How do I stand out from the competition in the current job market?

Continuous professional development on a resume can show employers you’re a willing learner and that you are a self-starter.

How do I get started?

Whether you’re still a student trying to find your first job or a recent graduate trying to break into the job market, there are always ways to learn new skills, sharpen old ones, or get credit for the skills you already have.

If you’ve never had a job or have little work experience you may be wondering how you can continue to add to your resume and improve your employability. Start by researching your future career and consult with local employment and settlement services to help you get on the right path by connecting you to career-specific certifications and volunteering opportunities. 

To get a head start on your job search, dedicate some of your time to improving and achieving trainings independently or in consultation with a newcomer service provider.

CPR/AED & First-Aid

For safety purposes, many part-time and full-time positions in a variety of fields require that candidates be currently certified in CPR Level A or C. These certifications last for three (3) years and can be completed at Canadian Red Cross locations either in-person or via blended courses with both online and in-person training. 

Customer Service Training & Sales Training

Customer Service or Sales Training can be especially useful if you lacking real-world experience in a position that interacts with the public. Courses such as Service Excellence and Service Smarts can be completed online through a variety of agencies or accessed via the Ontario Tourism Education Corporation. 

WHMIS Training, Agriculture Worker Safety & Awareness Certificate

The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) contains all the information necessary for classifying hazardous products and standardizing safety in the workplace. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS) has developed a short e-course (1 hour) that can provide the basic WHMIS knowledge required before beginning a new job. WHMIS Training doesn’t expire; however, both employers and employees are encouraged to review annually. The CCOHS also provides a number of free work-related courses specific to mental health, violence in the workplace, pandemic awareness training, and much more. For those youth considering a career in agriculture, the Ontario Agriculture Worker Safety and Awareness Certificate can be completed through e-learning modules online that take approximately 8-10 hours. 

Safe Food-Handling Training

For most food workers in Canada, a Canadian Institute of Food Safety-recognized course in food handling is a legal requirement for learning the basic knowledge and fundamental practices for food safety. As of recently, courses can now be completed fully online and typically requires 8-10 hours to work through the modules before taking a proctored exam. The certification needs to be renewed every five (5) years.

SmartServe & CannSell

The SmartServe Certification prepares you for workplaces in Ontario where alcohol is sold, served, delivered, or sampled. Certification courses can be completed entirely online in 4-5 hours with a proctored test and do not expire. CannSell, on the other hand, is a cannabis retail training program approved by the Alcohol & Gaming Commission of Ontario. It’s a required certification for employment within the cannabis space and although it doesn’t expire, an upgrade course may be required depending on changing regulations. 

Principles of Healthy Child Development (HIGH FIVE), Babysitting Certification

Whether it’s younger siblings or a family next door, taking care of children is an excellent chance for you to showcase responsibility and gain experience by creating an inclusive environment. HIGH FIVE courses and/or Babysitting Certification programs can demonstrate to potential employers that you’re a strong leader who’s considerate of the emotional wellbeing of others.  

Language Certifications

Strong language skills are a big requirement in today’s job market. If you’re multilingual you can often leverage your communication skills by passing language-specific standardized tests. The certification process and test availability can vary depending on the language; however, demonstrating language proficiency could be a requirement of employers relying on those communication skills. 

Basic Computer Training, Microsoft Office Training, Software Certifications, Coding Courses, Google Professional Certifications 

No matter one’s career path, having knowledge about technology and computers is always an asset. There are many courses provided in Ontario that teach basic computer skills, in addition to helping you access some of the more extensive training programs. Training to become a Microsoft Office Specialist or becoming familiar with the software used in different industries can lead to better resumes and more success at job interviews. 

If you’re pursuing IT as a career, developing your knowledge of coding with programming languages like Scratch, Java, or Python are essential skills to have. These courses provide opportunities for you to create the kind of independent projects that employers in these fields ask about. In recent years, Google has also begun offering self-access courses and tutorials for young professionals looking to develop their IT skills. 

Leadership Programs, Community Networking, and Social Justice Initiatives

For youth passionate about social justice issues and affecting change in their communities, getting involved at a grassroots level (e.g. local church groups, non-profit organizations, etc.) can provide enriching opportunities for self-development. These opportunities provide a space in which youth can practice their communication skills, develop their leadership abilities, and take part in community improvement initiatives. ______________________________________________________________________________

For more information on accessing skills development opportunities, please contact the programs listed below-

YMCA of Southwestern Ontario: 

YMAP Program 

Y-Works & Y-Opportunities Programs

Orientation Services 

Produced by: Patrick Foley – Newcomer Youth Settlement Advisor, YMCA of Southwestern Ontario | Windsor Learning Centre