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

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Arrival Cities and More Need for Unskilled People

In case you missed it, the Globe and Mail published How slums can save the world by Doug Saunders on Friday. Some of the points that caught my eye:
  • the need for areas in cities that make it easier for newcomers to make the transition into the wider Canadian population
  • a trend of increasing demand for unskilled personnel
  • Canada's projected shortage of workers.
I don't read newspapers. My thanks are due to @marcopolis.

Random Samples of Canadian Occupations

I dunno whether this is useful or not. It's intended to be a way of inducing people to explore career possibilities. So that they might think of things to do that they would not otherwise consider.

It's another of my iGoogle gadgets. When you tap the button it lists eight occupations drawn at random from the NOC list at*.

Here's what a typical result is like.

As you might expect, clicking on a title will take you to the relevant page in the NOC site. If you have any ideas about how to expand this gadget please let me know.

Dumbing Down When We Should Smarten Up

A recent post in The Guardian is about Why our jobs are getting worse. Briefly the claim is made that even "managerial" jobs are being made utterly routine and as free of discretionary input as possible.

Meanwhile lots more people achieve more and higher qualifications, and the tools at our disposal for making decisions improve on a daily basis.

Google is one toy that a lot of people have yet to exploit to its fullest. And then there's Wolfram-Alpha (affectionately known as W|A). It must represent another huge trend, and a need for people who know how to reduce business and engineering problems so that they are digestible by tools with less than human language skills.

As a simple example, suppose I had a ten-year-old, 65-pound granddaughter with a height of four feet, eleven inches? What would her ultimate height be?

Well, of course, almost any height might be possible. However, in all probability her adult height would be less than about 5'9". This is the graph that W|A provides as part of its response for that data.

If you want details about how to do this see My real point is that it's not just a calculator, or just a spreadsheet. When will employers appreciate the value and importance of engaging their employees? They're already capable of amazing things. With stuff like this imagine what would be possible.

PS: Interestingly, although W|A's development seems to have been guided largely by mathematicians when I attempted to respond to a question involving Diophantine equations from a few weeks ago I found that W|A didn't recognise this term. They've promised to add it.
PPS: Quite a few student questions that appear on aardvark could be answered using W|A. It's time teachers at all levels started mentioning it to students. Their services will be a lot more valuable with this knowledge and related skill.

Career Path Exploration à la Wall Street Journal

It's called Explore a Path to a Profession. I suppose that, being the Wall Street Journal, it seems natural for them to consider income level first after general area of interest but surely this page has to be one of the worst ways of going about making career decisions.

Except for one thing: The choice of career 'major' comes last. At least it offers the suggestion that a person should do some preliminary thinking before choosing their degree subject.

Dr Jim Bright on Chaos in Careers

I encountered an article by Dr Jim Bright about using chaos theory in careers guidance for the first time on line a week or two ago, on David Winter's blog "Careers — In Theory".

Here's Bright's article: Applied Chaos: Using the Chaos Theory of Careers in Counselling.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Client that Viewed Porn

One of the many distraught clients I have met eventually told me that he was unhappy because his use of pornography conflicted with his strong religious views. Again, as career developers, we meet people with all kinds of personal problems that create big difficulties for them in pursuing employment and careers. We are not positioned to offer therapy but it is better for us to have some acquaintance with the therapies might be available to those in need.

Here's a worthwhile article about this topic from Psychology Today: Watching Porn: The Problem That Must Not Be Named.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New: iGoogle Gadget for Searching is another great site for job search because it culls advertisements for permanent, full-time jobs from a large number of employers. You can become aware of employers here that you might never have thought of otherwise.

If you happen to be someone who uses iGoogle as a home base for your perambulations on the 'net then I've got just the thing for you. It's a gadget for iGoogle that makes it easy to keep up-to-date on

PS: In a previous post I mentioned that I've also created a similar gadget for I've corrected a couple of bugs in it. In particular, it now works properly with Internet Explorer.

To Succeed Think About Lots of Successes

In a nutshell: to prepare yourself to succeed—in a job interview, on an examination, etc—make a list of occasions when you have succeeded and bear them in mind. Don't use just one success story.

For a fuller discussion about this bit of psychology see Dr Heidi Grant Halvorson, Yesterday Influences Your Performance Today in Surprising Ways in Psychology Today.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Should Engineers Supervise Scientists?

Either the Ontario government thinks that they should, or they don't want to change Bill 68 so that this won't be necessary. In any case, discussions about this bill highlight an interesting comparison between occupations in engineering and science.

Rob Thacker is Canada Research Chair in Computational Astrophysics at Saint Mary's University. Read his article about this topic, What is an Engineer?, from The Mark.

Many Cdn University Grads Work Low-Skill Jobs

This graph is from an article that appeared in The Economist today: Study leave: Plenty of university graduates are working in low-skilled jobs. The newspaper got their information from the OECD.

Canadian graduates are not as badly off as those of Spain. Still, about 37% of them aged from 25-29 work at low-skill level jobs, and their average gross earnings are about $45,600.

I don't know how to make a logical appeal to an eighteen-year-old who is bent on paying a tonne of cash and several years' lost income to obtain a degree in psychology (like I did) to think about their future income prospects. Do you?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

More About Why Women Avoid STEM Careers

STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics

Diekman et al say that these careers are less likely to fulfill goals that involve working with or helping people that women endorse. See Seeking Congruity Between Goals and Roles: A New Look at Why Women Opt Out of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Careers.

Thanks to the BPS Research Digest.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Brilliant Way of Organising Career Stories

People come to career developers at all stages of their adult, working lives. We want them to be able to accept the possibility that there are alternative paths, and knowing that people in comparable situations have taken alternative paths might help them to do that.

That's why I really like one of the ways the stories in icould are organised. I had never seen career stories organised by 'life themes' before! includes a sizable and growing collection of videos and biographical notes about adult experiences of careers, and career changes, organised in various ways. Career developers could use selected stories to show that careers don't begin with high school or university. Or individuals can explore them for inspiration.

To be blunt, the only shortcoming of this site, from the point of view of most Canadian users, is that all of the stories involve British people and the terms used may be somewhat unfamiliar to many here.

Thanks are due to Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers for posting information about icould.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Applying Techniques of Persuasion

About a month ago Psyblog provided the following treatment of the six techniques of persuasion (from Cialdini, 2001). It is definitely worth using this list whenever you're planning a marketing document such as a résumé or a meeting with an employer.

  1. Liking:
    It's much easier to influence someone who likes you. Successful influencers try to flatter and uncover similarities in order to build attraction.

  2. Social proof.
    People like to follow one another, so influencers imply the herd is moving the same way.

  3. Consistency.
    Most people prefer to keep their word. If people make a commitment, particularly if it's out loud or in writing, they are much more likely to keep it. Influencers should try to gain verbal or written

  4. Scarcity.
    Even when companies have warehouses full of a product, they still advertise using time-limited offers that emphasise scarcity. People want what they can't have, or at least what might be running short.

  5. Authority.
    People are strongly influenced by experts. Successful influencers flaunt their knowledge to establish their expertise.

  6. Reciprocity.
    Give something to get something. When people feel indebted to you they are more likely to agree to what you want. This feeling could arise from something as simple as a compliment.
Here are some or my thoughts, strictly by way of illustration. You can probably think of better ideas.
  1. Liking: Know the potential employer well enough that you can show how you would fit their needs, including their cultural profile, if possible. Demonstrate your sensitivity to their needs.

  2. Social proof: You can offer suggestions in your marketing documents that the techniques and approaches that you use are becoming trends, or that more and more people with your qualifications are being hired.

  3. Consistency: When you network with a potential employer try to get some commitment to a reasonable follow-up from that individual (without being overbearing or obnoxious about it).

  4. Scarcity: At the very least avoid giving the impression that you are desperate for employment. Try to suggest that a number of employers are or would be interested.

  5. Authority: When you mention a college diploma or other qualification in your marketing documents your are implying that experts have endorsed your level of education.

  6. Reciprocity: At the very least, send a thank-you note.
You can combine some of these points too, clearly.

Advice: Working in Event Management

What is it like working in event management? includes advice from several people involved in this career area. Included in the Guardian Careers news feed today.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tell Clients: Do NOT Announce Your Goals

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Canada: Worker's Paradise for Vacations

Canada, a vacation paradise for workers? Perhaps not.

There's France, at the top. Workers there are allowed 30 days of paid annual leave, and there is an additional day of paid holiday.

Now look down, near the bottom. There's Canada.

Of course our consolation must be that most of the countries above us in the list have miserable standards of living. Like Germany, Sweden, Finland, France and Denmark.

Source: Michael Goldfarb, Would more holiday be good for America?