all universities that offer accredited coaching programs.

The US also has many options, such as:

What else is there to consider with career coach training? This depends on the type of career coaching you want and where you are in the process. Let’s take a look at some of the different services and tools used by career coaches at different stages in the career process.

Career Exploration

If you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up and lack focus, you may benefit from a career coach that has a career exploration background. This type of coach may offer assessment tools to supplement their coaching. Most assessments create awareness around your personal values and beliefs and where your blind spots might be. Alternatively great results can also happen with a coach who listens deeply, is curious and asks powerful questions – It’s really up to you.

Let’s take a look at a few of the many assessment tools that a career coach may be trained in.

Career & Personality Assessment Tools

Strong Interest Inventory (SII)

A questionnaire that analyzes your interests in general areas and specific occupations. Your results indicate where your interests fit in six areas: social (helping, instructing), conventional (accounting, processing data), artistic (creating or enjoying art), investigative (research, analyzing), enterprising (selling, managing) and realistic (building, repairing).

The Leadership Circle Profile (TLCP)

It’s a competency based 360 degree assessment that measures leadership types and is rooted in Appreciative Inquiry.

O*NET Interest Provider

This is based on the Holland Codes. It helps people discover their interests through a 60-question assessment that looks at various work activities. This information can lead to career types people may wish to explore further under the guidance of a career coach.


This tool describes your strengths, priorities and challenges of your behavioural style primarily in one of four areas:

D= Dominance; I=Influence; S=Steadiness; C=Conscientiousness

Kolbe Index

A strength-based assessment that measures the actions you take based on your natural instincts.


As the title indicates it is a self assessment to identify your strengths. Once you do the assessment your coach unpacks the learning and how it relates to you and your potential careers

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

Myers Briggs is one of the most popular and well-known personality assessments. The tool based on Carl Jung’s work was developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and her Mother, Katharine Briggs. It describes your personality type based on how you perceive the world and make decisions. You are assigned a 4 digit code such as INFP that describes your personality type.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator - Career Coach Training/Assessment Tool

Personality Dimensions

Personality Dimensions is another type of personality assessment. It is also based on the work Carl Jung, as well as David Keirsey and Linda Berens. It incorporates the Introvert/Extrovert piece. Rather than letters, the assessment uses four colours to describe which personality temperament dominates. (Inquiring Green, Organized Gold, Authentic Blue and Resourceful Orange). Of course people are more rainbow or plaid, in other words a combination of colours.

True Colors

True Colors was the first to use four colours (Green, Gold, Blue and Orange) to describe someone’s personality temperament. Founded by Don Lowry in 1978, some say this is derived from theory found with Hippocrates and Plato around character and personality.

Insights Discovery

Also based on 4 colours (not related to Personality Dimensions or True Colors). It also provides insight into your personality, interpersonal skills, communication and relationships.

Job Search Techniques

If you know what career you are interested in, but don’t know where to look or how to proceed, a career coach that has a background in job search techniques may be a good fit. They can assist you with everything from developing a strong marketing package (resume, cover letter, career portfolio) to providing the nuts and bolts of a successful interview.  This type of career coach can help you with the mechanics of job search and even enable you to receive a better salary.

Darleen* was a client of mine who was a new immigrant and had very little Canadian work experience. As a result she thought she couldn’t ask for a competitive wage when it came time to negotiate her salary in a new job. We worked together and Darleen saw the value she offered to employers. When it came to salary negotiation, Darleen did her research and countered with a wage that was $2 per hour higher than what the employer originally offered. And what happened? Darleen got the wage she asked for!

Career Designations

Other qualifications a career coach may possess are designations:

  • Job Club Leadership Training Certification (JCLT)

Now what to do with all this information?

As you can see, the training a career coach can have is widespread and varied. When choosing a career coach first determine if you have sufficient focus and want to work with a coach that specializes in career exploration, or one that focuses on job search techniques, or possibly one that has experience in both areas. Next, ask the coach what credentials and experience they possess. Don’t rule out their overall experience, because it might be the deal breaker.

Whether you choose a career coach who has a portfolio full of assessments, or a coach that has accredited coach training and extensive experience, the choice is ultimately yours. By being informed you can make the right choice for you. And lastly, no matter what qualifications and experience a career coach has, it is up to you to find a career coach that is the right fit for you. One that you can trust, feel comfortably with and relate to. Many career coach’s offer a sample session, which is a great place to determine if the coach is a match for you!

*Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality

(Originally posted on Noomii Career Blog)


How to Re-enter the Workforce With Confidence After 10 Years

What is it like to re-enter the workforce after 5, 10 or even 15 years?

Are you scared, excited, worried, lacking confidence, stuck or unsure where to begin? These might be some of the feelings you are experiencing when thinking about returning to the workforce after a significant time away. However, if you take a look at what you’ve been doing while you’ve been off work and take an inventory of the skills you’ve learned, you’ll be able to re-enter the workforce with confidence no matter how long you’ve been away.

Highlight what you were doing while not working

It’s important to first identify what you were doing during your time away from traditional work. Were you looking after a parent or an in-law? Or were you raising a family? Or maybe you took a sabbatical. Whatever the reason, it is valuable to include this information in your resume as it will account for any time gaps.

When looking for candidates to hire, human resources executive Roberta Fidalgo said that she is looking for someone with transferable skills and the willingness to learn.

“There are many skills that are transferable, such as leadership, sales, project management and problem solving. For example, these skills can be gained during the time you were providing child or elder care, volunteering in your community, leading the Parent Advisory Council (PAC) at school or managing a renovation. These are absolutely invaluable and can help you in returning to the workforce.”

Take a skills inventory

Next, I recommend doing a skills inventory. So what exactly does that mean? It means taking a full inventory of what you have done during your time out of the workforce. People often discount valuable experience they have gained while doing other things that are not considered traditional “work”.

Here’s an example: my client Donna* was asked to consult on what colours the church she attended should be repainted. Donna had an eye for colour and design and was a great asset when the church decided to redecorate. These are transferable skills that can be used in a new career like interior design.

Bobby*, another client and stay-at-home mom, has volunteered to do catering events at her church. She purchased food and beverages, organized volunteers, ensured the food was prepared according to health standards and arranged the food in a pleasing manner – all skills that could be used in event planning, catering, restaurant management or maybe running a business. Work does not need to be paid to be valuable to employers.

List volunteer work/community service

People often discount the value of doing volunteer work or community service. Employers want to see volunteering on a resume. Why? It shows that you want to give back to the community, as well as that you have been developing skills while away from “traditional paid work.” Again, the skills you have learned here can be invaluable in getting your next job. Just think of that time you organized a parent-teacher fundraiser or your child’s After Grad. There are some great skills here that you can contribute to your next job.

Identify transferable skills

Now that you have done an inventory of your skills it will be helpful to look at how they might transfer into your next job. Whether you are doing a career transition into something completely different or returning to an old job, every skill acts as a stepping stone towards your new job.

Let’s take a look at the example again of Bobby*, who has been homeschooling her three sons for over 10 years. Any thoughts on what some of her skills may be? Well, Bobby deals with whining and grumpy children almost daily. She also encourages them to learn new things and uses different methods to appeal to their learning style. And on a regular basis they do art, math and social studies. So how does that transfer into skills for the workforce? Check it out!

  • Handling complaints, client (your kids) or customer (teachers, volunteering)
  • Motivating people, groups (again your kids or maybe even looking after another mom’s kids)
  • Using various methods to present information to appeal to different learning styles – sketching diagrams, pictures, charts (homeschooling)

There are many more skills that come out of homeschooling but these are just a few to get you thinking.

Re-enter the workforce with a career coach

Now you may be wondering how you can uncover all those great skills you’ve learned and gathered during your time off. Working with a career coach can help you identify those transferable skills and more. A career coach offers you an unbiased perspective, and can really draw out those experiences, personal qualities and attributes that make you unique and valuable to an employer. A career coach will provide structure, help you increase your confidence and set up a plan to re-enter the workforce in a position that you love!

*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality

(Originally posted on Noomii Career Blog)


Does a Career Coach Actually Help You Find a Job?

Working with a career coach can help you accelerate your job search and increase your chances of success. So who will benefit from a career coach? How do you choose a career coach? And finally, what are the benefits of working with a career coach? Let’s break it down.

Who will benefit from a career coach?

A career coach can provide assistance if you are currently employed and looking to transition to another industry or job or if you are re-entering the workforce. A coach can help you find direction when you lack focus, and don’t know what your next steps are. Whether you are nearing retirement and want to start a whole new career, or are a new graduate fresh out of college or university, a career coach can help ease the transition and get you where you want to go faster and with less stress.

How do I choose a career coach?


First, it is important to establish a good rapport with a coach. Fit is everything. Most career coaches will offer a complementary strategy/sample session where you will learn about them and their unique style, and have the opportunity to experience their coaching.  This is when you can ask how the career coach structures their coaching sessions, what tools or assessments they may use, how much they charge, what their qualifications are, and the average length of a coaching relationship.

Areas of specialty

Search out a career coach that meets your specific needs. You may require help with job search strategies such as interview preparation, salary negotiation or polishing your resume. Or maybe you need help gaining focus and figuring out what you really want in life. In all cases a career coach can help you.

What are the benefits to having a coach?


A coach is there for you. They actively listen to what you are saying and what you aren’t saying. They will create a safe environment where you are comfortable and can talk without judgment. Looking for work can be extremely isolating. Working with a coach provides the necessary support to move forward. A coach provides non-judgmental guidance and can see things from the 30,000-foot view, offering different perspectives and opportunities.  They’ll help you identify where you are stuck, what the obstacles are between you and your dream job, and illuminate the path to what you really want.

Structure and accountability

A coach will set up regular coaching meetings with you (by phone or in person) and assist in developing a plan to achieve your career goals. Looking for work can be frustrating, annoying and demoralizing and it may be difficult to know where to start. Having regular coaching sessions will lend structure and stability to your career transition.  A career coach will customize a program to suit your individual needs and meet you where you are, whether at a career crossroad or in job search mode. They will provide the necessary accountability for you to achieve and exceed your goals, far faster than you would on your own.


A career coach will help you focus on what you really want to do and where you want to do it by identifying your values, interests, talents and passion. They will help you discover what is really important to you and how that relates to finding your ideal career.

Case study

Sam*, a self-proclaimed type A personality, was in a high-powered leadership role that drained him physically and mentally, leaving nothing left for himself, his wife or two small children. He came to me wanting to make a change. Through coaching he discovered that what he really wanted/needed was to take some time off and be with his kids. Sam quit his job and became a stay-at-home dad and is loving the opportunity to honour his values around family and community, achieving the balance he longed for.

Confidence and your personal brand

When you are out of work you may lack self-confidence and your perspective on successfully finding work may become clouded. Career coaching can provide you with fresh perspectives on the challenges and opportunities when finding meaningful work, give you better awareness of your strengths, accomplishments, unique value proposition and your own personal brand.

Your inner demons

  • “You aren’t smart enough.”
  • “You aren’t good enough.”
  • “You are too old.”

Recognize any of these words? We all have them, those inner critics, saboteurs or gremlins in our head. They keep us sheltered, prevent us from growing, and from trying new things. A career coach will help you identify those inner critics, acknowledge them and then create a plan for you to overcome them.

So, does a career coach help you find a job. You bet! Together you and your career coach will develop an action plan, identify your challenges and obtain that dream job that will have you jumping out of bed Monday mornings.

*Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality

(Originally posted on Noomii Career Blog)


7 Steps to Job Searching at 50

Many folks in their 50s may be struggling to reenter the workforce or are feeling stuck in a job that they hate. Does that sound like you? If so, here are seven steps that may open up opportunities to a new career.

First impressions

It is said that you never have a second chance to create a first impression. That first impression happens when you walk into the place you are interviewing. It starts with how you greet the receptionist, whether it be in person or on the phone. When working for MTI (Metro Training Institute) in Vancouver, BC, our receptionist had a call from a job seeker that was rude and impatient. He insisted on being put through to the director. The receptionist politely took a message. I later saw the message she wrote and then used it in my job search program of what not to do. It said how rude and disrespectful this man was. In the end, did the director call the man back? Of course not.

So how can you create a good first impression? By dressing professionally and greeting both reception and the interviewer(s) with a smile and a firm handshake. And go easy on the cologne or perfume – you don’t want people to smell you before you actually arrive!

Stress the advantages of being in your 50s

There are a lot of great reasons why you can be a valuable employee now that you are in your 50s. Stress the extensive experience you have, the flexibility now that your kids are grown up and the fact that you can be a mentor to others. Fifty-year-old’s bring wisdom from life experiences that can’t be taught and are a real benefit to companies and building teams.

Rob Crawford, Senior Human Resources Consultant says, “Companies are looking for people that are experienced and willing to stay on longer. Companies value flexibility–older workers may have the flexibility to work part-time rather than full-time.”

Target employers that value a little gray hair

“Even in careers, 50 is the new 40. There are organizations that value the experience and retired people as well.  Home Depot values seniors.  Walmart is another retailer that does this. They recognize the value in these individuals.” -Rob Crawford, Senior HR Consultant

Target companies that want to hire older workers. Canada’s Top 100 Employers publishes annually a report called, Top Employers for Canadians over 40.

From 2002 to 2013, the US AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), along with co-sponsor, the Society for Human Resource Management, ranked companies that value people and actively recruit over 50s in their Best Employers for Workers Over 50 awards. Although the AARP is no longer hosting this award, the information in these rankings can be invaluable. It provides lists of US companies that recognize the value in older workers and hire them. Why not contact some of these companies?

Avoid telling your whole life story

My family always accuses me of starting conversations with, “I was born in Kamloops.”  I admit I’m a talker, but when it comes to sending out your resume be selective and targeted with outlining your experience.  You may have heard the recommendation to go back 10-15 years on your resume for your Employment History. Sometimes you may have valuable experience dating back further than this but you don’t want to include specific dates, aging yourself.

Prior to 2002

A great trick to use in the Employment History Section of your resume is a subheading called: Prior to “Date”

This allows you to include relevant information that may be 20 years ago without having to list the actual dates.

Always cater your resume to the job you are applying for. Include only relevant experience and never include your age. A client of mine had his birth date in his email address ([email protected]). When I pointed out that it made it obvious he was 66, he quickly changed his email address.

Stay up-to-date with technology and current trends

Some of the stigmas that come with being an older candidate is the employer’s concern about your computer skills and internet know-how. Brush up on these skills with a course at your local college or community centre.

And make sure you can navigate social media. Develop a presence on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat.


Getting out there and networking will enable you to meet like-minded people and gain contacts that can help you find work. Many jobs are in the hidden job market—not advertised in traditional methods. Your network can help you access these jobs. Combining traditional networking such as attending special interest groups, meet-ups, school alumni events, professional association meetings and coffee with past colleagues and friends, with social media networking on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, will help build your community and ultimately assist in your success for finding the meaningful work you desire.

And finally…

Believe in yourself

Have you heard the saying “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right?”

Well, it really comes down to what’s going on in your head. Also known as the inner game, it can show up as self-doubt or inner voices saying that you aren’t good enough, smart enough, young enough—you get it. What we believe in ourselves is what will be portrayed to an employer. If you believe you have a lot to offer an employer, then this is exactly what will come across during that interview. If you think you are too old for the job, then that will come across too.

As we get older our confidence can wane. As a career coach that returned to school and started my own business at the age of 50 I can honestly say that there are days where I want to throw in the towel. Working with a coach has helped me stay focused, motivated and have the confidence to know that I can make a difference in other people’s lives. If you want a little help and encouragement reaching your career goal, hiring a coach is a great option. I took back my life, now take back yours!

(Originally posted on Noomii Career Blog)


Why Didn’t I Get The Job? 10 Reasons You May Have Been Overlooked

We’ve all been there. Had a great interview, or maybe two, think we aced everything and then heard nothing. Upon following up we find out that they’ve hired someone else.

After high school I remember my daughter Leah interviewing for her first real job. The decision-maker told Leah at the end of the interview that they were 98% sure she had the job. We even went out and bought Leah new work clothes. A week later she heard nothing, then after another week I encouraged her to follow-up. When Leah called the company she was told they went with someone else. So, what can you do to avoid this from happening?

Let’s look at what can happen between the interviews and the job offer. (Note: Some of the reasons may surprise you).

Reasons fit into two categories:

  1. Circumstances beyond your control
  2. Within your control

Beyond your control

1. Your appearance

You remind the interviewer of their ex-wife/partner/or someone else they dislike. Or maybe you look like the interviewers archenemy from high school. Now this sounds prejudicial and it is. As human beings, sometimes prejudice or rules can get in the way of the decision-maker’s judgment. It’s not fair, nor is it right, but it happens. Unfortunately there is nothing you can do about it – unless of course you have considered plastic surgery!

2. The interviewer has hidden agendas

Hidden agendas might include companies hiring only family friends and relatives. Sometimes it is that the interviewer has low-confidence and self-esteem. They may be intimidated by your qualifications and not want to hire someone that they think is smarter than them, due to their education or other factors. Or they want to give the impression of a youthful company so they only hire people under 30. Against Human Rights? Yes! However, it is very difficult to prove that these hidden agendas caused you to not get the job. And if you do uncover the real truth, do you really want to work for one of these places?

3. The company is playing games

Companies have been known to advertise jobs because it is a requirement or policy, when all along they have an internal candidate in mind for the role. They may choose to interview external applicants to check out the competition. Or a hiring freeze can happen right in the middle of a recruitment process, effectively shutting down the possibility of filling the position.

4. You weren’t the right fit

Do you fit within the team/organization/culture? You don’t know ahead of time what the team and company are like, so for the most part whether you fit or not is beyond your control. Information interviews can provide some insight into the company culture and the team. If, for instance, the decision-maker is looking for a particular personality type, this is beyond your control, apart from “faking it,” which I don’t recommend.

Sometimes companies are mandated to hire people that are in a minority (could be race or disability). If you don’t fit into this particular sector you may not get hired. This can happen in government or public organizations.

5. It just looked like you got it

A good recruiter will make you feel comfortable so you will reveal things about yourself. In my experience recruiters do want you to answer to the best of your ability. Recruiters may purposely make you believe that you are going to get the job—when this may not be the case. As well, the recruiter or interviewer may not be the one that actually makes the final decision. It could be someone else in the company that you never get to meet.

Within your control

6. Research

Researching the company prior to your interview, and even before submitting your application, is a priority. Knowing about the company and its goals, values and culture will give you the competitive edge you need. Often the last question you will be asked in an interview is, “Do you have any questions?” If you ask something that you could have found out by looking at annual reports (public companies), on the web or other social media, it demonstrates you didn’t take the initiative to do some research. To be a successful candidate you want to stand out from the competition and that means taking the time to do your homework—so do your research.

7. Experience

You may not have the skill set or amount of experience the company is looking for. The decision-maker may feel you cannot do the job. It is your place to bring out your experience and strengths in the best way you can. That’s within your control. Having the right amount of experience that a company wants is not within your control. However, there are ways a career coach can help you identify transferable skills and strengths that can help in this category.

8. References

Your references can make or break whether you get the job. Make sure you know what your references are going to say about you. If in doubt have a friend do a reference check on your behalf. And provide your references with your updated reference and the job posting/job description for where you are interviewing.

9. Preparation

Not being adequately prepared is not a good thing. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. This quote, attributed to Roman philosopher Seneca, shows that we make our own luck. Don’t leave your success to chance. In the case of employment interviews you need to treat the interviews like studying for an exam. Prepare and practice! A good way to prepare is to write down all the questions you think might be asked (these days many are behavioural questions) and then write your answers down as well. This uses the other side of your brain and helps the information “stick.” Then elicit the help of family or friends to do mock interviews. This is also where a career coach can help.

When Bill* was looking for a promotion to management within his organization, he hired me to help him prepare for the interview process. Bill and I spent three sessions going over the types of questions he might be asked, doing a mock interview and focusing on the values he wanted to show up in. Bill got the job and attributes a big part of his success to our coaching sessions and the preparation he made. A colleague of mine, Sally* used to practice interview questions with her family at dinner every night. Rehearse and have answers formulated.

10. Attitude and enthusiasm

80% attitude over 20% aptitude is one of my favourite sayings that I tell my clients. Ask most recruiters and they will say attitude really matters. Many employers are willing to train the right person, but if their attitude is negative they won’t be interested. Speaking of interest – employers love to hear that you are interested in working for their company. Think about the common interview question, “Why do you want to work here?” This is the time to demonstrate your enthusiasm and interest in both the role and the company. Employers hire people that want to work for them! So say it —enthusiastically!

Ultimately, there are factors in the hiring process that are out of your control, but many are within it. Working with a career coach can help you polish your interview skills and other job search skills and provide support and accountability so that you get hired for the job you want!

*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality

(Originaly posted on Noomii Career Blog)


6 Pitfalls to Avoid With Job References

Your references can make or break if you get the job! Have you ever felt that you landed all the interviews, were asked for references and then…. No job offer. It may have come down to your references. Here are 6 pitfalls that may be getting in the way of your dream job.

1. Forgetting to ask permission

Years ago I received a reference check call from a company about a past colleague I had worked with. Sadly, the colleague had not asked me to be his reference and so I was totally caught off guard. I also wasn’t a big fan of his—to put it politely—so I gave a very lukewarm, though professional reference. I definitely wasn’t the best person to supply a reference for this fellow.

Recently I received a call from a company doing a reference check on a coaching client of mine, Ted*. Ted hadn’t informed me he would like me to be one of his references. Fortunately for Ted, I was on his team and gave him a glowing reference and he landed a great job after struggling with unemployment for several years.

It’s important to always ask permission for people to be your reference! And do so right now- no matter where you are in the job search process. Reconnect!

2. Neglecting to prepare your referees

After asking your referees for permission to use them as a reference, you should provide them with more details. It is important to let the people on your reference list know:

  • You are looking for work
  • What companies you are interviewing with
  • What the job description and/or posting is
  • When the company might contact them
  • What strengths/abilities/accomplishments you want them to emphasize

3. Not making it easy for companies to contact your references

On the flip side, you also have to make sure it’s easy for the hiring manager/interviewer to get in touch with your references.

Ensure on your reference list you supply the following information:

  • Referee’s name
  • Referee’s position
  • Referee’s past company and position – if they no longer work at the company you worked at
  • Referee’s email and phone number (including cell)
  • Referee’s time zone – if in a different state, province or country  (including the best time to reach them and how)

If companies have difficulty contacting people, they may move onto the next candidate.

4. Not knowing what your references will say about you

When in doubt – ASK! Ask your references what they will say about:

  • Your strengths
  • Your weaknesses
  • Would they rehire you?

If you didn’t have the best relationship with a former boss, then it’s safe to say you probably shouldn’t use them as a reference. You could instead ask a former colleague that you worked closely with to be your reference, a manager from a different department that knew you well or even one of your former subordinates. There is no rule that says your references have to be your direct managers/supervisors and you shouldn’t feel obligated to include them if it won’t increase your chance of getting hired.

5. Not providing an updated resume

It is important to send them your resume. Why? Again you want to prepare your referees with all the information you can, so they are the best reference for you. As well, it is an opportune time to reconnect and network with these people. In the past my client Barb* reconnected with her references and found out there were job openings in her old company. Barb landed a job this way!

Stress what you want your references to emphasize during the reference check.

6. Overlooking follow-up

Whether you get the job or not, it’s important to let your references know what happened. Why? Well, your references care about you – or maybe they are just curious about the results – but in any case it is important to let them know how you made out. Remember they are part of your network.

And if you get the job, THANK your references. You can do so with a lovely card in the mail, a brief note or even a bouquet of flowers if they are a big part of you getting the job.

Never underestimate the power of your references. They are extremely important to the job search process.

*Client names changed to protect confidentiality

(Originaly posted on Noomii Career Blog)


Interview Questions that Make You Squirm – Questions Against the Human Rights Act

Have you ever gone to an interview and been asked an interview question that you thought was inappropriate, offensive or possibly even illegal? Sometimes employers in the  job market may ask questions that can make you very uncomfortable.

3 reasons employers ask inappropriate interview questions

  1. Employers don’t know better. It may be that the company is small and the interviewer is the owner with no background in HR or specifically recruitment. They may ask questions totally out of ignorance – not malice –  for the Human Rights guidelines.
  2. Employers may have had bad experiences in the past and want to ensure it doesn’t happen again. So for example if they recently had four women take maternity leave they might be wary of female candidates of child-bearing age.
  3. Employers ask these questions as they are a factor in employment.

For example, a religious organization that follows a particular system of faith and worship, such as a church or religious order would want to hire someone of the same faith. Or a denominational school is hiring a teacher. They are allowed to inquire about the religion of the interviewee if the job involves teaching religion or religious values to students.

Illegal interview questions

Except where there is a genuine occupational requirement, it is discriminatory and contrary to the Canadian Human Rights Act (Canada) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and State Laws (US), for an interviewer or employer to refuse to employ someone because of the following:

Examples of Categories of Unlawful Questions:

Canada USA
    • national or ethnic origin
    • colour
    • religion
    • age
    • sex
    • sexual orientation
    • marital status
    • family status
    • disability
    • a conviction for which you have been granted a pardon
  • national origin
  • race
  • religion
  • age (40 and older)
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • marital status
  • disability
  • conviction of a misdemeanor
  • Pregnancy

Do I have to answer these questions?

The short answer is no.

I asked Jennifer Main, team staffing manager for Destination One Consulting–a Canadian recruitment firm–for her advice to job-seekers who are asked these questions. She advises people to ask the interviewer, “How is that relevant to the job?” and goes on further to say, “If uncomfortable asking this, you don’t have to answer the question.”

Another approach would be to ask the interviewer, “Could you tell me how that will affect me on this job?”

Mark Lauterbach, former owner of an international executive recruiting and search firm, and now career coach/owner of Jump UP the Ladder says, “The issue is typically that hiring team members aren’t properly trained. Illegal questions aren’t typically asked with malice; rather from ignorance of the law. In employment law a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFPOQ) (US) or Bona Fide Occupational Requirement (BFOR) (Canada) is a quality or attribute that employers are allowed to consider when making a decision on hiring and retention of employees–a quality that when considered in other contexts would constitute discrimination and thus be in violation of civil rights employment law. Such qualifications must be listed in the employment offering.”


“US companies such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, along with government organizations may have a EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) Quota for minority hiring and so may ask questions around disability, for instance. In the US companies and government organizations may also be exercising Affirmative Action (the process of a business or governmental agency in which it gives special rights of hiring or advancement to ethnic minorities to make up for past discrimination against that minority). This makes the situation even more confusing.”

Canada has a similar Employment Equity Act with four designated groups: women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities, which affects government and federally regulated private sectors hiring practices.

What to do when asked a discriminatory question?

There are three options:

1. Tell the interviewer this is an illegal question and you aren’t going to answer it.

2. Respond with a counter question:

“Could you tell me how my (age, religion etc.) might have a bearing on the job I am applying for?” or “That’s an interesting question. I would be happy to answer it if you could tell me the reason for asking it.”

3. Choose to answer the question

Option #1 is probably going to be said with attitude and not taken well by the interviewer. Option #2 could work well. Remember to be polite, respectful and assertive.

Let’s look into Option #3 further

Option # 3 – Choosing to answer difficult interview questions

I would recommend this option to my clients if they are not concerned about answering the questions–and this is a personal decision. If you do decide to answer employer questions around one of these Human Rights topics consider why the employer might be asking the question. Again it could be out of ignorance or an unstated concern. Here’s some sample answers that might be appropriate:

Are you married?

  • If yes, state you are happily married and are settled in _________ (your location.)
  • If yes, and you have children, assure the interviewer that you have reliable child care and back up emergency child care.
  • If no, assure the employer you are reliable and free to travel for work and able to do overtime (if this is true for you).

How old are you?

A past colleague I worked with, who was in her 60’s at the time, used to say, “Age is only a number!” I always admired her attitude to growing older. She would happily tell people how old she was. You may choose to give your age and explain that, at this point in your career you are looking for job satisfaction and reward, rather than than a big title or higher pay and this is what you want to be doing. Again, this approach only works if it is true.

If you are young, stress the advantages of youth–energy, eagerness to learn, flexibility and highlight achievements in school or sports.

How long have you been in Canada? Where are you from? (country of origin)

Interviewers may simply be curious when asking this question. Here’s some tips:

  • Relate your answer to the current US/Canadian labour market, trends and knowledge and the employer’s immediate needs
  • If you are a Canadian or US citizen, or have been in the country for a while, tell the interviewer.
  • If your credentials are from another country get them accessed and look at upgrading if necessary
  • Mention your knowledge of current occupational and market knowledge, including related by-laws, codes, acts and government regulations as well as specific product and service knowledge that pertains to your occupation.

Know your rights

If you feel you are being discriminated against in a job interview or at work, you can file a complaint. In Canada, you can file a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Their role includes dealing with discrimination complaints, promoting workplace equity and an understanding of human rights. They administer the law that protects people from discrimination.

The US has the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency that administers and enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination. Like the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the EEOC investigates discrimination complaints based on an individual’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, gender identity, genetic information and retaliation for reporting, participating in, and/or opposing a discriminatory practice.

(Originaly posted on Noomii Career Blog)


How True Colors Can Help Your Career

True Colors is a personality assessment based on the theory of David Keirsey, Katherine C. Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs-Myers.

Katherine and Isabel developed the well-known Myers-Brigg Type Indicator (MBTI). They characterized 16 different types of people in MBTI.

Over 35 years, Keirsey worked with classifying four different temperament types which he wrote about in his book, “Please Understand Me.” He recognized that people analyze, conceptualize, understand and learn differently, making communication and relationships challenging at times.

In 1979, Don Lowry created True Colors, which applies the “type” information from both the Myers-Briggs and Keirsey’s work, to help people recognize their personality and temperament types. It evolves around four colors: Green, Orange, Blue and Gold. Each of us are a blend or rainbow, usually with one predominant color. That color is what can help us in many avenues of our life, career and job search.

Those of you that are familiar with other theories, such as the Personal Style Inventory, Learning Style Inventory, and the Strong Interest Inventory, will notice strong similarities to True Colors. There are also subtle differences as well.

As a certified True Color Trainer there is a proper assessment process I deliver to help discover your predominant color(s). For the purpose of this article I want to paint an overview of True Colors and its uses, in particular illustrating how useful this tool can be in your career. Keep in mind I will be generalizing to illustrate some of my points.

Summary of the colors


Greens comprise about 12% of the population. Green’s motto is “Knowledge is key” or “I’ll think about it.” For a Green work is play and play is work.

As people of reason, Greens are often very curious, analytical, need challenge, like numbers, facts and theory. They look at the world from a practical place. In True Colors Greens love the question: Why?

Their values include: competency, knowledge, curiosity, brevity, objectivity, information, privacy, problem solving, composure, autonomy, logic, challenge and technology.


Approximately 38% of the population is Orange. Orange’s motto is “Seize the day!” or “Where’s the action?”

Oranges love the saying, “Just do it!” As natural performers, Oranges live for adventure and travel, get easily bored and love change. You will hear an Orange say, “Where’s the party?”

Oranges value freedom, adventure, fun and play, spontaneity, variety, experiences (especially hands-on) and risk-taking.


Blue’s make up about 12% of the population. A true Blue’s motto is “I care!” or “To Thine Own Self Be True.”

Often seen as the caretakers and peacemakers, Blues love people and family. They are sensitive to the needs of others and seek harmony and peace above all. They run from conflict and care deeply about others. They are seen as the helpers and teachers in the group and seek purpose more than any of the other colors.

Some of Blues values are caring, optimistic, tolerance, harmony, romance, spirituality, enthusiasm, connection and empathy.


Golds make up about 38% of the population. Gold’s Motto, “Be prepared” or “Proud to serve.”

Golds’ thoughts often go to, “What are the rules?” Gold loves to plan, is organized and works best with rules. They love structure, are detail-oriented and are often homebodies.

Gold values include: responsibility, stability, honesty, loyalty, commitment, organization, dependability, traditions, accountability, service and a sense of belonging.

How True Colors can help

The True Colors Assessment can offer great insight to individuals in different stages of their professional lives—from those who are still deciding on a career path to those who have worked in their dream job for over 20 years. Let’s look at how True Colors can be used at these various stages:

1. If you’re unclear about what type of work you would like to do

By doing a True Colors Assessment you will gain knowledge of your predominant color type, which can guide you to possible careers you may be suited to.

Here are some possible careers according to color:

Green: Computer programmer, analyst, scientist, researcher, legal or medical assistant, stockbroker, lawyer, tradesperson, mathematician, inventor, criminologist, technical/scientific writer, editor, architect

Gold: Banker, accountant, professional organizer, teacher, administrative or executive assistant, nurse, doctor, lawyer, librarian, air traffic controller, law enforcement officer, financial manager

Orange: Artist, actor, creative director, musician, paramedic, tradesperson, pilot, disc jockey, mediator, public speaker, athlete, athletic coach, trades/dance/physical education teacher, interior designer

Blue: Teacher, psychologist, nurse, doctor, counselor, coach, host/hostess, tour guides, editors, human resources consultant, minister, recreation leader, creative writer, playwright, flight attendant

2. If you have a career already, but want to perform better

True Colors can really help you perform better within teams or groups by providing better awareness of your and others communication styles. By acknowledging we are all part of a rainbow and being aware of different people’s color strengths you can work more effectively as a group.

Here’s an example: think of the last time you were in a workshop and were broken into small groups. You were given a task to do or a problem to solve. What happened? People tend to take on different roles and responsibilities – it’s part of group dynamics.  Let’s look at an imaginary group.

Participant #1: Takes on the leadership role – that’s often a Gold shining.

Participant #2: Asks how they can help the others or offers to go get paper, water, flip chart, markers, etc – that’s usually a Blue individual.

Participant #3: Tosses out all kinds of ideas and maybe starts drawing on a flip chart. They have high energy, are flexible and open-minded and have no shortage of ideas – that’s our Orange.

Participant #4: The quiet one, often the observer or the one being very curious and asking a lot of “why” questions – that’s Green.

So how does this knowledge help you in a team? When you understand other people’s differences and colors – you tend to work better as a team and are open to their perspectives.

3. If you want more effective communication at work

By being aware of colors, communication becomes more effective. How do the four colors like to communicate?

Green – be brief and be gone. Green individuals are direct and don’t waste their words! They avoid small talk, preferring to get to the matter at hand quickly.

Blue – they care deeply and are the nurturers. Blue’s will ensure that you are okay and they run from conflict.

Gold – communication is often structured and very clear; after a conversation you might expect Gold’s to follow up with an email – often containing bullets or an extensive report.

Orange – can be all over the place in their communication. They are generally animated and love to perform – it’s the natural actor in them.

Knowing others color communication style can help in all avenues of life: career, love relationships, and life.

4. If you have an upcoming job interview

How can knowing the colors help you?

It is difficult to know for sure what the predominant color of your interviewer is, but once you have taken the full assessment you are likely to have some ideas and a greater awareness of the plaid in all of us. When attending an interview notice the subtle clues…

  1. Did the interviewer offer you coffee or water or ask if you need anything? This might be a sign of a Blue person.
  2. Did the interview seem unstructured? Oranges may have a free form interview. They may choose a more conversational approach.
  3. Greens will not mince words, may ask a lot of why questions, and will be direct and brief.
  4. Golds will often take a lot of notes, have a very structured interview and have preplanned all the interview questions. When asked how long they have been with the company it is often many years as Golds are loyal to their employers and have a strong sense of duty.

How can we recognize someone’s predominant color?

Another helpful tip to recognize the predominant color of your interviewer is if you happen to be in their office for the interview. In this case, look around at the décor. Lots of family pictures may indicate a Blue. Pictures of someone kite sailing or skydiving might mean they are Orange. Gold’s desks will be super tidy – no clutter. And Greens – well, they might have a lot of high tech devices close by.

Celebrate our differences

So whether trying to identify a new career for your self, attending a job interview or working as part of a team, True Colors can improve your communication and awareness of the similarities and differences we all possess. As humans, we can learn to gain understanding and appreciation for the differences in all of us. Each of us have all four color energies within us. The combination of these energies is what creates our individuality and uniqueness. Let’s celebrate them!

(Originaly posted on Noomii Career Blog)


5 Simple Communication Tips to Get Ahead at Work

Poor communication is the number one factor that causes havoc in relationships whether at work, home or with love. Let’s look at some tips to better communication at work.

1. Avoid being passive aggressive – it gets you nowhere!

When you have a conflict at work with a team member, no matter what the reason, the worst thing you can do is to complain to your other teammates about the issue. It’s always better to address whatever the issue is directly with the person you are having a conflict with. By going directly to the person you are disgruntled with, you avoid resentment and bad ill will in the office. This gives you the opportunity to work things out without interference or influence from other team members.

What if you can’t resolve the issue?

If direct communication doesn’t resolve the issue, then it’s time to involve your immediate supervisor. Try to avoid being defensive and use “I” statements to state your position. Being assertive, not aggressive, will serve you best.

2. Active listening

One of my tricks when teaching communication skills is to write the word “Listen” on the whiteboard and then ask people what you need to do to be a good listener. The answer? Be silent! Being quiet or silent is the best way to listen to someone, I mean really listen to them.

To be a good listener one must also focus on what is being said. And notice what isn’t being said. How often have you been listening to someone and your mind is going a mile a minute thinking about what to make for dinner, when you have to pick up your son from school, whether the presentation went well at work – you get the point! Distractions are all around us. In order to truly listen openly, focus totally on the other person, their tone, pace and feelings expressed – what they say and how they say it.

Be aware when your mind wanders off and gently bring it back to being present. Coaches are trained to listen actively – it is a skill – and one that you can learn, once you bring some awareness to how and when you lose focus. Try active listening at both work and home. Notice what gets in the way of active listening and you may be surprised at the results you will get as you hone this skill. Relationships will deepen and you will see positive results in all your communications.

3. Positivity

Eighty percent attitude over 20% aptitude. Employers have said to me that they would be willing to train a new employee as long as they have the right attitude. And that right attitude is a positive can-do attitude. In 2005, the National Science Foundation published an article regarding research about daily human thoughts. The average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative.

As human beings we are wired for negativity. But that doesn’t mean we have to succumb to the negativity. With awareness can come change. Here’s one simple perspective change that can affect you in a positive way. When faced with something you don’t want to do at work try on the perspective of “I get to”, versus “I have to” and observe what happens. This slight change can have amazing results. Remember, positivity and a sunny disposition are contagious and what manager doesn’t want that catching on within their team?

4. Solution-oriented

Offer solutions and avoid complaining. When you focus on solutions, rather than complaining, you will see better results—more creativity and cohesiveness on your team and less defensiveness and negativity. Be creative and open to new ideas and positive results and relationships will follow.

5. Professional, proactive

By being professional in all modes of communication at work you send a signal that professionalism and respect are important values of yours. What does professionalism look like? In emails, it is taking the time to ensure there are no spelling mistakes and that proper punctuation is being used. Direct and clear communication is always best.

In meetings, it means participating, listening to others and respecting their opinions—even if they differ from yours.

Professionalism means not blaming someone else when you make a mistake, but instead accepting responsibility and learning from your mistakes.

Business communication like all other communication takes work. Try out these tips to model better communication at work. They will reflect positively on you, which in turn could provide you with new opportunities and advancement in your job.

(Originally posted on Noomii Career Blog)


The Secret Sauce in Job Search Success

Every day people looking for work send out resumes and every day many of these people wait and wait and don’t hear back from employers.

Then there are others who are job searching that are getting interviews, but don’t get the job. And finally, there are those that get their dream jobs! So what’s the factor that could make a difference? What’s the secret sauce?

The secret sauce

Follow up! I like to call it the secret sauce because it is the difference between a mediocre burger and a yummy one – or in job search between a so-so job searcher and one that is proactive, positive and eager to work. Following up is the key to getting noticed in many aspects of the job search process. And it is taking control of your job search.

So, why don’t people follow up?

Here are four reasons:

  1. They don’t know how to follow up, what to say or do.
  2. They think by following up they are being pushy, a pest or bothering the employer.
  3. They are scared! Scared if they get the job – then what?! Remember fear of success?
  4. Rejection – scared that if they call and they didn’t get the job, they are personally being rejected – they are not good enough – smart enough, young enough… That’s the inner voice/critic that can sabotage success.

As a career coach I encourage people to look at following up differently. Jenny* one of my clients recently interviewed with a company and knew that they were going to make a decision shortly. When asked why she didn’t follow up she said she didn’t want to face possible rejection and admitted she was stuck. It was easier to not know or let it slide, then to face the possible truth. After some probing it turned out she didn’t really even want the job.

I encouraged Jenny to look at following up from some other perspectives.

Follow up from a different perspective

Follow up re-framed in the positive way can demonstrate your interest in an organization. It shows you are willing to be assertive and proactive–qualities many employers are looking for in their employees. It puts you above the competition and gets you noticed from that big pile of resumes. And isn’t that what you want?

Opportunities to follow up

1. After sending a resume

When you have applied for a job, follow up.


Contact the decision maker (whose name you hopefully have since you would have addressed the cover letter to them).


If you replied to an ad – take your lead from when the closing date was. Often a few days after the closing is a good time to follow up. If there is no closing date, then follow up after a week’s time.

If there was no ad, again take your lead from when you first talked to the decision maker as to when to call them.


By telephone, if possible. Email them if you cannot find a phone number – again phone is preferred as you can have a conversation.


State the following to the decision maker:

  • I am following up on the application I sent
  • Did you receive it okay?
  • Can I provide any further information to help you in your decision?
  • I am very interested in learning more about the role and how I can fit in.
  • Can I meet with you to discuss your needs and my qualifications further?

2. After networking

You know those networking events you go to? What do you do with all of those business cards? Honestly, most people have a pile in their drawer collecting dust! Apply the secret sauce to networking too and follow up!

Whether networking was in a group, at an event, on LinkedIn or with an individual, following up can bring success. Follow up after a week or two (or if the person indicated a time, follow that).

Here’s what you can say:

  • I really enjoyed meeting you (if you met in person).
  • Since our conversation, have you thought of any people I might talk with or companies that might employ people in my field of _____________? (If you receive a contact, ensure you also ask the person you are networking with if you can use their name when reaching out to their contact.)
  • Thank you for your help and consideration
  • How might I help you in your job/life? Is there someone in my network that I can connect you with?

Note: If you do connect with someone your network suggests, ensure you come full circle and let your contact know – another chance to network and show your appreciation.

You can even follow up with a thank you card to your helpful network contact.

3. After an interview

After an interview one of the best ways to stand out from the other interviewees is with a follow up.

How? Here are two ways:

1. Send a thank you card

In my experience clients have much better results by sending a thank you card – NOT a thank you email. Why? Because think of your last job – how many emails did you get a day? Probably somewhere around 50 or more, maybe even hundreds. My niece, who previously worked for Microsoft, received over 300 emails a day! She had filters set on her email just to handle everything. These filters can filter your thank you email right out. Do you want your thank you email to end up in the junk/spam folder? Do you want your thank you email to be just another email someone has to open? Sigh.

How many cards did you receive in your last job? I suspect zero. By sending a thank you card you will get noticed and that’s important when it comes to follow up. A past client Reg* is an electrical engineer technologist. He balked at the idea of sending a thank you card, but after a little encouragement from me he did. Results? The employer contacted him after receiving the card and was really grateful—and he got a job offer partly because of his follow up and demonstrated interest.

What does a thank you card indicate? It says you are interested and you took the time to say so.

Thank you card tips

  • Spend a little time in selecting the card

When interviewing in person, observe the interviewer’s interests and, if possible, send a card that reflects that. Maybe you see a sailing picture on their desk, so you csend them a card with a sailboat on it. If you are good with designing—design your own card. Though this isn’t necessary, if you are a graphic designer or someone in a creative field, it is a good idea.

Send Out Cards is another great option where you can send actual mailed cards all through a few clicks on the web. Visit to talk to my colleague Caroline about how to start sending these very reasonably priced cards.

When I was hired at MEC I selected a card with an outdoor landscape for the interviewer. The first thing the interviewer said to me when I was offered the job was how much he liked the card and how he had never received a thank you card before. These are the little things that can help you get the job you want – and get noticed as a candidate.

  • Get a card that is blank inside

This will allow you to write neatly (or print if your handwriting is atrocious!) a custom message.

What to include in your message?

  • Thank you  – Thank the interviewer for their time and the opportunity to speak with them
  • Interest – Stress your interest in the role and in the company

Mention something from the interview, which demonstrates that you were listening and interested. For example, is the company expanding internationally or this is a new role that has been created especially for a new project?

2. Phone the interviewer

Hopefully at the end of the interview you asked the interviewer when they would be making a decision to hire. Use this as a guideline as to when you can follow up by phone with the interviewer.

What to say?

Your reason for calling – “I’m following up on the interview I had with you last week.”

Interest – “I’m really interested in this new role and your company is on the top of my list to work for. Not only was it one of Canada’s top 100 employers to work for, but the position and the company really meet with my values and interests as well.”

Decision – “Have you made a decision on a candidate yet?” If the answer is No, then you can follow up by saying, “Can I provide any further information to help make that decision?”

If the answer is Yes (and it’s not you) – Ask if they will give you some feedback and stress you would like to keep in touch in case anything changes.

This happened to my client Jon*. He was not the successful client but followed up after a month in case there were changes. In fact the company had just let the first person they hired go and he was the next in line. He got the job – because he followed up!

Try out the secret sauce in your job search. Take the lead, don’t wait for the employer to contact you, follow up with them and watch the results come in! You might be surprised at the results!

*Names have been changed to protect client privacy

(Originally posted on Noomii Career Blog)