Depending on how you look at it, looking for a job can be scary and even discouraging. I say depending on how you look because, just like in art, if you change your perspective, you can see things in a whole different way. Obviously there is a lot of rejection involved in a job search but on the other hand, each rejection is one step closer to someone saying "Your Hired!".

It's a well-known fact that only 20% of all jobs are advertised. You never hear of 80% of all available job. People tend to hire people they know because recruiting is an expensive, time consuming and risky undertaking. Do you want to compete with the 80% of the people who are all competing for the 20% advertised jobs or do you want to get in on the more lucrative 80% and only have to compete with 20% of the people out there looking for jobs?

Having recently returned to Canada, you also have a great opportunity right now to contact contracting firms and meet with them without even applying for a job. Instead of applying for a job, you would arrange a 20 minute "information meeting" with them. These are easier to get than job interviews and it will give you the opportunity to find a company that you really like -- think of it as shopping for a company to work for instead of applying for any old job. Besides, people love to talk about what they are up to. You don't just want to meet anybody. You want to meet are people like owners or director… people who have the power to hire you on the spot if they wanted.

This strategy typically results in finding a job for a company you like within 1-3 weeks, sometimes less! Finding a job must be a full time job to you. Start 30 minutes each day before construction companies open so that you can be prepared and finish 30 minutes before they close for the day. Nobody wants to receive a call as they are leaving for the day. When you think about it, there is no job out there that pays more. You'll be going from zero income to a full long term income when you've completed the job.

Be Prepared

Here is an outline of what you will need to do in order to get prepared. It shouldn't take you more than about a day or two (max) of full time work to get it done:

1. Prepare your resume and cover letter. (DONE!) By the way, when submitting your resume electronically, the body of your cover letter should go into the body of the email instead. You should also shorten it and put it in bullet form. When the employer receives it, they should easily be able to see what your qualifications are. This will give them a reason to open and read your resume.

2. Prepare a Thank You letter. I know, sounds like something people don't do anymore but  the fact is that it impresses employers a lot when you send these out to them. From their point of view, it shows them that you are a professional and that you really care about what you do. This letter should thank the person for taking the time to meet with you, and note something valuable that you got out of the conversation.

Mention what you like about their company and suggest how you might be able to help them out by emphasising, in bullet form, the qualifications that you believe would be a good match with the services their company provides.

Finally, express gratitude once again for their time and indicate that you will be keeping in touch with them in the near future. Invite them to contact you should they have any questions.

It's so easy to dismiss an email these days so print it up, sign it and send it off by mail immediately after the meeting. This should be done after each meeting, regardless of whether it is an Information Meeting or an Interview. Trust me, it will separate you from the rest of the people out there knocking down their door for a job,

3. Write out a calling script detailing everything you are going to say to them, from the word "Hello". You should have a few of these ready, one for handing a receptionist and one for when you are speaking to the person you want to meet.

Be sure to keep improving your calling scripts so that you know in advance how to handle any potential objections that come up. And if, in the end, they really don't want to meet with you, it's their loss, not yours. You want an employer who will be open to speaking with you.

Test out your script by role playing with some trusted friends or family members to help iron out scenarios as much as possible before you start making calls.

4. Create a progress log so that you can track your calls. It should include each company you call, their contact information (name, address, email, telephone), who you spoke to (get the exact spelling of their name), what they said, when, where and with whom you will be meeting, whether you gave them your resume, sent them a thank you letter, when you are due to follow up with them. Be sure to track all calls, not just the successful ones. If you didn't reach someone, indicate it so that you can try them again at a later time.

This log is your checklist. If you don't feel like you are making progress, check the log to see which steps you might have forgotten.

5. Prepare a Calling Card / Networking Card. You can purchase special Business Card Stock at Staples and print up the cards yourself. Unlike a business card, a calling card is a mini-resume listing your more highly valuable assets in the areas of language skills, knowledge, experience (remember 10+ years, never more), hard skills and soft skills and of course contact information right at the top. Employers have a lot going on over a period of a week and they are more likely to remember you if you left them with a calling card rather than a business card or even nothing. Remember, during these information sessions you can't leave them with your resume unless they specifically ask for it. Be sure to only print on one side. The other side is for them to take notes if they so desire.

6. Prepare and iron your meeting clothes and have them ready. I know -- you don't have an interview yet but what if someone says "can you come now?". It wouldn't be very professional of you to have to say "sorry, I have to wash and iron my clothes first". You have to  Be Prepared!

Whatever people wear on the job, you should dress one notch up. Again, this shows that you are a professional. First impressions are important! First impressions are what opens the door to enable them to get to know you. Remember, you are not just some joe looking for a job. You are a professional meeting a potential business partner (between you and their company).

7. Give your project a name that excites you. Something like "Nicola's New Life" or "Nicola Money Machine Project". I'll leave it up to you to figure something out.

8. Create an initial list of 100 contacts. It may seem like a lot but you should be calling about 10-20 people each day. The only way you should be doing less calls per day is if you have information meetings scheduled that day. You should always either be in a meeting or calling people. That is your job and the only way to get promoted is to finish it.

The more people who know about your availability, the more people you will have working to help you. There is no shame in telling people that you are looking for a job but there is shame in not being able to provide for yourself and your family unnecessarily. Did you know that 80% of what people worry about never actually happens? Just do it!

Make a list of absolutely everyone you know and have ever known including Friends, Family, Relatives, Former Employers, current and past Colleagues. It doesn't matter whether they are in the construction business or not. People in the construction business have contacts. People who aren't in the business either know people who are or have hired people to do renovations for them -- especially if they were happy with the work. If you have kids, get to know their friends and the parents of their friends. If they are involved in activities, get to know the parents of the other kids.

Look for industry related publications. List such as "Best Constructions Companies to Work For in Ottawa" can be very valuable and make it easier for you to find the best employers.

Grab the Yellow Pages. This is a great directory of all your potential employers. Some of the headings you should look under include things like "Construction", "Renovation", possibly even "Design". Being in the industry yourself, I am sure you can come up with some other sections to look in.

Find networking groups in Ottawa. There are tons of them. It doesn't matter if they are construction or renovation related. If they are not employers, they are potential clients. Get clear on what you have to offer and go talk to people.

Don't forget to meet with your competitors, people who do the same thing you do. Remember, it's not just about who you know, but about who they know too. If they get hired, they just might look you up when their employer needs someone with your skill set.

It's always nicer to be able to turn down jobs because you have too many offers rather than not having any. When you have many opportunities, you also don't feel the desperate need to take just anything that comes your way. You gain control of your life.

9. Make sure your answering machine/voice mail has a professional sounding message. If you don't have one, get one. You don't want to miss a call just because you were out meeting with a potential employer.

10. Create a list of questions for your information meetings. It's always looks better when you show up prepared.

Consistency as well as Constant and Never Ending Improvement is key. This is a project/job, not a hobby. Your project management skills should be applied here to ensure you don't get distracted or sidetracked from achieving your goal. Nothing is for sure until you've been hired. Promises are great but they don't pay the bills.

The Sooner You Get Started, the Sooner You'll Have a Job

If you currently have a part time job, spend some time each day getting ready. The sooner you get it all done, the closer you will be to having a job. Even if you can only spare 1 hour each weekday and 2 hours each day on the weekend, you'll be 9 hours closer to achieving your goal at the end of the week. That should be enough time to cover the tasks in the Be Prepared section above.

BE PREPARED EACH DAY: Each day you MUST get up, eat, get washed up and dressed for work. This is a real job so be clear on your work hours and be consistent in producing during these hours. You wouldn't expect anything less if you were paying someone to work for you, would you? You won't sound professional over the phone if you are sitting there at home in your pajamas and you certainly won't be ready to jump out to meet with someone who is ready to talk with you now unless you are ready. It really does make a difference.

IMPORTANT RULE: Stay off the Web. Unless you are preparing to meet a potential employer and you want to learn more about their company, stay off the web. It will suck up all of your time.

MAKING CALLS: Use your calling scripts. When you call, let them know that the reason for requesting this meeting should be that you recently returned to Canada after working in the U.S. and the Republic of Colombia for several years and you would like to setup a meeting with them for about 20 minutes to ask a few questions about their company, what they are up to, their role and about the construction industry in Ottawa.

It's ok to let them know that, although you are currently looking for a job, this meeting is not to apply for a job but rather to help you get to know the construction industry in Ottawa so that you can figure out where and how you might best fit in. You want to meet with them in person. You do not want to let them talk you into a telephone interview instead.

MEETINGS: Come prepared with: Your Questions, Your Calling Card, Your Agenda, Your Background Check on the company and of course, Your Resume which you will only provide if they ask for it. DO NOT ASK FOR A JOB or you will lose their trust.

You only have 20 minutes with them. Don't let the meetings go longer unless they want to hire you on the spot and you want to work for them. If they want to continue, and set-up a specific date and time right away for when you can meet with them.

At the end of each meeting, ask them if they know of anyone else they could recommend to you. Business people talk together and, although the person you are speaking to right now may not have an opportunity for you, they might know of someone else in the business who just got a big contract. Taking the time to learn about the industry will pay off in both the short and long term because you'll have a feel for what's going on around the city.

IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE MEETING: Customize and send your thank you letter, preferably the same day. I once heard of someone who was so prepared, he handed a Thank You letter to the receptionist on his way out. He was hired within a few days.

Keep a Positive Attitude

Keep your log up to date and be sure to follow up with each person who granted you a meeting or an interview. For an interview, be sure to ask them when it would be ok for you to follow up with them and then be sure to do it. Get a specific date/time and book it right away.

Always do what you say you are going to do. If you are not sure what to do, don't worry. Just keep moving forward -- you'll figure it out. Everything in your life has brought you to this point. That's what makes you unique and valuable. You are not asking for a job, you are offering to help others by leveraging your knowledge and skills.

Get Started NOW!!!

80% of people fail to achieve their goals because they don't even get started. Out of the remaining 20%, 80% of them will give up not realizing just how close they were to succeeding. This means that in order to succeed, you just need to get started and don't give up. You will end up being part of the 6% of all people who succeed at achieving their dreams.

Don't let Perfection become Procrastination. Do it today!