Blog Archives

Q&A: Putting Social Media to Work for Your Career

Have you ever been asked whether your social media profiles are resume-ready? Polishing your social media presence is a process that mostly involves common sense. For instance, the general public is aware that posting photos from the latest wild party is a risky choice. The last thing you want hiring managers to come across when Googling you—and they will Google you—is a rage-fuelled, work-related rant.
As DECSA’s Communications Specialists will be quick to tell you, though, preparing your online presence for professional scrutiny is more complicated than removing offensive content. Today, our Community Relations team will be presenting a FAQ about shaping and maintaining a professional but personalized online presence.

Do hiring managers really care about what I do with my social media profiles?

As it turns out, they care an awful lot. One study found that 93% of hiring managers do some degree of online digging before contacting interviewees. If you don’t pass this initial screening, you won’t even be considered for an interview—and as you can imagine, that will take a serious toll on your career. In this competitive job market, you have to remember that your resume might be one of dozens or even hundreds, so you have to make an exceptional first impression before you’ve even met your interviewer(s).

Where should I begin?

The first step is probably the lengthiest. Before you start sending out resumes, you should conduct a purge of all your social media profiles. Flag any potentially offensive or unprofessional content that is open to the public. Adjust your privacy settings to manage what people can see. It’s fine to be uncensored in private spaces, but social media is rarely as private as we’d like it to be.
Remember to Google yourself to find out what has been posted about you. While you can’t control every word that’s linked with your name, being aware of what’s out there is essential. Knowledge is power.

What kind of content could get me in trouble?

Well, there’s the obvious stuff: take down or hide any unflattering photos; employers won’t be charmed by that keg you’re posing next to. Get rid of that profanity-filled rant you published in the heat of the moment. While no one expects you to be upbeat and positive all the time, it’s a good idea to keep the outrage to a reasonable level.
We should warn you that there are innocent-seeming posts that can turn employers off very quickly. Remember that time you tweeted about how talented you are at procrastinating? How about that Facebook post describing your less-than-stellar organizational skills? Everyone is human and therefore imperfect. Hiring managers ought to keep that in mind, but broadcasting your flaws for the world to see could jeopardize your career, especially if your field depends upon organizational skills and a healthy respect for deadlines.
Even if your online presence isn’t objectively offensive, your views and behaviour may not align with company culture, and that could become a stumbling block down the line.

Would it be safer to simply delete or lock down all my accounts?

Definitely not! While we don’t advise disregarding your right to privacy—we’re ardent proponents of work-life balance—we recommend that you keep at least some of your online presence public. It’s perfectly acceptable and even wise to designate one or more of your accounts as a safe space to detach from professional matters, but it’s beneficial to dedicate an account or two to showcasing yourself as a valuable member of your industry.
Share informative material that’s relevant to your chosen field, follow influential industry leaders, and take advantage of online networking opportunities.

So you’re saying I can’t be myself online?

Actually, your personal brand will thrive if you present yourself as authentically as possible. Hiring managers are interested in more than your academic credentials and work experience. They want to select someone who will be a suitable fit for their organization, so letting your personality shine through is a significant career asset. There’s a difference between being attractive to the professional world and stifling your identity. You can have the most impressive resume around, but if you don’t come across as a cooperative, positive contributor to an organization’s culture, chances are you won’t be getting that call-back.

All of this seems really complicated. Is social media more of a threat to my career than a benefit?

Don’t be discouraged: it’s simpler than it sounds, and if you think strategically about what you post, the maintenance will seem like a breeze. In the end, you have to put social media to work. Approach your online presence like the marketing tool that it is. Establish an online portfolio, keep your LinkedIn account up-to-date, and feel free to share professional and personal accomplishments. Use social media as a space for putting yourself out there. If you make the necessary effort, you’ll certainly reap the reward. Take it from us: social media is your friend. Treat it like one.

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Entrepreneurship Isn’t For Everyone: Is It For You?

Almost everyone dreams, however briefly, of being an entrepreneur. The independence, the passion, the flexibility—these are all attractive prospects, especially after a long, gruelling day at a conventional job. Who among us hasn’t imagined what it would be like to be our own boss?

Businessman with briefcase and laptop

The independent, classy entrepreneurship lifestyle looks great, but is it really for you? (Photo by Olu Eletu for upsplash.com)

No matter how exciting entrepreneurship may seem, it isn’t for everyone. It takes a special person to conceive a viable idea, make it grow into a successful enterprise, and nurture it through inevitable ups and downs. Some lack the zeal, confidence, and work ethic; others, the money and time. If starting a small business isn’t suited to your personality, you’re in for a long, hard road.

If you’re on the fence, here is a starting point. This assessment won’t give you a definitive answer, but if you answer “no” to one or more of these questions, entrepreneurship probably isn’t for you.


  1. Do you enjoy challenges? There’s nothing easy about establishing your own business, so you’ll need to relish a challenge and enjoy new experiences, no matter how anxiety-inducing they are.
  2. Are you competitive? Whether your business is unique or an innovative approach to an existing product or service, be prepared to face competition.
  3. How well do you handle risk-taking? If you’re risk-averse, you’ll find the entrepreneurial lifestyle stressful, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to sustain it for long. Even highly-successful business owners will have to make calculated risks at some point in their careers. On the other hand, if you’re “comfortable with being uncomfortable,” you’ll be right at home!
  4. What’s your approach when spending money? You have to spend money to make money, but unhealthy spending habits are hard to break, and can do serious harm to your business.
  5. Can you handle long-term commitment? Growing your business means you’ll be pouring your resources and time into the same project, day in and day out. It won’t always be fun, interesting, or successful, so you’ll need to know that you can weather the tough times—and there will be tough times.
  6. Do big decisions scare you? Decisiveness is one of the qualities entrepreneurs must possess if they hope to succeed. Running a business means you’ll be faced with all sorts of decisions, and many of them will involve huge expenditures and frightening risks. If you believe you can handle these decisions under crushing pressure, you’re likely to be an excellent entrepreneur.
  7. How do you respond to stress? Burnout is common for new business owners, since they work long hours with minimal support (or none at all). Coping with stress and exhaustion in a healthy, efficient way is key.
  8. Is persistence in your nature? Throughout their journeys, many entrepreneurs contemplate giving up. A strong work ethic and zealous passion aren’t always enough. While it’s important to practice self-care and avoid unnecessary stress, entrepreneurship means refusing to fold under significant strain.

Ventures: Entrepreneurs with Disabilities ProgramWhile these questions can serve as a springboard, remember that there’s no replacement for research and hands-on experience. Even if your personality matches that of the ideal entrepreneur, you still need to discover whether your idea is viable and, if it is, whether you actually want to pursue it. Examining your chosen field, starting your business on a very small scale, and interacting with other entrepreneurs are additional ways to test the waters. You can also get out and participate in entrepreneurship workshops or programs, such as Ventures, DECSA’s program for entrepreneurs with disabilities. After all, studying entrepreneurship on paper is nothing like the real thing.

Entrepreneurship & Disability: An Optimal Pair

In honour of Small Business Week, we’re focusing on entrepreneurship. Small businesses are the backbone of a community. They stimulate economic growth, create jobs, and allow for creativity and innovation. Economies and societies thrive when entrepreneurship flourishes.

Small business owners are living proof that self-employment can be fulfilling and liberating. Many would-be entrepreneurs are intimidated by the obvious barriers: lack of funding, support, and/or expertise. Despite their inner drive to create something new, to branch out, to be brave, taking the first step is daunting enough to deter all but the most determined.

Still, regular employment comes with its own share of barriers. Those with disabilities, including mental health issues, face distinct barriers to employment, which are often overlooked. Disability doesn’t prevent these individuals from being efficient, productive employees, but employers may be unwilling or unable to accommodate their specific needs. Discriminatory hiring practices—not to mention inhospitable work environments—can make self-employment more attractive.

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A trendy small business option is starting a food truck.

Entrepreneurship Demands Innovation

Dealing with these types of barriers can actually benefit an aspiring business owner. The essence of entrepreneurship lies in an innovative spirit and a unique worldview. Those facing barriers to regular employment may be more receptive to out-of-the-box thinking by default, because their various challenges require them to find creative solutions to everyday situations. A person with a disability already lives a life that requires different approaches to ordinary activities, so thinking outside the box may come more naturally to them.

Entrepreneurship Encourages Flexibility

Part of entrepreneurship’s appeal is flexibility, which makes it ideal for someone with a disability. Flexible hours make it easier for someone with chronic illness to work when they can, rather than trying to follow a strict schedule. Being able to customize the business’s location and work environment ensures a wheelchair user can navigate safely and efficiently. A visually impaired business owner can make sure information is available in accessible formats. Freedom from stigma can help someone with a mental health issue reach their full potential without worrying about employer attitudes. Self-employment eliminates many of the barriers that come with working for someone else.

Entrepreneurship Ignites Social Change

Entrepreneurship allows business owners to give back to their communities. Besides contributing to the local economy and job creation, those starting new businesses have an opportunity to do some social good as well. Someone with a disability is better able to consider inclusiveness and accessibility when designing their work environment and may be more inclined to hire those from diverse backgrounds. A business owner with a mental illness might offer superior mental health support to their employees. Those with disabilities might be more understanding of the individual struggles of others, working harder to help however they can. Business owners can enforce their values from the top down, promoting a business culture that is more accessible and accommodating to everyone.

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With the right encouragement and support, your business will soon be open for customers!

The Bottom LineVentures: Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program

Small businesses benefit everyone on all social and economic levels. An entrepreneurial journey, however risky, can lift someone out of unemployment and result in a challenging, exciting and rewarding career. That is why DECSA started Ventures: a program for entrepreneurs with disabilities. Through coaching and group support, would-be business owners get the skills and encouragement they need to pursue their business dreams. If you have a viable business idea and identify as having a disability, visit our site for more information.

Will there be barriers? Yes. Should they stop you? We don’t think so!

Career Fair at Alberta Indigenous Games 2015 – Register Now

AIG - Career Fair Poster, 2015We are inviting employers, community groups and agencies to participate in our Career Fair at the Alberta Indigenous Games, which take place on July 14 & 15 at Rundle Park in Edmonton.

This year’s Career Fair aims to connect employers and employees, build new partnerships, and share the wealth of information and resources available in our community.

The Alberta Indigenous Games attract people from near and far to gather in the culture of spirit, sport and excellence.

To register your organization for participation in the Career Fair, please contact DECSA at (780) 474-2500 or contact Velma Bellerose at vbellerose@decsa.com. You can also find the registration form here: AIG – Career Fair Registration Form, 2015

Advice from Anne-Marie

Clients from Ventures, an entrepreneurship program for people with disabilities here at DECSA, often attend the free lunchtime business seminars run by Capital !deas, at the Edmonton Journal. During these session, clients get the chance to learn from a panel of fellow business owners who share their advice on small business related topics. Capital !deas also sends out regular emails, posing business related questions to their subscribers, which are then published in the Edmonton Journal. Anne-Marie, Program Manager for Ventures, had her response featured in the latest issue. Here is what she had to say:

How do you manage seasonality in your business?IMG_0098anne-marie

“Planning, strategy and time management according to cycles of the season make for a natural flow to sustainability, longevity and productivity. Start new projects in the spring, get outside and sell your product in the summer, and take stock and reap the rewards of hard work in the autumn. Then rest, regroup and revitalize in the winter.”

Great advice Anne-Marie! To read the rest of the advice offered, click here. To register for Ventures,  you can contact Anne-Marie at 780-471-9655, or by TTY at 780-471-9635.

Adventures in Ventures

Listen up! Our Ventures program will once again be running a 5-week Business Development workshop series, starting next week. Ventures serves entrepreneurs with disabilities to gain the skills, support, and tools to move forward with a concept, idea, plan or existing business. We only have a few spaces left, so if you know of anyone who would benefit fromBusiness Plan investing “time in” to an entrepreneurial pursuit, and has a documented disability, please send them our way! There is no charge to participate. The workshops will run from April 13th to May 13th, 2015 and will be held at DECSA, 11515 – 71 Street, Edmonton.

To register, contact Anne-Marie at 780-471-9655. Our TTY is: 780-471-9635

We look forward to helping others grow their business!