Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Friday, December 7, 2007

Limitless Supplies of Algebra Exercises

Some students learning to simplify algebraic expressions dependably may benefit from drills. Generating drill examples, and simplifying them, is a tedious business that can be done readily using open source software. Here I use the Python language with the sympy module.

I am using a slight variation on Jerith's "CF grammar name generator" code to define and exercise a grammar for the expressions. Then I use sympy to simplify them. (Because I want to avoid any need to go beyond a context-free grammar I replace the token 'x' with any of a number of 'variable names' after generating the expressions. Because sympy requires an explicit multiplication symbol, '*', I include provision for this in the grammar and then arrange to remove it after expression generation and simplification. I would arrange to generate HTML as output from this code except for the fact that the result seems to confuse Blogger.)

My thanks are due to Ondrej Certik and Alan Bromborsky on the sympy mailing list for help with means for inputting expressions to sympy.

import random
from re import compile
import sys
from sympy import *
import webbrowser

reNonTerminal = compile ( r"<(\w+)>" )

def nameGen ( nameGrammar ) :
nameStr = random . choice ( nameGrammar [ "expr" ] )
matchNonTerminal = reNonTerminal . search ( nameStr )
while matchNonTerminal :
subStr = random . choice ( nameGrammar [ matchNonTerminal . group ( 1 ) ] )
nameStr = reNonTerminal . sub ( subStr, nameStr, 1 )
matchNonTerminal = reNonTerminal . search ( nameStr )
return nameStr

exprGrammar = {
"expr" : [ " " ],
"term" : [ " *( *x )", " *( *x )", ],
"sign" : [ "+", "-", ],
"signSuppressingPlus" : [ '', '-', ],
"digit" : [ str ( digit ) for digit in range ( 10 ) + range ( 1, 10 ) + range ( 1, 10 ) ],
}

variables = [ 'a', 'b', 'c', 'd', 'f', 'g', 'h', 's', 't', 'u', 'v', 'w', 'x', 'y', 'z', ]
x = Symbol ( 'x' )

for exprNumber in range ( 10 ) :
expr = nameGen ( exprGrammar )
variable = random . choice ( variables )
print expr . replace ( '*', '' ) . replace ( 'x', variable ),
print ' [%s]' % str ( sympify ( expr ) ) . replace ( '*', '' ) . replace ( 'x', variable ) . replace ( '(', '' ) . replace ( ')', '' )

Monday, November 26, 2007

What do you really value?

Book review: rewriting your life story

Should One Advise a Client to Use a Recruiter?

I suspect that one's advice should depend partly on whether the client is in an occupation for which recruiters advertise. For instance, if a client is in an occupation in the NOC category 'Athletes, coaches, referees and related occupations' (of the kind represented in the Job Bank) then perhaps they need not bother to look for a recruiter that works in this area because there is evidence to show that most of the advertisements are placed directly by employers. On the other hand, vacancies in some of the occupations included in 'Creative and performing artists' are usually processed by recruiters and vacancies in other occupations n the same NOC category are rarely processed by recruiters.


We have calculated the percentages of times that the advertisements on the Job Bank for each NOC occupation mention a placement agency. The advertisements span the past seven months or so for Hamilton, Brantford and Niagara, and include a fairly large, fairly recent admixture of jobs from 'Peel, Halton, Dufferin and area' and a considerably smaller one from 'Peterborough and the Kawarthas.' The results are summarised here. If you wish more detailed information, for the individual NOC codes, then please write to request them from me.


I find the jobs represented at around the 50% mark interesting. These results would appear to imply that someone in 'Managers in manufacturing and utilities,' say, might be best advised to hedge. They should expend some effort with recruiting agencies, and some answering the individual advertisements placed by employers.


I would appreciate any thoughts about this information that you might have.



0 %


001 Legislators and senior management
031 Managers in health, education, social and community services
041 Managers in public administration
051 Managers in art, culture, recreation and sport
063 Managers in food service and accommodation
065 Managers in other services
071 Managers in construction and transportation
081 Managers in primary production (except agriculture)
111 Auditors, accountants and investment professionals
112 Human resources and business service professionals
121 Clerical supervisors
142 Office equipment operators
145 Library, correspondence and related information clerks
146 Mail and message distribution occupations
214 Other engineers
215 Architects, urban planners and land surveyors
216 Mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries
221 Technical occupations in physical sciences
222 Technical occupations in life sciences
225 Technical occupations in architecture, drafting, surveying and mapping
227 Transportation officers and controllers
228 Technical occupations in computer and information systems
312 Optometrists, chiropractors and other health diagnosing and treating professionals
314 Therapy and assessment professionals
315 Nurse supervisors and registered nurses
321 Medical technologists and technicians (except dental health)
322 Technical occupations in dental health care
323 Other technical occupations in health care (except dental)
341 Assisting occupations in support of health services
412 University professors and assistants
414 Secondary and elementary school teachers and educational counsellors
415 Psychologists, social workers, counsellors, clergy and probation officers
416 Policy and program officers, researchers and consultants
421 Paralegals, social services workers and occupations in education and religion, n.e.c.
512 Writing, translating and public relations professionals
513 Creative and performing artists
521 Technical occupations in libraries, archives, museums and art galleries
522 Photographers, graphic arts technicians and technical and co-ordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting and the performing arts
523 Announcers and other performers
524 Creative designers and craftspersons
525 Athletes, coaches, referees and related occupations
621 Sales and service supervisors
623 Insurance and real estate sales occupations and buyers
624 Chefs and cooks
625 Butchers and bakers, retail and wholesale
626 Police officers and fire-fighters
627 Technical occupations in personal service
644 Tour and recreational guides and casino occupations
646 Other occupations in protective service
647 Childcare and home support workers
648 Other occupations in personal service
667 Other occupations in travel, accommodation, amusement and recreation
668 Other elemental service occupations
721 Contractors and supervisors, trades and related workers
724 Electrical trades and telecommunications occupations
726 Metal forming, shaping and erecting trades
728 Masonry and plastering trades
729 Other construction trades
731 Machinery and transportation equipment mechanics (except motor vehicle)
733 Other mechanics
737 Crane operators, drillers and blasters
738 Printing press operators, commercial divers and other trades and related occupations, n.e.c.
741 Motor vehicle and transit drivers
743 Other transport equipment operators and related workers
744 Other installers, repairers and servicers
745 Longshore workers and material handlers
821 Supervisors, logging and forestry
824 Logging machinery operators
825 Contractors, operators and supervisors in agriculture, horticulture and aquaculture
841 Mine service workers and operators in oil and gas drilling
842 Logging and forestry workers
861 Primary production labourers
922 Supervisors, assembly and fabrication
923 Central control and process operators in manufacturing and processing
941 Machine operators and related workers in metal and mineral products processing
942 Machine operators and related workers in chemical, plastic and rubber processing
943 Machine operators and related workers in pulp and paper production and wood processing
944 Machine operators and related workers in textile processing
946 Machine operators and related workers in food, beverage and tobacco processing
947 Printing machine operators and related occupations
949 Other assembly and related occupations
951 Machining, metalworking, woodworking and related machine operators
961 Labourers in processing, manufacturing and utilities

0 - 10 %


011 Administrative services managers
012 Managers in financial and business services
062 Managers in retail trade
122 Administrative and regulatory occupations
123 Finance and insurance administrative occupations
143 Finance and insurance clerks
144 Administrative support clerks
222 Technical occupations in life sciences
226 Other technical inspectors and regulatory officers
323 Other technical occupations in health care (except dental)
341 Assisting occupations in support of health services
413 College and other vocational instructors
414 Secondary and elementary school teachers and educational counsellors
421 Paralegals, social services workers and occupations in education and religion, n.e.c.
525 Athletes, coaches, referees and related occupations
621 Sales and service supervisors
623 Insurance and real estate sales occupations and buyers
641 Sales representatives, wholesale trade
642 Retail salespersons and sales clerks
643 Occupations in travel and accommodation
646 Other occupations in protective service
661 Cashiers
662 Other sales and related occupations
664 Food counter attendants, kitchen helpers and related occupations
665 Security guards and related occupations
668 Other elemental service occupations
721 Contractors and supervisors, trades and related workers
725 Plumbers, pipefitters and gas fitters
728 Masonry and plastering trades
729 Other construction trades
733 Other mechanics
734 Upholsterers, tailors, shoe repairers, jewellers and related occupations
744 Other installers, repairers and servicers
946 Machine operators and related workers in food, beverage and tobacco processing

10 - 20 %


012 Managers in financial and business services
061 Sales, marketing and advertising managers
071 Managers in construction and transportation
121 Clerical supervisors
123 Finance and insurance administrative occupations
124 Secretaries, recorders and transcriptionists
143 Finance and insurance clerks
145 Library, correspondence and related information clerks
147 Recording, scheduling and distributing occupations
217 Computer and information systems professionals
223 Technical occupations in civil, mechanical and industrial engineering
224 Technical occupations in electronics and electrical engineering
226 Other technical inspectors and regulatory officers
228 Technical occupations in computer and information systems
314 Therapy and assessment professionals
416 Policy and program officers, researchers and consultants
621 Sales and service supervisors
622 Technical sales specialists, wholesale trade
623 Insurance and real estate sales occupations and buyers
645 Occupations in food and beverage service
647 Childcare and home support workers
666 Cleaners
721 Contractors and supervisors, trades and related workers
724 Electrical trades and telecommunications occupations
725 Plumbers, pipefitters and gas fitters
727 Carpenters and cabinetmakers
731 Machinery and transportation equipment mechanics (except motor vehicle)
732 Automotive service technicians
733 Other mechanics
734 Upholsterers, tailors, shoe repairers, jewellers and related occupations
861 Primary production labourers
921 Supervisors, processing occupations
945 Machine operators and related workers in fabric, fur and leather products manufacturing
961 Labourers in processing, manufacturing and utilities

20 - 30 %


021 Managers in engineering, architecture, science and information systems
122 Administrative and regulatory occupations
124 Secretaries, recorders and transcriptionists
141 Clerical occupations, general office skills
143 Finance and insurance clerks
147 Recording, scheduling and distributing occupations
217 Computer and information systems professionals
313 Pharmacists, dietitians and nutritionists
315 Nurse supervisors and registered nurses
416 Policy and program officers, researchers and consultants
524 Creative designers and craftspersons
624 Chefs and cooks
645 Occupations in food and beverage service
666 Cleaners
721 Contractors and supervisors, trades and related workers
727 Carpenters and cabinetmakers
729 Other construction trades
741 Motor vehicle and transit drivers
744 Other installers, repairers and servicers
761 Trades helpers and labourers
923 Central control and process operators in manufacturing and processing
941 Machine operators and related workers in metal and mineral products processing
948 Mechanical, electrical and electronics assemblers
949 Other assembly and related occupations

30 - 40 %


011 Administrative services managers
063 Managers in food service and accommodation
111 Auditors, accountants and investment professionals
122 Administrative and regulatory occupations
123 Finance and insurance administrative occupations
144 Administrative support clerks
147 Recording, scheduling and distributing occupations
214 Other engineers
217 Computer and information systems professionals
224 Technical occupations in electronics and electrical engineering
225 Technical occupations in architecture, drafting, surveying and mapping
228 Technical occupations in computer and information systems
645 Occupations in food and beverage service
662 Other sales and related occupations
723 Machinists and related occupations
726 Metal forming, shaping and erecting trades
733 Other mechanics
825 Contractors, operators and supervisors in agriculture, horticulture and aquaculture
861 Primary production labourers
921 Supervisors, processing occupations
922 Supervisors, assembly and fabrication
947 Printing machine operators and related occupations

40 - 50 %


021 Managers in engineering, architecture, science and information systems
071 Managers in construction and transportation
072 Facility operation and maintenance managers
091 Managers in manufacturing and utilities
112 Human resources and business service professionals
121 Clerical supervisors
213 Civil, mechanical, electrical and chemical engineers
214 Other engineers
221 Technical occupations in physical sciences
223 Technical occupations in civil, mechanical and industrial engineering
224 Technical occupations in electronics and electrical engineering
225 Technical occupations in architecture, drafting, surveying and mapping
313 Pharmacists, dietitians and nutritionists
643 Occupations in travel and accommodation
721 Contractors and supervisors, trades and related workers
726 Metal forming, shaping and erecting trades
728 Masonry and plastering trades
741 Motor vehicle and transit drivers
742 Heavy equipment operators
843 Agriculture and horticulture workers
948 Mechanical, electrical and electronics assemblers
949 Other assembly and related occupations

50 - 60 %


011 Administrative services managers
021 Managers in engineering, architecture, science and information systems
111 Auditors, accountants and investment professionals
121 Clerical supervisors
122 Administrative and regulatory occupations
124 Secretaries, recorders and transcriptionists
143 Finance and insurance clerks
211 Physical science professionals
213 Civil, mechanical, electrical and chemical engineers
223 Technical occupations in civil, mechanical and industrial engineering
225 Technical occupations in architecture, drafting, surveying and mapping
522 Photographers, graphic arts technicians and technical and co-ordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting and the performing arts
647 Childcare and home support workers
662 Other sales and related occupations
721 Contractors and supervisors, trades and related workers
723 Machinists and related occupations
724 Electrical trades and telecommunications occupations
741 Motor vehicle and transit drivers
823 Underground miners, oil and gas drillers and related workers
843 Agriculture and horticulture workers
921 Supervisors, processing occupations
942 Machine operators and related workers in chemical, plastic and rubber processing
947 Printing machine operators and related occupations
951 Machining, metalworking, woodworking and related machine operators

60 - 70 %


012 Managers in financial and business services
142 Office equipment operators
147 Recording, scheduling and distributing occupations
215 Architects, urban planners and land surveyors
421 Paralegals, social services workers and occupations in education and religion, n.e.c.
722 Supervisors, railway and motor transportation occupations
825 Contractors, operators and supervisors in agriculture, horticulture and aquaculture
945 Machine operators and related workers in fabric, fur and leather products manufacturing
951 Machining, metalworking, woodworking and related machine operators
961 Labourers in processing, manufacturing and utilities

70 - 80 %


122 Administrative and regulatory occupations
521 Technical occupations in libraries, archives, museums and art galleries
725 Plumbers, pipefitters and gas fitters
726 Metal forming, shaping and erecting trades
731 Machinery and transportation equipment mechanics (except motor vehicle)
735 Stationary engineers and power station and system operators
762 Public works and other labourers, n.e.c.
946 Machine operators and related workers in food, beverage and tobacco processing
949 Other assembly and related occupations

80 - 90 %


013 Managers in communication (except broadcasting)
111 Auditors, accountants and investment professionals
146 Mail and message distribution occupations
224 Technical occupations in electronics and electrical engineering
226 Other technical inspectors and regulatory officers
724 Electrical trades and telecommunications occupations
745 Longshore workers and material handlers
921 Supervisors, processing occupations
942 Machine operators and related workers in chemical, plastic and rubber processing
948 Mechanical, electrical and electronics assemblers
949 Other assembly and related occupations
951 Machining, metalworking, woodworking and related machine operators
961 Labourers in processing, manufacturing and utilities

90 - 100 %


147 Recording, scheduling and distributing occupations
721 Contractors and supervisors, trades and related workers
731 Machinery and transportation equipment mechanics (except motor vehicle)
737 Crane operators, drillers and blasters
762 Public works and other labourers, n.e.c.
946 Machine operators and related workers in food, beverage and tobacco processing
949 Other assembly and related occupations
961 Labourers in processing, manufacturing and utilities

100 %


001 Legislators and senior management
041 Managers in public administration
141 Clerical occupations, general office skills
211 Physical science professionals
222 Technical occupations in life sciences
312 Optometrists, chiropractors and other health diagnosing and treating professionals
513 Creative and performing artists
724 Electrical trades and telecommunications occupations
735 Stationary engineers and power station and system operators
737 Crane operators, drillers and blasters
743 Other transport equipment operators and related workers
861 Primary production labourers
922 Supervisors, assembly and fabrication
941 Machine operators and related workers in metal and mineral products processing
943 Machine operators and related workers in pulp and paper production and wood processing
961 Labourers in processing, manufacturing and utilities

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Making People Talk

On Thursday I attended a job fair in Burlington with some people who will be seeking jobs in the near future. I took the opportunity of asking one of the recruiters—who was there representing a big health care organisation—what mistake most people make when they meet her. She paused for a moment and then said that many people that approach her ask her whether the jobs she is offering are in nursing, without asking whether there are other opportunities. The fact is, I had already learned from her during a previous conversation that her organisation requires more customer service people, to co-ordinate deployment of professional personnel (for instance, nurses).

To me, as a career developer, this means that I need to put effective effort into coaching clients into developing and using whatever gifts they may have in the area of conversation. We all need to learn how to keep conversations going, in order to explore the topics that have so far been omitted.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wanna Find Every Job Site in Canada?

I just learned something about Google from eGrabber. It's about the Google 'allinanchor' tab. If you want a really humongous collection of pages relating to jobs then use the following search string:

allinanchor: jobs

If you're interested in just the pages in Canada then don't forget to select 'pages from Canada'. Lotsa niche sites as well as the big ones.

Interested in jobs in the Rockies? Try searching for rockies within the results from the query just mentioned.

Or do

allinanchor: careers

or

allinanchor: employment

I can't believe this! No more adding to one's list of job sites by onesies and twosies.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Doris Lessing and stories

"[Doris] Lessing [the author who was recently awarded a Nobel prize] has an almost primitive view of her art and believes that narrative is hard-wired into our consciousness." [italics mine]

From 'Writing is something I have to do' in Guardian Unlimited.

A Nobel Prize winner can't be wrong.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Disheartened Disabled Client


One of my current clients is someone who has suffered a workplace accident that has rendered the client much less mobile than they were before. The client is troubled, in part, about how the injury has limited the range of occupations open to them. Although another agency had conducted the Holland SDS on this individual, and even outlined which sections of the 'Job Finder' pamphlet might be most suitable, as a result of one comment by the counsellor in that agency, the client remains more or less convinced that they are being relegated to work in what they find an unappealing collection of occupations.

One would like to be able to make it more obvious to clients like this when alternatives exist that might be of interest.

With this in mind the Job Bank listing now enables a user to enter a Holland code in the form area shown above and then search NOC categories for all possible matches. Once the software identifies matches it indicates the number of them, having highlighted the matches themselves with bright yellow.

Note: Holland codes are unavailable in the 'Job Finder' for certain NOC codes. When the software finds this condition it attempts to suggest Holland codes using nearby occupations. These suggestions are labelled 'possible'.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Holland Codes for Job Bank Listing


The indexed Job Bank listing that I have mentioned in previous posts (1, 2, 3) now indicates the Holland Codes for NOC categories, whenever possible.

In the instance shown above one can see that NOC 4152 'Social Workers' might suit people with either of the Holland Codes 'SE' or 'ES'. As usual, one would suggest to clients that they consider this option if their three-character Holland Code contains the characters 'S' or 'E' anywhere.

The mappings were obtained for the 'Self-Directed Search' Form 'E' 4th edition. I notice that not all of the NOC codes are mentioned in this document.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Holland Codes Blog

I just happened upon this source today, at hollandcodes.blogspot.com, and on it found mention of the Louisiana Integrated Skills Assessment site (LISA). We have all seen this approach to career exploration before; however, the widgets that the site uses for card sorts, for instance, might make life a lot easier for many.

Do take a look.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Everyone: Please Read

How I wish I could say it better myself:

Seth Godin's blog: What are you hiring for?

I'm looking for a full-time job myself, and it would appear that the transition I wish to make—from IT to career developer—seems a wee bit peculiar to a lot of agencies. Anyway, I've been interviewed a number of times over the past few months. These experiences are usually bizarre, somewhere between a university oral examination and a meeting with a suspicious military intelligence officer.

Need one say that this is not ideal?

As denizens of NOC 4213 we are meant to be people capable of advising employers about stuff like this. I wonder if we shouldn't be thinking more actively about interviewing methods that explore prospects' talents, skills, knowledge and enthusiasm for the jobs for which they are being considered? (Hmmm?)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Embedding Job Bank Listing in Your Web Site

Links can be made available for embedding the most recent indexed Job Bank pages in other pages (via iframes), as shown on the right.

In this way the embedding site gains the information and can provide its own branding.

As mentioned before, this is especially easy to arrange with content management systems such as Mambo and Joomla!.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What Masters Degree Should I Do?

A Canadian guy asked this a few days ago on LinkedIn. Ignoring the fact that there are momentary blips in the labour market, that some important categories of jobs are not advertised on the web site to be considered here, and that there are definitely trends to be aware of, one way of considering a question like this is to study a snapshot of the jobs advertised on a job site such as monster.ca. Although this would be quite tedious and time consuming to do using just a browser it is fairly straightforward using any of a number of computer scripting languages. When I did it a few days ago I looked for jobs that mentioned

  • masters
  • master's or
  • masters'.
and then dug out the lines from the ads that mentioned these words. I subsequently discarded jobs that were not intended for people with master's degrees and otherwise pared down the entries for each job so that there were just two lines per job, one for the title of the job and one containing the entire line mentioning the degree information. About 385 jobs remained. This isn't to say that all required a master's degree and only a master's. Some required a minimum of a bachelor's or a minimum of a master's.

What I am doing is really the kind of work that should be tackled using some of the software libraries for natural language processing and other more advanced analysis. However, as a preliminary look I have simply eliminated many insignificant words (so-called stopwords such as 'a', 'excellent' and 'previous') and counted the occurrences of the remaining words in the two-line records. Here are the top results.

121 engineering
98 manager
86 science
77 business
57 computer
50 engineer
46 software
43 management, administration
37 tax
35 accounting
32 project
30 health
28 mba
27 development, analyst
25 education, electrical
24 director, professional, sales
21 environment, services, communication
20 design, corporate
18 technical, analytical
17 finance, research
16 environmental, marketing, clinical
15 industry
14 information, including, supplemented, financial, planning, engineers, bc
13 social, human, organizational
12 developer, geotechnical
11 public, systems, architect, civil

Caution: I wouldn't invest much money or time on the basis of this set of results alone. However, it is apparent that there is a lot of interest in people with advanced degrees in engineering, science, accounting, health and business administration. Although, in my opinion, one is best to follow one's own interests and abilities this is a partial answer to the question posed on LinkedIn.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Your Website Needs a Facelift, Right?

Since you're reading this blog you're likely with a non-profit; therefore, the claim made in my title probably applies. Typically non-profits lack the resources needed to keep their web pages as up-to-date and as fresh as they would like. With this in mind I would like to offer a strategy and some tips that might help.

First, the strategy. Many websites are difficult to keep up to date because they are built in such a way that some specialised computer knowledge is required to change menus, add or remove pages, or even just to alter the text or pictures in the pages. The way around this limitation is to have your website built using what is called a content management system (CMS). You might think that this would make your site more costly to build; however, in actual fact, since it can relieve the web developer of the need to make various decisions and accommodations, this need not be the case.

The page displayed in this post was built using the Mambo CMS. Mambo itself is open source and free. Thus, the use of a CMS does not have to add to the cost of a site. There are quite a number of CMS available. Work with your web developer and hosting service to choose one that fits your needs.

Using a CMS can simplify web site design, especially for the simpler sites characteristic of non-profits, because decisions about what pages to include and what the pages are to display can be postponed. In fact, as I have already mentioned, once your website is in operation you will be able to add new pages or slice and dice in quite a number of ways. You will even be able to include content from other sites, and provide other kinds of content—topics beyond the scope of this article.

So then, let's think about how your web pages should look.

In my opinion, it can be difficult to come up with anything really new. That being the case, why not scan some of the hundreds if not thousands of designs vying for your attention on sites like www.oswd.org? Look for a design that will appeal to your intended audience and that will accommodate most of the kinds of information that you expect to present. I would say, don't worry much about colours or graphics because your web developer will find these easy to alter for you. Think instead about shapes and how your text will fit.

At this point you are in a position to ask a web developer to convert the template chosen from (say) www.oswd.org to work with the CMS and to set up the CMS with your initial pages. I believe you will find that this is a big help because once you actually see how your site looks and works you will quickly think of different colours, ways of combining or splitting pages, and so on. Better still, a CMS is intended to be skinnable. That's what the template was all about. Once you have built the initial batch of pages you can try out a different template (again perhaps from www.oswd.org), converted for your site, to see how it looks.

Next time your site needs a facelift, choose a new template! Much cheaper will this be because you will not have to re-do the entire site. And remember that any time you need to make changes you can do it yourself: your web developer will show you how to use the CMS to do it.

PS: I'd appreciate knowing how clear (or otherwise) this article is.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Indexed Job Bank Available for Peterborough

The system now provides separate coverage of the Brantford, Hamilton and Niagara areas in one series of weekday listings, and of the Peterborough and Kawarthas area in another series.

Please let me know your experience of using the listings with job seekers.

I really must mention that this product is still under development. Although it does work with Internet Explorer it works best with Firefox. You will also notice that when it offers to provide information related to postal codes this might be for the postal codes for placement agencies, rather than for actual job locations.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Stories: Not Tellers, Rather Motivators & Teachers

Prompted by Rob Straby's recent post, I've just be musing over Hansen's article about storytelling as it applies to the process of building a career, entitled “Plotting the Story of Your Ideal Career.” As the title implies, this article is intended as advice from a counsellor to a person hoping to pursue a more rewarding career, and the advice is about how the client might use storytelling to gain an understanding of their past and to script their future.

Although the article might well prove useful to counsellors seeking to aid clients in constructing stories there seems to be nothing in the article about how to aid clients in making sense of their own stories. I would therefore say that, in the absence of other articles in this area, we need more discussion about how one should proceed when using this counselling approach.

What skills would a good counsellor have who wants to do this kind of work?

I hope that no-one would expect me to say at this point! However, it does seem to me that the skills would be in two broad categories:
  • The counsellor should be able to motivate the client to continue with the task of completing stories to their own satisfaction, without imposing the counsellor's biases.
  • The counsellor should be somewhat like a good literature teacher who is able to induce students to probe for motifs, themes, metaphors, and so on that are within the realm of meaning of the client. In other words, the counsellor needs to be able to guide the client in exploring the client's own stories for meaning.
I cannot possibly have said anything new. At least these thoughts are no longer running around in my head. I really need to acknowledge an intellectual debt to people like Michael Mead, Richard Rorty and, not least, Rob Straby for making me aware of the importance of stories and literature.

Where Can Clients Store Resumes?


Many counselling agencies have their clients saving their résumés on diskettes. This has always caused a certain amount of trouble what with diskettes becoming defective and diskettes being forgotten in drives by clients, and so on. What might finally end this practice is the fact that manufacturers are, in many cases, no longer shipping new computers that are equipped with diskette drives. So: where should clients save their résumés?

One option would be to equip each computer intended for use by clients with a CD writer. However, as we will indicate here, this would be an unnecessary expense provided that the computer is provided with an Internet connection.

A solution that is more convenient than using a CD writer is to use one of the free services like box.net. In fact, one can use box.net for storing relatively small, complete files of any kind, including cover letters and portfolio items such as photos and sample documents. The client simply accesses www.box.net to create their own account (for which they will need a valid email address) and, once they have done that, the basic operations of storing and retrieving files are quite straightforward. The service on box.net is especially valuable to clients without their own computers at home because box.net is equipped with word processing facilities that apply to MS Word-type documents. Using thes storage and processing facilities, and the client's own email account, it should usually be possible for the client to apply for jobs even from places that must offer fairly restrictive access such as public libraries.

It must be said that box.net is not as easy to use as a diskette. BUT, at this point in history, for the number of applications that a job seeker must usually submit to land a job it's probably worth learning the drill.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Results in resumes for credit managers

We all know that employers look for quantified results in résumés. For those of us who are non-experts in a given field it’s seldom obvious how those results should be expressed though. Because I’ve been working with a couple of people in corporate collections and credit management recently I’ve learned of two measures that I will pass on here: they are cash targets and D.S.O.

If you’re like me and know little about accounting then you can find introductory information about things like D.S.O. in the Investopedia.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Supporting clients with notefish.com


When you've done some research on behalf of a client where can you put the results? You could send them an email. You could even send them an email with the results as an attachment. However, if you update the research or suggestions more than once or twice the series of emails will soon become confusing (possibly for both of you!).

Consider notefish.com as an alternative: Open an account for your exclusive, personal use, for all of your clients. When you need to begin recording research for a client create a new folder for that client. (I often use a folder name consisting of the person's surname and first initial separated by an underscore.) For each separate item of research for the client create one notefish note and copy text or URLs into the note and add an appropriate title. Now share the folder (see "shared" at the top of the page) and give the client the full name of their folder. Whenever you modify the contents of the client's folder significantly just call or email to let them know.

Part of a typical notefish client folder appears above. The URLs are all "live". In face, if you create a collection of searches for your client on, say, the Job Bank then you can copy them into a notefish note and then the client can rerun them every day or two from notefish, without the need to reconstruct them repeatedly. Meanwhile, all or most of the other strategy that you have agreed with you client are visible to them right there on the notefish page.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Word-indexed and sorted list of Job Bank jobs

A couple of months ago I posted an item about making jobs listing easier for job seekers to use. An updated version of the series of listings presented in that posted is available here, updated more or less daily. They are for the area extending from Brantford, Ontario through the Niagara peninsula.

The job vacancies are grouped by Canadian NOC codes in the column on the right. The column on the left consists, first of all, of an alphabetised list of the words drawn from the job titles that appear in the right column. Under each of the words is the list of job titles in which the word appears. For example, on most days there are jobs for apprentices. By scanning down the list of words in the left column to "apprentice" one can find a complete list of the jobs whose titles mention this word. Click on one of the titles and the entry corresponding to it will appear in the right column. Click again on the title, in the right column this time, and the entire advertisement from the Job Bank will be displayed in a new window.

The motivation behind offering the alphabetised list of words is that it might suggest previously unthought-of occupational possibilities to job seekers. Once a suitable job title has been identified using the righthand list and the job title clicked all of the vacancies in the same NOC category will be found adjacent to it in the left list. The purpose of this arrangement is to save job seekers time that could better be spent networking and marketing themselves.

Let me know what you think!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Does Anybody Comply?

In case you don't recognise it that object on the right is a pill organiser. It's meant to make it easy for someone to ensure that they are taking their medications on time. High-tech it might not be. Nonetheless it is an an effective answer to an extremely challenging problem for health professionals: how to get people to comply with advice.

You or I might think that this would be no problem but this is not so. A number of individuals in the pharmaceuticals industry have told me that, even people with diseases likely to result in really unpleasant or life-threatening consequences such as diabetes can be difficult to bring into compliance with the recommendations of health professionals.

As career developers we have compliance issues too and the one that I am most aware of has to do with networking. We advertise the benefits of networking to clients, we show them how to do it, we coach them in it, we stress it. (Some of us even network ourselves.) Yet when we follow up with clients how many of them are actually doing it?

The original job finding club paradigm achieved good results (in the United States at least) probably because it follows certain well understood learning principles. Should we review current practice to ensure that we are still concentrating on the main benefit of this paradigm? Is there anything to be learned from other more recent psychological studies that could also be applied in this area of counselling practice—to induce people to gain the benefits of networking?

If anyone has any thoughts I would love to hear them.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carrieflickr/369695428/

Missing Information About Women's Employment

The following table was created using the Canadian 2001 Census. It summarises data about women employed in occupations in science and engineering. The first column represents women that work in health care (with either people or other species), the second column represents those that work with data and information in one way or another, and the third column the women who work in a variety of other areas of science and engineering.



Here's the main point of this blog item: Notice the numbers of occupations in each column. They imply that we know the 25 occupations that the 377,720 women do in the left column fairly specifically (if we look at the detailed figures in the census), and that we know the 45 occupations that the 103,130 women do in the right column. However, we have almost no idea what the three (3) occupations are in that middle column. We need to know what that 1/10th of a million people do!

A Suitable Job for a Woman?

This might actually be more important for women than it is for men. But what do I know since I'm a man?

In spite of the considerable efforts that have been expended to induce women to take up work as welders and ironworkers many have quietly decided otherwise for themselves and taken jobs in the areas of data processing and information systems, as the figures above indicate. These women are doing reasonably well out of their decisions too. We can see that their average income seems to be about $43,400, compared to the $39,600 for those who could not resist the traditional allure of healthcare.

Or maybe they hate the work or maybe it's not the money?
  • Women must often balance responsibilities at work with responsibilities in their homes and elsewhere. Jobs in hospitals as nurses, laboratory technologists and technicians and so on often involve shift work which conflicts with other obligations. In contrast, many or most jobs in information systems involve no shift work, or can even be done according to some flexible schedule.
  • Many individual women distinguish themselves with special abilities in verbal fluency, perceptual detail or fine motor skills (Weekes, 2005), all of which have importance in various areas of information processing, and at various income levels.
  • Plenty of role models exist already for women who want to enter these lines of work. The working atmospheres are usually far from being "masculine" or hostile to women.
  • It seems likely that investment in information systems will continue to grow. Furthermore, the field might not be subject to the kinds of upheavals that have been occurring in healthcare.
Perhaps most important of all women have been choosing these jobs in information careers for themselves.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Think behind

KierkegaardSøren Kierkegaard the clever theologian said, “Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward.”

Let me admit one thing: I doubt that I understand anything that Kierkegaard ever wrote. If I think I understand something from this quotation then he must have meant something else. However, almost everybody I know says, “think ahead” and Kierkegaard seems to be saying “look back.” It’s just that that’s so boring that I’ve decided to say “think behind.” And this is my blog so I can do as I like.

This might not appear to be of much use in career planning. In fact it’s something that professional project planners do all the time. Don’t career counsellors wish that job seekers and prospective students would!

The basic, oh-so-simple idea is this: pretend that you are in the future and that you have achieved whatever it was you wanted to achieve. Now find out everything that you can that would be required of you to get there.

  1. For job seekers:


    • Typical ‘thinking ahead’: an employer will want me to be a well-organised, outgoing team player with good communication skills who just loves to learn all kinds of new stuff. How do you know what the employer wants??

    • ‘Thinking behind’: The job seeker contacts various potential employers, without inquiring about a job, and asks what they want in and from the employees that they actually hire. She discovers that the employers’ main problem has nothing to do with what people usually put on their résumés and she plans behind accordingly. (Maybe she needs a short course; maybe she just needs to dress in a certain way for interviews and on the job.


  2. For prospective students::


    • Typical ‘thinking ahead’: I will work hard and get extremely good marks on my diploma/degree in something that interests me at college/university and then find a job on the basis of that. Employers will be glad to get me or it will all just work out. (Think again or, better still, think behind.)

    • ‘Thinking behind’: The student gathers as much information as possible about their interests and aspirations and about anticipated trends in demands for various kinds of occupations. Almost any of us would be happy in various occupations. The trick is to find an occupation that will be satisfying, that will pay the bills and (what is redundant with respect to that second point) in demand. No matter how much I might like repairing watches (for instance) I would probably find it difficult to make a living that way in today’s market (as far as I know). Take courses that cover a reasonable number of possibilities.
If you’ve read this far let me add: this is the kind of project planning that software engineers used to do until they became justly famous for their expensive failures. Although this approach is a great deal better than not thinking at all the Boehm spiral approach might be best, even for careers. One of these days I might get to exploring that.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Widening Earnings Gap


Many of us who work in career development encounter people every day who are really struggling to find work. Take a careful look at the graph in this blog article and see if you agree with me that their difficulties are only likely to worsen.

OECD calls for more protection of employment


And if you think that discussions of social policy are outside the realm of career development then consider the increasing challenges of supporting people with limited marketable skills when the jobs needing these skills disappear from the local labour market.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Bavarian Observation

Deutsche Welle marked the birthday of comedian Karl Valentin (1882-1948) yesterday by including one of his famous remarks:

"Everything has already been said, just not by everybody."

Isn't this something that could be said of most blogs?

Photo credit: ‘Karl und Liesl

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Kabuki Theatre and Measuring Cups


What Have They Got In Common?

On the left a scene from a kabuki theatre production; on the left a measuring cup: so what do they have in common?

According to Wikipedia, “Kabuki theatre is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by its performers.” Measuring cups are used in cooking—of course. And, nowadays, job interviewing has become so stylised that it's really a performance art, a lot like kabuki theatre. When you consider that kabuki theatre is about as relevant to the measuring that is supposed to be going on in job interviewing as what you do with measuring cups you see the resemblance between kabuki and measuring cups. (In my opinion there isn't much.) “Standard” interviews lead cosmetic-laden applicants through heavily rehearsed performance sequences.

Here's just one point of contact: Why do interviewers ask whether the prospective employee knows something about the employer? Is it really important for them to know that the person being interviewed is sufficiently motivated to have spent at least an hour, the night before the interview, using Google to find and review the employer’s web site? Do you see what I mean?

Turn the whole thing around. If you are recruiting personnel then ask yourself what you want or need to know about employees, then think about how you might get answers to your questions.

Photo Credits:

  • Kabuki sculpture
  • measuring cup
  • Thursday, May 31, 2007

    Myers-Briggs: The Undead

    Although the Myers-Briggs and related instruments are fairly heavily used by many of us in employment counselling and career development the way that they model human personality is at least partly historical in nature and this model may be unsuitable to a postmodern world. Here are the dialogue examples that first caught my eye, from Gergen [1], and then a little of what he has to say on this subject, albeit indirectly when it comes to the measurement instruments.

    'JAMES: The bottom line is clear: we don't have any choice but to close down the plant.
    FRED: I just don't feel we can do that; it's too heartless for all those workers and their families.

    'MARGE: Be realistic, Sam. If you don't take more care of the baby, my whole career is going to be ruined.
    SAM: What kind of mother are you, anyway? You don't show one ounce of dedication or compassion to your own child—much less to me.

    'SUSAN: You really are dumb if you buy that house, Carol. It's in such bad shape and you'll be in debt forever.
    CAROL: But, Susan, somehow that doesn't bother me. There's just something deep inside me that comes alive whenever I think about living there.'

    Gergen goes on: 'James, Marge, and Susan all rely on common beliefs in people as rational agents who examine the facts and make decisions accordingly. ... For Fred, Sam, and Carol, the ideal human being is not a creature of practical reason, but one who is guided by something deeper--moral feelings, loyalties, nurturing instincts, or a sense of spontaneous joy. ... a romanticist conception ... lays central stress on unseen, even sacred forces that dwell deep within the person, forces that give life and relationships their significance ... a modernist view of personality, in which reason and observation are central ingredients of human functioning ... [but] postmodernism tends to extinguish the validity of both the romantic and modern realities.'

    Anyone familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality dimensions will recognise the alignment of Thinking-Feeling with Gergen's romantic-modern. However, Gergen casts some considerable doubt on whether one's identity can be modelled effectively using a system that is being pushed aside in a postmodern world. Since the Myers-Briggs-type instruments are used in career development practice largely to help clients to define, and become better aware of, their own identities—when the purpose for using these instruments is remembered at all—it is worth considering the possibility that the theoretical basis for their use may no longer hold.

    [1] Kenneth J. Gergen (1991) The Saturated Self: Dilemnas of Identity in Contemporary Life, Basic Books (pages 18 and 19)

    Sunday, May 27, 2007

    Whoever Called Us Homo Sapiens Was Wrong

    Almost nothing to do with people is about thinking. It's all about connecting. So it is with jobs.

    Most people assume that connections between job applicants and employers are usually established using résumés. Although this isn't really true let's pretend that it is for the time being. The most important reader of your résumé—assuming it gets past human resources—will be a hiring manager that has never met you. You will need to connect to that person as a human being. What are you going to tell them about yourself? And wouldn't it help if you knew what they wanted to know so that you could present it in the best possible light?

    That's what this is about.

    Suppose you're a quality control technician with an eye on the jobs that keep popping up on the Service Canada Job Bank at Orlick Industries in Hamilton. You've applied there once or twice and have not had any response; you suspect that this is because you do not meet their stated requirements but do not know this for sure. The Job Bank ad provides no information other than a fax number and an email address in the HR department. Argh!

    This is not nearly as bad as it might sound because you do know one attractive employer and you can now obtain quite a bit of information that will help you.

    Go to strategis.gc.ca and search for "Orlick Industries" in the "Company Capabilities" section (currently http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/app/ccc/search/cccBasicSearch.do?language=eng&portal=1). Have a look at both the "Complete Profile" and the web site for the company, and bookmark the pages if possible. We are looking particularly for the "Primary Industry(NAICS)" because we can use this to query for companies engaged in enterprises that are similar to that of Orlick Industries.

    It is possible that one could track down the hiring manager for the advertised position given the information already obtained in the form of telephone numbers and email addresses. However, I wouldn't advise doing that. That's the target company. Let's gather some general information about what people in this industry look for in job candidates to be able to present well to this ultimate target.

    Go back to the strategis search page and, this time, use the detailed search (currently the same web page as above but available under the button labelled "Go to detailed search"). Enter the NAICS number for Orlick Industries (I think it's 331317) to obtain a list of companies. You might choose to select just the companies in your own province at this point (or not). Now compile a list of contact names using the information on company websites and the strategis company profile entries. You want hiring managers, not human resources people, because they understand what they want from you as an employee and why they want it.

    What you do now is to make another list of questions about what you don't know or understand about why people are hired for the job that you want. If you find yourself talking to yourself in the bathroom mirror and saying, "Why do they insist on 3-5 years experience?" then that is a question that you should somehow get an answer to from a hiring manager. Book fifteen minutes when you can have a conversation with each hiring manager. Listen carefully and don't argue, just the way your mother told you. Ask follow-up questions. In some cases at least you will enjoy yourself and when you leave your résumé with the hiring manager they will remember you. Indeed sometimes jobs magically materialise this way.

    Come to think of it, don't rely on my three or four sentences on the topic of networking above, borrow a book from the public library about it.

    The more conversations you have the easier they will become. Once you've gathered sufficient information and familiarity with it make appointments to speak with your most favoured employers.

    Remember how I mentioned that people assume the importance of résumés. Well, that's all it is, an assumption. The fact is that, if you start contacting employers systematically and conscientiously you will dig up a job in your area of choice, assuming of course that such jobs exist. You will use the résumé as a formal document that will be stuffed into an HR file simply as a record. Mind you, you will be unable to resist adjusting your résumé to reflect your improved knowledge of the jobs marketplace.

    Whoever called us homo sapiens was wrong. Think about it.

    Thursday, May 24, 2007

    IT résumés: go carefully

    Susan Buckingham[1] and I were discussing a résumé written for an IT worker yesterday and here are a couple of the observations that we made. Put briefly, there are some big downsides in mentioning certain specific details of technical competencies or too many educational credentials relating to technical competencies, rather than any results that have flowed from these competencies.

    Quite a few highly skilled IT professionals who work with Microsoft Windows seem to think that they must mention specific skills with Microsoft Word, Excel and Publisher. However isn't it likely that employers will assume competence with such fairly standard Windows applications? Mere mention of MS Office should often be enough—unless the worker can claim skills with VBA or some other more technical or administrative aspects of these products, or with the suite.

    Related to this, some IT professionals mention competence with languages or products such as Javascript, for example, that would be implied by a knowledge of more advanced or more up-to-date technologies. Be careful! A mention of something like Javascript might make you look like a hacker when you want to be viewed as a skilled professional programmer. If you have written Ajax products, or even some Greasemonkey scripts, then you might choose to omit Javascript from your list.

    IT is one technological area—but obviously not the only one—that is subject to rapid change. Most worthwhile employers will expect you to keep up with that change. Although some of these will have the good sense and wherewithall to fund courses for you they will not expect you to attend courses involving the acquisition of tiny increments ("baby steps") of skills and knowledge at the employer's expense. You will be expected to acquire a lot on your own. Therefore, be careful in you résumé about what you expose about how you keep up-to-date.

    You will have read this a million times, I know, if you are reading about creating résumés. So: do skip this paragraph if you wish. Better you should indicate your acquisition of skills and knowledge by describing results than by listing courses. But, if you can't prove competence with results then pass a few of the tests that may still be available on the 'net. (As an employer, though, I know what I would prefer. There is a lot more to building software than what is covered in passing tests.)

    [1] Niagara West Adult Learning & Resources Centre

    Wednesday, May 16, 2007

    Friendlier Career Resource Rooms for Men

    I won't trouble to try to defend my sex against all of those jokes about our unwillingness to ask directions when we're lost in our cars. As Tom Golder puts it in one of his articles about dealing with grief, "When anyone confronts a problem that has no solution he or she will often feel lost. When a woman feels lost, she tends to ask for help. When a man feels lost, he looks for maps." [italics mine]

    In a different context Paco Underhill (Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping) seems to be referring to the same basic masculine propensity when he mentions that men are more willing to shop in stores that post comparisons and other information that they can read for themselves. (And he has a lot of interesting things to say to retailers who want to attract female shoppers too.)

    Yet most career resource centres that I have seen seem to depend mainly on the spoken word, and on a client's willingness to request help. It's true, they often display posters exhorting job seekers to improve their knowledge of computers or to gain literacy skills. However, in the main, short basic tutorial information about how to use computer systems, how to write marketing documents, when classes will be held and so on is largely missing.

    Let's put more written stuff on walls. It will actually save time and effort, and improve efficiencies.

    Monday, May 7, 2007

    Can We Make Job Listings Better for Job Seekers?


    First of all, it should be admitted that some of our clients have difficulty even finding Service Canada's Job Bank, let alone searching it once they've found it. I sense that skills that might suffice for casual recreational surfing create a lot of anxiety when attempts are made to apply them where there is a real need for information.

    I have also become aware how easy it is frighten away clients whose occupations do not involve using computers when we rush to suggest to them that we use the Job Bank to identify vacancies. One needs to go carefully, to be sure of offering what a client is ready to accept.

    As far as I am concerned though, as a data source, the Job Bank is a thing of beauty! Lots of jobs, one can get one's mitts on lots of records and an attempt is made to provide the NOC code for each job that is advertised. With reference to that last point, from the point of view of pure efficiency one would like to simply suggest that job seekers conduct their searches using these codes alone and let the Job Bank work its magic. However, there are a few problems with this approach in practice; let me mention a few:

    • I am told that sometimes job are advertised with incorrect codes.
    • Some job seekers are uncomfortable using the codes; they prefer to search for words that seem to them to directly relate to jobs and occupations.
    • Some job seekers are willing to consider jobs in a number of NOC categories and they may not know how to construct Boolean expressions.
    The obvious problem with conducting searches for jobs using exact words is that it is very easy to miss suitable vacancies. For example, as an career develoment practitioner I might search on the term "career" alone and miss jobs with titles that include the word "employment".

    Here's an approach that we have been experimenting with in the agency where I have spent the past few months. We provide a browser-displayable list of jobs available in our geographical area, drawn from the Job Bank, with a word index into the titles of the jobs. The image above shows the way part of the list appears.

    By scrolling down through the pane on the left the job seeker can consider words in job titles. Having spotted what might be an interesting one, s/he can click on one of the job titles under the word and the pane to the right will scroll to bring the corresponding job information into view. The jobs in the righthand pane are grouped by NOC code so that, once the job seeker has identifed a single job that is appropriate s/he will find any others than might be available. If a few jobs have been misclassified they are still accessible using the word list in the right pane.

    The main benefits to job seekers might be that the system suggests words to them, rather than forcing them volunteer them, and that it groups similar jobs.

    I would be very interesting in hearing about other ways of enhancing the searchability of the Job Bank or other similar products.


    [Previously posted in another blog; access to that blog via Dashboard lost.]

    Career trajectory for younger career developers

    Even people who are creative performers are not necessarily creative about finding gigs and negotiating contracts. Hence the need for theatrical agents. In a similar way, lots and lots of people who perform well in their jobs find it challenging to create their own resumes or to speak for themselves to employers. Yet we are told that there will be fewer and fewer jobs in future and, therefore, that there will be more and more need for individuals to market themselves--or be marketed--repeatedly. If this is true then it represents a siginificant opportunity for career developers.

    The existing niche for career developers who want to learn to market other people is the occupation know as job developer. At the present time most job developers are funded by government sources. One way to play the trend in the economy just indicated would be to learn the "trade" as a job developer and then to become, in effect, an agent for some class of occupations that has hitherto been unrepresented, in somewhat the way that theatrical agents now represent actors and film directors. Thus a career developer would gain knowledge and experience at public cost then move into a career in the private sector.

    [I published this post first on 7 February, on an earlier version of this blog which has since become inaccessible from my dashboard.]

    Want a Feed for Contact Point Events?

    Contact Point maintains an excellent list of upcoming professional development events. If you are like me and prefer to receive this type of information in the form of an RSS feed then use mine. It's available here (updated daily).

    This is for Canadian career and employment people mainly; however, the Contact Point page does list events from much farther afield.


    [Originally posted to an earlier version of this blog but access to that blog via Dashboard lost.]

    Thursday, March 1, 2007

    Narratives are Huge in Career Development

    Are narratives one of the few essential ways that people understand events and the world in general? I suspect so. Even weather reports sound like stories to me—how about you?

    As career developers we can make effective use of this very human characteristic in three places in our work that I can think of at this moment:

    1. Sometimes we can get the parties to a conflict to begin to find a resolution to their problem by giving their understandings of the conflict as stories. There is something about doing this that makes problem solving easier. Later, when a resolution has been found, presenting it in terms of a story will often expose imperfections in it and areas to be further enhanced.
    2. How often do we, as career developers, coach job seekers whose résumés are written as if they were job descriptions? Yet how few of these same people would boast to their friends in those same terms? Of course they wouldn't! Job seekers tell stories when they want to highlight their conquests at work. What we do as coaches is to point out that these stories belong in their résumés.
    3. We want clients to know that they have futures, and a future is a story. The only person who can know what the story should be is the client himself. Our task is to help them to tell those stories.
    As a matter of fact, a case can be made for revamping job finding clubs and similar group exercises to incorporate instruction about storytelling for participants as well as the underlying Skinnerian reinforcement to encourage networking and other proven job-finding behaviours.

    Monday, February 26, 2007

    Interested in interior design or home decoration?

    Factors:

  • The majority of urban households have fast Internet connections.
  • Many people, perhaps women especially, display considerable interest in interior and exterior home decoration.
  • Both digital cameras and digital (drawing) tablets are affordable to a lot of these same people.
  • Even art schools use computers today use computers for producing art works. Of course they use Macs and most people have PCs but this is of no huge importance, in consideration of the next factor.
  • More and more good quality graphics software is available at no cost; for instance, I just noticed the arrival of inkscape today for doing vector graphics.

    Getting started:

  • Acquire the facilities: camera, tablet, some basic software.
  • Gain skills in processing photographs of rooms, buildings, landscapes.
  • Learn something about the basics of building materials, plumbing, electrical, etc.

    There are a few ways that someone could participate in the market for services in this area:

  • Partner with contractors, cabinetmakers, etc to do kitchen and bath design.
  • Offer design services to homeowners, office managers, and others.
  • Use services to sell bath and kitchen appliances, wall coverings, etc.
  • Work with software developers to improve their offerings or to offer endorsements.
  • Establish a web presence—a blog, say—and become an acknowledged expert: sell advice.

    [First published on the contactpoint.ca mail list in response to a query.]
  •