Ask the Expert — Youth Employment Counsellor Steve Boucher

photo of Steven Boucher

"Hi my name is Steven Boucher and welcome to 'Ask the Expert' Q&A column. As a Youth Employment Counsellor from Ottawa's Youth Services Bureau, I've had the pleasure to work with many teens just like you find jobs in what they do best.

So, if you are looking to land a job but don't know where to start, check out the top 5 Questions that I received from youth to help get you started.

For more Q&As, take a look at questions youth have asked me online. Check this out for my posted response."

Top 5 job questions

  1. What do I put on my resume if I have no work experience?

    You would want to keep it simple and focus on the skills that you use on a daily basis.

    At the top of your resume, ensure that you have up-to-date information (contact number, email and home address). Next, you would want an objective. This is where you would let the potential employer know what you want and the traits that you can bring to the job.

    The next section could be your volunteer/community experience. If you've done work experience through a course at school, make note of it here. If you've had odd jobs or done things like babysit or yard work for neighbours, list it here. If at all possible, get letters of reference.

    Next, list course work at school that you feel is relevant to the job. Make note of any academic achievements or awards. Explain how you think your excellent performance in these areas would benefit the employer or enhance your ability to do the job. If you can, get a letter of reference from a teacher of one of the courses you mention.

    List your extracurricular activities of a non-volunteer nature such as sports, church or youth groups, school committees, etc. If you have a position that demonstrates leadership in any of these groups, make note of it here and describe your duties as if they were a job.

    Finally, sell yourself by making a list of your skills, special talents or positive personality traits.

  2. How do I find out if employers are hiring?

    One of the best ways to know if an employer is hiring is to "cold call" them. Cold calling is a term used to apply to job that isn't advertised. All you need to do is wait for a off-peak time and call or walk in to the location that you would like to work.

    Then follow these 4 simple steps:

    1. Ask to speak with the person in charge of hiring.
    2. Introduce yourself and let them know that you are seeking employment.
    3. Hand them a resume and discuss the potential position that they may have.
    4. Be polite and be thankful for their time.

    If there are no positions at that time, do not get discouraged. Instead, ask them to keep your resume on file for any positions that may come up in the near future. When going in person for any job searching, ensure that you dress appropriately.

    Ensure that you get their name and contact information so you can follow up with them in a week.

  3. Do I need a Social Insurance Number to work in Canada?

    Yes. By law, Canadian citizens, newcomers to Canada or temporary residents must have a Social Insurance Number or SIN number to work in Canada or to receive benefits and services from government programs.

    You must provide your SIN to your employer within three days of starting your new job. However, this does not mean you should give your number to anyone. A SIN card is not ID and you are responsible for protecting it. Be sure to store your SIN card in a safe place - don't keep it with you.

  4. As a young worker, am I covered under the Employment Standards Act (ESA)?

    Yes. Examples of part-time positions young workers frequently hold that are covered by the ESA include jobs in retail stores, restaurants and hotels, construction, farming or domestic services.

    Young workers have the same rights as other employees in Ontario workplaces under the ESA.

  5. How much will I be getting paid?

    In Ontario, there are various minimum wages. The general minimum wage that applies to most employees is $10.25/hour.

    If you are a student, minimum wage is $9.60/hour if:

    • you are under the age of 18
    • you work less than 28 hours a week
    • you work when school is in session
    • you work during a school break or summer holiday

    However, if you are a student and work more than 28 hours/week, you get a general minimum wage.

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