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

Friday, May 29, 2009

Take Your Clients for a Few Quick Belts in the Nearest Bar to Assess Their Personalities

Trust me, it's totally scientific. See “The way you hold your drink reveals key personality traits, claim psychologists”.

Jobs Listing for Career Developers: 'nother Source

Job Skills in York Region: Two (2) jobs open at present. Thanks are due to Patricia Martin of Career Essentials for pointing this out. Thanks, Patricia!

The jobs listing link is posted in the column to the right.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Discussing Trends: The Beer Mats Industry

Yes, I know that the car industry is in trouble world wide. It's certainly a gruesome enough example of trends. However, as an industry it might just be a little too close to many of us for dispassionate study.

As an alternative, let's consider what's happening in ... beer mats. That's one of them in the picture there. Here in Canada most of us would call them coasters, right. They are a more significant feature of life throughout Britain and Ireland where they are used in thousands upon thousands of wine bars and public houses ('pubs'). You might think of them simply as a way of insulating wet glass from table top. In contrast, advertisers have, until fairly recently, thought of them as valuable real estate directly under the eyes of consumers. That is changing.

Oddly enough, the single company that has 75% of beer mat manufacturing market share is in serious financial difficulty. How could this possibly be?

Read the article at Last orders for beer mat maker? for the answers and then see if you can fill in all the blanks. Why are ashtrays in trouble? Why might people be drinking at home? (One hopes that they are not drinking alone.) Why would the prices of alcoholic beverages be up? Is there any end in sight to the pattern of corporate mergers?

How can thinking like this be applied in one's own circumstances? When clients thinking about careers what can we do to induce them to think about trends? Are we any likelier to be good predictors than they are?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Expanded Jobs Listing for Career Developers

The software now makes a separate search on for each of the titles mentioned in the following Python code snippet, and then consolidates the results for display in the jobs page for CDPs.

for title in [
'career consultant',
'career counsellor',
'career coach',
'career development facillitator',
'career group facillitator',
'career resource centre coordinator',
'case manager',
'employment consultant',
'employment counsellor',
'employment rehabilitation worker',
'employment services assessment officer',
'employment specialist',
'intake coordinator',
'job coach',
'job developer',
'job finding club coordinator',
'job skills counsellor',
'language training instructor',
'outplacement consultant',
'vocational program facillitator',
'vocational rehabilitation consultant',
'vocational support worker',
] :

I gleaned these job titles from those that were being used by employers in the advertisements that were listed before I added to the collection. I suppose it's inevitable that employers will think of even more creative ways of describing what their people do. However, I hope these cover much of the ground. If you think of more please tell me.

Incidentally this added 29 items to the list. Unfortunately several of them relate to software rather than employment or careers. It can be difficult to filter them out in the absence of occupational codes in advertisements.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Open Weekend Today: Career Assessments

Opens at 3.00 this afternoon Eastern Time, noon Pacific Time.

Open Weekend at about Career Assessments

The main theme this time will be the question of how and why agencies select the assessments that they use with clients. But feel free to discuss anything that might interest you and other participants.

As usual it would be best if you could register in advance of when you want to participate so that the usual email handshaking procedure has time to complete.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Finally! A career test that really understands me ...

It's What Should You Be When You Grow Up?, on, and here is the very item where it revealed its wisdom to me:

If your vacuum broke, you’d:

Take it apart
Buy a new one
Stop vacuuming

(The correct answer is, of course, the third. The other two items are there to check whether you’re paying attention.)

This site offers a tonne of “tests” like this one. Although I can’t speak for their reliability, validity, face validity, freedom from spelling mistakes—or any other measures of test quality for that matter I would say that they might have the benefit of making a client’s mental juices flow. Come to think of it the term “mental juices” might be a little dated itself but you know what I mean, right?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

If you have clients learning basic English or French ...

... then they could do worse than to try There are language lessons that include spoken words and phrases, and there is the opportunity for social networking. Although some of the facilities are available only to paid members, the free services will be plenty of help to lots of users. (I know ’cause I'm still trying to improve my dreadful French.) In addition, many busuu members with the language skills of native speakers will honour requests from other members who want to exercise and improve their skills in new languages.

Even if you don't have clients who need language training let me mention that, thanks to skype, and sometimes to busuu, I have had the enormous pleasure of meeting and getting to know people from a small variety of places on the planet. You might enjoy that too.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Report: Jobs for Career Developers

It appears that the Contact Point job seekers pages were not working for a time. When they reappeared—yesterday I think it may have been—the logical location was slightly different. I have just dealt with that. So my consolidated page again includes the Contact Point jobs. And thank heaven that's behind me.

ContactPoint does not (yet) indicate province in their listings. I will try to add them so that my list sorts. I have also added colour coding so that you can discern the source of each listing. For example, 'Contact Point' appears in red and lines for jobs from Contact Point start with red.

If you notice problems, please let me know. If you know of other good sources of jobs, likewise.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mining LinkedIn for Careers Knowledge

First of all I strongly recommend membership of LinkedIn, and I am grateful to Rob Straby of Conestoga College for pointing it out to us, his students. If you join you will soon find that LinkedIn 'Answers' are a valuable and satisfying way of giving and receiving information and advice. Members post queries and other members are free to offer any advice that they may. One of the categories of queries is of particular importance as far as this blog is concerned. It's called "LinkedIn Answers: Career and Education". I follow it all the time as an RSS feed, looking for queries that I think I might be able to provide helpful input to. Here's how it looks in my news reader, FeedDemon.

I've underlined one query. It's not legible so I'll just say that it's the perennial, "I'm expecting to graduate with a degree in biology. What might I do when I graduate?" Many of LinkedIn's members are very experienced business people (and a lot are not). I wanted to see what they might suggest. I also wanted to work up an answer of my own, based on a search of Canada's NOC and/or perhaps the United States' SOC.

A little problem arises. It is that, as far as I know, no notification is provided to those of us who might be interested in this particular query when a response is provided. The RSS feed for this category of questions will contain a notification when the query is closed by the person who posed the query. Unfortunately, however, many questioners never trouble to close their queries. How can I follow this query to learn how others answer?

Actually, the answer is fairly simple. I use one of the many services that monitor individual pages for change and send items on RSS feeds in response to these changes. I use Here it is as it appears in my Firefox browser interface.

The website for provides full installation instructions (which are dead easy to follow). With Page2RSS installed I follow the link from my news reader to the LinkedIn Answer in my browser. I click on the Page2RSS icon in my browser and Page2RSS creates a new page that contains a link to take me back to my news reader to handle the task of subscribing the the feed that Page2RSS is creating for me for this query. (Got that?)

Here's the page that Page2RSS makes. One is instructed to copy-paste the link. However, I find with FeedDemon that just clicking on the link does what is needed.

The first item you will see in your feed reader will be a notification that you are monitoring a page. After that, you will receive feed items when LinkedIn members respond to the query.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Two Kinds of Life Stories

Jesse Bering writes regular articles for Scientific American magazine. In What’s Your Story? The Psychological Science of Life History Research he introduced me to a new line of psychological research about how people connect the events in their lives to make stories. Bering writes, “To put it starkly, McAdams has found there are basically two types of people in this world.” Events in early adulthood are either “contaminative episodes” or “redemptive episodes”.

If you're interested in stories then this is a place to start.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

OK, So More About Constructivism

I found a discussion of constructivism in education that I find useful in funderstanding. Here it is on the left verbatim. I decided to try my hand at writing a parallel discussion of constructivism in career development. It’s on the right.


[Drawn verbatim from funderstanding]


Constructivism is a philosophy of learning founded on the premise that, by reflecting on our experiences, we construct our own understanding of the world we live in. Each of us generates our own “rules” and “mental models,” which we use to make sense of our experiences. Learning, therefore, is simply the process of adjusting our mental models to accommodate new experiences.


There are several guiding principles of constructivism:
  1. Learning is a search for meaning. Therefore, learning must start with the issues around which students are actively trying to construct meaning.

  2. Meaning requires understanding wholes as well as parts. And parts must be understood in the context of wholes. Therefore, the learning process focuses on primary concepts, not isolated facts.

  3. In order to teach well, we must understand the mental models that students use to perceive the world and the assumptions they make to support those models.

  4. The purpose of learning is for an individual to construct his or her own meaning, not just memorize the “right” answers and regurgitate someone else’s meaning. Since education is inherently interdisciplinary, the only valuable way to measure learning is to make the assessment part of the learning process, ensuring it provides students with information on the quality of their learning.

How Constructivism Impacts Learning

Curriculum–Constructivism calls for the elimination of a standardized curriculum. Instead, it promotes using curricula customized to the students’ prior knowledge. Also, it emphasizes hands-on problem solving.

Instruction–Under the theory of constructivism, educators focus on making connections between facts and fostering new understanding in students. Instructors tailor their teaching strategies to student responses and encourage students to analyze, interpret, and predict information. Teachers also rely heavily on open-ended questions and promote extensive dialogue among students.

Assessment–Constructivism calls for the elimination of grades and standardized testing. Instead, assessment becomes part of the learning process so that students play a larger role in judging their own progress.


Jacqueline and Martin Brooks, The Case for Constructivist Classrooms.



Constructivism is a philosophy of career development founded on the premise that, by reflecting on our own individual experiences, we construct our own understandings of what our life careers should be and what our lives should mean to us. We continuously update our understandings of these things based on new experiences or new ways of understanding. Career construction is thus the business of finding purpose and meaning in life and of bringing one’s career into agreement with this meaning.


There are several guiding principles of constructivism:

  1. Our life careers are the expressions of our meanings as individuals. Hence the search for a career path is a search for one's own purpose and meaning. It seems most natural to start the search for meaning with the issues that are of most pressing concern to the person whose life career is to be constructed (and in any case not the career developer!). (Notice, please, that I did not say that one’s work is the expression of one’s meaning. This is not true at all for everyone.)

  2. For a person to construct meaning she or he must make many connections—for her- or himself—amongst the many new and old experiences that relate to her or life career. The construction and comprehension of meaning is a fundamental purpose of career development.

  3. As career developers we can listen actively to clients to try to understand how they model the meanings and purposes of their lives, and how these things are reflected in their careers. There is lots of scope for interesting probing into how clients make these connections and how clients look for improvement or find satisfaction or frustration.

  4. We want the client to assume the rôle of “expert” as far as his own life is concerned because it happens to be true. The task of the career developer is to support the client in improving her or his skills in personal construction work.

How Constructivism Impacts Career Development

Process–Constructivism calls for the elimination of one-size-fits-none approaches. Instead, it promotes making full use of the clients’ own available experience. As with constructivist learning, constructivist career development emphasises hands-on knowledge and experience acquisition.

Consultations with clients–Career developers find out what clients want to know: what is satisfactory or unsatisfactory about their current life career, what other career patterns appeal to them, and so on. We suggest ways of probing possibilities or ways of summarising thoughts.

Assessment–Most importantly career developers can support clients in continually assessing the effectiveness of their own processes. When a client seems to want “objective” test results we can learn the client’s reason for making the request and then administer the test. Having performed any testing meaningful to a client we can discuss results in the context of the client's search for meaning.

Incidentally I found the article about constructivism whilst trying out a new kid on the search engine block called scoopler. It’s in beta.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Serious Talent Shortage in Canada: Keynote Speakers

A personal confession is in order here. I was not aware just how desperate we are until I read a news item from (i.e., for Hamilton, Ontario) entitled "Sold-out summit tries to prove detractors wrong". I have been assuming all along that there are hundreds of people in Canada, and perhaps even in just the Hamilton-Toronto area, capable of delivering interesting talks about the local economy.

But apparently not.

Because this article mentions that the organisers of the city of Hamilton's second annual Economic Summit found it necessary to hire Rebecca Ryan from a consultancy in Madison, Wisconsin to be the keynote speaker. Clearly we couldn't do this ourselves, eh.

Whilst we grope for ways of plugging this enormous hole in the competency of the local labour force let us hope that word of this does not spread very far! The last time I looked the local university in Hamilton--I think it's McMaster--had an Economics Department and a Business School. Is it possible that such a hiring choice reflects on this pool of talent? Is it possible that hiring personnel from other countries would reflect on this country's ability to perform internationally?

Or is it even just possible that hiring from other countries says something about our belief in ourselves?

I Am NOT Neurotic -- I'm a Stand-Up Comedian

See Gil Greengross and Geoffrey F Miller, "The Big Five personality traits of professional comedians compared to amateur comedians, comedy writers, and college student".

"These results challenge the stereotype of comedians as neurotic extraverts, and suggest a discrepancy between their stage persona and their true personality traits."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Anyone Else Looking for Therapy?

I've started reading Behind the Couch which is a blog by a therapist who says, "Don't be deceived, I'm just as nuts as the rest of you." In spite of this individual's claim of insanity s/he writes interestingly on a range of subjects including transference and other aspects of the therapeutic relationship, stages in a relationship, books and articles, and so on.

Not only that, if you really enjoy this kind of reading I notice that one of the posts is The ultimate list of therapy blogs. Never one to take things too seriously, the therapist advises, "If anyone has been accidentally excluded or mis-labelled, don't spit your dummy just drop me an email or put links in the comments."

You get the idea.

Expect Employer Perceptions to be Wonky

Consider what will happen when an employer views the image to the right. I will lay you odds that they will see an upward-pointing triangle that appears a shade or two brighter than the surrounding area—in spite of the fact that the triangle is not there at all! Imagine that!

And I have some awful news: the same thing happens when employers read resumés and other marketing documents. They take the tiny flecks of data and fact that are sketched in these documents and they hallucinate entire stories to connect those facts. Employers simply cannot imagine that isolated facts don't go together the way that they think they should and if an applicant’s facts match an undesirable pattern in an employer’s head then the applicant has just come to the end of the job application process as far as that employer is concerned. No doubt about it.

You might be wondering if there is something that might be done. I think there is, and it relates to my sloppy definition of the problem. I left out the fact that the elements in the image (first described by Kanizsa) are carefully arranged. Put briefly, if you as the job applicant or career developer don't arrange the facts about the applicant into a creditable, coherent story then the employer will do it for themself. Unfortunately, as a matter of fact, in spite of our best efforts they often do it anyway.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

For Anyone with Interest in: the MBTI, the Keirsey, Personality Dimensions, etc

A radio programme in the BBC Great Lives series about Carl Gustav Jung is available for listening. If you want to record the programme so that you can listen to it whilst you're jogging then advice is available here.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Looking for Business Ideas? Here's a Bundle!

From the current trendwatching.

What I notice is that most of these are:
  • being exploited in the U.S. or Britain—not Canada
  • about ideas that have not yet been overdone anywhere.
Do any of the ideas get you thinking?