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

Monday, December 31, 2012

Already Taken a University Degree?

It's Still Not Too Late to Find Something You Really Enjoy Doing!

Here's the story of someone who was bored out of his tree in the occupation for which he trained at university. A continent or two away he became a big success in an unrelated occupation but found that the attitudes that probably led him into his original studies helped him toward that success.

Is Belgium still the capital of chocolate?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Countering Misinformation

More often than not we work with clients who are members of groups that are subjects of various kinds of prejudice. The young, the middle-aged, the old, women, men, people that have been incarcerated, etc, etc, etc. (If you see what I mean.)

When we speak to employers we need effective ways of dispelling these prejudices. When we counsel job seekers we need to impart targeted advice about how to cope with their unique situations.

As usual, it's important to remember that human beings are not simply computers. You could try a logical approach in eliminating each of my prejudices but I would cling to them like life itself.

To be successful you need to adopt some subtlety. Fortunately this is not enormously difficult. Here are the key items to remember:

  • You're dealing with misinformation. Explain why the source of the misinformation would have created it.
  • Keep it short.
  • Avoid repeating the misinformation itself since every repetition of it tends to reinforce it.
  • Indicate what misinformation you are refuting.
  • Keep repeating the facts as you offer your explanation of the truth.
  • Undermine the source by suggesting or demonstrating that they are not always or generally a reliable source of information.
  • Include yourself within the other person's world view by pointing out other areas of agreement between yourselves.
  • Encourage the other person to remind him- or herself of his own sense of self and his own place in the world by thinking of friends, family and other group memberships.

If you're a career developer think of a client in difficulty and then try to define that person in terms of the prejudices that employers might hold about him or her. Now work out how to convince an employer that those prejudices are unsound.

If you're a job seeker think about the categories in which an employer might unfairly place you. What prejudices attach to one of these categories, the category that might be most likely to cause you difficulty in becoming employed? Now work out how to confront that prejudice in your marketing materials or an interview.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Know Thyself: Free Course

This is very much what most career developers and others in this line of work are trying to induce our clients to do, isn't it? We are endeavouring to help our clients to a greater awareness of who they are as individuals and in their own social contexts.

Here's a chance to consider "research in Western philosophy, psychoanalysis, current experimental psychology, neuroscience, aesthetics, and Eastern philosophy as well." To my mind, just the kind of background that might delight many career developers.

Sign up for the March 2013 course at

Monday, October 22, 2012

What Résumés Are For (and Elevator Speeches)

First, because you probably won't believe me on the subject, read what Seth Godin has to say: No one ever bought anything on an elevator. Contrary to what anyone else has ever told you, you want time to make your proposition. You don't have that time in the elevator.

The principle is the same where a résumé is involved, right? You don't have the space to write down all of the good things you might do for an employer. Or, in other words, the résumé will not (usually) land the job for you. All you can hope to do is to whet an employer's interest in you—and more importantly indicate your interest in solving the problems that employers have. What you are trying to sell is an opportunity to meet to show that you can do what the employer needs.

When Something Good Happens Share It!

A few weeks ago I wrote here about the health benefits of keep a journal, which is just a forthright, private daily record of your own thoughts and feelings. I've just learned that you can do yourself some good by telling others about the good things that happen in your life.

You might as well read it too, eh?: Share news of your positive experiences and your joy will be multiplied.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ada Lovelace Day: Maud Menten

This is the day when everyone, worldwide, is invited to celebrate the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

I would like to mention Dr Maud Menten, whose work I encountered in the form of Michaelis-Menten kinetics when I was an undergraduate. In preparing for this year's ALD I have learned that (a) Menten was a woman, (b) that she was Canadian, and (c) that she was undaunted by the attitudes of her time. When she was not allowed to do research here she took herself off to where she could do it. It's outrageous of course that that should have been necessary.

In trying to fit the Michaelis-Menten equations to data I learned a lot. For instance, you can't expect to estimate four parameters with four data points, especially when error masks the true values. And, using linear approximations to equation systems can make a mess of error structures. And ... well, I've already said I learned much.

Nonetheless I eventually I realised that I was better at applications than discovery and I owe some of that to her. Now that I can look back at this over several decades I am even more amazed by what Menten was able to accomplish.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

I Promise Not to Say 'Agency' Again

My father used to say, "Use your own discretion." It never seemed to occur to him that I didn't have any at the ages when I knew him.

I think employers too offer frequent silent prayers that their subordinates will be conscious of, and activated by, the needs of their organisations. Many are utterly thrilled when employees actually anticipate need.

wikipedia says, "In the social sciences, agency refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices." [italics mine] I grimace now to remember times when I've used that term with groups of unemployed or under-employed clients when I'm trying to explain one of the characteristics of a desirable employee. Probably almost no-one outside academic circles uses the term to discuss anything. Why should I have expected my clients to recognise it?

I think a better term might be initiative. Employers want us to show a degree of initiative—without putting the organisation to undue risk. Would I be perverse in suggesting that one of the best exemplars of initiative is Jeeves? Here's one of many instances of his successes in getting Wooster out of trouble.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Giving Clients Audio Records of Your Advice

The circumstances of career developers vary, as do their relationships with clients. In many cases though we offer quite a few brief, general bits of advice about covering letters and résumés to one or more clients in quick succession, and time is constrained. Written notes can take more time than is available, and spoken comments can easily be forgotten by clients.

Why not record your spoken notes?

Not all clients that I work with have computer and network facilities capable of processing audio files. So I store them on one of the web sites that makes it possible to record and play back my voice right on the site, soundcloud. (I am not claiming that it's the best or anything like that!) I mark my recording 'private' and then send it as a URL to the client in an email in which I explain what it is. The benefit to the client is that she can listen to the recording as many times as might be necessary. The benefit to me is that I find that I can critique a résumé that is 'not too bad' in about three minutes.

There is one additional wrinkle in the solution that you might face too. If your microphone is like mine then you will have found that it is good enough for Skype but too feeble for soundcloud. To remedy this problem I do my recordings with Audacity—which also provides a benefit. After I have used Effect | Amplify to increase the volume of my recordings I can then use Effect | Noise removal ... to eliminate some of the background noise. The recording that I save and then upload to soundcloud for the client is much better and all this takes very little time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

CDP Certification Ontario: Needs Assessment

The Stewardship Group have published their results: Needs Assessment Survey Results.

You can keep up-to-date with this activity by subscribing here.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Searching Google: Bedrock Skill for Job Seekers

lifehacker has just made me aware of Power Searching with Google, google's own course that introduces the basic and advanced features of its search machine. I've been using google almost every day of the year for years and years, and I still learned a thing or two, and was reminded to be more deliberate. I highly recommend this.

Job seekers need it for finding advertisements (obviously!); for finding sites to monitor for opportunities; to obtain information about industries, trends, labour markets, companies, important people and so on; and for thinking about career alternatives.

Career developers might be able to develop some of the great teaching examples presented in this course too.

A pleasant way to learn google, complete with exercises. If you're impatient then take the advice of one of the people that comments in the lifehacker article and use the googleguide.

I hope that the graphic presented here can be considered so-called 'fair use'. It consists of crops from two screen captures from the first video in the course.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Recruiting Deaf People for Visual Monitoring

Vaughn Bell1 comments on reports that a Mexican city in Deaf police to monitor security cameras. As he points out, this implies that people employed in this way are not disabled but 'super-abled.'

1No relation to me.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Overcoming Unemployment: Keeping a Journal

Keeping an expressive journal or diary can help some people to recover from the unpleasant feelings that arise from becoming unemployed, no matter what the cause. Expressive writing is writing that conveys your full and honest feelings and perceptions about something—in this case how you feel about becoming unemployed and your perceptions of that condition. You are writing for yourself and no-one else. It's private and you can write anything you like.

If you're like me you can keep to a daily schedule of expressive writing for about two to three days. (Maybe four.) Unfortunately, however, expressive writing is a lot like a course of antibiotics and it's necessary to use up the entire prescription. But unemployment, like infectious disease, isn't nice and its effects might take longer to remedy than a few days.

This is where a relatively new category of web apps might help you. They enable you to keep a secure (ie, private) journal. Here's one that I like because it reminds me to write my entries. I try to write up to about five good things I've done or seen each day.

Another one,, that is more full-featured is described in this video.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Issues in Networking and Jobs

How I wish I could find more Canadian content! But I can't. So here's something from the BBC.

Thinking Aloud is a regularly schedule programme. In this one, "'Jobs for the Boys?' Laurie Taylor talks to Professor Irena Grugulis about her contention that working class people don't get job opportunities in the UK TV and film industry because they don't have the right accents, clothes, backgrounds or friends. The media expert, Sir Peter Bazalgette and Professor of Sociology, Mike Savage, respond to this research and explore nepotism, networking and discrimination in the media world and beyond."

I think some of the remarks about social class are relevant to the Canadian context. But two other aspects of this discussion resonated more strongly for me.
  1. Linking to socially distant people and managing to keep up contact with them can bring rewards in the form of information about opportunities such as jobs. However, it is the people to whom one is most closely connected that know one and are best able to place one in employment.
  2. As mentioned in the interviews, some young people are acquainted with very few people in occupations other than the ones their parents do. I was one of these 'young people.' I believe that it may considerably limit the numbers of career opportunities that these individuals will think to entertain. What can we do?

Larry Smith: Why you will fail to have a great career

Larry Smith is a University of Waterloo Professor of Economics who is said to be frustrated by the waste of talent that he sees. (As am I.) In this video he caricatures many of the excuses he has heard for failing to find and identify a life's passion.

The only refinement I would presume to add is that it's important to look for a market niche for one's passion and to be sure that the passion somehow exploits one's strengths.

Please enjoy.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pervasiveness of Robotic Systems

Many of us, even those of us who live in parts of the world where labour is cheap, are in direct competition with robotic systems. This video indicates the range of applications of these systems. You need not agree with its conclusions at the end to find first part useful.

What fields of human endeavour are most likely to be important in creating and deploying robotic systems? Are there any fields that a person that could take up that will help us to make best use of them?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Income Security

To the extent that career developers help people to find suitable jobs we are enhancing the world's economic efficiency by introducing resources sooner. Many of the world's countries also have employment insurance systems that are intended not only to prevent wasteful individual financial difficulties, or actual hardship, but also to afford time for people to again find suitable jobs that optimise their contributions to the economy, as reflected in their incomes. There is one other system of measures that a country can provide to stabilise its work force that we seldom hear about. I refer to the one that provides for employment protection.

According to the OECD1 Canada has some of the slenderest measures for the protection of employment in the world. Of those countries listed to the left only the United States provides less protection. Please see the chart to the left.

blue: Protection of individual workers against (individual) dismissal
red: Specific requirements for collective dismissal
yellow: Regulation on temporary forms of employment

This limited protection means that employees can be dismissed more easily by employers in countries at the top of the list. It might also mean that people seeking employment, or in employment, in these countries are likely to feel an imperative to be more 'flexible' in their relations with employers. One of the dangers of putting excessive power into the hands of employers might be the tendency for them to act in haste when dismissing someone, without thought for the costs of rehiring or the reasons for the failure that has occurred.

I also notice that, at least according to the OECD, Canada has fewer provisions for the protection of the employment of temporary workers than any of the other countries listed. If, as has been suggested, the Canadian government moves to invite more international temporary workers then this could have the effect of depressing the already low standard for all workers in this country. Which is something to think about.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Jobs List for Career Developers

My thanks to all those who have let me know that it has not been working.

The Contact Point site has changed. The list should, in effect, simply ignore this site for the time being. I will add its contents back into the mix when, and if, I can.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Applicant Tracking System Thoughts

Nowadays even small organisations use applicant tracking systems to process the enormous numbers of applications they receive in response to job advertisements. It therefore pays to know something about these systems themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, and about the attitudes, knowledge and beliefs of the people that use or provide advice about them.

Sean Carruthers, the 'Global Hermit,' recently made a programme for CBC radio about this topic. You can listen to the complete interviews he did for the programme, and the programme itself here.

Here's what I want to know: One of the people interviewed says that job sites are on their way out, and that social networking will replace them. Has anyone seen any good statistical evidence for this statement?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Beware of Teachers

I've had this item on my list of topics for many months. Although it will probably offend a few people I believe that it is important. Training and education are necessary steps in many peoples' lives and sometimes unwitting, careless, senseless or cruel behaviour on the part of a teacher does more harm than all of their instruction.

As career developers we might need to be ready to hear clients when they talk about their experiences with teachers. Here are a couple of my experiences:
  • A couple of years ago I walked into the office of my boss in a university business school. He told me that he had just told some student that he (the student!) wasn't suited to university. Need I say that chances are that this advice would have been devastating to the student? And isn't it amazing what conclusions people can come to? The student was obviously a completely hopeless case.

  • This seems to happen again and again.

    My education was not a smooth flow from one institution to the next. At one point I took a night school course as part of my university entrance requirements. The teacher asked little of us as a class; consequently almost no-one said anything, me included. One evening he brightened sufficiently to ask us why we were taking his course. When my turn came I told him my intentions he said, "You don't wanna go to university." Now I wonder how he could conclude that. However, I can see that he might have deserved a place in a university business school.
And about 40-odd years ago I was pretty bad as a schoolteacher myself.

We become accustomed to being marked and graded by teachers rather than judging for ourselves. Perhaps students should be encouraged or advised to see their teachers in a somewhat different light:
  • Especially at post-secondary levels, most of the people that teach, or lecture, are experts in subjects other than teaching or one of the support occupations. Furthermore, many of these same people regard themselves primarily as researchers; they are teachers as distant seconds.
  • Remarks made by teachers might very well be by chance, or just offhand. Also, a student might be well to remember that even a full-time teacher who has spent many years in the occupation could very well be jaded and bored.
  • If teachers seem to represent an inachievable level of skill, knowledge and expertise then remember that, very often, they have been revising that same area of interest for many years. A teacher might be a gifted researcher but that does not likely mean that they have developed everything that they are passing on to you themselves. Both of you are in a long chain of learners.
  • Lots of teachers are second and third stringers, like most of us.
One of the university teachers I had told a class of us (something like), "Some people can count, some can't." Being short of confidence myself, it took me about a nanosecond to conclude that I was in the latter group. The truth is that, given patient practice—and a modicum of confidence in oneself!—anyone can learn to count in the sense intended by that teacher.

I believe that this teacher meant well. He was probably trying to comfort those of us who would have apparently insurmountable difficulty learning to count. Unfortunately, his psychological strategy was flawed. Here's the article that finally stirred me to write this post: Be careful when comforting struggling students.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Test: Can You Compete Under Pressure?

After you undergo a series of repeated tests involving simple psychomotor skills, coached by short videos of olympic athlete Michael Johnson, further clever use is made of videos of him to give you feedback about your performance and the characteristics of your response to pressure. Try the test.

I can't believe that anyone could possible do better than my best: 56.1 seconds.

The test is part of what is intended to be the largest-ever study of the psychology of pressure: more details here.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Career Developer Jobs List: Do Me a Favour?

I don't look at the list every day myself. Consequently when something goes wrong with the software that generates it I might not notice for some time.

I've arranged to include some diagnostic information at the top of the report. What you see to the left is typical.

If you don't see this diagnostic stuff then you can trying reloading the page; that might work. If it doesn't, please tell me.

If the 'others' entry is anything more than zero, please tell me.

If any of the counts is 0 or 1 (or less than 2, however you prefer to think of it), please tell me.

In this latter case it's possible that the site from which I am extracting advertisement information has changed its formatting. For example, I understand that Contact Point is planning to make changes soon. When they do my software will be unlikely to cope, and the count for Contact Point will become either 0 or 1. In that event, please tell me.


Job: Job Developer, Dunnville, ON

"... duties will include developing employment opportunities for clients in the Haldimand area, providing client assessment and case management, developing service plans, providing group skills development, individual counselling and marketing program to local employers."

I can't find a link other than the one to the entire organisation at their Dunnvile site:

Job: Employment and Career Advisor, UAE

"... will assist the Career Development and Employer Relations team and is responsible for following-up with employer contacts established by the Marketing and Community Relations team."

Job: Employment Counsellor, St Catharines, ON


Friday, April 27, 2012

CDP Certification Ontario: Join!

"We are an elected group of volunteers voted in on July 18, 2011 to advance the Career Development profession by developing a certification model."

For fuller information and to subscribe.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Geek, Don't Be

I know. I know. I know. This is an advertisement. However, and all that. See if you get it.

Being Geek: The Software Developer's Career Handbook from lonelysandwich on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Other Transferrables Beyond Skills, II

A couple of days ago I referred to another blogger's post. It indicates that our client's transferrables include their social networks. Today I learned that there's some hard evidence, on the Barking Up the Wrong Tree blog. See Should prospective employees be judged by the size of their networks? where an MIT report says that each IBM employee's "e-mail contact was worth an added $948 in revenue" on average.

Of course not every prospective employer can be expected to know and understand the value of a network.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Job: Facilitator/Employment Counsellor, Calgary, AB

"The Facilitator/Employment Counsellor is responsible for training volunteers in providing
interpretation and translation services.  The Facilitator/Employment Counsellor is also responsible
for providing volunteers with employment counselling support."


Bigger list:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Other Transferrables Beyond Skills

Here's a blog entry by Craig A DeLarge pointing out that clients have other transferrables, beyond skills, that they can use or offer in securing career change or new employment: Is it a Prison or a Bridge? What are Your Transferrabilities?

Put briefly, they should not forget that they have networks. Similarly they have business and industry experience and knowledge. It's best to make an explicit effort to identify all of these.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Careers Advice: The Horse's Mouth

The best way of getting information about any specific career is still to go out and talk to people that are already practising in that career. Since that's not always feasible it's important to have other sources.

I have mentioned that quite a number of people are predicting that careers in 'big data' will become more numerous. That is probably why this item on Quora caught my eye: How do I become a data scientist? It contains some very useful advice.

Most of us are aware of LinkedIn as a place to ask others about career prospects, although I have found that it's important to filter answers from LI to omit those that do not come from people with real experience. Peeling back the URL provides the address of a collection of Quora Q&A that might also be a useful source:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Self-Harm Is Not Done for 'Attention'

The reasons for it are complex. Vaughn Bell1 refers to a study that looks at various motivations for these behaviours; he also provides some of the illustrative examples given in the article.

To me, the important point he makes is that too many health professionals think that self-harm is done merely as a way of gaining attention, which is unhelpful. If this is true of those practitioners then it might be true of some of us too.

See The complex motivations for self-harm.

1no relation

Interviewers Should Ask to See Facebook Pages

Because they can easily learn so much about applicant bad habits, right?

Or maybe not. Let us never forget that one is not supposed to inquire about a job applicant's marital status, age or various other characteristics. In fact, if one does it can lead to quite amusing legal consequences for the interviewer's organisation.

Read I hereby (fictionally) resign to see how requests to see facebook pages could backfire.

I just saw this on today's O'Reilly's Four Short Links, part of a feed for programmers and other geeks.

Job: Employment Counselling, Sydney, NS

"Knowledge of the counselling process. Knowledge of Case Management, knowledge of employability issues pertaining to African Nova Scotians, the ability to assist in developing and delivering workshops, maintain complete and updated client information, experience in employment counselling, the ability to work closely with clients, the ability to network with employers and other organizations, able to develop and maintain an effective interpersonal working relationship with others, good oral and written communications, and other duties as required."

Bigger list of jobs:

Job: Team Leader, Sydney, NS

"... Must have good interpersonal and communication skills with the ability to identify barriers to employment and training and assist clients to develop job readiness and job search skills. ..."

Bigger list of jobs:

Friday, March 30, 2012

Job: Job Developer, North York, ON

I cannot provide a reference to an advertisement. Here are the most important parts of the text of an email that was forwarded to me by Patricia Martin.

If you know of anyone interested in the Job Developer position here at the JCA/EO center, kindly direct them to forward their resume to the program manager and copy the program supervisor:

Program manager -Shamette Hepburn ( ) 416 746-5772 x239
Program supervisor- Mansur Mussa ( – 416 746-5772 x247

Please use my name as the referral source, ok.

Adrienne Simmons
Employment Ontario Services
Jamaican Canadian Association
995 Arrow Road ( finch & 400 )
North York, ON
M9M 2Z5

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Interviews: Can You Demonstrate Team Play?

Your résumé claims that you are a team player and a prospective employer believes that and other statements in the document to a degree sufficient to invite you for an interview. How many ways can  you think of to show your ability and willingness to function as a member of a team? (Incidentally I want you to think about behaving as an effective member of a team, not its leader.)

Here are some ways I can think of:

  • Bring extra copies of your résumé and cover letter, in case someone on the interview committee has forgotten to bring theirs.
  • Bring an extra pen and note paper for a similar reason.
  • Smile, establish suitable eye contact with each person on the interview committee, and try to give each of them a fair amount of your attention.
  • Speak audibly and clearly, and watch to make sure that you are properly understood. If you are unsure that you have been understood then ask. Play back what you hear and understand from interviewers until  you show them you understand them. Support their efforts to communicate without being condescending.
  • Be open about failings and shortcomings early in the interview, about successes and strengths late in the interview.
  • If opportunity permits explain how you have cooperated with team members in the past to achieve results.
  • Ask what they need for success and how they prepare to go about getting it.

Team work and courtesy save effort.

Now, your turn. Help us all by putting your ideas in the comments, will you?

How Do You Spend Your Day?

Most of us imagine that our careers will consist of days spent doing only a few relatively interesting and rewarding activities. The gruesome reality is that almost all of us will find that we do a large variety of things, some fun, some not. When you consider a job or career it's important to try to take into account all of the ancillary activities that might be required of you.

This graphic appeared on Seth Godin's blog. He seems to have found it on the APhotoEditor blog.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What Technological Change Will Bring

I dunno.

Someone called John Naughton of Cambridge recently said something like: "Stand on the bridge in Mainz in about 1460 with a clipboard and ask passers-by what the effect of Gutenberg's press will be."

Wouldn't that sum it up?

Can Your Client Study?

  • Few attractive career paths exist that do not involve periods of study to gain entry to them.
  • Most people who have gained entry to some career area will find that they have to keep learning. Some will find that repeated formal training or education is necessary. Some will find it necessary to choose new careers when their old ones disappear.
  • Fortunately, the ability to study multiplies a person's innate talents and abilities. Not only does the ability to study effectively make you able to grasp more material and to grasp it more effectively, the knowledge and skills that you gain can make you more effective and marketable.
I would say that this implies that career developers can legitimately discuss study skills with clients. I need to watch for items that might help career developers with this. Meanwhile here is some advice from distinguished psychologist, Professor Robert BjorkHow to Succeed in College: Learn How to Learn.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Occasional Advice for Writers from the NFB

The National Film Board of Canada has a facebook page. Mostly it seems to be announcements of their own productions but sometimes there's stuff like this:

5 Useful Habits of a Beginning Screenwriter
Is Your Script Ready?
6 Writing tips from John steinbeck

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Clicklaw wikibook: Legal Help for British Columbians


Expressive Writing: Intervention for Job Loss

Most people find job loss more or less stressful and some people find it difficult to put the loss of a job behind them. Not every remedy that has been proposed works for everybody. Still it's worth our having a stock of them to use when we encounter clients in difficulty. Interestingly, I understand that the classic study paradigm for trials of expressive writing for helping people to rid themselves of distressing feelings involved subjects that had experienced job losses.

Again, I read about this in Richard Wiseman's 59 Seconds book, the one that I mentioned just a day or two ago. However, I've done a little additional research to have enough information to hand to be able to use this intervention when needed.

The essential idea is to have the client simply jot down his or her thoughts, feelings and associations about the job loss, using pen or pencil on paper. The method is best used a few weeks to a few months after the loss. What is especially attractive about it in my opinion is that it is obviously low in cost, has proven to be low in risk and requires little effort on the part of practitioners. I won't attempt to suggest why it helps because, apparently, there are numerous theories!

The method is fully described in the Handbook of Low-Cost Interventions. Fortunately for us the handbook chapter we need is available here.

Jobs (2): Employment Counsellor ..., Duncan & Parksville, BC

Better you should read the ad than that I should try to summarise it.


More vacancies:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Apply For More Than One at a Time

Haven't we all tried to convince job seekers to apply for more than one job at a time? Maybe they just want to live the high life that's only possible on Employment Insurance as long as possible. Anyway when people do this the likelihood is that the component of their emotional tone is likely to resemble this curve.

You find a suitable job, apply, interview and are rejected. Slide into hopeless despair, unwilling ever to work again. Gradually you reconsider your situation, start looking again and begin seeing possibilities. The cycle begins anew.

Need one mention that is this not fun?

Here's the extraodinarily simple alternative: Always keep several job hunts going simultaneously. That greenish curve along the top suggests what might happen to your general emotional tone. Certainly any one of the rejections will cause a dip; however, because you will be experiencing some level of interest—or even excitement or exhilaration—in another job-hunting cycle, perhaps the dip will not be so big. This will help you to do better work in all of your job search.

Should I come clean and mention that this idea is due to someone called Priscilla Claman, and that I found her article on the Harvard Business Review blog? And I used Wolfram-Alpha to make the plots from which I derived these graphics.

Forget Skills & Experience: Are You Nice?

I have often wondered why prospective employers asked me whether I'd looked at their web site. Were they checking to find whether I'm thick enough to believe that it would actually reflect what it would be like to work in their organisation?

Of course not. Just my cynicism working overtime again.

They might have been trying to find out if I can play nice though. Here's what Richard Wiseman says, in 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute: "After analyzing the mass of data, the research team exploded some of the myths about why interviewers choose candidates for a  job, discovering a surprising reality. Did the likelihood depend on qualifications? Or was it work experience? In fact, it was neither. It was just one important factor—did the candidate appear to be a pleasant person?" [italics mine, eh]

So that's it: nobody cares whether you can do the job! Just smile, maintain eye contact, don't worry and be happy.

Well, almost. By the time you're interviewed the employer has already studied your résumé, and many will have the sense to check your references and credentials afterwards. However, the startling revelation that the interviews themselves are not entirely objective ways of evaluating candidates does not appear to have percolated through to everyone yet.

This and the other notes in Wiseman's book are useful and tantalising at the same time. Each needs further research to be fully useful to practitioners, in my opinion. Indeed, in this case, I notice that quite a number of researchers have picked up the thread.

This one looks very useful:

You might wish to use Google Scholar for more.

Job: Employment Consultant, Hamilton, ON

"The Employment Consultant provides individual assessments and on-going support and career guidance to clients, seeks and develops job and placement opportunities for individual clients with employers, and matches clients’ employment and training needs with those of participating employers."


More vacancies:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Job: Resource Advisor, Abbotsford, BC

"providing support to clients to ensure awareness of services available at our Apollo satellite office (West end of Abbotsford)."


Big list of vacancies:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Job Bank Available Again

Also, I have made the minor modifications necessary to make the Jobs for Employment Counsellors work properly with the Job Bank again.As always, if you notice any problems or faults please let me know.

Job: Placement Officer, Petawawa, ON

"Reporting to the Supervisor of Employment Service (ES), Petawawa Military Family Resource Centre, the Placement Officer is responsible for the development and delivery of job matching, and placement, job/training retention services and employment support to residents of Petawawa to Deux Rivieres through the partnership agreement with the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU)."


Bigger list:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Stayin' Alive

Very few of the people choosing career paths consider the dangers to which they will be exposed, I imagine. Perhaps we should. Here's part of the executive summary from the Centre for Living Standard's report, Five Deaths a Day: Workplace Fatalities in Canada, 1993-2005.

"The most dangerous industry in which to work over the 1996-2005 period was mining, quarrying and oil wells (49.9 per 100,000 workers or one out of 2,000); followed by logging and forestry (42.9 per 100,000 per workers or one out of 2,300); fishing and trapping (35.6 fatalities per 100,000 workers or one out of every 2,800 workers), agriculture (28.1 fatalities per 100,000 workers or one out every 3,600 workers and construction (20.6 per 100,000 workers or one out of 4,900). Finance and insurance was the least dangerous industry, with only 0.2 fatalities per 100,000 workers or one death for every 500,000 workers."

These are all annual averages; for instance, on average 49.9 workers out of every 100,000 employed in mining, quarrying and oil wells died at work every year between 1996 and 2005. It's also worth remembering that death might be considered just the most extreme result of something that has occurred in the workplace.

Job: Case Manager, Maple Ridge, BC

"... Provides employment counselling for employment readiness and to improve level of self-sufficiency and reducing barriers to employment. ..."


More jobs:

Job: Job Developer, Ajax, ON

"Prospect for new employers and maintain good relationship with current employers to meet the employment needs of YEAH’s clients, and its contractual requirements"


More jobs:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Exploring Occupations with a Theme

I am working with a client who likes to work with seniors. She's not sure what occupations or kinds of jobs would suit her, and one way of encouraging clients to identify the dimensions of their preferences and needs is to have them look at actual jobs. With some clients you can make a study of what is available an application of study skills.

Of course there are books that answer this need for some fields of interest. However, with the client's permission I wanted to use this opportunity to explore a more general solution.

In a nutshell here's what we're doing and how we got there (may look complicated but really isn't):

  1. The client is computer savvy; I've introduced her to Google Reader and showed her the basics of subscribing to and processing RSS feeds. (Took fully ten minutes, including my screw-ups.)
  2. Knowing that she's interested in seniors I did a preliminary search on and found that if I search for that I receive a lot of 'hits' with 'senior' in the titles. I made a mental note to exclude these; she doesn't need to see items like 'Senior Accountant.'
  3. To get started I thought of the following key words that might lead to relevant jobs: seniors, retirement, geriatrics. You're too polite to comment about this.
  4. used to offer RSS feeds for each search performed. I notice they no longer do. However, I know that RSS feeds still work. I therefore needed to determine how to construct the URLs that constitute RSS feeds. Although I have been unable to learn the full syntax of what will accept I know enough for our present purposes.

    To get an RSS feed for this client, for the key words mentioned, for Ontario I can use:

    (If I had only one key word I could just delete the unneeded key words and the '+or+' items connecting them.)
  5. Remember: I want to exclude jobs with 'senior' in the titles. But I don't know how to do that using an RSS feed. Again, as in some previous posts, I turn to Yahoo! Pipes. It's not difficult for cases like this! Be warned it won't work on the Chrome browser; it works on Internet Explorer. All you need to do is drag-and-drop a few thingys from the left-hand column into the tableau and connect them with pipes, then save with a suitable name and tell your users the URL of your creation. Here's the one for my client who's interested in seniors.
    • See how the 'Fetch Feed' thingy appears in the list of 'Sources' to the left?
    • The 'Filter' thingy appears in the list of 'Operators' to the left.
    • The URL for the RSS feed discussed above is keyed into the edit box just under the word 'URL' in the 'Fetch Feed' thingy.
    • See how the 'Filter' looks at the item.title and, if it Contains Senior then the item of which it is a part is Block'ed.
  6. Having saved this and followed the link 'Back to My Pipes' (elsewhere on the page shown) I simply click on the 'Google' button to add the feed to Google Reader. To supply my client with the page containing this button I give her the page's URL, as you might in any other situation (except that these URLs are extremely ugly). Better to send in an email.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Job: Employment & Life Skills Development Coord, North York, ON

"Main responsibilities include: delivering skills development and training workshops; developing a pool of stakeholders to support the social component of the SPE; working with the SPE Advisory Committee to achieve the SPE’s life skills and employment goals."


Longer list of jobs:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Creative Commons & Open Source Licences

Does everyone (else, ie, apart from me) know how easy it is to add a Creative Commons Licence thingy to your work? By affixing one to your set of slides or to a video or to anything else you have created or the 'net you can indicate to a potential 'borrower' whether you are open to permitting its being re-used and the usual terms of re-use. Here's Understanding Creative Commons Licenses by someone called Heather Edick. Although I have seen more extensive, and more complicated treatments, this one has the great advantage of getting the rat into the goal box fast. Just follow the link, answer a few questions and you get a shiny new set of HTML ready to paste in.

Job Bank Down, III

As mentioned in an earlier post here, Liz LaForme in Chris Charlton's federal constituency office said that she might be able to provide further information about why the Job Bank is down this week. Here is the link she sent in her email to me this morning 8.58:

I suppose we just have to wait and see.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Is Capitalism Collapsing? What Do I Know?

Loretta Napoleoni seems quite convinced and she offers some convincing arguments suggesting, at the very least, that it is time for a renewal of the foundations of Western economies.

Here is here recent talk at the RSA.

Like the US in an earlier period of history China has enough people to form its own market. Care to guess what role Canada would play in China's economy as far as they are concerned?

(Image, due to Peter Hodsoll, from wikipedia.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

David Foot on Economic & Employment Trends

One of today's CBC archives features David Foot, author of Boom, Bust and Echo. For easy updates let me suggest this video, where Foot is interviewed by Steve Paikin, or this one, an interview on the Business News Network. Or go here for a great collection of videos and written works that includes these.

Job Bank Down, II

Liz LaForme in Chris Charlton's federal constituency office, assures me that the Job Bank is indeed inaccessible due to technical issues only. She has placed some telephone calls to ascertain details and may be in a position to report further information after Tuesday of next week, once she has had the opportunity of conferring with Charlton, who is out-of-town.

I expressed the opinion that it would be best if some official or member of the government could be prevailed upon to reassure Job Bank users by providing some indication of how long it might be before service would resume.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Job Bank Down

When I attempt to interrogate the Government of Canada Job Bank for 4213 and 4215 vacancies I receive a page that says, in part: 'Job Bank and Job Bank for Employers are currently unavailable due to technical difficulties.' This has been the case for several days now.

I don't know why this should be happening. Do any readers of this blog know?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Savvy Employers Will Take an Interest

Although it appears to me that most employers still rely on what they read in applicants' résumés and what they are able to ellicit from applicants during interviews there are some that look for more reliable and objective, if not scientific, ways of assessing candidates. Some will discover an area of research that links personality to positive work performance attributes. Here's what one recent paper says, in part:

'Workers who are engaged in their jobs tended in dispositional terms to be emotionally stable, socially proactive, and achievement oriented.'

Although the paper warns that that these individual factors might very well interact with job characteristics it seems almost inevitable that some employers will ignore petty details like that. To be attractive to an employer pretend to be rock-solid emotionally, exhibit a normal level of extraversion and give the appearance of being ambitious (in the area of interest to the employer).

I came across mention of this line of work at What kind of personality helps you engage with work?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Job: Employment Consultant, Mississauga, ON

"Conducts employability assessments with clients using Employment Service suitability indicators, potential employer requirements and labour market opportunities."


Fuller listing of jobs:

Note: The Job Bank site has been reporting technical difficulties recently.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Job: Employment Case Manager, Chilliwack, BC

"Responsible for case management including: client intake and conducting assessments of
individuals employability, development and implementation of individualized action plans, referral to
appropriate services and/or providers, monitoring of clients and management of individual client funds."


Fuller list of jobs:

Incidentally, at the time of this posting the Job Bank is unresponsive, ie, not providing any listings of jobs, so there are none from this source on the 'fuller list.'

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Meme: How Occupations Are Perceived

Aren't the perceptions just a tad different from each other? Eh?

And wouldn't this be kinda important for anyone thinking about what occupation they should follow? Eh?

To see quite a few of these displays nicely laid out go here. For the mother lode go here. For how your dream occupation is perceived search your own imagination and do some information interviewing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Recognising Foreign Credentials Is Difficult

Yes, I think it is in many cases. But don't take my word for it. Here's what Professor Frances Woolley of Carleton University has to say about the subject.

Job: Specialized Employment Coach, Kelowna, BC

"The Specialized Employment Coach is responsible for encouraging, through a coaching methodology, full participation by their clients in employment services that are targeted to specific client needs."


Bigger jobs list:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Most Influential Careers People?

In the social networking space, that is. No, it definitely ain't me.

One site that tries to measure this is Whether or not you make your twitter feed, blog site, LinkedIn account, facebook page or what-have-you known to klout it may well find you and attempt to evaluate your level of influence by counting the numbers of people that pay attention to you. By some sort of magic it also attempts to know what areas you take an interest in.

If you, as a career developer, want to know what advice the masses are grazing on these days then there might be no better place to start than Some of these might be good places for us to sample as ways of learning how to present some of these ideas. Or maybe we should be saying something more useful or enlightening?

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Life's Plan, in Less Than a Minute

Here's about one minute from late in Allan Gregg's TVOntario interview of Sheena Iyengar. "Columbia University professor Sheena Iyengar is the author of 'The Art of Choosing.' She explores the factors, conscious or unconscious, that determine the choices we make. She believes humans have an inate desire to choose."

This is similar in concept to the approach that many career developers take. So, if you're pressed for time ... !

Full interview.

Discrimination: What We All Suspect

Immigrants find it much more difficult to land jobs in Canada. We all know that. What most of us might prefer not to face—or lack empirical evidence of—is that immigrants with non-English sounding names are at a considerably greater disadvantage. Read Professor Mike Corak of Ottawa's blog entry, Immigrants face challenges in finding jobs that are not of their own making for an introduction to some statistics that substantiate this fact and a pointer to the paper that produced them by Professor Philip Oreopoulos of the University of Toronto.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Great Way of Building a Learning Resource

Google indexes a vast array of stuff that we can use for workshops and other learning events for our clients. But you can't just give people a list of URLs. You need to organise them so that the information in them flows as smoothly as possible. Here is yet another way of introducing that organisation. It's available at a site called Mentormob and here's their video describing their service. (What you get is a nice playlist.)

I'm indebted to Paul Hamilton of BC, over at Free Resources from the Net for Every Learner, for making me aware of this.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Job: Employment and Training Consultant, Windsor, ON

"You will administer new and expanded training and employment programs ..."


Other jobs:

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Job: Resource Centre Assistant, Vancouver, BC

"The Resource Centre Assistant assists clients in their job search process, coordinates and facilitates workshops as well as maintains a current job board suitable to clients needs."


Bigger list of jobs:

Job: Case Manager (Specialized Disabilities)

"This position works to engage those we serve from a client-centered and strengths-based perspective to create individualized job action plans."


Fuller jobs listing:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Job: Employment Counsellor / Adult Educator, Toronto, ON


Meme We Can Use

Here's a poster you can use to introduce the idea of looking for telltale signs of client interests.

Let me try it with you.

What activities seem to draw your attention? (Please forgive me the pun.) Can you see how these activities might blend together to define alternative occupations?

Note that I wrote 'alternative occupations.' Any of us could be content in any of a number of them. Some we could do; some we couldn't. Some occupations are in demand or will be in demand; some won't.

So, think of what you find yourself doing, then think of various occupations that involve as many likable activities as possible.

My thanks to Cyndi I. for including this poster in her fb page, and to David Rockerchild, whose page she shared it from.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Average Annual Provincial Employment Growth Rates

"Over the last decade, the top three provincial performers in terms of average annual employment growth rates have been Alberta, BC and Quebec – with Ontario in fourth place."

Livio Di Matteo, economist at Lakehead University, says, 'Go West!'


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Job: Employment Consultant, North York, ON

"Provide culturally sensitive employment services including intake and assessment, one-to-one
and group employment counselling and referrals."


Job: Employment Counsellor, Toronto, ON

"Assist unemployed Aboriginal clients in the GTA to obtain employment"


Friday, January 20, 2012

Job: Employment Consultant, Toronto, ON

"This position is responsible for providing employment services for clients."


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Job: Employment Resource Counsellor, Waterloo, ON

"Provides individual support towards employment for Ontario Works (OW) clients."


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Job: Employment Counsellor, Vancouver, BC

"[T]he Employment Counsellor provides assessment, planning and referral services to clients of  [the Skills Connect for Immigrants Program]."


Monday, January 16, 2012

The Lean Startup

Some of us need to identify career paths that mainly involve working for others and some of us will start businesses. In my view the advice that Eric Ries offers might be valuable to both categories of people if it's suitably interpreted. For instance, he speaks of the 'vanity' results that are sometimes quoted for a start-up business. These might be counts of the number of visitors to the start-ups website or the number of times that someone has downloaded the trial copy of a software product. Although they might make the people in the start-up feel good, unless they generate income or lead to income generation these numbers are of no value to investors. Likewise, I would say that numbers of qualifications on a résumé could also be of little interest to employers unless they are relevant.

It's worth listening to Eric Ries here, if only because he's entertaining. One of his essential messages is about the importance of investing the minimum effort necessary to determine where the demand for a product or service is actually located. You can also read an interview with him here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Minimalist Start to Search for Meaning

One way to begin constructing a meaningful life for yourself might be to imagine what it would be like to live without possessions and without an income. And you don't have to go to some exotic place in a distant continent if you want to try this out. In fact, a German lady, Frau Hildemarie Schwermer, has been living her life this way since 1996. Perhaps not the kind of person you would expect to be doing this, she is a former teacher and psychotherapist, and a grandmother.

After you think about whether you will really need a house, a spouse, a car, a mountain bike, a cottage, fame, a place in history, security ... or just some of these, you can think about which ones and why.

Here is a video about Frau Schwermer. (I would have embedded the video here but that would have made the subtitles difficult to read.) Here is an article about her too.

My thanks to Chris Shaver for making me aware of her.

Job: Employment Counsellor, Calgary, AB

"The Employment Counsellor provides individual/ group employment counselling and career planning services to immigrants and refugees residing in Calgary and area."


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

One Day's Kiva Global Microloan Activity

For the story behind this graphic see Infoporn: Kiva's microloan map of the world.

Go ahead: make a small loan! See the information in the righthand column.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Gentle Introduction to Computer Programming

According to a BBC news report I've just read even New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to learn how to write computer code: "My New Year's resolution is to learn to code with Codeacademy in 2012!"

If you're curious about what it's like to write computer code then Codeacademy might be a good place for you to start. At the moment it seems to be exclusively about learning Javascript, which is the language that animates the pages that you load into your browser's window. However, the site seems to have plans to provide tutorials for other languages as well. The courses introduce language features one at a time with opportunities for the learner to verify understanding.

Job: Employment Facilitator, Simcoe, ON

"... the incumbent works directly with employers to educate them on the benefits of the website; uncovers hidden leads to apprentice positions; enhances the connection of database applicants with potential employers, and markets the website to the community and other regions."


Thursday, January 5, 2012

A. C. Grayling, On Making Meaning for Oneself

Much of what we do as career developers is essentially an attempt to stimulate clients to create more meaningful lives for themselves (even if we can't do that for ourselves!). I believe that the strength and viability of meaning that one has in one's life has little to do with one's intelligence, or athletic skills, or leadership qualities. It has all to do with what one makes of what one has.

I sense that if this is not a difficult concept then it is foreign to many of us, at least in the West.

The man in the picture is A.C. Grayling, Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London. Here is his attempt to explain something similar, from the New York Times.