Job Search
November 4, 2017

Are you job searching and shouting:


“Please help me!  I need a job. Any job.” Then are you wondering why you are still job searching? It might be because of what I call the “not-so-big-secret-to-finding work”.  This big secret is: focus.

The definition of focus in a job search is: set specific goals, know where you are going and choose your targets.  Using the power of focus is switching from the passive approach of only applying to job postings, to the proactive method of targeting companies you want to join.  Even if you are searching for what you consider to be a survival job, having a focus is important.

Try utilizing your people network, use LinkedIn and increase your alliances. Eventually, instead of looking for any job, you could be confidently saying to others: “Could you please help me?  I am looking for work as a front-line customer service rep in a downtown Toronto Call Centre easily accessible on the transit line”.

By knowing exactly where you are going, the not-so-big-secret-to-finding-work might be the right secret for you!

Achēv offers free weekly events and workshops to help you achieve your employment and career goals. Visit our Events Calendar to see all of our upcoming events.

Job Interview
November 4, 2017

Job interviews can be stressful because of what it is at stake: the means to make a living, a promotion, a new career. I have been through a good amount of interviews, 35 and counting to be exact. In some of those interviews, I have left the room with a big smile on my face and a sense of accomplishment. Others didn’t go as well as I was hoping they would. One thing is for sure: I have learned countless lessons from all of them.  Here are some of the most valuable ones.

Interviews are two-way conversations

The purpose of in-person interviews is twofold:

(1) For the interviewer(s): It gives them the opportunity to gather more detailed information about your skills and experience, to observe your demeanour, and to get a glance at your personality and fit for the organization.

(2) For you: It gives you the opportunity to gather more detailed information about what the position entails, to assess the physical environment where you could potentially work, and hopefully to get a glance at the hiring manager’s working style

Preparedness for the Interview is of paramount importance

Preparedness is one of the golden rules. Always prepare for the interview. Learn about the company’s mission, vision, values, products and services, challenges, competitors, and latest achievements. Make sure you understand the job description of the position you are applying for and why they need someone with your abilities and experience. Last but not least, write down any questions you might have as you go through your company research.

Master the one ever-present interview question: Tell me about yourself

Every candidate gets the “Tell me about yourself” question. It may be rephrased in a couple of ways, but no one escapes the question. Carefully prepare your answer to this question and other frequent ones.

Usually, interviewers use this question as an ice-breaker and to assess some of the following:

1. What information you think is relevant to offer, considering the position you are interviewing for

2. How well you put your thoughts together to provide a structured answer to an unstructured question

3. How well you can sell yourself and, by extension, their products and services

Prepare your answer in advance. Focus on the experience and skills that are essential for the position you are interviewing for and keep your answer short, 60-90 seconds at most.

Before I forget, other versions of these questions can be “Walk me through your career” and “Can you walk me through your resume?”

Pay close attention to the Hiring Manager’s behaviour

Your potential supervisor is usually part of the interview panel. Pay particular attention to his or her behaviour. Ask yourself if you can picture yourself working with him or her. Why?  You are not only looking for a job but also for a safe space where you can grow – a workplace where you feel your contributions are valued, where you can develop and apply your talents, acquire new skills and develop the existing ones. Your supervisor’s behaviour, ideas, and demeanour will significantly shape the climate and effectiveness of your work environment. Pick wisely.

It is alright if you don’t get ahead in the hiring process

The hiring decision involves many factors that are not directly related to your performance. Some of the reasons you might not be the chosen candidate are:

1. Another candidate was rated higher or was referred by an insider

2. The interviewer didn’t perceive you as a good cultural fit

3. During the interview process, the hiring manager realized the job posting wasn’t completely aligned with their current needs

If you don’t make it to the next round, don’t be too hard on yourself: gather lessons learned and move on.

Do your due diligence and assess your performance right after the interview. Make a note of the questions you were not well prepared to answer, the afterthoughts – the classic “I should have answered this or that way”-, and any feedback you got from the interviewer(s).

Job interviews can be a tough process to navigate through. Don’t get discouraged if some of them don’t go well; learn from the experience and move on. If you prepare well and make the most of the interview experience, you will eventually land that job you have been pursuing.

Let’s hear from you know. What are some of the lessons you have learned from your interviews? Send us your nuggets of wisdom at and they may get published here on the ACHĒV blog!

Achēv offers free weekly events and workshops to help you achieve your employment and career goals. Visit our Events Calendar to see all of our upcoming events.

Win Win
October 4, 2017

On September 27, 2017, a group of students currently enrolled in a local college’s TESL training program visited ACHĒV for a morning. The students were invited to participate in a pilot testing of a new component for the Canadian Language Benchmarks Online Self-Assessment tool. The day started with an information session providing an overview of ACHĒV’s core programs and services. Guest speakers from LINC Home Study, Language Assessment Centre, and Language Assessment and Support Services provided useful insights into their areas of work describing their roles and providing useful advice. The goal of the info session was not only to introduce ACHĒV ‘s programs and services but also to get TESL Trainees to start thinking about careers beyond traditional classroom teaching that might be available to TESL trained individuals within ACHĒV’s Language Services.

Following the information session, TESL students learned about a Canadian Language Benchmarks Online Self-Assessment tool and, at the same time, participated in a pilot testing of a newly developed Reading assessment form. The data input provided by the TESL Trainees will inform future development of the Canadian Language Benchmarks Online Self-Assessment.

Testimony from the TESL Training Supervisor:

thank you very much for providing this opportunity to our students. This experience has provided them with a better understanding of the assessment tool. The information session was also very good in demonstrating that there are a variety of career paths for TESL Ontario certified teachers than the traditional classroom teaching and as they gain experience over the years. The thank you letter and gift card was a thoughtful and generous token of appreciation at the end which all students and I also greatly appreciate in return.

It was a wonderful and valuable experience.

The Canadian Language Benchmarks Online Self-Assessment tool can be found here:

Achēv offers free weekly events and workshops to help you achieve your employment and career goals. Visit our Events Calendar to see all of our upcoming events.

June 4, 2017

“June 20 is the day the world commemorates the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of refugees. Held every year, World Refugee Day also marks a key moment for the public to show support for families forced to flee,” The UN Refugee Agency.

Since November 2015, Canada has welcomed over 40,000 refugees in almost 400 communities.

Achēv works every day to provide support for newcomers, delivering employment, settlement and language services across the Greater Toronto Area, in addition to our LINC Home Study online learning system, our Canadian Language Benchmarks- Online Self-Assessment Service and our virtual international services through our Preparing to Work in Canada (PrepCan) pre-arrival services. ACHĒV assists clients in Ontario, Canada and around the world.

Here are a handful of the programs and services that we provide:

Newcomer Information Centres (NIC)

The NICs’ goal is to meet the immediate, short term needs of newcomers and deliver accurate and relevant information to ensure clients can access the services for which they are eligible.

The NICs provide information related to:

1. Employment

2. Language Training

3. Health Care

4. Housing

5. Legal and Social Services

6. Recreation

In 2016, our focus was on assisting Syrian refugees and supporting them with their immediate settlement needs. The clients received customized one-on-one support as well as had an opportunity to participate in a series of group sessions that were delivered in their native languages.

Some of the topics included:

1. Financial Literacy

2. Personal Income Tax

3. Preparing for First Canadian Winter

4. Adapting to Canadian Culture

5. Shopping Tips

6. Consumer Rights

Over 700 Syrian clients were assisted at our onsite and offsite locations. We have 5 locations and provide a number of Itinerant Services at locations across the GTA.

Career Coach

The Career Coach is a mobile Employment and Settlement project. In 2016, ACHĒV reached over 540 newcomers through one-on-one employment counselling, as well as through various workshops within the community. The mobile unit travelled to under-served areas, provided outreach, and encouraged youth and newcomers to “walk-in” for friendly and supportive service. This past year, with the influx of Syrian refugees into the Peel/Halton Region, the Career Coach offered some unique one-to-one and group workshop assistance to help Syrian refugees.

CLARS Language Assessment Centres

Achēv has been assessing in Peel and Halton Regions for over 20 years and in York Region for 6 years. Our assessors provide a friendly welcome; assess English or French skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing; and make referrals to language classes to best meet client needs.

In 2016, we provided 14,920 assessments in Peel and Halton and administered 8,980 assessments in York and Durham for a total of 23,900 assessments.

Language Assessment Centre staff assisted community efforts to support Syrian refugees by providing a warm welcome and timely assessment and referral to enable them to begin learning one of Canada’s official languages. This past year, we expanded itinerant assessment services in Mississauga to include assessments at a local hotel providing temporary housing to refugees from Syria and other countries.

In honour of World Refugee Day, we recognized the strength, courage, and perseverance these new Canadians whom we now consider our friends and family.

If there is any way we can help, or if you have any questions about any of our programs or services, please contact us by phone at (905) 949-0049 or by email at

Achēv offers free weekly events and workshops to help you achieve your employment and career goals. Visit our Events Calendar to see all of our upcoming events.

girl making smoothy
March 7, 2017

Usually, when I hear the word “blender” I think of protein shakes, nutritious fruit smoothies and pureed vegetables for my favourite cold gazpacho soup.  Yet recently I have heard this word used frequently in terms of the workplace.

According to two recent Forbes and Newsdesk News articles,  “the blended workforce is on the rise”.  What is a blended workforce?  What do companies throw into their Human Resources blender of employees?

The answer is that the new blended workforce is a variety of employees with a range of different contracts.  It includes permanent full-time employees, part-time employees, temporary workers, contract workers, and freelance workers.

This new workplace trend is already impacting companies in several ways.  For example, it has created a new type of diversity.  This diversity is rising and as Newsdesk News states “already 93% of companies identify the blended workforce” and within the next 5 years “at least 40% of the workforce will be freelancers”.

This trend is only a prediction, and not all forecasts become reality, yet it is a development that everyone might want to pay attention to. With trends that become a reality, come rewards and advantages, and challenges and inconveniences.

The challenges and inconveniences include possible friction among teams as blurred lines can prevent the contract worker from truly feeling part of the team. Another potential challenge can be new staff tracking systems as many freelancers work on their own schedules which may or may not correspond to regular business hours. This could cause a Human Resources nightmare if a manager wants the expertise the freelancer can bring to a project.

Yet there are numerous rewards and advantages to the blended workforce. This includes the new definition of diversity and a fresh perspective.  For example, a freelancer can bring a unique and creative point of view to a project since they are usually removed from traditional office politics.  According to Blog Talk Radio, contract workers are usually happier than full-time permanent employees because they are profiting from their control over a better work-life balance.

From a management perspective, a blended workforce provides cost-effective flexibility as it allows organizations to take the time to find the right fit for a full-time candidate which helps to prevent expensive hiring mistakes.  Add in the reduced costs that contract workers bring, and the blended workforce is even more appealing to employers.

If this trend does become a reality, the hope will be that employers will set clear company communication policies and project expectations for both full-time permanent employees, and contract workers, in order for everyone to work toward the same goal.

Don’t be surprised if you get tossed into the workplace blender, and become part of a diverse team that is achieving targets in a totally new way.   Trends don’t always become a reality yet sometimes they do!

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