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Job Development

Dayna Shereck

Job Developer
Employment Action

Melissa Popiel
Coordinator of HIV and Episodic Disabilities Initiatives
Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation

(Title Slide)
Workplace Health Video Series
Job Development
Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation

(Two women are sitting at a desk, facing the camera.)

Melissa: Hello, my name is Melissa Popiel. I am the coordinator of HIV and Episodic Disabilities Initiatives with the Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation. Welcome to the Job Development video for people living with HIV.

Dayna: And I am Dayna Shereck, a Job Developer with Employment Action, a return to work program part of AIDS Committee of Toronto.

Melissa: Many people are looking either to return to work or to find employment for the first time who are living with HIV. There are a number of factors to consider as you go through this process.

There are several steps to finding and keeping a job. Many people living with HIV would like to re-enter the workforce or to enter the workforce for the first time but haven’t actually considered what type of job they would like. Have you ever tried to visualize what that dream job might look like? What type of environment would you work in? Who would you work with? What are these factors that you would like to consider that would be part of your optimal work environment.

This video will provide introductory information on how to improve your chances of finding and getting a job that you want. We will discuss in detail a few of these points including job readiness, deciding where you fit in, networking, the hidden job market, and how to maintain your contacts.

It will include tips and hints that you can apply now as you are going through your job search. There will also be references provided for additional information for those who are looking for that opportunity to go back to work.


Melissa: Dayna, what are the most important things to consider in deciding to go back to work?

Dayna: Melissa that is an excellent question. Some of the things to consider when going back to work is being able to visualize the kind of job that you actually want, the kind of environment you would like to work in, how you will dress and how you will present yourself. It is important to be emotionally ready when going back to work, meaning that you are able to create space in your life for a job. When you are not working, your life works a certain way and often when you think about going back to work, there is a change and shift in priorities and fear itself is scary.

If you decided that going back to work is the right thing for you, you may find benefits that go along with working, such as a new social life, a feeling of accomplishment, and new opportunities for learning and growth.

For example, dealing with rejection is not easy; as well as not knowing how your job is going to affect your health. Further to this, ensuring that you are mentally ready is also important and [you] are prepared for the fear and anxiety that can come along with finding a job.

We will look at specific strategies for dealing with fear and rejection later in the video.

(Slide) Mentally Preparing for Work
  • Know there is not a perfect time to look for a job
  • Finding a job is a trial and error process
  • Ask yourself how comfortable you are with the uncertainties that may come with working, including with your health status, stigma etc. 
Finding a job is a trial and error process. Ask yourself how comfortable you are right now with taking risks. It’s also important to realize that there is no perfect time to find a job. For anyone going back to work employment involves taking a chance at attempting something new and different and challenging and hoping for the best.


Melissa: Dayna, what are some of the practical things to consider when looking for a job?

Dayna: That’s a great question. Some of the practical things to consider when looking for a job are examining your physical and psychological health and making sure that you feel up to working. Other challenges that can come up when looking for work are things like language fluency, experience in your job, [and] access to childcare or transportation. There may be other factors for you to consider as well.

What are your expectations when looking for a job? Managing your expectations versus reality involves doing your homework on the type of job you would like and ensuring that your skills are up to date. Sometimes if you haven’t been working in your field for a while your skills and experience may not be completely up to date and it’s possible you may not be able to return to the job at the same level that you once were, as well as your salary may be different.

You may find that it takes time to return to the level you were at previously and you may find it beneficial to take a lower position as a stepping-stone in getting where you want to be.


Melissa: Dayna, with so many different types of resumes and cover letters available how do you know which is the right type to choose?

Dayna: Developing good marketing materials such as an up-to-date resume, cover letter and business cards are extremely important in your job search. It’s important to select a resume in line with your job goal or field. There may be a different resume used for the service industry and a completely different style for the IT industry.

Tailoring your cover letter and resume to a specific job can make a positive difference. When writing a cover letter, it is important to research the company and look at things like their vision statement and their mission statement and find ways to align yourself with the company. Such as they may have a new environmental policy and you may have a specific passion for the environment. This is something you can state near the end of your cover letter. It will not only show the employer that you have read and you understand their business but also that you value what they are about and that you share the same values.

There are many resources available to help you write a good cover letter and resume and they can be found online, at your local library, bookstores, and also with an employment counsellor near you.


Melissa: Dayna, with so many different ways to look for a job, how do you know the best ways to find a job that’s right for you?

Dayna: That’s a great question, Melissa. One of the best ways to find a job is through networking and networking is really socializing with the goal of information exchange.

(Slide) Networking
  • Networking is socializing with the goal of information exchange. 
  • Getting to know what people do, letting people know you are job searching or your strengths. 
  • But be subtle, as coming on too strong may distance people. 
  • Networking can take place anywhere and with anyone - schools, with other parents, religious groups, parties, anywhere. 
So getting to know what people do and also letting people know that you are job searching. But you want to be subtle about this and coming on too strong might distance people.

Networking can take place anywhere — your children’s school, talking to other parents, religious groups, parties — really anywhere and it can really open the door to the hidden job market.

Melissa: Dayna, you mentioned the hidden job market. What is the hidden job market?

Dayna: Well according to CNN, over eighty percent of today’s jobs are never advertised and are found through the hidden job market. And the hidden job market really is the jobs that are never posted. They are jobs you are able to find through people you know, contacts, [and] networking but not through jobs that are actually advertised.

Melissa: In my experience, Dayna, the hidden job market really works. All the jobs that I’ve ever had, except one, I found through the hidden job market and these have come through volunteer experiences that I have had, through student mentorship, and through networking that I’ve done. And it’s a really really powerful way to find positions that are a good fit for you and often with people that you are comfortable with.

Dayna: Absolutely, that’s very powerful. Another great way to make a contact with a company that you have absolutely no connection to is through an information interview.

An information interview can be your best friend when job searching. It is becoming a more popular and accepted way to network. An information interview involves finding an organization that you would be interested in working in and finding a specific department or a specific person and asking if you can meet with them to learn more about the organization.

You don’t want to take too much of their time and you may just want to prepare a few questions to find out the kind of the opportunities that come up at that organization, what the process is, and generally it’s a way to build a connection and to network.

Now you don’t want to bring your resume to an information interview but you do want to get a business card from the person you are meeting with so you can follow up with an email and stay in touch. And that can build a really great connection as well.

Melissa: I’ve heard that some employers are now using social network websites to review potential candidates for a job. What suggestions do you have about social networking and looking for a job?

Dayna: It’s a great point actually. Social networking can be a real friend to you when you’re job searching. Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and even Twitter are a great way to stay connected to a vast number of people that you wouldn’t otherwise be in contact with — people that you went to school with, people from your past.

Social media though also has the potential to affect your reputation. So just be careful what kind of information you are going to put on your profile and make sure that it is maybe as clean as possible. Employers have been known to check out Facebook and just see who you are before making a decision to hire.

So social networking also gives you an opportunity to actually create the persona that you want people to see and a profile is a way to do that.

Melissa: Now with so much competition what can you do to really set yourself apart as a candidate for a job?

Dayna: Well, I think it’s important to remember that everyone has something about them that sets them apart and makes them unique. And remembering what makes you special — we often forget our talents. We all have them and we all possess strengths that others don’t. One way to set yourself apart is to develop marketing materials such as a good cover letter and resume and be able to outline your strengths. On a resume that might be through a highlight of qualifications and in a cover letter it might be just in a paragraph talking about your experience and your strengths. But it’s important to be able to know what your strengths are and actually let people know about that too.

Melissa: So with these contacts that are made, what can you do to help retain them and use them in the future?

Dayna: According to a recent article, most people change jobs five to seven times over the course of their working career. So if you can develop a “what’s next?” mentality when meeting contacts and have in the back of your mind considering the future and how people can help you grow and work together, this can really help you. It’s also about thinking what you can do to help others at the same time.

Be conscious of who you meet and how you may be able to work together and help each other in the future. This is a way of thinking that has the potential to find you a job but also to change your life and it’s very much about being open and receptive to opportunities and people that come your way. In addition to networking, there are also other places to look for a job such as in person, job banks, newspapers and online.

Melissa: Thanks, Dayna.


Melissa: Dayna, you talked previously about how to make networking contacts. What suggestions do you have about keeping those contacts in the long term?

Dayna: That’s a really great question. I think it’s about having a “where do you want to go next?” attitude and taking a lead in making follow-up contacts. In following up with people we meet, we do face the reality of rejection. Maybe they were just being friendly and they don’t really want a further contact with us? This may happen because people are busy or they don’t really see how the connection benefits them. However, each time you take a risk and you reach out, you become stronger and eventually you will make contacts that are mutually beneficial.

Sort through those contacts that may not be interested and those that are. As you move through that process you will find contacts that are willing to assist you, if you keep trying. Every positive connection will build your confidence with the next one. And re-connecting with previous people that were in your life — people you went to school with, previous volunteer opportunities, other associations where you had a positive experience, this can also be beneficial.

What do you have to contribute? It’s about having a “give and get” attitude. When re-connecting with people, you may be wondering how they can help you, especially if you are in the middle of a frustrating job search. However, it’s also important to keep in mind how you may be able to help them. And these are a few things to consider when making follow-ups and trying to make the most of the contacts that you have.


Melissa: Thank you Dayna for being with us today.

Dayna: Thank you.

Melissa: Employment and return to work are never easy things to consider especially when you are living with HIV and you provided some really helpful suggestions and tips for viewers.

The factors that we have discussed today are especially relevant to people living with HIV and have been carefully considered. If you have additional questions or are looking for more information, please see the following: you can go to the Employment Action website at, or see the Episodic Disabilities Employment Network website at

(Slide) Additional Resources
(Slide) Additional Resources
(Slide) Contact Information

Melissa Popiel
Coordinator of HIV and Episodic Disabilities Initiatives
Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation

Employment Action
Sponsored By:
Mac AIDs Fund Logo
This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability component.

Realize (formerly CWGHR) also acknowledges the financial support of the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the Public Health Agency of Canada