Sideline

Finding a job in Canada, why is it so difficult?

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Amberdrake

I have the unfortunate fortune of working for ESKOM here in South Africa. Hiring here follows the true South African tradition of a go getter however it doesnt get applied to the job anymore. Once your hired the opportunities shrinks and your left with having to apply for a promoted position/job. This sounds all well and good however if you did show too much drive and performed well your chances of getting that promotion/job is hampered by your own manager. Often the person that has found you indispensable will actively sabotage your being moved to a higher position as to keep your skills.

Networking from South Africa is quite difficult and my options as to travel is limited atm, so ill just have to apply as much as possible.

I am very fortunate when we were doing our diploma's we had a lecturer that started the transition to a resume type CV. Thus I am 50% of the way there already with some changes for each job i can apply easily. With all of this its still a monumental task.

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Jules

Unfortunately most SAns fail to truly believe or accept that the SA work culture is indeed really very different to Canada. It took me several years of working here to genuinely believe it (yes I'm a slow learner lol)

But after 10+ years working here I can say without doubt that there is a big gap between someone with deep canadian experience (preferably a born and raise canadian) versus a fresh off the boat immigrant. I've done a fair amount of hiring over the past few years and without hesitation I would hire a canadian over any new immigrant.

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Tracey22

I went for an interview the other day and I actually asked if there was room for promotion. OMG, what was I thinking.....

So, I have learned over the 4 years I have been here: It is good to understand what the Company's policy is for career progression. In my industry, it is widely accepted that people are looking for new opportunities every 2-3 years. In future, phrase your question as career opportunities and learning opportunities. Progression here does not necessarily mean promotion. for example, in the big banks, they want you to have 2 or 3 different jobs at the same grade level before you can be promoted to a new grade level. this is career progression and not promotion.

in fact it is an industry "joke" that to get promoted within your company, you need to leave the company for a competitor and re-enter your old company 3 years later in a promotion position.

In terms of networking, go to all the mentorship, career skills and connecting opportunities in your town/city. the CIC arranges many of these in conjunction with the YMCAs,/ churches and community outreach programs. etc.

This is way out of my comfort zone - to phone up a stranger and ask them out for coffee. Yip, I have done it. i have phoned An SVP at TD Bank with only one person giving me their name. i asked her out for coffee and brought along my resume. I have kept in touch with her and it has gotten me a few interviews there. Go to industry shows, seminars etc. So,me of these can be used as tax deductions as well. Finding a job is a full time job!

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Freddy

I have learnt to keep my opinion to myself. I recently moved from a manager position to a more techie role...cos I was tired of playing the Canadian people's game and guess what the salary difference is very marginal. Easy to get along with computers than people (politics)...laugh. Don't get me wrong...I can do my job with my eyes close but I'm still learning the Canadian culture. If someone in your office(colleague) didn't say good morning don't take offence. it is their culture.

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Hennie vdB

without hesitation I would hire a canadian over any new immigrant.

Jules, now this is an interesting opinion - when you have some time, I would love to hear your reasoning. Are you saying you don't want a SA-go-getter working for you? My son is working in construction, and his boss says he's never seen anyone work as hard as he does. (No extra pay, of course, but at least he gets noticed. And then he becomes a threat, I suppose.)

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The Burts

Hi everyone, thanks so much for all your replies. I just had a bad day yesterday!! So I have flipped over the page and I am starting again armed with all the new advice you have given me.

Ingrid I am looking for anything in the administration/clerical/accounts & payroll areas just to get going. I have a lot of experience in the drainage industry and would love to get back into the construction side. I have done project management/support, project reports, CCTV survey reports providing findings, recommendations and estimates for works. As I said previously, throughout my working life I have had such a varied work background from secretarial to shipping to advertising to graphic design. I would love to be able to work from home and do my "own thing" but need to be employed for a couple of years before I can figure out the markets and start on my own path.

Thanks again for your advice Sideline. Its almost as if you have to really simplify your resume and back off on the "drive and ambition" part.

Jules, contrary to what you have said, my husband went for 4 interviews and got 3 jobs. (He is a tradesman) His manager said that he will always go for an African immigrant because of our work ethics!. But he is a Scotsman and the directors are Scottish too and have been here 30 years so probably know a bit about the Canadian culture by now. But again, maybe they are just a one off!!

"And should all of the above advice fail, we'll start a new colony" :P - I like this Jules!

Strangely enough Tracey22, a couple of Canadians that I have spoken to only seem to have stayed in their jobs 2 to 3 years before moving on. Is this the normal thing over here?

Right, I am off to renew my resume and apply for some jobs :rolleyes: Thanks again for all the advice and comments and I will keep you all informed.

Please could a moderator Pin this post as requested by Sideline, it is a topic that is ALWAYS discussed. Thanks

Marci

Edited by The Burts

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Lizelle

Have you tried temp work, Marci? I can't comment for Canada, but in NZ I was working for a temp agency, and quite a few of the jobs that I had I could've stayed on permanently if I wanted. It's a great way to get Canadian experience, too, if none of the jobs work out.

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Lizelle

Also, and again, this is not specific to Canada, but I would be surprised if NZ or Oz is any different: My brother in Oz recently decided that his corporate job is not doing it anymore for him. He wanted to work with kids and helping and stuff. So he went to a few charities and talked to a few people, and eventually decided to work in a cerebral palsy house (where they take the kids in one or two days every so often to give the parents a break). He applied for 3 jobs and got all 3.

Pay: Au$ 22/hour!! (Plus he gets a number of tax breaks)

Now, I know that not everyone wants to do that, but you would thinks that non-profits the world over are in need of people helping them with a great variety of positions. If you are not currently working, then you can maybe volunteer if nothing concrete is panning out. It should be a good way to network, and it will probably go a long way on your cv too

Edited by Lizelle

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Jules

Jules, now this is an interesting opinion - when you have some time, I would love to hear your reasoning. Are you saying you don't want a SA-go-getter working for you? My son is working in construction, and his boss says he's never seen anyone work as hard as he does. (No extra pay, of course, but at least he gets noticed. And then he becomes a threat, I suppose.)

Depends on the industry I think. I work in an office (bank) where there are politics and lots of subtleties where just "hard work" isn't enough and where an overly zealous person can do more harm than good. My preference for hiring locals is simply because they would require less coaching in the early days.

I cringe when I think back about how I was when I first started here 10 years ago.

Edited by Jules
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Guest

Depends on the industry I think. I work in an office (bank) where there are politics and lots of subtleties where just "hard work" isn't enough and where an overly zealous person can do more harm than good. My preference for hiring locals is simply because they would require less coaching in the early days.

I cringe when I think back about how I was when I first started here 10 years ago.

I have seen the "Canadian Old Boys Club" in action at a large customer I worked for. These folk look after each other. It probably does not exist in too many companies today with Canada's large emigrant population. It was an eye opener though.

It is difficult in the beginning, but you do eventually learn to fit into the Canadian work culture.

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Sideline

Hi everyone, thanks so much for all your replies. I just had a bad day yesterday!! So I have flipped over the page and I am starting again armed with all the new advice you have given me.

Ingrid I am looking for anything in the administration/clerical/accounts & payroll areas just to get going. I have a lot of experience in the drainage industry and would love to get back into the construction side. I have done project management/support, project reports, CCTV survey reports providing findings, recommendations and estimates for works. As I said previously, throughout my working life I have had such a varied work background from secretarial to shipping to advertising to graphic design. I would love to be able to work from home and do my "own thing" but need to be employed for a couple of years before I can figure out the markets and start on my own path.

Thanks again for your advice Sideline. Its almost as if you have to really simplify your resume and back off on the "drive and ambition" part.

Jules, contrary to what you have said, my husband went for 4 interviews and got 3 jobs. (He is a tradesman) His manager said that he will always go for an African immigrant because of our work ethics!. But he is a Scotsman and the directors are Scottish too and have been here 30 years so probably know a bit about the Canadian culture by now. But again, maybe they are just a one off!!

"And should all of the above advice fail, we'll start a new colony" :P - I like this Jules!

Strangely enough Tracey22, a couple of Canadians that I have spoken to only seem to have stayed in their jobs 2 to 3 years before moving on. Is this the normal thing over here?

Right, I am off to renew my resume and apply for some jobs :rolleyes: Thanks again for all the advice and comments and I will keep you all informed.

Please could a moderator Pin this post as requested by Sideline, it is a topic that is ALWAYS discussed. Thanks

Marci

Marci,

You have highlighted the two extremes of this job hunting very clearly.

Your hubby got multiple job offers with little effort. Lucky? I don't think so. You see Canada again is a "specialist" sector country. Your hubby thus has the skills and experience in extreme shortage and demand. For someone in trades (almost any trade as a matter of fact) the demand is HUGE! So if one is in trades/manual labour the opportunities are excellent.

Contrary to this the "admin/office work & White collar" employment sector (even maybe add in engineering and many IT sectors here) is so over supplied by candidates that these "highly skilled and educated" people are the ones not finding the job market that easy. Of course I generalize here quite a bit, and it varies from city to city and province to province.

Now onto your situation. You have what seems to be probably 10 or more jobs/positions with in various sectors or maybe in a limited scope of the economic sector but still various skills. You see you are that ever "lost soul" from and employment perception.

Now it's actually very easy to target your resume. if you learn your place of residence economic sectors you will know how to move that broad experience and skills into an exceptional resume worthy of a decent job :)

Lethbridge has these primary sectors from Wikipedia http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Lethbridge

Health and education services: 21%

Wholesale and retail trade: 17%

Leisure, hospitality and food services: 13%

Primary and construction: 10%

Manufacturing: 10%

Professional and business services: 10%

Public administration: 5%

Transportation and warehousing: 5%

Finance and insurance: 3%

Other: 6%

The main businesses there are agricultural, food manufacturing and distribution. Construction (the manufacturing and wholesale supply etc) and then health care and so forth.

See here http://www.chooselethbridge.ca/business/employers.php

Knowing these things helps you identify who or what you need to target. Taking your economic sector and Google "top resume keywords agriculture) will give you a host of BRILLIANTLY available words that are "hot" to every employer. It's a bit like psychological profiling your resume to suit the company and sector you will target. Then using those words and the "wording" in job functions and skills in the job posting will get you focussed.

Rethink resumes and using keywords http://careerprocanada.ca/rethink-resume-keywords/

Using construction keywords in a construction resume

http://career-advice.monster.ca/resumes-cover-letters/resume-writing-tips/build-your-construction-resume-with-keywords-canada/article.aspx

Now let's say you want to enter "accounts and payroll" employment you need to simplify the resume to just highlight those skills, but take it one step further. Every job you had that "could have" some kind of accounting experience related to the position is what you focus on. Maybe you didn't actually "do" accounting in that job, but if you were involved in some kind of "financial" roll or responsibility you focus the wording for that job around those skills as the primary skills, then add in a few of the other things you did that might have been "admin" related.

So as you can see it's about "specializing" your resume to stack your experience towards the things needed in the job description. Every job posting will have desired skills/experience needed and the job function/s. Thus you structure the resume to be "heavy handed" on those job functions they are looking for and the skills you had in every job/position in your illustrious career that offers support to these things the employer "wants".

The other thing is as long as there is about 2 years in each "job" you had it won't seem abnormal to have changed positions. As long as the positions "jobs" all followed the same career path, in this case "accounts and payroll".

But now to be VERY VERY careful. You need to know that accounting and payroll "could be" and often is a very "specialized" career that is regulated and before you can claim to be an accountant you will need to have membership at the provincial governing body. It's a slippery and difficult thing to navigate, and this is that "Canadian experience" thing that is unknown to an immigrant,

It's the same with project management and a few othe things you mentioned. Here you need a "certificate" in many things to prove you can do the work. Like I said a country of EXTREME SPECIALISTS :(

It might be worth your while to target the smaller companies that can do with "generalists" and can't afford "specialists". Then get a study course to study a specific thing and get a few certificates to prove you are "certified".

Hope this all makes sense to you :)

Edited by Sideline
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Laurenwallace

If all else fails, you could always look at a place like Canadian Tire... They are always hiring, and there is room for growth within the company. They like to 'hire up' meaning you start in one department as a retail staff member, they look at your skills, and work you towards that goal. The salary is not fantastic, but my husband works there and we as a family of 4 come by every month on his salary...

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canuck nick

So, I have learned over the 4 years I have been here: It is good to understand what the Company's policy is for career progression. In my industry, it is widely accepted that people are looking for new opportunities every 2-3 years. In future, phrase your question as career opportunities and learning opportunities. Progression here does not necessarily mean promotion. for example, in the big banks, they want you to have 2 or 3 different jobs at the same grade level before you can be promoted to a new grade level. this is career progression and not promotion.

in fact it is an industry "joke" that to get promoted within your company, you need to leave the company for a competitor and re-enter your old company 3 years later in a promotion position.

In terms of networking, go to all the mentorship, career skills and connecting opportunities in your town/city. the CIC arranges many of these in conjunction with the YMCAs,/ churches and community outreach programs. etc.

This is way out of my comfort zone - to phone up a stranger and ask them out for coffee. Yip, I have done it. i have phoned An SVP at TD Bank with only one person giving me their name. i asked her out for coffee and brought along my resume. I have kept in touch with her and it has gotten me a few interviews there. Go to industry shows, seminars etc. So,me of these can be used as tax deductions as well. Finding a job is a full time job!

That industry "joke" is no joke. I left TD in 2011 to move to another bank to a higher position. Now I have left that bank to move to another bank to a higher position.

It also depends on the company you work for, your management and the dynamics of the office and the hierarchy in the company. If the planets align then you won't have to move out in order to move up but that seems an exception to the rule in Canada. The bank I have just joined has a reputation for hiring people with international banking experience and they are also known for recognizing and promoting their staff, so I can see myself here for a long long time.

When I arrived in 2008, my network was 1 person. You have to start somewhere and that includes joining meet-ups, going to immigration job fairs, job workshops, etc. Then you meet people and connect and start building your network. It may be painfully slow but it is necessary in order to survive here.

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Raquel

Thanks for the guidance Sideline... great eye opener on HOW to actually go about this process!

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Tracey22

Strangely enough Tracey22, a couple of Canadians that I have spoken to only seem to have stayed in their jobs 2 to 3 years before moving on. Is this the normal thing over here?

This is certainly the case in the financial industry in Canada. if you find people who have been with a bank for 10+ years, you will still find they were in multiple roles within those 10 years.

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Jules

This is certainly the case in the financial industry in Canada. if you find people who have been with a bank for 10+ years, you will still find they were in multiple roles within those 10 years.

Yes that’s so true. I have been with the bank here for just over 10 years and I have had 5 roles already!

Senior manager sales & service then director sales distribution then head of training then director strategy & planning and now currently director strategy, marketing and communications. And I would say that I could be in another role by next year.

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The Burts

Thanks again for all the advice. Lizelle, I have registered with a couple of recruitment agencies and said that I am more than willing to do temp work especially if there is a chance that the job could become permanent and there are a few jobs in the pipeline on that side.

Sideline, thanks once again for your invaluable advice and the time you have taken to explain all this. :ilikeit:

I have made a long list of things to do and places to research and visit.

I am sure that it will all have a positive outcome. I will keep you all updated.

Marci

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Raquel

I have a few questions on compiling a "generic" resume. I use the term "generic" very loosely as I realize that it should be tailored for each and every job spec but I am referring to a situation where you hand your resume to some you know in case something pops up! I will also use an example of an accountant, but I believe it may apply to some other occupations as well. So here goes....

If it is for a "financial auditors and accountants" focus (like as in the NOC code) I would use the NOC code description as a guideline on what to focus on, right? Would it be acceptable to have both sets of skills described (ie those for an auditor as well as those for an accountant)? Or should you have "2" resumes, one with an auditor focus and one with an accountant focus?

Also if you have a CA(SA) qualification, but your ECA states you have a four year bachelors degree and your CA is not recognized in Canada because you have not done the conversion process yet, is this something ( that you are a CA(SA) that you should be including in your Resume, or should you rather only be including the recognized B Com?

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Sideline

I have a few questions on compiling a "generic" resume. I use the term "generic" very loosely as I realize that it should be tailored for each and every job spec but I am referring to a situation where you hand your resume to some you know in case something pops up! I will also use an example of an accountant, but I believe it may apply to some other occupations as well. So here goes....

If it is for a "financial auditors and accountants" focus (like as in the NOC code) I would use the NOC code description as a guideline on what to focus on, right? Would it be acceptable to have both sets of skills described (ie those for an auditor as well as those for an accountant)? Or should you have "2" resumes, one with an auditor focus and one with an accountant focus?

Also if you have a CA(SA) qualification, but your ECA states you have a four year bachelors degree and your CA is not recognized in Canada because you have not done the conversion process yet, is this something ( that you are a CA(SA) that you should be including in your Resume, or should you rather only be including the recognized B Com?

If you have financial skills covering both sectors use both. They do overlap to a large extent and compliment each other. It shows a little "depth" in experience.

Unfortunately for the CA(SA) I would suggest leaving it out. Canada unfortunately also is a country filled with acronyms and using the wrong "abbreviation" might just be the worst thing. Rather refer to the degree EQUIVILENT as assessed by WES. Then after the conversion you can use the correct designation.

Or refer to the provincial regulatory bodies designation in the process of being obtained. That way you can avoid a mistake you might be unaware of. :)

Of course I'll leave the exact designation etc to the CAs hete that have better experience in that field :)

Edited by Sideline
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Raquel

Awesome! Thank you for that guidance Sideline! Very very helpful! :)

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Tracey22

If you have financial skills covering both sectors use both. They do overlap to a large extent and compliment each other. It shows a little "depth" in experience.

Unfortunately for the CA(SA) I would suggest leaving it out. Canada unfortunately also is a country filled with acronyms and using the wrong "abbreviation" might just be the worst thing. Rather refer to the degree EQUIVILENT as assessed by WES. Then after the conversion you can use the correct designation.

Or refer to the provincial regulatory bodies designation in the process of being obtained. That way you can avoid a mistake you might be unaware of. :)

Of course I'll leave the exact designation etc to the CAs hete that have better experience in that field :)

Okay, i disagree with Sideline. Certainly in Toronto and in the financial services industry, Canadians KNOW what a CA(SA) is. they RESPECT the CA(SA), and chances are if you are looking for a job in a bank HQ, you may even be interviewed by a South African. funny thing, i was interviewed by 2 Saffers in the past 2 years! So DO NOT LEAVE OUT YOUR CA(SA).

(EXCUSE THE caps)

So, you can elaborate and say you are a Chartered Accountant in South Africa. In an interview, you can say that you are in the process of applying for a conversion. (as soon as you get here, start the process). Frankly, if the job description is looking for a financial degree or equivalent, and they do not know what a CA is, then that company is not for you!

Now NOC Codes: In my 4 years here, the only people I have ever heard discuss NOC codes are those people on this forum who are applying to come to Canada. NOC codes are important to the CIC, not to the world I work in. maybe other industries are different. If you start talking about NOC codes in your resume, and referring to them, the potential employer will probably look at you blankly - like WTF are you talking about.

As a People manager, when I interview potential candidates, i am interested in:

  • do they have the skills i am looking for
  • can they illustrate those skills and their successes in their resume
  • are their skills relevant to the position
  • have they had enough time in a position to be reflective of their successes. As an example, if you say you have led an implementation of a program, have you had enough time in that role, to design and implement the program, and had enough time to see its success. Has there been time for internal audit to review it and assess it. etc.

I tailor my resumes to the job I am applying for. i do not list all responsibilities in a given job if they do not apply to the specific job application. So what do I do:

  1. I have my master South African Curriculum Vitae, which i keep updated with my Canadian experience. I use this for preparation for an interview, to remind me what I have done in the past. i also use it to cut from and paste into a resume.
  2. I tailor resumes for the job I am applying for. For example, if I am looking at an Internal Adit position, i highlight responsibilities and work associated with IA, as well as those skills gathered elsewhere applicable to IA.
  3. My resume is only 2 pages long. I place most emphasis on the recent work. having said that, i just submitted a resume to a pension fund administrator, and highlighted my SA experience in pension Funds from 12 years ago - the employer loved the SA experience
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Raquel

Okay, i disagree with Sideline. Certainly in Toronto and in the financial services industry, Canadians KNOW what a CA(SA) is. they RESPECT the CA(SA), and chances are if you are looking for a job in a bank HQ, you may even be interviewed by a South African. funny thing, i was interviewed by 2 Saffers in the past 2 years! So DO NOT LEAVE OUT YOUR CA(SA).

(EXCUSE THE caps)

So, you can elaborate and say you are a Chartered Accountant in South Africa. In an interview, you can say that you are in the process of applying for a conversion. (as soon as you get here, start the process). Frankly, if the job description is looking for a financial degree or equivalent, and they do not know what a CA is, then that company is not for you!

Now NOC Codes: In my 4 years here, the only people I have ever heard discuss NOC codes are those people on this forum who are applying to come to Canada. NOC codes are important to the CIC, not to the world I work in. maybe other industries are different. If you start talking about NOC codes in your resume, and referring to them, the potential employer will probably look at you blankly - like WTF are you talking about.

As a People manager, when I interview potential candidates, i am interested in:

  • do they have the skills i am looking for
  • can they illustrate those skills and their successes in their resume
  • are their skills relevant to the position
  • have they had enough time in a position to be reflective of their successes. As an example, if you say you have led an implementation of a program, have you had enough time in that role, to design and implement the program, and had enough time to see its success. Has there been time for internal audit to review it and assess it. etc.

I tailor my resumes to the job I am applying for. i do not list all responsibilities in a given job if they do not apply to the specific job application. So what do I do:

  1. I have my master South African Curriculum Vitae, which i keep updated with my Canadian experience. I use this for preparation for an interview, to remind me what I have done in the past. i also use it to cut from and paste into a resume.
  2. I tailor resumes for the job I am applying for. For example, if I am looking at an Internal Adit position, i highlight responsibilities and work associated with IA, as well as those skills gathered elsewhere applicable to IA.
  3. My resume is only 2 pages long. I place most emphasis on the recent work. having said that, i just submitted a resume to a pension fund administrator, and highlighted my SA experience in pension Funds from 12 years ago - the employer loved the SA experience

Okay so Tracey makes a good point on the fact that someone hiring for a finance position should know what a CA(SA) is... :)

As for the NOC code reference, I agree this should not feature anywhere on ones resume, I was simply using it here to illustrate my example that the main duties described under the NOC code are the items that one should focus on in the case of compiling a "generic" resume to hand to someone should something come up...

Great approach to have a master CV to work from...

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Tracey22

Raquel, if you want, PM me your resume, and I can help you with yours

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Raquel

Thanks Tracey - I will do so as soon as it is ready :)

Much Appreciated!

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Sideline

Excellent overview and summary Tracey.

As I have never had to interview for a finance related position, I though I would leave it up to the financial expertise like your self or Jules to handle.

Thanks for the contribution to this topic. Even I have now learnt something new :)

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