Artificial Intelligence (AI) is poised to increasingly dominate the workplace, informing recruiting practices and influencing how candidates are vetted and ultimately hired, according to Raj Narayanan, a Digital Marketer and Brand Strategist, who delivered the keynote address and appeared as a panelist at CCS’s Employment Resource Day (ERD) on February 6, 2020 at the Cedarbrae Library in Scarborough.

The annual event features information-sharing between job seekers and various provincially-affiliated service providers, employment agencies, and recruiters on labour market trends, employer expectations, workplace practices, and onboarding strategies.

“AI removes the bias from the hiring process. You can always influence a person with your emotions, but not a robot,” Raj said. “Start connecting with resources to learn about AI and how you can work with it. Navigate change and advance into the future,” he counselled the 75 attendees.

Raj also discussed how candidates can amplify their marketability through technology and online networking, since it’s a given that prospective employers will first scrutinize a candidate’s social media profile to determine what type of “personality traits” they could be recruiting into the company.

“Your online profile has essentially become your resume. Job search engines get you an interview, your references will get you the job,” he said, underscoring the linkage between networking and finding work,” Raj said.

Raj was joined on the panel by Thanaa Sarif, Recruitment & Budget Officer, Seneca College, Roseanne Henlon, Senior Manager, Employment Services, VPI Working Solutions and Nena Pestano, Coordinator, Volunteer Resources, Canadian Blood Services.

Thanaa Sarif stressed the importance of aligning education and one’s career path with an individual’s needs and how critical it is to tailor your resume to speak to the specific elements in a job description.

“Seneca College makes hiring decisions, based on the resume. It’s not easy, but you have to target your resume. Automated software scans a resume through a computer; if a recruiter doesn’t find a 60% match between the job posting and the resume content, you will not get a response. Changing your resume to fit the job listing is crucial,” she said.

Raj recommended thwarting the automated-scanning software with the use of an app that analyzes your resume and identifies which keywords are missing in the document. Once you incorporate the missing keywords, the chances of getting an interview become 25% higher.

Volunteerism was cited too as a helpful way to get valuable “work” experience and make connections.

“We look for Canadian experience. You may have been a professional back home, but without Canadian local professional background, it can be difficult to find a job. Volunteering builds your base of connections and helps you develop the soft skills necessary across most lines of work. You don’t have to dedicate your full day to volunteering — you can volunteer once or twice a week, but it’s good for networking,” Nena Pestano said.

“Until you master your English, you should be out there talking to people and learning new skills through volunteering,” added Thanaa. “Volunteering will help you improve your English and enhance your ability to communicate. It is about networking after all, it is about who you know.”

In terms of interview techniques and skills, there was a consensus from the panel on what they look for when assessing a candidate: cognitive ability, knowledge of the role, thought-leadership skills and cohesiveness (will you get along with people and are you a team player?)

Apart from the engaging panel discussion, the event also featured recruiting and information tables provided by the Halton Multicultural Centre, the Scarborough Centre for Employment Accessibility (SCEA), Staff Plus, and Talent Employment Inc, as well as opening remarks delivered from CCS Executive Director, Agnes Thomas. (Kudos to CCS event organizers Sanga Achakzai, Tanya Lauder and Violeta Dimitrova on a great job pulling everything together and for delivering value for our clients.)

The ERD is a core component of CCS’ Employment Access Program (EAP), which assists newcomers in finding employment.  Clients learn effective job search techniques, get insights into Canadian work culture, tips on writing resumes and cover letters, and help preparing for job interviews.  Last year CCS served over 200 clients through the program. This scope of insight can give a candidate a competitive advantage and also help them avoid the types of mistakes that can eliminate a candidate from contention.

If you would like to support CCS client offerings such as the Employment Access Program, or initiatives like Employment Resource Day, please consider a donation.