Employment in one form or another is something all of us strive for. Working at something we enjoy doing to make a living is a goal that we all want to achieve. However, most of us see the prospect of looking for work as a huge challenge.
I was fortunate that we had a family business that dealt mostly in construction and transportation, so work was always there for me. When I decided to consider employment in other areas outside the family business I felt a little intimidated and unsure of myself.
A posting came up for a new Shop Class Assistant at our new Secondary School Technical Wing and I made the decision to apply. A friend helped me with designing and writing a resume that highlighted my experience and work history. I was pleased to be selected for an interview and I nervously waited for news over several days.
When I attended the interview I found myself sitting in front of a group of teachers, administrators and education representatives. I knew the people I was meeting because we all lived in a small remote community, but I felt intimidated by the circumstances. I did my best to show myself as calm and self-assured but inside I was nervous and very anxious. Then I had to wait days for a response. I got the job and I was elated.
When I look back on this experience, there was a great deal of anxiety and worry. I think that most people feel like this when they are looking for employment. Perhaps it is a good idea to look at job searching as an adventure and experience. The challenge then becomes more interesting and less intimidating rather than a hardship.
From the start it is a good idea to think of goals that we can achieve and to decide on what kind of employment we want. A good place to begin is to identify areas of employment that we want to apply for. Job postings are available in our immediate communities at the band office, schools or hospital. If you are searching for employment in other cities or towns, there are numerous resources that you can access for help. There are many online job-posting services that connect potential employees with employers.
The second step is to assemble a professional-looking resume. You can find help on this from friends or family but there are many resources available on the internet that can provide tips, examples and even templates that can be filled out. Your local school guidance counselor can be of great assistance and you can also visit a local employment and training agency in your community. Most First Nations across Canada are included in a Human Resources Development Canada Strategy that provides employment and training services and assistance to First Nations people. You can also visit your local band office to ask for assistance from the economic development office.
Once you have a resume, it is only a matter of distributing it. Identify potential employers you want to work for and send out your resume by fax, by letter, by email or hand deliver it in person. Then follow this up with a phone call to make yourself known and to make sure people see your resume. If you are not successful, keep trying and don’t give up. Sometimes, people are lucky and they find a job right away but more than often job hunting takes some time. Don’t give up after a few rejections.
You also have to be realistic and make sure that you have the education and skills required for the employment opportunity you want. If not, there are services and organizations available at your disposal for assistance. If you don’t have the necessary qualifications then work toward adding to your experience and education to give yourself a better chance at finding work. You can also add to your experience by being a volunteer. This will give you experience you can put on your resume and it might just get your foot in the door. You can volunteer for your local hospital, school, with elders organizations or in another area of interest. If a job comes up at the place where you are volunteering then you might have a good chance to get it.
There is also an alternative approach to finding employment. You can also think of starting your own business and create employment for yourself. This can take all sorts of forms such as retail, marketing a product or service or to fill a need in the community. There is plenty of assistance to do so and you can find it by contacting your local band office, tribal council or regional training and employment agencies. If you are a First Nation person it may help you to go to Aboriginal Business Canada at http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/epic/internet/inabc-eac.nsf/Intro or also you can try Aboriginal Human Resource Development Council of Canada (AHRDCC) at http://www.ahrdcc.com/
So give yourself a pep talk, build up your confidence and take that first step. It is only a matter of time before you will surprisingly find yourself working away on your first day of employment. Remember the journey of a 1,000 kilometres starts with your first step.