Quick Links

Undergraduate Students - December 2009

The full version of the December CAPSScoop can be found by clicking here.


Articles in this edition

Salary negotiation! Can you handle it?

Graduating in December? Then the Job Finding Club might be for you

Beyond the Kebab place : Networking just for you!

C’est la vie! On est pressé... Contrôle ton stress et n’en soit pas l’esclave


Salary negotiation! Can you handle it?

by Alysha Kassem, U3, IDS major

On the last week of October, CaPS organised Diversity Week, during which several successful women presented their work and covered a range of different topics.

To wrap-up the week’s events, Professor Heather Vough was invited to host a workshop on salary negotiations, a topic particularly relevant to women. Professor Vough is an Assistant Professor at McGill’s Desautels Faculty of Management.

Why do we negotiate?

We do it all the time, whether it is to have yet another piece of chocolate or considering moving to a different country. Negotiating is a choice we make, implying simple everyday decisions or life changing ones. We negotiate not just with others, but with ourselves too. In general, women negotiate less than men.

Usually, when it comes to career opportunities, most individuals are reluctant to negotiate. Negotiating doesn’t necessarily always involve salary, but can concern additional benefits or meeting other specific needs. One of the reasons which may discourage us from negotiating may be because we fear creating a conflict or becoming too emotional. Employees may also be apprehensive of their potential employer’s (negative) perception of them if they attempt to negotiate. However, employers often expect job candidates to negotiate and are impressed with individuals who do so in a professional manner. We may also want that job so badly and feel we would be risking a great deal. Or simply, we may not know how to negotiate.

One has to know why they negotiate, whether it is for a down payment on a car or investing in a new home. The reason why we decide to negotiate is at the core of why we want to negotiate. If the other party understands your reasons, then you are likely to come to an understanding. Ultimately both parties want to be happy and receive what they are asking for. Negotiating can make a big difference and may not result negatively.

There are different types of outcomes from negotiating. The first is a distributive one, in which one individual’s gain is another individual’s loss. This is often due to the fact that people look at negotiating as a fixed pie and fail to see that there are solutions that can be beneficial to both parties. The congruent solution occurs when the two negotiating parties recognize that they both have the same preferences. It is therefore a win-win situation. An integrative solution is one in which both parties have different preferences, allowing them to come to a mutually beneficial solution. For example, an employee may want to start on a certain date and have her moving expenses paid. Her employer may not mind paying her moving expenses, but really wants her to start on a specific date. If they agree for her to start at a certain date and have her moving expenses paid for, both parties get most of what they want.

Vough also spoke about a BATNA – also known as your Best Alternative To a Negotiation Agreement. If, for instance, the intended plan falls apart, what is your next best option? Maybe what is being offered is not particularly appealing, however the next choice might be less so. Knowing your BATNA is crucial since it allows you to know what is at stake and what the other possible alternatives are.

Equally important is to research the company you are applying to: talk to friends in the industry to get an idea of what a typical salary in a particular field is. That way, when negotiating, you have a concrete figure to offer, not a ballpark, and you demonstrate your knowledge of the industry.

Certainly, situations can arise during which no agreement will be reached, that is a real possibility as well. The following tips could come in handy though. Prepare and plan ahead of time and do some research! Build your side of the negotiation and evaluate your BATNA(s). Also, try to find a personal connection or a common interest with your employer, that can help set the tone. Clarify and justify your choices, share your reasons, to ensure your needs are met. Separate the individual from the issue: this is a problem solving task and not a personal attack. When coming to an arrangement, clearly state the agreed upon points and how they will be addressed. If an agreement is not reached, it is preferable to part on friendly terms and a future offer may even come your way.

Not negotiating may lead to regrets and you may be missing out. You may also get what you want without having anticipated it. Sometimes coming to a happy medium can be challenging. Creative solutions are key to coming to an understanding.

Graduating in December? Then the Job Finding Club might be for you

by Janice Tester, Coordinator of the Job Finding Club

Have you heard about the Job Finding Club?

This is a two-week program for students graduating in December designed to teach them most effective means of finding work in the field in which they want to be employed. It consists of a group of 10 to 15 graduating students, all of whom are seeking employment. You will have each other for support with the assistance of a Job Finding Club Facilitator and Career Advisors.

The CAPS Job Finding Club is sponsored by CAPS, and there is no cost to the job seeker to participate. However, students are asked to purchase the Job Search Handbook produced by CAPS ($8).

What happens at the club?

First you get to know yourself, through the eyes of the others in the club. These students will become some of your closest friends, strongest critics and most solid supporters in your mission to find satisfying and gainful employment. In turn, you will find yourself supporting up to ten people just like you; looking for work.

Second, you will learn how to spend six to eight hours a day looking for work instead of the one to two hour average of most Canadians. In this process you will practice calling employers for appointments, writing a resume, and creating covering letters. You will also get practice at honing your interview skills in a safe environment, and learn about accepting rejection from employers.

Along the way you help others in areas you do well in and accept assistance in areas in which you need help. During the program there are lectures, exercises, and lots of time to go to employer interviews.

Success Rate

We conducted a survey of past participants and 81% obtained jobs within 4 months of participating in the Job Finding Club. 85% of those jobs were in their fields of interest. The success rate is very high and it demonstrates that the Job Finding Club is a useful tool for McGill recent graduates to use in their search for employment.

How can YOU get involved?

In order to be admissible you must have to have an employment goal and be:

  • eligible to use CaPS services
  • employable
  • out of work
  • serious and ready to actively look for work
  • willing to accept innovative ideas about finding work
  • available 9am - 4pm; Monday to Friday for two weeks

If you meet these requirements, you may register at the CaPS reception and fill out an application from for a selection interview. Bring a copy of your current resume, and dress for success. You will be asked primarily about your employment goals and what you have done to date in order to achieve them. The balance of the interview will be on the points above, and should take between 15 - 30 minutes.

Topics that are covered:

  • Self-assessment
  • Researching employers and industries
  • Networking
  • Cold calls
  • Resumes and cover letters
  • Information meetings
  • First and second interviews
  • First year on the job
  • Other topics: recommendation letters, follow-up letters

For more information and to register, please call CaPS at 514-398-8581 or check our website at www.mgill.ca/caps.

Beyond the Kebab place : Networking just for you!

by Doaa Farid, CaPS Peer Educator Program Coordinator

I always wondered how networking works: Is it the smile, the touch or the need to socialize? Well, as a matter of fact, it’s all of these! When people get together, they talk about anything and everything. Networking is everywhere, and can be as simple as asking someone about the best Kebab restaurant in Montreal. How about actually benefiting from this to get your dream job or get admitted into graduate studies by sharing info, resources, time and opportunities? Did you know that 80% of people find jobs through referrals? Forget internet searches; for usually, this is an employer’s last resort. Supporting your career search through networking is indeed wise.

So start now! The earlier you start, the better off you will be. It is always interesting to get an insider’s perspective on how the real world works. If you are in your first year, volunteering in an organization or a student club is a good way to meet new people and network, provided it does not jeopardize your academic studies. Here’s one example: volunteer as a Peer Educator and get involved with CaPS. Check it out here: http://www.mcgill.ca/caps/students/services/peer/.

Also, nothing should stop you from meeting with one of your professors and getting to know them. Personally, I got my summer job working as a Research Assistant by approaching one of my distinguished McGill professors. I just said that I would really love to learn more from his extensive knowledge. So he asked me for my CV (here is where you definitely check it at CaPS’s services) and voila! One approach is to start by volunteering at the workplace and then what usually ends-up happening is you being hired.

People love sharing their experiences and talking about themselves. Be efficient; don’t hesitate to narrow conversations to topics of importance to you. “Second year” is a good time to forge ties with your professors. More often times than not, they possess contacts of companies or industries of interest. A summer internship is not a bad starting point, especially if in a field relevant to your career. Develop a list of potential networking contacts: any number is a good start. You should also make one for companies you would want to work for. To get an overall understanding of what is out there, consider signing up with websites that offer online databases, or discussion groups. CaPS offers myFuture for students, which is an excellent resource for potential opportunities.

Another forgotten tactic is “shadowing” someone you know at their work-place or through the “Mentor program”; this is a fantastic way of making direct contact and can potentially lead to a future internship. You could visit the Mentor list at http://caps.mcgill.ca/ci2/. Don’t hesitate in approaching a guest speaker in class for their business card, or going to labs and inquiring if they are willing to share their expertise. This way, your face becomes familiar for a second approach. Be sure to always smile; preparedness is key. Do your homework: know how to answer questions like “what are you interested in?” or “how are you?” Ask open-ended questions so you get the most out of the conversation. A smart way of going about this, is asking: “In your opinion, who should I contact or what steps I should undertake?” or “please advise me on the correct way in going about…” Never ask for a job, you will most likely get a negative reply.

Last tip: Follow-up! Send a thank you note or a hand written “nice meeting you” message after an encounter, or a simple phone call a week later, will also do the trick. Don’t contact someone after 2 years and expect them to remember you.

C’est la vie! On est pressé... Contrôle ton stress et n’en soit pas l’esclave

par Doaa Farid, CaPS Peer Educator Program Coordinator

"Je n’ai jamais assez de temps" : une phrase souvent répétée. On n’a plus le temps de rendre visite à nos amis, de voir le docteur ou même de nous arrêter pour contempler un paysage. On est constamment bombardé par des dates limite à respecter. Mais quand on pense que les anciens érudits pouvaient étudier de nombreuses disciplines en même temps, on se demande s’ils n’avaient pas plus d’heures disponibles dans la journée. Evidemment pas. En effet, Malcolm Gladwell, l’écrivain canadien populaire de Blink et Outliers, propose que les personnes qui réussissent sont celles qui se concentrent sur un sujet pour 10 mille heures au cour d’une vie et qui parviennent à gérer leur stress.

Cependant, plusieurs techniques et méthodes ont été développées pour accomplir le maximum au cours d’une heure ou même d’une minute. Dans cette série d’articles, je vais adresser plusieurs domaines ayant rapport à la gestion de votre temps, tels que l’organisation de votre boite de réception, comment être plus efficace et adresser vos priorités.

Comment gérer le stress ?

En générale, la vie sociale de tous les jours nous stress. Désormais, il faut apprendre à gérer la tension montante. Pendant la période des examens, les élèves craquent généralement sous la pression. Cela m’est arrivée. On doit tout entreprendre en même temps. Votre cerveau va exploser. En plus, on abuse de notre consommation de caféine, ce qui crée une « décharge d’adrénaline ». Mais, il faut rester positif en se rappelant des instants de succès et d’allégresse ou même d’un sourire sur le visage d’une personne passante envoyé par une Puissance suprême.

Les résultats de recherches scientifiques démontrent qu’il existe un seuil de stress pouvant jouer un rôle positif pour améliorer le rendement. Par contre, lorsqu’on dépasse celui-ci, notre performance diminue. Pour cette raison, il faut qu’on s’arrête afin de prendre du recule pour gérer intelligemment nos tâches. Voici quelques mesures à prendre :

  1. Ecrivez tout ce que vous avez à faire au cours du mois ou la semaine ; comme ςa vous vous soulagez votre cerveau d’y penser constamment.
  2. Votez vos obligations en ordre chronologique. Vous pouvez ainsi déterminer quelles sont vos priorités.
  3. Répartissez le nombre de jours manquants et l’étalez tout au long d’un calendrier.
  4. Donnez-vous des dates limites pour vos révisions.
  5. Donnez-vous le temps de respirer, mais réalisez que vos tâches doivent être accomplies. Il ne faut rien remettre à la dernière minute.
  6. Commencez par votre priorité la plus pressante ou la tache la plus difficile.

Dans les prochains articles, il s’agira de la gestion efficace de notre compte email dans« Boîte de réception à zéro ! » et ensuite, on se concentrera sur le changement de notre comportement dans « Procrastination à fond ! ».


Classified as

Follow us on: