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

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tell Me What To Do With My Life

"Just tell me." Isn't this what many of our clients want us to do?

If we do what they ask then our task is relatively easy: just administer and then explain the results from one of the many available vocational interest tests. And the client will probably be relieved of their burden of choice. Here's one view of why this should be, from Renata Salecl, who is currently Centennial Professor in the department of law at the London School of Economics and Senior Researcher in the Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

But don't we want the client to take an active, creative rôle, with some understanding of the constraints within which they must operate?

Monday, July 26, 2010

One Immigrant's Experience of Our Newcomer Services

Cultural assumptions have a peculiar way of reaching out and biting you. Here in Canada compass direction is important when we travel by car. So I had something to learn about the meaning of direction in other cultures. About forty years ago I visited some of my cousins in a densely populated European city for the first time. They were aghast enough when I suggested driving hundreds of miles for a day's outing. When I asked them which way the window in the front of their house pointed—north, east, south or west—they had no idea how to answer. No-one in his right mind would try to navigate in their winding, circuitous streets and roads on the basis of that kind of information.

Here's former Jamaican Raquel Ingram's account of her experience of how she came to a decision to move to Canada and how she gathered the information needed to be viable here: Immigrants should be given a realistic impression of the Canadian labour market before they come to the country.

Form a Boomer Death Squad in Your Neighbourhood

For sixty-odd years now the boomers have been drifting through life, sucking up resources. But it wasn't so bad, until now, because we were paying. Now, unless you do something, you're going to be paying for our bad choices. Through the nose—for our prescriptions, walkers, hospital and respite care, pensions and all of the other stuff needed to keep us safely out of sight.

Those of you interested in trying to benefit from this trend will remember David Foot of the University of Toronto, and his book Boom, Bust and Echo, yet some of his thoughts seem perfectly quaint as Canada veers today toward the so-called 'libertarian' right. Still, if you read the book (or even if you didn't) and want excellent graphical portrayals of how populations have trended, and are to trend, in some of the world's principal economies have a look at GE's Our Aging World. Just remember, as it says on that page, we're getting old faster than ever.

Act now.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

You're Over-Qualified ... Too Old ... Too Small ... Too ...

I suspect that most salespeople would agree that, if you can induce an employer to tell you why they are reluctant to hire you then you have a fighting chance at getting them to do that. If you still want or need the job by the time you start hearing the objections then here is one strategy for dealing with them.

You might well have heard of the concept on which the strategy is based. It has been heavily used by marketers and advertisers for many years. It's called cognitive dissonance. Here's a sample use.

The first mother is experiencing cognitive dissonance because, on the one hand, the food substitutes in the beverage constitute a health risk and, on the other, the beverage is about to be served at the party, presumably to her own children. The second mother makes a swift coup that radically reduces the first mother's cognitive dissonance by pointing out that the beverage has some good properties particularly when compared to sugar. (Of course, if there were any 350-pound teenagers in the neighbourhood they would be kept well away from the cameras.)

You see how this would work in a job interview. The employer states their objection. In advance you would have thought of a way of reducing the employer's cognitive dissonance.

  • "You're over-qualified.": "I've done some checking and I have found that I'm not over-qualified in comparison to most of the people on your staff. There is lots for me to learn here."
  • "You're too old.": "On LinkedIn I take a special interest in answering questions to do with office software and career advice. I cycle 25 km twice a week."
  • "You're too small.": "In my last job part of my work was to unload shipments of 33-kilogram bags of cat litter and pet food on the early morning shift; also to help customers to their cars with their purchases."
Sometimes you'll have to guess what the objections are. Nobody is actually going to say you're too old.

Help me out! What kinds of questions have you had, or can you think of? What are some better answers than mine?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Accented Language Makes You Harder to Believe

Put as simply as possible, the thicker one's accent, as perceived by the listener, the less likely one is to be believed. Although obviously a problem for newcomers to Canada, it would be a barrier for those of us trying to support them too. For more detail see There's Something About Johnny Foreigner at the Mind Hacks blog.

As mentioned in the Mind Hacks article this finding appears to relate to a well-studied psychological phenomenon termed cognitive fluency. I've mentioned it here a couple of times before:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Did You Know About the LMI Consultation?

I didn't. I discovered the Advisory Panel on Labour Market Information a few minutes ago when I was trying to find Canadian Beveridge Curve information. Unfortunately the panel has already submitted their final report; they did so in early 2009.

It seems to me that CDPs and others in this field should have, and would have, had a lot to say about this topic of study. Although I have only started reading the report there are a number of points in it that I would disagree with or question. One of these would be its assertion that the "private sector has done a very good job in the development of information for matching actual job vacancies and persons looking for work through the internet." In my opinion, the Job Bank is better than its private sector counterparts because it provides a NOC code for each job and good RSS feeds. The NOC codes make it easy to know what the jobs really are and the RSS feeds are easier to follow. As far as valuable missing information is concerned it should be possible to provide Beveridge Curve data by geographical area. In fact, why not give us Beveridge Curve data for aggregates of NOC codes by geographical areas?

I really would be interested to know whether other employment and career advisors had heard about this consultation when it was proceeding.

What the OECD Has in Mind for Canada

I found this today in the OECD 'Country Notes' for Canada.


Despite buoyant employment in recent years, the GDP-per capita gap vis-à-vis the United States remains substantial, reflecting to a large extent lower productivity levels.

Priorities supported by indicators

Reduce barriers to competition in professional services

Around 50 professions and 100 trades are regulated in one or more provinces. This limits interprovincial trade in services.

Actions taken: In April 2006, Alberta and British Columbia signed a comprehensive agreement to enhance trade in goods and services between the two provinces, providing mutual recognition of occupational certifications in both provinces. In September 2006, the federal government, all provinces and two territories agreed to achieve, by April 2009, compliance with the labour mobility provisions of the Agreement on Internal Trade for all existing regulated occupations.

Recommendations: Dismantle the remaining obstacles to inter-provincial trade and reduce the number of “regulated occupations”.

The Recommendations section suggests to me that some occupations, perhaps those like Personal Care Workers, might find it difficult to become recognised in the years ahead. Others may well lose their recognition. I would suggest that this is a way of making it easier for employers to bring unqualified people into the workplace.

Although the 'Red Seal' may appear to be a benefit to tradespeople it also obviously has the tendency to reduce labour costs overall by increasing the supply of labour where it might otherwise have been short.

I doubt that these changes are intended to benefit working people.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Jobs List for Career Developers: Maintenance

The list of jobs for career developers and people practising related occupations is update daily; it's available here. I've been informed (see comments below) that the Career Professionals site will again be listing jobs. Accordingly I will be adding their entries to my list.

If—when—you notice faults in my list do, please, let me know.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Jobs List for Career Developers: Maintenance

A jobs list for career developers and related occupations is available here. I update it on a daily basis. It gleans postings from Contact Point, Charity Village, the Job Bank,, Job Skills and At Work. The Career Professionals site no longer seems to be listing jobs, so it's no longer included in my listing.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Life's Disappointments

Losing a job is just one of life's disappoints, right? The best thing to do is to put it behind you. Smile. Laugh out loud and you won't even notice it.

Have a look at this.

What do you think?

For more see the Somatosphere blog item, Smile or Die: Barbara Ehrenreich on Positive Thinking (the cartoon version)

Rush of Business Ideas

If you are thinking of getting into business but are stuck for an idea here's a steady daily supply of really interesting ones. And, make it easy for yourself to track this source: get the feed.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Job: Job Developer/Employment Specialist - Toronto

See Thanks to Patricia Martin of Career Essentials.

Rights When Dealing with Police

Some of our clients—and perhaps some of us—could benefit from knowing just what rights we might have when we deal with police. Here's a video I learned about on the Wellesley Institute blog at Know Your Rights – A Public Legal Education Film.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

New Views of Poverty, I

Those of us who work in the fields of employment and literacy inevitably meet people in poverty. If you are one of those who asks what makes many people with meagre incomes unwilling to do what it takes to move up the socioeconomic ladder then you might be interested in what Charles Karelis has written about the subject.

"The Sting of Poverty" is an introduction from the Boston Globe. Here's an interview (with a transcript) from American National Public Radio. I'm indebted to Vaughn Bell (no relation) for making me aware of this line of thought in his recent blog item.

It makes a lot of sense to me, for what little that's worth.