The collection call that started it all.
In the back of your mind, you’ve anticipated it. It’s been keeping you up at night, making you irritable, and occupying your thoughts—and now it’s finally come: that dreaded collection agency call.
You’ve failed to pay your cellular phone bill or your minimum payment on your credit card, and now you’re talking to a debt collector about the very thing you feared.
But you’re unemployed. And these are tough times. What can you do?
We created this guide to continue something we’ve been doing since MetCredit started in 1973. Often the people we call are between jobs, and we’ve helped generations of unemployed Canadians turn things around, find a job, and make changes to get out of debt—often for good.
This can be a turning point. Join the tens of thousands Canada-wide who have used a collection call from MetCredit as their catalyst to make important changes for a better future.
Be active about looking for a job.
It can be easy to look at the current situation and feel paralyzed. “Why bother? No one is hiring?”
The reality is that many companies ARE in fact actively recruiting, in some cases for jobs that have never before existed.
But jobs almost never find people. Job hunting is a full-time job of its own. It’s a highly competitive realm, and one of the most important times in your career, not a break from it. If you’re not spending 40 hours a week looking for a job, you’re simply not trying hard enough. Recognize that your job search is currently your job. It’s fundamental to give it the right level of effort and priority to set you up for a successful start. Treat every step here, with all the preparation and commitment that goes into it, with all the professionalism, enthusiasm and energy you can muster, and you’ll be starting the race at the front of the pack.
Recognize that your job search is currently your job.
Be intentional about your job search.
Have you considered exactly how you’re looking for a job? Examine your approach, the daily routine you follow, where you look and how you apply. Seek to continuously improve every day, and the net result will be a large overall increase in effectiveness. Maybe you spend too much time browsing jobs and are not applying for enough. Or it’s possible you’re not applying for the right types of jobs because your skill sets don’t actually match what the employers are looking for. If you’re going through the same motions each and every day without changing anything, make changes. Perhaps you’ve heard the adage: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” There is much truth to this. If you’re not getting the desired outcome, make incremental changes to your approach. As humans we have the ability to creatively problem-solve, and now is the time to put it in practice.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What am I especially good at?
- What do I get compliments for?
- What are my hard skills? (certification, language proficiencies and learned abilities)
- What are my soft skills? (natural strengths like teamwork, flexibility, focus, time management, attention to detail)
- What else can I do with these skills?
- Can I volunteer to add to my experience?
Think with an open mind about the kind of work you can start doing right away. Here are some entry-level jobs you may not have thought of that require no experience or certification:
- Apply as a contract tracer, online order shipper, or greeter/screener at construction sites.
- Drive for a ride-sharing service, taxi company or a delivery business
- Apply as a labourer for a construction or oilfield company
- Work a call centre or customer support job
- Be a sales representative at an electronics or clothing store
- Work in food services, cooking or serving meals
- Be a housekeeper in a hotel or work for a maid service
- Wash and detail cars. This can be a great job for people with autism too!
- Pack groceries in a supermarket
- Be an assembly technician a manufacturing facility
Whether or not these are dream jobs, they are available today and all perfectly respectable. None of them require specific training, many can lead to promotions and new opportunities and they ALL get you out there. Which is what Step 3 is all about.
Connect with people who can
help in your job hunt.
Job hunting can be lonely work. Much of it you will do on your own, but that doesn’t mean you have to be alone. In fact, the best job offers can come because of who you know (or can get to know) rather than going through the motions of applying endlessly for jobs online.
Write a list of smart, helpful and well-connected people you know. These are your “connectors.” Connectors can be friends, relatives, previous co-workers, educators or employers. If you’re in a new city, a connector can be a professional or someone you hardly know who works in a field of interest. You might even meet a connector in an entry-level job who likes your work: all of the best recruiters extend their talent scouting into the real world. But you have to put yourself out there for the magic to happen!
Take your connectors for coffee and pick their brains, and ask them to review your résumé and your cover letter. Ask for their honest opinions, then listen attentively. Carefully consider each of their suggestions and put the best ones (maybe all of them) into motion as soon as you can. Most importantly, end by asking your connector who they know that can help you move forward in your search. Try to get names. “Let me think about it” usually means “let me forget about it.” Having the courage to ask can make all the difference, and it really never hurts.
In fact, the best job offers can come because of who you know.
Use technology to help get a job.
In the post-Covid world, the use of technology is no longer optional. Tools like Zoom and Google Meet are used in job interviews and in getting work done. Get comfortable with video conferencing and set up a quiet, well-lit and professional environment in which to conduct calls. It can be very small; just keep it clean and practice using it well.
If you haven’t already done so, create a LinkedIn profile right now. LinkedIn is a business and employment networking platform with immense power to help you build new connections and open doors. Its search tools can help you identify and reach out to the right people within almost any organization, and it has a built-in recruitment side that enables employers to find you. Building a complete and very professional profile is something any serious job hunter must do.
If you’ve been looking for work online, then you’ve already come across listings on Indeed, Glassdoor, Monster and numerous other sites. If you have not been using Indeed’s résumé builder, you are certainly missing out.
Indeed, Glassdoor, Monster and numerous other sites are great resources for finding all kinds of jobs, from skilled trades positions to entry-level work in every sector. It’s also a good place to research job types and requirements in learning what kind of work fits your qualifications and experience. On Glassdoor, you'll also be able to see reviews past and current employees have written about a company.
Stand out. Way out.
The average time a recruiter spends looking at each résumé is six seconds. Tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick. And that’s the average, including the time spent looking at the great ones—mediocre résumés get skipped even more quickly. So you can’t put in the bare minimum effort and expect to compete with candidates who go all-in for the job. You need to work smarter and use the tools available to you.
Making that résumé as professional as it can be is a great start. It’s what opens the very first door, and your first clear opportunity to stand out. Make your résumé strong enough, different enough and enticing enough that no employer can easily skip past it. Use spelling and grammar checkers and read it over 100 times looking for typos. (If you are not great at this, find someone who is.)
You need to work smarter and use the tools available to you.
Your Cover Letter
In order to show interest in the jobs you’re applying for, a strong, compelling cover letter is a MUST. Unless you are seeking a job in public relations or communications, dazzling the reader with fancy words is not the goal. In fact, being too wordy can ensure your letter does not get read. Better to use short, conversational sentences, in a language that reflects your personality and uniqueness. Don’t be too casual or use slang, but showcase yourself as a real person, with just the amount of professionalism the employer is looking for.
Say a little about why you want this job, and why you would be an amazing fit. Think about how the work aligns with your passions, strengths and goals. Tell your future boss how you would make a difference in the organization. If you always seek to find efficiencies to increase profits, employers love to see examples. This kind of demonstrated ability (or even the thinking behind it) is more than most applicants tend to do, and an important way you can stand out.
Before you log in or visit a physical office for a job interview or take a pre-screening call, research the company and understand as fully as you can what the job entails. Most candidates do very little research, so rise above them by showing knowledge, initiative and keen interest. Getting this far is a major victory: now throw everything in your arsenal at landing the job. Get lots of sleep the night before, arrive punctually, and show your enthusiasm for the job and employer.
There are numerous videos on YouTube about how to prepare for an interview. Don’t do what this girl did. And if you’re technology-averse or old enough to use Facebook, you can always go find a local job board or walk into businesses and get a job the old fashioned way, printing out a stack of résumés and hitting the streets as a supplement to your online activities. Mixing up your approaches helps keep things fresh, gets you out there and helps keep you from getting in a rut.
Think about how the work aligns with your passions, strengths and goals.
Don’t be picky about your next job.
This can be the biggest reality check for some people. The saying “beggars can’t be choosers” applies now. If you’re in debt you truly need a job, and almost any real job is good enough. No one is saying you need to settle in for a 20-year career as a convenience store attendant if it isn’t your thing. But you can handle it, right? You can even get excited about how it will provide income and move you forward.
So for now, avoid being picky, and apply for jobs you can get. Once you’ve got a paycheque, are managing your debt and are back on your feet, you’ll have more choices. Even better yet, while you’re working at an entry-level job, you can relax a little and continue looking for something better. When the pressure is off and you are comfortable in your skin, everything comes more easily.
Have you figured it out that the most successful people are those who work really, really hard and stay focused? Billionaire Mark Cuban has famously said what he would do if he lost everything: “I would get a job as a bartender at night and a sales job during the day, and I would start working. Could I become a multimillionaire again? I have no doubt.”
The people who decide to do whatever it takes to develop the skills of being a good worker, who are reliable, honest and good communicators do really well in their careers, even coming from humble beginnings. Why? Because they checked their ego at the door and did what whatever it took.
Remember, we can all learn something new every day and one new experience can lead to the next breakthrough we need.
Maybe working as a labourer on a demolition site, you’ll get introduced to a great construction company where you start a career in framing. Or perhaps you’re entering data for a government survey and meet a great employer who does market research.
If you are willing to learn, keep your eyes open and have a teachable attitude, you’re going to create opportunities you never expected. A young university graduate took a job interview as an entry level bookkeeper, and within 20 years he’s become the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a large international corporation. The President and CEO of MetCredit started in an entry-level job on the collection floor. It happens, when you make it happen.
Be motivated to learn and realize that everyone starts without any experience, and it’s by doing new things you’ll grow.
Keep going until you succeed!
DON’T QUIT! Even if you’re ready to create your breakthrough, it may happen when you least expect it. You have to keep going, every day. Losing momentum can be disastrous because you lose effectiveness and can talk yourself into a negative place.
If you keep moving, you’ll find you’re building a success story and celebrating the little victories along the way. For example, you might celebrate that you’ve had a pre-screening call. Ask yourself, how did it go? What did I learn? What can I build on? If you didn’t get the interview, consider how you can be better prepared next time and make some adjustments.
During your journey, you’re very likely to interact with HR professionals. Ask them for tips. They chose their jobs because they enjoy finding suitable candidates, and although you might not fit that particular job, someone out there is looking for you. Maintain focus and don’t stop until you’ve found a job and secured regular income. From there, everything is within reach!
You have to keep going, every day. That will be the key to your success.
Get the printable job hunting cheat sheetDownload