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Program aims to keep N.S. job seekers in the province

HALIFAX – A new program in Halifax wants to keep job seeking Nova Scotians in the province by teaching them how to find the hidden job market.

The Launch program at Job Junction runs for three weeks and equips job applicants with tools such as how to better network, improve their resume and make cold calls to prospective employers.

The tools are advantageous for Kathleen Rankin, 26, who was laid off last year.

She is now actively looking for work but, after going through the program, admits she was going about it the wrong way.

“I was doing the Career Beacon thing and just looking at anything I [somewhat] qualified for and applying for it blindly, putting my resume and cover letter out there without a sense of direction,” she said.

Rankin said the job hunt can sometimes be demoralizing and play on her self-esteem.

She adds that moving out of the province to find work has crossed her mind but it’s not ideal for her.

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“I have friends who have been searching for jobs. Some of them ended up in Calgary, Alberta. For me, I’m from Nova Scotia. My family is here. My friends are here,” she said. Rankin hails from Westville and Pictou County.

“If I go out to Alberta, I’m helping boost Albert’s economy. I’m not helping my home province.”

Philip Cantrill, the lead workshop facilitator at Job Junction, said it is logical to try to keep workers on the East Coast.

“We have seen a lot of individuals come here, get their education, move out west and other parts of the world,” he said.

“When you look at all the money, time and energy that’s going into them. We want to make sure we can keep them here locally.”

Figures from Statistics Canada show 21,542 people left Nova Scotia in 2012 to 2013, a number that has steadily risen since 2006.

But Ashley Burke, a career information resource provider at Job Junction, said there are jobs available in Nova Scotia: they just require a bit of digging.

“The hidden job market is there. It is a really good way to meet up with employers. Informational interviews are really relevant,” she said.

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Informational interviews have been encouraging for Robert William.

William, 47, recently graduated from Saint Mary’s University with a masters of applied science in biology but said the job market has been rough.

“I thought I would take a chance and see what improvements I could make to my job hunting skills,” he said about participating in the Launch program.

William said he had been primarily applying for jobs through online databases but has since picked up new networking skills.

He considered looking outside the province for work but has developed a renewed sense of confidence that he can stay here.

“[Nova Scotia] is home. I love the weather. I love the climate. I love the people. I guess I have an inbred desire to stay home,” he said.

There were 11 participants in the first session of the program and, so far, Burke said three people have found jobs and there have been more than 30 informational interviews.

Participants range in age from 25 to 55 years old and come from a variety of backgrounds, including veterinary assistants, chemical engineers and interior decorators.

The program is free and the next session will start up in the next few months.

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